Victoria Pendleton was busy as ever balancing training and media commitments when Cycling Weekly caught up with her fresh from an outdoor location in sunny Manchester.
?I have been on a photo shoot for the Olympic kit ? wearing the skinsuit. There were a whole bunch of us modelling the kit,? she said.
?It is very different from my everyday routine so it is nice to be able to do it.? The demands on Pendleton?s time have increased in line with her success on the track, so the 27-year-old GB star has to be careful not to overdo it.
?I manage it very carefully,? said Pendleton. ?There are always more things to do than I have time for and lots of things I would like to do, but my job is riding a bike, not posing around in front of cameras or doing interviews. I like having my picture taken and my hair and make-up done ? I don?t know any girls that wouldn?t ? but you have to put it in perspective and realise that the most important thing is winning medals.?
Although rarely recognised in the street, Pendleton?s increasingly high media profile ensures a steady stream of fan mail. She admits to being less than perfect when dealing with correspondence from admirers. ?I am actually really rubbish at it,? she said.
?I do get quite a lot and I am not very good at replying to it. My mum is going to start dealing with it for me. Mainly it comes from abroad, especially Germany ? they are big autograph hunters. They don?t particularly care who you are, they just want your signature! I got a really nice letter from a six-year-old girl saying she wanted to ride a bike fast like me, and that?s really lovely when you get something like that.?
Pendleton is in the early stages of her current training block, lifting big weights in the gym and pushing a heavy gear on the track, searching for a few more watts of power before pre-Olympic speed work. Having won two golds and a silver at the World Championships, it will be all-or-nothing for Pendleton in Beijing, as she only has the sprint to aim for.
?It would be nice to have more than one discipline to compete in,? she said. ?It?s a little bit unfair when the boys have more. There are three track events in total for the women and seven for the men. There is no reason why women shouldn?t have the same events as the men in the Olympics when we already have them in the World Championships. I?m sure it?s possible to mount a legal challenge on the grounds of equal rights, but unfortunately I haven?t got time to do it!?
In the meantime, Pendleton is concentrating on staying healthy. ?If someone sneezes, I hold my breath and run away,? she said. ?I?m a bit paranoid like that ? you have to be. I always carry alcoholic handgel. Transmission by the hands is the most common way in which germs spread. I will sometimes take vitamin C or zinc to help my immune system but I just try and keep healthy, with a good diet and lots of fruit and veg. And stay away from ill people!?
Victoria Pendleton?s baking prowess is well documented, but what is her favourite recipe?
?I do like a bit of baking but I haven?t done much lately ? I haven?t had time. There is one cake in particular that I like to cook. It?s a fat-free sponge, like a swiss roll-type cake. You layer apricot jam and Grand Marnier then cover it with a thin layer of dark chocolate all over the outside. It?s something my mum cooks a lot so that is where I got the idea from.?
A little homespun philosophy from Pendleton works equally well for both cooking and training: ?Have faith in the recipe and when you find a good one, stick with it.?
Judging by the way she greases her opponents, she?s found a good recipe alright, and she?ll be sticking with it all the way to the Olympics.
This article originally appeared in Cycling Weekly May 29, 2008 issue