Mum Racer | Katy Ashlee’s Route to Racing.

Katy Ashlee wasn’t a rider or a racer but her son’s balance bike changed all that and she’s now a PMBA Enduro Series winner.

For most of us, riding and racing bikes starts off with jumping ramps and kerbs as kids before progressing to jumps and drops, and maybe the odd race. Katy Ashlee’s path even to bikes was not the typical one but she’s a race and series winner now.

When my eldest child, Jacob turned two, his uncle (Adam Saunders) suggested getting him a balance bike. At the time we did not know much about balance bikes. It was Adam who mentioned to me about a balance bike rather than a pedal bike with stabilizers.

We looked into balance bikes and Jacob got one for his birthday. By the age of three Jacob had his first pedal bike. Jacob loved bikes right from the start, he would always go to the shops or to nursery on his balance bike.

Then Joshua my other son started on the balance bike at the age of 20 months. With already having Jacob’s old balance bike we had that out for Joshua from a very young age and he would have ago on it around the garden. Joshua definitely wanted to keep up with his brother and did definitely helped to get Joshua going on bikes.

I realised I needed to get myself a bike to be able to take the boys out on their bikes. I went to the local bike shop, bought a second hand steel bike for £50. We started going to Dalby Forest and riding on the green route and then as the boys got a little older we ventured on to the red trails. Now realising I loved to bike, I bought a budget Trek hardtail bike in August 2019, I thought this was the best bike ever.

At first, we would just do short rides on the green route at Dalby and this made me realise how much I enjoyed it and loved to be on a bike. So once I bought my first decent-ish bike this is when I would start riding the blue/red routes at Dalby and my love for biking has just grown more and more.

We took Jacob to his first race up at Kirroughtree, doing the PMBA under 10s race, coming 2nd in his age category. This made me want to get into biking and racing even more. We all enjoyed it as a family, camping, having fun and meeting up with others. I thoroughly enjoyed my day racing but it was also great to see my boys taking part in the under 10s race, a moment to be proud of and great to see how much they have progressed in the few years on their bikes.

Photo by JWTD Photography.

COVID was difficult at first but then we soon got into a new routine and  found plenty of things to do we spent most of our time walking around where we live and at our allotment, we also did few small road rides around home, we are lucky that we have a private road out the front of out house so the boys would ride their bike and we have some ramps that they would ride off. As soon as travel was allowed we headed back to Dalby. Biking is something we do really enjoy as a family, me, my husband and my 2 boys.

I had a taste of my first race in April 2022, doing the PMBA Hope women Enduro at Gisburn, I did this on my budget Trek bike. I did no preparation, just general riding once or twice a week and this would be at the kids pace most of the time, never had any coaching, bought a ticket off someone who could no longer race, this was 10 days before race day. I quickly got on YouTube looking for videos of the trails that I was going to be racing, looking for features that I would be encountering. Thankfully I could go around all the features (which was most) that I felt I was unable to do.

I loved it, had so much fun, everyone was so friendly and helpful. I then looked to buy my first full suspension bike, which I got in July 2022. Having loved the race at Gisburn so much I looked at other races I could do and did the Yorkshire Pudding at Birdsall in July 2022.

Fox Boa Leaderboard 2024
Photo by JWTD Photography.

I attended a women pathway event for a free days coaching with Pete Rees (Kizerchief_mtbcoaching). This made me realise how much more I could learn from having coaching. Having taken away a lot from this day, I then went on to start having coaching with Pete in March 2023. I then had regular sessions with Pete. Having coaching and putting in a lot of practice has changed and improved my riding helping me achieve and get the results this season.

Getting on a bike and riding it is one thing but it is the skills you need to get the full advantage of the fun and thrills of riding a bike, whether you want to ride the trail center trails of more challenging off-piste then coaching will help you be better safer rider and have a lot of fun. There is always room for improvement. Without my coaching with Pete I would not be the rider I currently am today and looking forward to progressing more this year.

Pete offered me sponsorship in July 2023, so I have all the support going forward to keep racing. My sons are having coaching with Pete too, they love the sessions and have progressed so much over the last few months.

2023 was my first race season, started with the Birdsall Blast in March and then went on to do the Hope PMBA Academy & Women Enduro Series. I have loved every minute of it, getting 1st place at Ae forest and Kirroughtree and then the overall series winner in my category. My first race season has been amazing and still buzzing from it all.

It is a great feeling racing, the build up to race day, I always get nervous but once on the bike I just get in to race mode and focus on riding and having a great time. It’s a great atmosphere, all the women help support each other and have fun together. It would be great to see a lot more women out racing.

We spend a lot of time on bikes, our garage is full of bikes, we are always spending time on bikes. We as a family we love our bike time, have great fun together outdoors, keeping fit and enjoy the trips away to race weekends.

Balancing biking and family time is important, I always put my boys first.  I work 2 days a week so this means I get out on my bike in the week while my boys are at school, so the evenings after school are always spent with the boys, taking them to after school clubs and helping with there homework. In the school holidays the boys come out biking with me.

The boys also do a lot of riding at home on the ramps and of course I joint in too. I am a very organised person and like my days mapped out so I can get the most from my days.  My boys and husband are all very supportive of me and I am lucky to have an amazing husband who does so much for me allowing me to do something I am very passionate about.

Building my confidence and progressing on the off-piste. Plenty of racing planned for 2024, hoping to do a couple of the Northern downhill events, PMBA in April and August, Boltby Bash, Tweedlove Enjoyro Evo. Jacob is going to be doing his first PMBA Hope academy 3 stage race at both Kirroughtree and Ae and Joshua will be doing the U10s races at PMBA.

This year we have book a different holiday destination from our normal sun, sand and pool holiday, we are all very excited to be going to Morzine for the first time in the summer.

You can follow Katy’s adventures over on her Instagram feed here.