Rachel Neylan - Movistar


RACHEL an Olympian and Worlds medallist recently transferred to new women's outfit Movistar. We sat down with Rachel to talk her unorthodox way into the professional peloton, an aversion to "doof doof" music and learning the words to "Ice Ice, Baby" to fit in in highschool.

When were you born and where did you grow up?

RACHEL: Sydney, Sydney!

What is your Current City?

Well right now its Moss Vale NSW southern highlands - but wouldn't call it a city! Being a roadie I live in Europe from March until Sept, I have adopted Lucca Italy as Euro home base. In Australia over Summer I bounce between Sydney and the Southern Highlands. Sydney is impossible as a roadie.

Where’s your favourite spot to ride?

I love Lucca & nearby region where i live in Tuscany, the millions of tiny roads and diverse terrain. The views, scents and beautiful people make all the hard work rewarding!

You spend a large part of your life on the road travelling, it’s no doubt influenced you, how does that extend to music? Do you pick up music from different cities and cultures when you visit?

RACHEL: Yes absolutely, lots of eclectic exposure... from passing by local Puccini (Lucca is the home of Puccini) concerts in town, team pre race playlists, various mechanics’ beats echoing from the truck to Italian radio dishing up famous flashbacks – diversity is definitely there but its always fun!

I was staying next door to Puccini’s house when I was there just recently. I thought visiting his house would inspire an interest in his music. It didn’t at all. Are you into Italian music?

RACHEL: No not the everyday italian pop music as such… but a voice like Bocelli when in the right mood is pretty damn incredible.

What was the last race you did? What music did were listening to to get you through the transfers and travel?

RACHEL: The world championships in Bergen. It was an intense lead up so in fact I stuck to a few piano favourites to slow things down and get into chill mode.

What music do you remember growing up around? Who was the first person to get you into music?

RACHEL: My parents were not really into commercial music so not much early exposure in that genre. Mum played guitar and always sung at church. We all did piano lessons, there was always a cassette player and even had an old record player but all classical from memory! We didn’t have a TV either so the first HiFi system and CDs we got in the house was a pretty amazing occasion! High school was really where my music discovery began.

Who’s your favourite classical composer?

RACHEL: I wouldn't say I'm that keyed in to classical to have one. I like what I like. No rules.

Not having a TV would make the Hi-Fi a big part of life. Did it replace the role of the TV in the house? Did you listen to it as a family?

RACHEL: For sure when we were young we listened to story books a fair bit on cassette so I guess it did. But I don't remember sitting still much! I think our backyard replaced the TV!

What is the first song you remember liking?

RACHEL: My sister and I used to tape record (PLAY>PAUSE>PLAY) the take 40 countdown, without the ads haha, and make our own playlists. Then getting a Walkman was next level. I remember doing this and often missing the first notes of the song or chopping off the last part because I never wanted to catch the ads or presenter in the recording. I also recorded a little space between each track so it would seem more legit.

Did you play a music instrument as a kid?

RACHEL: I tried piano but got bored of sitting still.

If you could go back and learn a musical instrument, which would it be and why?

RACHEL: Piano. I absolutely love the emotion which can be evoked by piano piece, oh and I love the Man from Snowy River – I always wanted to be able to play that on the piano.

Good Aussie folk tale that one. How have your musical tastes changed and developed over the years since you were a kid? Did you ever get into any scene’s or the like?

RACHEL: I have always been eclectic and like different sounds for different moods or activities. At high school (90’s!) I loved grunge and punk so would save up all my $ for weekend gigs and concerts – Pearl Jam, Green Day, Blink 182, Pennywise, Live, Silverchair, The Offspring to name a few!

Was there a good live music scene in Sydney back then?

RACHEL: I think there was… I was underage so i only went to the gigs and outdoor festivals. But yea they seemed to be in smaller venues more often, I guess thats when its always cool to watch a band live before they hit the big overdone venues!

Were you into sport when you were a kid? How did you end up racing bikes?

RACHEL: Yep i started little aths at the age of 8! I ran on the track as a hurdler until my early 20s then dabbled in rowing triathlon and middle dist running. After finishing my physio degree and working for top athletes i realised i was definitely on the wrong side of the fence. I had one more chance, in 2007 i applied for a talent ID/ talent transfer program at SASI in Adelaide, packed up my apartment in Sydney and turned my life upside down threw the kitchen sink at becoming a cyclist.

And the rest is history as they say. A great story. What was the first album you bought with your own money?

RACHEL: Nirvana, Unplugged in New York or maybe it was Frogstomp...

What was the first gig / concert you remember going to?

RACHEL: Silverchair – Frogstomp at the Metro on George St Sydney!

A classic, I never realised that album made number 1 in Australia, pretty amazing given their age at the time. Their single Freak of their next album was the first CD I ever bought. What's the best gig / concert you've been to?

RACHEL: Probably both Green Day and Foo Fighters at the UNI NSW roundhouse around 1997/98.

Who’s musical taste do you really admire?

RACHEL: Yours and Lachie’s

Haha really? What are some bands you’ve picked up? Is there anyone you’ve been on the road with who has had just brutal taste in music and you’ve been forced to suffer through it?

RACHEL: Yes probably some tough stuff doof doof techno at some stage, that’s where noise cancelling headphones come in handy!

Did you ever make playlists when you were younger as ‘psych up’ material for competition? Do you remember any tracks from those?

RACHEL: Yes when i started cycling my TT warm ups were funny… eclectic combo of Eminem, DJ Tiesto, foo fighters… I recently made a playlist for arvo core workouts, a compilation of some 90s high school favs. I love it, turn it up full and sing to them while I negotiate my swiss ball and planks!

The Cranberries, The Offspring, Kings of Leon and Hole some forgotten favourites in there. Thats a good list, and not a typical workout style either. I normally associate working out with some form of Dance music, but you said before that when the “doof doof” techno come’s on the noise cancelling head phones come out. What song would you listen to put you in the right place for a race?

RACHEL: These days usually some piano, something emotive and calming so I can slow my breathing and focus. I love Ludovico Einaudi at the moment (maybe I have lived in Lucca too long now!)

What about out training?

RACHEL: Never, I am too cautious about hearing cars. Ergo yes, a playlist with some fun emotion and energy – Tiesto, Avici, Van Buuren.

Really? Charlie from Disc Breaks is the same, he never listens to music out training. I can’t imagine not having something playing. Even when I’m riding with someone, I’ve got the headphones just in case. Do you prefer to train by yourself with others?

RACHEL: Yep so dangerous….. A bit of both!

What is the atmosphere usually like on the bus pre-race? Is everybody doing their own thing listening to their own stuff or is there a more communal atmosphere?

RACHEL: We don’t have a bus (yet) but yes our camper is certainly lively, full of pre race fire up tunes to get the goosebumps raised.

 How did Smash Mouth and The Spice Girls manage to make their way onto that list?

RACHEL: No idea. Group playlist :)

What about post stage? 

RACHEL: Normally pretty chilled, everyone chatting / or sleeping, sometimes we put a podcast on and have a good laugh.

What pods are you listening to?

RACHEL: I love human experience stories, philosophy, biohacking (and should probably admit to some athlete nerd science stuff….) Joe Rogan, Rich Roll, Tim Ferriss, The Human Experience, Malcolm Gladwell, The OPP.

Have you ever had a ‘victory’ song or a track you associate with any performance, good or bad?

RACHEL: A bit cliché but I love the Eye of the Tiger, it signifies a battler rising above the odds and I can affiliate with that! It always fires me up or the go to tune for a lil celebratory cheer after a victory. I also love the Mission Main Theme. Have you ever worn your ipod during a race?

RACHEL: No, never, has anyone? Hehe

What music were you not listening to when you weren’t wearing your ipod during the last race you did?

RACHEL: Haha… foo fighters colour and the shape

What song do you play to get things started when you’re throwing a party?

RACHEL: The Nosebleed Section Hilltop Hoods, and HeyYa OutKast

That’s the first time hilltop hoods have made an appearance on Disc Breaks. I was wondering when some Aussie hip hop would show up. Does musical taste influence how well you’re going to get along with someone?

RACHEL: No way but it can always be a great connection point. Music has a beautiful and unique way of bringing people together.

What’s a song that if someone played would instantly make you friends?

RACHEL: Everlong, Foo Fighters

And inversely a song that would instantly turn you off someone?

RACHEL: I would just laugh, I’m not that judgemental… Ok maybe S Club7, or JLo?!

There’s probably people out there who still play S-Club with a genuine love for its music quality.

RACHEL: Yes probably.

Have you ever played a song or pretended to know a song to impress someone?

RACHEL: Probably when I was in high-school and had a crush on a guy who played guitar! At one stage I think I learned the words to Ice Ice Baby to keep up with the cool kids at school who all knew the words!

Haha its hard to imagine a time when peer pressure said you had to know the words to ‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice in order to be cool.

RACHEL: Primary school yard in the 80s who knows what was going on!

A song you’re embarrassed to admit you like, but listen to often?

RACHEL: Ahem yes…. i think for sure…. Not that often but Vanessa Carlton, White Houses it has good vibes. Oh and Celene Dion the power of the dream, a sentimental fav always evoking my Olympic dream.

One day you’re gonna have to put together a highlights reel of your career. How does it play out and which songs are you going to score it with?

RACHEL: Lots of battler tunes starting with the dream - Chariots of fire, Stronger Kanye, Lose yourself Eminem, Eye of the Tiger, (half the Rocky soundtrack perhaps), moving on to the Script - Hall of Fame, Everlong / Best of You Foo Fighters… a rollercoaster play through of struggle / fighter songs and victory ones ending with Armin Van Buuren’s This is What it Feels Like and Wake me Up by Avici!

You’ve switched teams for next year, where do you see or want your career to go from here?

RACHEL: Yep very happy with move to Movistar! This year consistency is key i want to step it up show my capability at the com games & ardennes, giro then worlds. Then looking to go full steam ahead for Tokyo 2020. That will be it!

What’s the best way to listen to music?

RACHEL: Loud with quality speakers. I am a Spotify user so phone or Laptop connected via good Bluetooth speakers (I got my mum a harmon / kardon for xmas last year and I am totally jealous now)….. and listening in good company always enhances a song!

If you were colonising Mars and could only take one album, what would it be?

RACHEL: Foo Fighters - The Colour and The Shape

Excellent, Thank you for taking part Rachel.


Angus Morton