Ten weeks have gone by and we’ve talked to a wide range of women in the sport. With the likes of Total Women’s Cycling, Women’s Cycling and a wide range of women’s events being launched this year, it shows more women are coming into the sport and sponsors and the media are beginning to integrate women into the market. The rise of women in the sport is positive in so many ways and I hope to see more women on bikes in 2014!
This week we talk to Rachael Gurney, multi-discipline rider and blog writer, Rachael writes about her bike adventures as well as contributing to other media outlets!
1. Who are you?
I’m a horse rider turned MTB’er from near Bournemouth in Dorset. My boyfriend got me into biking when we first got together 5 years ago. Back then it was a ‘date’ now its definitely a way of life!
2. What do you ride bike (s) discipline (s)?
I ride a Rose Beefcake for DH (used to belong to Katy curd so hopefully its got a thing or two to show me!), a Santa Cruz Nomad for gravity endure and a Kinesis FF29 for XC. I love DH and Enduro and concentrate on these. XC keeps me fit though so get plenty of that in too! I have also got a Cube Peloton for road rides and commuting.
Next year I want to concentrate on the UK Gravity Enduro Series and also enter as many DH races as possible in between.
3. Why did you decide to start a blog?
I decided to start a blog as a way to record everything all in one place. I realised I was doing all this cool stuff and wanted a way to make sure I remembered it all, good bits and bad!
4. Do you do any training alongside riding?
My boyfriend is a personal trainer so yeah……. I do a lot in the gym! At the moment we are working on being able to be explosive in our movement and work as hard as possible through a set routine of exercises in a 4 minute period. Basically we are trying as best we can to replicate enduro stages and DH tracks in the gym. Other than that I try to ride each day, I am also currently having some coaching from an pro rider (Ben Deakin) to improve my riding.
5. How have you found coming back to MTB after a broken leg?
Breaking my leg in the Megavalanche qualification run this year was hard, mentally and physically. I have never been forced to take time off from my sport before. I broke my tibia and fibula and now have a metal plate and 7 screws in my leg! I struggled at first as I knew how much I was missing out on. To combat this I got on the turbo trainer as early as possible (4 weeks post break) and started to spin my legs gently. Gradually I found I could put more and more pressure through the leg, this coupled with upper body exercises with dumbells sat on a swiss ball kept me as mobile as possible whilst also keeping me sane! The physio the NHS provided was poor quality and I feel so lucky to have my boyfriend, Adam, help me get back on my feet. My advice is, if you have an injury find a trainer that is well versed in functional exercising and you’ll come on in leaps and bounds! I was fully weight bearing exactly 2 months post break and racing again within 3 months.
6. What’s been your greatest accomplishment so far, both on the bike and writing?
On the bike, my greatest achievement is recovering from my injury and competing again in 3 months. I raced in the Mini Enduro at the Forest of Dean at the beginning of November and came 2nd! I knew I would be able to come back stronger and hungrier for racing, it was a great feeling…..finally back in the racing saddle!!
I got bitten by the writing bug after starting my blog, so far I have been lucky enough to write for Total Women’s Cycling on a regular basis. I always feel so proud seeing my work up on their site! I’m currently in conversation with some other exciting MTB sites so watch this space for more…….
7. Do you think female riders get fair/decent coverage from the industry?
I think female riders are getting more and more coverage these days, hopefully it will keep increasing. The likes of Rachel Atherton and Manon Carpenter have done wonders for the sport this past few months, I have definitely seen an increase in coverage of female bikers at all levels. I think decent coverage of female bikers can only keep increasing, I know that the guys out there love reading about, hearing about and watching us gals as much as we like to support each other. In terms of sponsorship, I’m fairly new to this game but I guess that female riders are not represented as well as their male counterparts. This is most notably apparent when looking at the difference in prize money elite riders receive. Female riders train just as hard, put just as many hours into the sport and place their bodies under the same amount of stress as the men so why the difference? I am lucky enough to have the support of Kelli Salone of Dame Cycling. I hope to do everything I can in order to help her grow her business and get as many girls riding.
8. What do you do to prepare for a race?
Race preparation for me starts with a MASSIVE breakfast! As a lifestyle choice I choose not to eat wheat or gluten, this stuff is really bad for you. Simply put, these things cause chronic inflammation which hinders recovers and is something I want to avoid whilst trying to train and race hard. Short term and prior to a race wheat and gluten are hard to digest and create spikes in energy levels. Gearing up for an enduro race I want to know I have a consistent level of energy throughout the day. So, breakfast for me will contain some meat, veggies (I’m into leek, broccoli and kale at the moment) and eggs.
Preparing for a DH race or an enduro stage, I usually just try to keep myself relaxed. I worry and stress, not about the track I am about to ride but about not doing well or going fast enough and therefore I ride worse than I did in practice! I am going to be trying to work on this for next year and learn to chill!
9. What/Who do you think is helping encourage more women into MTB?
I think that social media is encouraging women into the sport. Sites like Facebook and Twitter make contacting other riders and finding out about all types of events so much easier, its hard not to be tempted to get talking and get involved.
10. What do you have planned for 2014?
2014 for me is all about the UK Gravtiy Enduro series, I have already booked my leave at work for every race! I also want to enter the World Enduro Series round which is taking place at the Tweedlove Festival in Peebles. Fingers crossed I get in! In between times
I am going to enter as many DH races as possible, I really want to start riding in the British Downhill Series so I will be working towards that.
Farmer John’s – 8 December 2013: Women’s Results!
1. Cath Tilford
2. Siobhan Burke
3. Nicole Mallett
4. Laura Foggo
Tavi Woodlands Downhill Series Round 1 – Women’s Results!
1. Madison Burley
2. Megan Wherry
3. Maya Atkinson
4. Tyde D’Souza
1. Heather Kay
2. Rachael Gurney
3. Meghan Harris
In this video we see, Micayla Gatto talk about being a female in a male dominated sport and how this can be somewhat restricting to the growth of women’s downhill: