This week we talk to Gayle Atherfold-Dudley, known for her hilarious mountain bike videos and ‘potty mouth’ on the trails, Loeka ambassador, Gayle rides her old school bike, fondly known as ‘Grandad’ and can be seen regularly giving it her best at downhill races around the UK. Check out her blog,reluctant downhiller,to find out more about her adventures!
1. Who are you?
I’m 36 years old, married with 9 lizards and a horse, living in Mid Wales.
2. When and why did you start riding?
I started MTB’ing in 1999 and took part in the first MTB Marathon in 2000 really to spite my ex-boyfriend who said I couldn’t do it. I did finish coming in 3rd in the ladies 50km class. I then met my now husband who was at the time a Downhill racer and refused point blank to ever do that. Roll on 13 years and I’m now screaming and swearing my way downhill… I just don’t know how or why!!!!
3. Best riding memory?
That’s a hard one there’s so many. I think the Diva Descent Inners weekend has to be the best to date, on the track walk with, Katy Curd I didn’t know how I was going to get down the course, it all looked way too hard for me. Emma Guy and Jess Stone were brilliant trainers and as they broke the course into sections. I found I’d ridden the whole course without realising it. Come the race day on the Sunday I had such a great time, I chatted, screamed and swore my way down, even being the trail blazer on the first run… great day weekend with great company.
4. What do you think could be done to encourage more women into the sport?
It’s a question with no real answer, I think events like the women’s only ‘Breeze Events, Daisy Chain Events and Diva Events do help, but women are hard to appeal to. Some like flowers and pink and others want to be treated equally to men. I think the best thing is for other women in the sport to be friendly and welcoming to all. One of the main reasons I’m racing DH is for the brillant people I’ve met who make racing such fun.
5. You’ve become quite well known for your videos and ‘potty mouth’ when riding, have people come to recognise you out on the trails?
(Blushes lots) I really don’t mean to swear, but I can’t help it. Yes I do get recognized, but it’s more my bike than me, there aren’t many 1999 Santa Cruz Super 8’s still around let along being ridden or raced. I get loads of guys in their mid-30’s coming over saying it was their dream bike when they were younger.
6. How do you overcome fear on the trails?
I don’t think I have, I’ve learnt coping mechanisms. If technical sections are short and straight I have been known to shut my eyes until I know I’ve cleared it. I tend to fixate on roots or rocks which is the worst thing to do so shutting my eyes stops this. Riding different trails helps and watching other people ride technical sections gives me the confidence to ride it. But I also need to be scared; the adrenalin boost helps me to push myself out of my comfort zone.
7. What advice would you give to women who want to get into MTB racing?
Go for it! And don’t ever say you’re never going to do something because in 13 years’ time you might just find yourself doing it and not knowing why. I’d look for small local events run by local shops or clubs as you probably know someone there, have fun and don’t waste time worrying about coming last or not having the best gear.
8. Why did you start racing?
I entered my first DH race for a laugh, Darrel (long suffering husband) had built up his old DH bike for me to take to Morzine, I had such a great week out there and came back thinking I had a DH bike why not surprise Darrel and enter a DH race. I regretted it the second I’d pressed the button on the BC website. I didn’t sleep properly the whole week before the race and my DH bike broke so ended up doing the race on my Trail bike. I was so scared I was shaking on the start line and all the other girls looked so pro, I do however remember as I approached the finish line hearing all the other girls cheering me on and the sense of achievement was immense. I was hooked. DH Girls are the most supportive I’ve ever met. I would say it’s because of them I’ve kept going. We help each other out and cheer each other on and I’ve met some truly inspirational women and great friends through DH.
9. Is there anything you dislike about the sport?
Injury, it’s inevitable that if you do DH at some point you will get hurt and I don’t do being injured very well. I recently damaged my shoulder and the 4 weeks of recovery (supposed to be 6 but I didn’t last) were hell. Also finding gear if your short is a pain, I’m 5’1″ and finding a nice small DH bike is a struggle.
10. Best moment/achievement in riding so far?
I don’t think I’ve had it yet! I’ve had such an amazing journey in DH so far, I’ve done stuff that I’d never dreamed of and learnt so much. I’ve got over mental blocks and fear but I think the best is yet to come. This year for me was about setting a good foundation on which to build.. Just watch out 2014, I’m saving for a new DH bike and looking to ride more tracks and push myself further and who knows I might even stop swearing.
A short clip of what to expect from Gayle’s Youtube!
This week the Welsh National Championships was hosted in Bike Park Wales. There was a good turnout in the women’s category, with 12 ladies turning up to race.
1st: Manon Carpenter
2nd: Hazel Wakefield
3rd: Beverley Barnes.
During last weekend, Farmer John’s MTB Park also hosted a race weekend, with two races, a night time race on Saturday night, and race on the Sunday.
Night Race Results:
1st: Emma Whitaker
2nd: Laura Battista
3rd: Siobhan Burke
Sunday Race Results:
1st: Siobhan Burke
2nd: Cath Short
3rd: Becci Skelton
Juliana Bicycles Rider, Anka Martin took the win the women’s category in the Mavic Trans-Provence last week.You can read about her adventure on herwebsite. Anka was followed by, Transition Bikes, Emily Horridge in 2nd and Giant Factory off-road Team, Kelli Emmett in 3rd.
Video of the week
You may well have seen it already, but Mark Brent’s, ‘If she can do it’ is a great example of the growing number of women in mountain biking. It’s great to see that so many people are dedicated to helping the sport grow, and encouraging more women to get involved! It was filmed at Sugar Showdown, one of Kat Sweet’s events, and explores the differences into how men and women ride, if this doesn’t make you feel stoked, I don’t know what will..