It’s great to see young women getting involved with the sport in any discipline, but to ride and race downhill at only 15, Alex Thomas is keen to show that mountain biking isn’t just for the guys! A talented rider, photographer and artist, Alex isn’t short of skills.
1. Who are you?
My name is Alexandra Thomas, I’m 15 and live in sunny Wales, where I discovered my love for a bit of two wheeled fun three years ago!
2. What do you ride? Bike (s), Discipline (s)?
I have an Orange 222 which has fuelled my love for downhill riding! It’s a fantastic bike and owning it has lead me to DH racing last year! I love all aspects of mountain biking, I do xc for fitness and for a fun weekend out. However, you really can’t beat the atmosphere of an uplift bus or a downhill race weekend! All of the people I have met are lovely and it has been great to meet other women taking part in such a male dominated sport.
3. You also do MTB photography too, is this a hobby, or would you like to take it further?
I really enjoy MTB photography, but it’s just a hobby. I just enjoy taking photos of riders enjoying the trails!
4. Is there anything you find difficult about mountain biking?
The most difficult thing about mountain biking for me, is being able to ride confidently! I find riding drops difficult and I have heard, many a time before, that “all you have to do is commit” . . . it’s easier said than done! Also, being able to keep my nerves under control when I hear the beeping of the timer on the start mound of a race is virtually impossible! Those beeps give me nightmares!
5. Do you think guys and girls approach riding differently?
Personally, I think it depends on the individual. All of the girls I know would happily through them selves down, or over, anything that their male counterparts would. However, I think the way that a lot of girls my age approach the subject of MTB is very different to boys my age. They don’t always understand the fun of it – it’s such a shame! It’s such a male dominated sport, and I think that puts some younger girls off. I’d love to help change the stereotype of MTB!
6. Are there any female mountain bikers you admire?
Manon Carpenter is a big inspiration for me. She is definitely someone who I look up to because she has achieved great things at such a young age!
7. How have you found racing so far?
I love it! I started racing last year and the first race I entered was a mini DH event at the Forest of Dean. The atmosphere is so chilled, the people are just amazing and I thrive on the competition! I really would recommend it to anyone, it’s a great way to socialize, soak up the buzz of the race and go as fast as you can down a hill with out falling off. There really is nothing better!
8. What do you hope to achieve with your riding (just for fun, race/ride full time etc, fitness and enjoyment)
I ride for fun but I would love to become more competitive. I really hope to improve my fitness and skill so that I can ride faster, more confidently and for longer!
9. Do you find it hard to balance school around riding and racing?
Yes! I’m in my last year at school and there seems to be no time for getting out on the bike! I would love a career in science, I am trying to get the best grades I possibly can which I find quite stressful. I have found that the best way to relieve the stress of school is to get out on the bike on the weekends! It’s great because I don’t have time to think about anything else when I am on the bike. Otherwise, it really hurts! Roll on 6 months – I can give my bike the love it deserves!
10. What are your plans for 2014?
I have been sponsored by Photo-bike.com for the 2014 season and I am really looking forward to it! My plan is to enter as many races as possible, hopefully some nationals and regionals! I will also be looking at entering enduro races next year! I would also love to try to encourage as many girls as possible to take part in MTB – it’s too much fun to miss out on!
Northern Downhill Results:
British Cycling hosts it’s first women only level 2 mountain bike course in Wales.
Last weekend, British Cycling hosted it’s first women’s only level 2 Mountain Bike leadership course. The course, held in Wales is aimed at those already working, or wanting to work in the outdoor sector as well as those wanting to safely guide riders in the mountains. The Level 2 Award provides expert advice to enable the women to be confident as leaders on a variety of terrains, while allowing the freedom to tailor rides to suit the leader and the group’s needs. For more information on the courses, go here.
Video of the week
You may have seen it already, but it’s just that rad. Casey Brown reaches high speeds as she goes brakeless!