Emily McCleane caught up with the future Mrs Searle at the Czech GP in Loket earlier this year where she told us all about herself, Tommy and the upcoming winter wedding.
Emily: How did you and Tommy first meet and how long have you been going out for?
Sophia: So originally, I went to university and I was going to do a summer at Monster to put some money aside as I was planning on moving to London. This was always the plan after I graduated and then Monster asked me to do one more year. My first job on my return for the final year was Thailand GP and that’s where we first met. When we get married in December we will have been together for six and a half years.
Emily: How has the wedding planning been going with Tommy in a different country nearly every weekend?
Sophia: The only thing Tommy has a strong opinion on is what he wears. As I am wearing something different to the bridesmaids he says he should wear something different to the groomsmen, I said Tommy that’s not how it works… So yeah, we still haven’t decided on what he is wearing yet. My dress is sorted, everything that I am wearing is sorted. We’ve done the venue and the flowers… So everything else is pretty much sorted except inviting people. I haven’t done any invitations yet which mum tells me is a problem.
Emily: What’s a typical GP weekend like for you? I take it you have the lovely job of goggle prep and the dirty washing.
Sophia: We would normally get there on the Friday and then I normally don’t tackle his gear as he packs his gear bag and I don’t want the responsibility in case I leave something behind, so I leave that to him and when he gets here like this morning then I organise his life as I am OCD. Then I do his goggles, helmet, and then I will get his gear and recovery drinks ready and of course feed him.
Emily: Scott and I were talking earlier and we were discussing how amazing it would be to travel the world with your other half we have only had the chance to fly to a few different countries, but yourself and Tommy get to travel the world together, I’m sure that must be amazing?
Sophia: Yeah it is, it’s really lovely. I mean the sport is brutal, when it’s good it’s really good but when it’s bad its devastating. The first fly away I did away with Tom (long haul) was to Thailand about four or five years ago and that’s when he crashed on one of the biggest jumps of the whole season and badly broke his wrist.
He also hit his head, didn’t recognise me and was bringing up blood. We were obviously in Thailand, so we had no family there and he had to stay out there to be operated on. It was really stressful. We just recently got back from Bali and the Indonesian rounds, so when its good it’s amazing. He had a really good race there. It was so good to see all his hard work paying off!
Emily: Out of all the countries you have been to what is your favourite GP and why?
Sophia: Ohh that’s a good question. I love Trentino, I love Italy in general, it’s really, really lovely. I also love Thailand, where we were staying its gorgeous and then we started going to remote, remote parts of Thailand and it got intense. So yeah, Italy is lovely practically Trentino. This year my favourite race has been Matterley. The British GP was fantastic, the atmosphere was amazing and everyone got behind him.
Emily: Tommy has moved up to the 450’s and had quite a few injuries, how has that been for you?
Sophia: It’s tough, really tough. I think because he works so, so hard, and he eats, sleeps and breaths it. There is no in between for him, so yeah, it’s his entire world and therefore it’s mine too. Its beyond tough watching him struggle, particularly the year when he broke his wrist in Thailand then the next year he broke his back in Thailand. It was so painful to watch, he lived in his motor home for six months in Rome just working so, so hard, and it was paying off! But it’s the luck of the draw and it just didn’t go his way.
But yeah its crushing, bringing him home in a back brace, was probably the worst moment. But then also in Trentino he hit his head and he didn’t know where we lived, what car he drove for about three hours. I think that was a lot scarier as his whole personality was gone, he was there and to look at him he was physically fine, but he wasn’t there at all and that was really frightening as we didn’t know when he would come back. I trust Tom on the bike, I know he is one of the best in the world, but things can and unfortunately sometimes do go wrong, you have to be so careful with the people around you too. I am naturally a worrier, I get serious anxiety over the whole thing, but he’s doing what he loves and that’s something very few of us get the chance to do.
Emily: We have heard a bit about Tommy, but we want to hear about you now. Can you tell us how everything is going with the wedding and Blush Box Candles.
Sophia: At university I studied English language and literature, as I said my plan was always to go to down to London, which is where I’d worked for magazines like Grazia etc during my degree. Obviously, Tommy can’t ride in London, so plans changed. Now I work part time for a rail company, I manage and organise corporate events and we essentially help to support growth in the rail industry. It’s really flexible and works around Tom’s races.
I’m also very crafty and a total candle addict! The candle business has been a real labour of love, it’s taken a year of experimenting; I had frothy wax, wicks falling over… I thought you just had to melt down some wax, chuck some fragrance in it and it’s a candle… No, no, no, it’s like a little chemistry lesson. I now have a cupboard full of misshaped candles from the early experimentation days! But I’m now doing a lot of wedding, baby shower and christening favours. One of my friends is announcing her baby’s name by putting it on the candles and giving them out when she’s born.
I could have taken them to market about six months earlier, but they just weren’t right. I didn’t want to make just another disappointing candle that smelt of nothing once it was lit. I’m genuinely really proud of them now though and I really love making them and mixing new scents for my clients. We do so much that’s bike oriented its nice for me to go home and do something crafty. It’s my own business and I can grow it when I have the time, and I can tone it down when we are flat out with the races. I’m doing candles as little favours for the wedding, in a Christmas scent as the wedding is on the 21st of December, we are going full Christmas it’s going to be like Narnia. I love Christmas anyways. I told Tom I’m saving you money by making our own wedding favours!
Interview: Emily McCleane
Pics: Danny Relouw/Youthstream