Olympic gold medallist, nine times world champion, cycling role model and now bike designer, (and lots of other things besides) Victoria Pendleton CBE has to be one of Grazia’s favourite people EVER to interview. Despite being a sporting legend, she’s chatty, completely straightforward, really honest and – although you might not expect it, dead funny in real life. From doing a live presentation to journalists of her range of bikes for Halfords ‘And here’s where you can put all your kittens’ says Victoria, pointing out the retro basket on the front, to chatting excitedly about her forthcoming wedding - VP is great company. Here’s what else we found out about her . . .
Grazia Daily: It’s just coming up to the one year anniversary of the 2012 Olympics – how does that make you feel?
Victoria Pendleton: It’s very strange. So much has happened since then. The Olympics was an incredible, incredible experience, and not only was there so much focus on us as it was in London, but personally it was my last games as I retired from cycling after that, which made it even more emotional. Quite recently I took part in a five mile run which ended at the stadium, and that did make a bit of a shiver go down my spine. The last time I was there, it was the morning after the closing ceremony. I’m just so lucky to have taken part in it. Despite the fact I didn’t win all the medals I went for – and ended up with one silver and one gold - I’ll never have that chance again.
Grazia Daily: Lets have a name-drop moment. Who was the most incredible person you met last year, the most unreal moment?
Victoria Pendleton: The Queen! Definitely meeting the Queen when I got my CBE. When she’s talking directly to you - it makes you want to pinch yourself. Another great memory was meeting Prince William, Kate and Harry at in the same afternoon. Do you know the weirdest thing about that? They all knew who I was and knew all about my sport. I mean – cycling’s quite a specific sport, but they knew loads of things to ask me. Kate was lovely. She comes across as very calm and very happy.
I was really excited about the Royal baby, but at the same time I sort of thought – I hope they get some privacy to enjoy being a family. I really wish them all the best. It must be so overwhelming having a baby in public. Can you imagine how many pairs of booties they’ll be sent? Millions!
Grazia Daily: Tell us about your bike range. This is the second year, right?
Victoria Pendleton: Yes, It came out in March, and it did so well – we were quite surprised by how well it did - that we’ve expanded the range with more ladies’ bikes plus a new children’s bike range for girls.
Grazia Daily: A lot of people might be put off cycling because they don’t know how to work the gears, or they’re scared they might have to change a tyre . . .
Victoria Pendleton: I know the feeling! My bikes aren’t really techy or geeky. They’re lovely shopper bikes and very easy to get around on. Besides, anyone who is worried about changing a tyre or the chain falling off - don’t worry. There’s always a nice young man who’ll come along and help you. Take your bike to Halfords for a service – and if you need help – just ask someone to help you! I’d never say no.
Grazia Daily: You published you autobiography last year and it was very candid [covering Victoria’s struggles off the track as well as on, including her difficult relationship with her dad and self-harming at times] Did you get a lot of feedback about the issues addressed in it afterwards?
Victoria Pendleton: Yes! People, especially women got in touch or when they meet me tell me they could relate to stuff in there. I didn’t want to just have a boring old memoir that only appealed to sports fans, I wanted it to be more than that.
Grazia Daily: Do you think you’re a bit of a sensitive soul?
Victoria Pendleton: Oh I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, totally. I am an open book in some ways, I’m a very emotional person and I’ve not hidden those emotions. I am also extremely passionate about what I do, so I think in a way it’s helped me, because I can channel that passion into races, it’s helped me win over the years.
Grazia Daily: One more thing. We loved the swirly ‘Pendleton’ logo on the bikes. Did you design that yourself?
Victoria Pendleton: I did actually. That was one of the things I was very firm about with Halfords – the logo. I’m a bit obsessed typography. Ever since I had my tattoo done, and spent ages lookng at all sorts of with fonts and lettering, it’s become a real interest of mine.
To find out more about Victoria's bikes, check out Halfords.com