Last weekend saw the first round of the Mini Downhill take place in the Forest of Dean. A group of us got together and took to social media to get as many ladies on bikes as possible. For the first time the women had two separate categories, and 27 women turned up to race in both the pro-am and open categories! Chris Roberts, Organiser of the Mini Downhill plans to extend categories for under 18, open and pro-am in future if he gets the numbers at each race.
The rise in women racing has definitely risen in the past few years, from one or two women you can now expect to see a bigger field of women competing. This week we talk to Katy Curd, to find out how to prepare for a race, how to improve on the bike over time, getting over mental blocks and also what she has in store for 2014!
1. Who are you?
Katy Curd, mountain bike racer and coach.
2. When did you start racing?
2007, I got dragged by my best mate to my first downhill race and raced on my trusty pink hardtail.
3. What made you decide to start coaching?
I started doing the odd bit of coaching for Sustrans and loved it, everything from helping people in to the sport to helping people get over their fears and even working with elite riders already racing. I know how good it feels to ride something you have never ridden before or just to hit a section that little bit faster so to be able to help people achieve this I think is the perfect job!
4. What advice would you give to those who want to improve speed and skill if they feel their riding isn’t improving?
Come and book on with Katy Curd Coaching!! There are so many things that can come in to improving speed and skill but I would say forget about trying to go fast and try to keep things smooth and controlled, speed will come after. Slow it down to speed it up.
5. How do you overcome fears on the bike?
Mental blocks can be a hard one again depending on the feature and terrain. Just trying to think through exactly what it is you need to do to get through a section/feature and even at the start of a race, thinking about set-up, lines, speed, technique etc it can help you forget about the fear and help you focus on riding.
6. What advice would you give for race preparation?
Practice, practice practice. You want to know the track of the back of your hand so keep riding and practising until you feel comfortable with the entire track. Keeping hydrated and energy levels up is key through out the weekend so make sure after every run or two your eating and drinking so come your race run you feel fit and ready. Sleep is also important, after a long days practice your body needs to recover, race days usually involve early starts so an early night is needed the night before.
7. If you have a bad race, how can you move on from that?
You can learn a lot if you ever have a ‘bad race’. If you make a mistake, have a crash or the result isnt quite what you expected there will always be a reason why this happened. Try and think in detail what is was that effected your race. Once you have worked out what it was that effected you, you can take that away, learn from it and forget about the race. Use your mistakes as a learning tool to make you stronger for your next race.
8. Coaching both men and women, do you think women find overcoming the mental side of riding more difficult?
Men are women naturally think differently and this does effect riding too. Women naturally over think things but there are easy ways to help try and focus your way of thinking to help to overcome any mental blocks when riding.
9. Have you ever been given any riding advice that has really stuck with you?
You can only control what you can control. There is no point in worrying about things out of your control, focus on making sure you have done everything possible to reach your goals and let everything else fall in to place.
10. Without coaching, how do you think it’s possible to get better at jumps, drops and more technical/steep tracks?
It takes time and practice, If its jumps, drops and technical terrain you want to improve on get out and ride this stuff 24/7. Start small and work on going bigger, your mind works on reality so keep on building your confidence levels by gradually going bigger and riding more and more technical terrain.
11. What are your riding and racing plans for 2014
I’m switching back over to riding downhill for 2014, after having spent 3 years focusing on 4X I am missing the downhill scene! I have never given downhill a proper shot so I will spend the winter focusing on downhill training and focus on racing the national downhills and as many World Cups as I can.
Katy has also joined up with, Pure Mountains to offer skills for women coaching trips in Sierra Nevada for 2014. You get five nights holiday and four days coaching as well as eco-luxe farmhouse accommodation, Land Rover support, full board (except two dinners), beer and wine and Malaga airport transfers. Price for the trip is – £599 / €690 per person (not including flights)
661 Mini Downhill Results!
This week we have a great video of the Mini Downhill and ‘all the girls’ from the rad, Emma Whitaker!