Olympic team pursuit champion Joanna Rowsell undertook an unusual training routine prior to receiving her MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace today.
“I had to do a few practice curtsies,” the Cycling Weekly columnist told us shortly after returning to her Surrey home. “I was wearing high heels and didn’t want to topple over.”
Rowsell’s choice of footwear it seems was her biggest point of anxiety on her memorable day up town.
Asked if she’d been nervous about meeting the Queen, she replied: “I don’t really get nervous for things like this. There was a little bit of routine to remember but I was more worried about my shoes!
“Because you mustn’t turn your back on the Queen you have to walk away backwards. And I’m more used to wearing cycling shoes and trainers.
“Everyone else said they were nervous,” Rowsell added. “But I only really get nervous for things like the Olympics.”
Putting on make up had started early this morning with Rowsell allowing herself two hours to tackle the 14 miles through London rush hour traffic for a 10am arrival.
“It was really cool driving straight into Buckingham Palace to park,” she noted. “I took the train when I was invited up there in October.”
Then there were those awkward moments when she wasn’t sure if she knew who someone was.
“Many people were being honoured for their charity work or doing things in the community so are not necessarily famous,” she explained. “Several of them recognised me, but I didn’t always know who they were. It was great hearing about all the things they’d done.”
A Jase in the crowd
At least there was the familiar face of Jason Kenny – there to receive an OBE. No sign of Sir David Brailsford, though. Rowsell informs us, those there to pick up their knighthoods were separated from the hoi polloi in a different room.
Rowsell’s ‘gong’ is now sat in her bedside table drawer with that other piece of treasured metalwork from last summer’s Games.
From the Palace today, Rowsell heads tomorrow to the decidedly less glamorous destination of Belgium. On Sunday she’s down to ride the catchily titled Omloop van het Hageland – Tielt-Winge with her Wiggle-Honda team.
“I’ve got to do a session on the WattBike tonight,” she said, confirming that while the Palace engagement may have had her practicing her formal greetings, Her Majesty had also prevented her getting out on the road for training.
“Not a bad thing, actually” noted Rowsell. The Queen had given her “an excuse for not going out in the cold.”
Read more about Joanna Rowsell MBE’s day at the Palace in her column in the March 7 issue of Cycling Weekly.