Josie Talbot: Track Racer Turned Crit Racing Queen
Dominance. That’s the only word to describe ISCorp Pro Cycling’s past season of racing criteriums (crits). You know that you’re dealing with a team that’s firing on all cylinders when they talk about their hope for more podiums sweeps instead of just wins, like rider Samantha Schneider did when I talked to her earlier this year at the Tour of America’s Dairyland (ToAD). And, the team keeps delivering on their lofty expectations with its riders successfully capturing 1-2-3 finishes at prestigious criteriums such as the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, Detroit Cycling Classic, and San Rafael Sunset Criterium; not to mention currently leading the rider and team categories of the USA CRITS Series. [Photo: Josie's cheerful personality matches the tight friendships that define the ISCorp team - Photo by Biff Stephens]
One of the crucial cogs in ISCorp’s superbly well-oiled machine is Josie Talbot, Samantha Schneider’s fiercely loyal lieutenant. Still an under-23 cyclist, the Australian has developed rapidly since coming to America to race for ISCorp and is already an accomplished racer. Her palmarès include winning the Rochester Twilight Criterium and finishing second overall at the 2017-edition of ToAD on the strength of two wins.
As with many of Josie’s compatriots, she’s wrapped up her 2018 season and has headed back to Australia. Fortunately, A Cyclist in a Strange Land had a chance to talk to Josie before she went to the land down under for the Australian summer.
Nathan (N): Josie, you’ve become a key member of ISCorp Pro Cycling over the years. Can you tell me a little bit about that growth?
Josie Talbot (JT): This is my third season with ISCorp Pro Cycling. Samantha Schneider, my teammate on ISCorp, has really helped me develop into a criterium racer. I have a track racing background, so I have that speed in my legs which is perfect for racing. This year I’ve had a few opportunities to lead the team which is really exciting; I won the Rochester Twilight Criterium earlier this year. I love that challenge! And, I’ve been helping Sam and the girls get wins and podiums in the USA CRITS Series.
N: With a track background, do you get a chance to do any track racing anymore?
JT: I spend the whole summer racing on the road in the US and then I go to Australia and spend the Australian summer racing on the track. There really isn’t an off-season, which is a bit full-on, but the track is so different from the road that it can be a good change. A whole summer at home in Australia doing track racing can be quite nice.
N: Part of A Cyclist in a Strange Land is about telling stories of people who take a leap and dive into new, unfamiliar territory. In my case, I’m from Indiana and have recently moved to bike-crazy Minneapolis and am getting absorbed into that culture, which has been more unique than I might have expected. Could you talk about your transition from racing on the track to racing on the road? Especially going from the track to crits? I guess you need a big engine and big bursts of speed for both, but what was that transition like?
JT: Australia has a really strong track program. It’s very intense, very competitive, very serious. It’s a great environment for my competitive nature, I love to be the best. So that’s really good. But it’s nice to come to America, I wouldn’t say that it’s laid back over here because each race is very serious and important, but it’s so much more fun in terms of the crowds and the culture. The fans are so engaged to the excitement of the race and the feeling of racing at night is so unique. I really love it over here.
N: Being a member of the Australian track racing world, are you looking forward to the Olympics in a couple years?
JT: Um, potentially. As we all know, it’s a very political sport and can be cutthroat at times. So, I’m just trying to stay happy, do what I enjoy, and not put too much pressure on myself. I don’t like being stressed out, I like being nice and chilled and laid back because that’s when I put in my best performances. So, we’ll see what happens with the Olympics.
N: Have you done any track riding over here in the United States? I know that the VELO Sports Center in Los Angeles is the big track in the US, but there are also some pretty great ones in the Midwest (e.g., Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Chicago, Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis, National Sports Center Velodrome in Minnesota).
JT: That’s right. Plus, there is the Kenosha Velodrome not far from my team’s base in Milwaukee. I’ve gone down there with ISCorp to work on some skills in the past. I’d love to bring the crit squad to the Kenosha track to do some races in the future; see how they do on the track! But no, I haven’t really done any track racing in the US; our racing schedule is pretty packed so it’s kind of hard to fit track riding in when I’m over here. I like to keep my track and road racing separate.
N: Sure, different times of the year, different types of racing
N: The team definitely has a long list of highlights from the season including some dominating performances where the team swept the podium at a number of races (e.g. Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, San Rafael Sunset Criterium). What have the highlights of the year been for you? JT: It has been a good year, every weekend we get pumped up! Like I said earlier, taking the win at the Rochester Twilight Criterium and having the opportunity to lead the team at races this year has been very special. It’s also been nice to do races that I’ve never done before, like the San Rafael Sunset Criterium in the San Francisco Bay area.
N: Well, best of luck as you head back to Australia and start looking towards the start of your track program! We’ll look forward to your return to America next year, I can’t wait for you to start tearing up the crit scene again!