Monday, 26 October 2009

Quality film ... Foot out Flat out 2

Fionn Griffiths, queen of DH oh yeah, sent me this link for 'Foot Out, Flat Out 2, which is out end of November. Her words: 'There is just so much passion and emotion within those two minutes!'

Nuff said. Mind you she is very good at sticking her foot out ...

And is it just me or does Sam Hill look a little bit evil? Just a touch.

More Mountain Biking >>

Getting Minxy with Jones and a Krank

Haven't been blogging for a bit because it's hard to blog about bikes when you aren't riding one and finding new trails, routes etc. However I am tentatively planning a Chicksands dirt jumping session next weekend, mainly because Tom said he was going riding and it got my back up.

But also my mood was darkend by this: I don't even know why it depressed me, it just did on many, many levels.

But hey, I'm not judging. Just one thing beginners: lycra is not necessary for learning to ride a bike. Nor is being female. But hey, I'm not judging.

Luckily for me I dragged my miserable ass off to Frome to hang out with Debbie from Minx-Girl. If you're having down time on a bike, Debbie will re-inspire you. Fact. She also gave me a pair of Swrve riding jeans. These are without a doubt the best freakin things ever! Look like jeans but softer, less chaffing, more comfortable and just rad. Hence why I'm suddenly psyched to go dirt jumping. You'll be able to get them on Minx when the new site is up any day now. But the best thing was, we took our singlespeeds out for a pootle and it was lovely riding my bike with mates again. Plus Debbie rides a super Jones singlespeed which is like a light tank. 29 inch wheels plough through anything and the front forks are rigid but with a twist:

The extra bar soaks up vibration so you can get down most things - not talking DH here, mainly rolling over small people etc. Jest! And the Mary Jane bars are super comfortable. It makes you feel invincible. Get one.

And then to top it all off I watched Kranked's Revolve movie which features a section with a blind MTBer on Santa Cruz. Kinda puts a gammy knee into perspective. Plus the movie has one of the best sections I've seen in a long time - four riders, one trail, awesome. The rest of the movie is pretty hey ho.

Kranked - REVOLVE Teaser from KRANKED/ReJeK+ on Vimeo.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Ups and downs

Gosh what a roller coaster of a weekend. Firstly Tom, photographer extraordinaire and I went down to Devon to go on a ghost hunt in Ilfracombe. I've noticed that now I'm off the bike for a few weeks my ed is giving me stranger and stanger assignments. Still. Makes a change and Tom loved getting pics of the spooky house. And I looked like a ghost after a five hour drive down on Friday night. One thing: 24 hour Tescos in Barnstaple - like an oasis of weird joy in the midst of something really quite baffling.

Then on the way back - oh and no we didn't find any ghosts although someone threw some stones and we all jumped - we saw this little baby:

Seriously - how good?! Like so good. It's my dream car although we worked out it would cost at least four times more than our Ford Transit Connect. Sigh.

So that was the up part. And the down part was finding out that the Drop Off cafe at Glyncorrwg will be closing on Christmas Eve! WTF?! I don't know the ins and outs and there's probably some massively scandalous reason but frankly it doesn't make sense to me. So instead of having a great cafe selling fantastic food really cheap, they are going to have a mountain of passed out MTBers who couldn't make it into Glyncorrwg before they collapsed of hunger. A great big pile of MTBers. A pyramid of twitching riders, all desperate for a chunky ham sandwich and carrot cake but no. Denied the only joy after Skyline by the Glyncorrwg Ponds Committee (he he) for some reason which clearly isn't the right one. Freaks. Anyway Ian is hosting a closing party of 5 December to coincide with the Kona Mash-up. Brilliant reason to get mashed.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Things you only find out when you're not riding your bike

As I am stranded without wheels and instead wallowing in a sea of needles (acupuncture people, acupuncture tsk, tsk) I've had a series of epiphanies which have rocked me to my core (a rather soft core as proved by two sessions of pilates.)I have decided to share these epiphanies with you in a series called: 'things you only find out when you're not riding your bike.' Hold tight to your pants as there are enough revelations contained in these blog posts as it is.

#1: You have no social life
Riding your bike makes you a very popular person. In essence this is because there is only really room for one person on your bike. You. Not only are you a great person making spending time with yourself a joy, but if you are an arse, noone has to know unless you give them a backie. Or sandbag them on the climb at White's Level. Natch. It also means you are always busy: 'Fancy a massive night out with all your non-bike mates tonight?' 'Aw dudes, I'd love to but I'm riding tomorrow, bit of an epic so I need to get to bed early yar? Soz.' 'Oh my god I am like, so busy at work! So much to do inbetween watching it's a nightmare! I'm just going to have to work late and eat pasta and margarine as I've no time to shop. Wow! My life is wild! No time to shop! Yeehar!'
Remove the bike from the equation and you are hilariously buggered. You get home at a decent hour and don't need to spend the two hours before CSI cleaning your bike. So instead you scratch your ass and stare at the ceiling. Suddenly the town you live in doubles, nay, quadruples in size full of places you have never been. How do you get there? Buggered if I know, I can't ride my bike. You could take the Tube. Dear God man are you insane??! Time Out suddenly becomes the paper reality of the Israel/Palestine conflict - you know you should get to grips with it but it's been so long you have no idea what's going on anymore. It's too late! You've missed out! It is so obvious that you don't know what the hell is cool anymore.
Then all your bike mates start tweeting you about rides they are doing or parties they have been to and suddenly the whole vacuous nature of your existence sans bike begins sucking at your soul like some all-encompassing Black Hole of doom. At which point you find yourself talking to your bike as if it's a human being. Which obviously it is but you can't ADMIT that in public.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The pros guide to coping with injury

I am starting my first week of physio this week due to a gammy knee and a back blow out a few weeks ago. It's getting me down. Understatement. Especially as we head into winter and I can stop swatting gnats as I cycle. Then this morning I got knocked off my bike cycling to work. Bust right arm. The driver cried though which was the only redeeming factor of the sorry affair.

But instead of whinging I decided to ask some people in the know how they cope with a long period of injury. Because injury is a pretty common occurence in our sport.

And frankly, the answers were inspiring. From DH legend Tracy Moseley to Bob Barber at Manchester Velodrome, these guys have offered their wisdom. Read on ...

Tracy Moseley, Trek World racing Team and 2nd in UCI World Cup, 2009
I think when you are doing sport and training everyday you have to expect that at some point you will get hurt and I think the first step is to realise that. So when it does happen you deal with it as if it was just another training block. You work hard at the physio the rehab etc and it becomes your priority for however long it takes. Sometimes I have felt that it has been a useful downtime, and you can often reflect and make plans for your return much better when you have a little more time and you can't do everything you normally would. I have taken injury time to catch up on reading, acquire some new skills, learn stuff and have a rest. Any time you have had off exercise and training only gives you more motivation to get back out there and the fun factor and pure pleasure of just being able to do your sport again is amazing.

Jo Petterson, DH racer on Commencal
Injuries are pretty common in our sport, but that doesn't always limit us. Sometimes if we are lucky enough we can push through scrapes and cuts and some, even the broken parts. For me I have been SO lucky and had two broken parts in my career. My ankle which was completely immobilizing and my wrist which was bad enough to stop any hope of working through it to race. With my ankle I just lay in bed thinking about all the sweet races I was missing, watched the WNBA playoffs, and took three online courses, biology, creative writing and women' s history.
All fascinating when you are stuck on crutches. I did a lot of water therapy and started riding road as soon as I could. I had surgery, a plate and six pretty screws put in so recovery was not rapid but it was worth it. Last year when I attempted to fell a tree with my head and broke my wrist I used the time I had left still at races and took photos of the events. Photography is an important part of my life, but took the back seat when I started racing. So naturally that was an awesome way to fill my days.
Then after a few weeks I got myself a water proof cast and went surfing. Naturally awesome!!
Basically I just try to do things I love that don't involve bikes, keep myself entertained and also have great people around me that make me smile and can share their lovely bike adventures.

Phil Moore, Morvelo team racer
After the initial sulking has taken place and the swearing i tend to try and focus on the thing in y life that slip by when i am out riding my bike, trivial matters such as house work, diy etc. Then when the appeal of house work have worn off i get down to the more interesting things: fixing my bikes/building up to new bikes ready for when i can ride again, ride vicariously through watching videos, drinking beer then due to the anesthetic properties of beer the injury stops hurting so you go riding, hurt yourself again and go back to square one!

As for motivation? Anytime spent not riding my bike is motivation to get fixed and get back onto my bike again.

Neven Steinmetz, 4X and DH racer
Unfortunately I've become a bit of a pro at being injured, although I'm not sure that's something to be proud of. For me, I go crazy when I can't exercise, so I generally try and find something that I can do that works around the injury. The usual suspects are swimming (I swam 10.5 km in that damn pool in Morzine this summer with my broken ass!), riding the trainer (not my favourite), and yoga (I do this all the time anyway, so this is the preference, for sure!). If you're on crutches you can play the balance between the crutches game (way easier with american style crutches), it's great for the abs!! It's definitely hard to stay positive, but I try to focus on other things that make me smile rather than focusing on the injury. Luckily, I love reading books, so I try and think about it as a good way to catch up on the pile of books I've been planning to read but never have time for when you're getting to ride all of the time!

Debbie Burton, cyclist and founder of
The first and most important thing to do when you get injured is to act like it never happened to anyone else before. Really, describing the event and resulting pain in every last detail will make you (if not your friends) feel so much better. The second thing to do is get a sports physio on speed dial – even if you need surgery, what happens in physio during the months after will make all the difference between
getting bike riding better and 'as long as you’re upright we really couldn’t give a damn' better. If you can find a sports physio that does acupuncture then so much the better. (Nope I didn’t believe it worked either – until it did.)

I'm lucky I've never had (crosses everything) a broken bone. My issue is bad knees, and coping with their injuries and subsequent downtime has made me big on the power of prevention. Doing the exercises that keep my knees strong, making time for the yoga or stretching in front of the telly that stops muscles piling on the tension that sets
everything up to go twang at the slightest excuse. It’s become a habit that's not even tedious any more – although the jokes about getting my ankles behind my ears are.

Bob Barber, cycling manager, Manchester velodrome
Firstly, make sure you have a GP that understands your sport. If you say to a GP 'my leg hurts when I cycle', you don't want to be advised: 'well don't ride your bike then'!

Your GP should be your first contact when injured, just in case there needs to be medical intervention or a prescription. Otherwise, if its musculature or skeletal, find yourself a renowned cycling masseur/osteopath. The best ones don't advertise - they are already very busy, and you only find out who they are by talking to elite cyclists in your area, who go to them each week for a massage. While they don't fix broken legs, they are very good for remedial work after a fracture has healed, and riders who have been told they won't ride a bike again by the medical profession, have achieved just that by these cycling Svengalis!

Chris Garrison, women's manager Trek
How do I cope? Beer.
I find that when I'm injured, my reaction goes through the five stages of grieving: denial (I crashed, but I'm fine really. Honest); anger (I can NOT believe I crashed! I'm such and idiot! Gah!); bargaining (alright look, if you just heal a bit quicker I promise not to take that corner so fast next time); depression (I'll never ride again); and finally, acceptance (Ok, I'm hurt now but I'll bounce back. I WILL ride again!).
Once I've accepted my fate, then I try and make sure that I do whatever I need to do to ensure proper healing. For motivation, I watch videos of people doing things I'll never do, but wish I could. I also read cycling magazines, and our Trek Life blogs and newsletter (, and look at photos taken by my friends from various rides.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Interview with Jess Stone

You know when you go and see a band in a scuzzy pub and you watch them thinking 'wow, these guys are really good,' then a year later they are massive? Jess Stone is like that in DH riding at the moment. Could she be the new face of women's DH next year? Read on ...

Woohoo! You won! It's a really exciting time for you at the moment. What does it feel like being at the beginning of something which could be really big?
It's really amazing you know! It's certainly an incredible feeling. I'm aware that I have a lot of work to do though. It's not easy and I lack experience, so I'm just taking it race by race and aim to continually push my limits every time.

Do you work towards specific goals or are you just riding and seeing where you end up? Do you feel any pressure at the moment?
Of course there's pressure, but only from myself to perform as I'm so competitive within myself. I have a few goals and I'm constantly setting myself little targets just so that I know and can measure how much I am improving. I always take each race as it comes so whatever happens, happens! The targets can range from getting within a certain time behind the leader at a World Cup (get within 22 seconds of Tracy Moseley) or being able to sprint that extra 10 seconds - something like that.

What does next year look like for you at the moment? What are your plans?
My plans are to do a full season of World Cups and get some top 10's so that I can compete at the World Championship. Compete at the British National Champs Series and hopefully win that. That's as far as I have got. It's still early days as the season has only just finished and decisions are still being made about the 2010 season.

On the podium in Rheola last month, winning the Nationals.

Nice Loeka pinstripe DH shorts ... If you could design/adapt any piece of DH race clothing, what would it be and why? I have a thing about DH jerseys - still haven't found a nice one.
To be honest, and without being biased - if I was to design a piece of DH clothing, I'd have designed the pinstripe shorts! Got beaten to it - damn! It's great I get to wear ladies stuff that fits well and that looks cool. The jerseys are difficult though, it's always about personal preference. You might think this weird but I'd love to have a jersey that has the picture of the head of a tiger in negative either on the sleeves or on the back and front. The colour scheme would be, black, white, pink and gold!

Where's your favourite DH track? Do you ever turn up there and think 'ah stuff it, I can't be bothered to ride today.'? What makes you not want to ride?
My favourite downhill track is Hopton. That place is like home to me! My usual ride over the winter is a place called Bringewood in Ludlow close to where I live. It's 20mins on the train then an hour's walk to the track. Then you have to push up all day. One time, it rained so hard you couldn't see, but I made myself go. I made the train journey and the push on my own, I was so cold and soaking wet through. Then I saw that the track was super, super muddy ... I was over it! So I walked back to the train. Nothing normally ever makes me not want to ride, I love it too much, hence why I still ride even if it's raining.

And conversely what gets you psyched for riding?
Imagining myself riding usually. But if it's a beautiful day, all I want to do is ride my bicycle!

Where is one place you haven't ridden but would love to/plan to?
I haven't ridden at Whistler bike park yet. Everyone raves at how awesome it is there. I can't afford to go there just yet, probably be a few years down the road 'till I can make the trip.

Is there any part of your riding you feel you need to work on at the moment?
Hmm … well everything to be honest. I'm very critica. Particularly though - I feel my jumping is not the best, my pumping technique needs some work and learning to carry my speed better.

Have you been star-struck recently?
Oh yes... But I couldn't possibly tell you who he is as if they read this I will get very embarrassed!

Do you ever look down a DH run and think 'are you insane?! no way!'? What freaks you out most in DH?
I've never thought that but I definately wonder sometimes how I'm going to make it. The biggest thing for me is jumping and drops - getting my head over trying to launch myself into mid air - it doesn't feel natural at all. But I'll give everything a go.

Can you tell us about your rig? Any quirky set-ups we could copy and use to get good?!
I ride on the most unique bike on the World Cup circuit at the moment. It basically has two air shocks instead of your average one coil shock. It's the '2Stage Elite9'. It's fantastic to ride and so good through corners and over small bumps - it's also really great and easy to jump. I hate to be boring and very unhelpful, but I have no special set ups! I just ride what is set up for the normal factory setting and that works perfect!

What skill/ technique/ event pushed your riding forward the most?
Definately, definately, the first two rounds of the Maxxis Cup Series. It was only the second time I had ever been abroad and this was my first international elite race - they had the biggest jumps and drops that I had ever done until then. They really pushed my mental ability, I had to do them to get a result. The tracks were unlike anything I had ever ridden. I came second in both races, not too far off Tracy Moseley. I believe they pushed me forward in my riding as when I did my first World Cup qualifying (which was only a couple of weeks after the Maxxis) I qualified 10th! I then came 17th in the finals.

Who's the coolest chick on the DH scene do you think? How would you describe the women's scene?
I don't know, I wouldn't say there's one cool chick. I will name a few names who I think are cool - Tracy Moseley, Helen 'Weapon' Gaskell, Fionn Griffiths and Katy Curd. They are all pretty damn cool!

Are you at Uni at the moment or are you riding full-time?
I wish I was riding full time but I've just started University at Worcester studying Sports and Exercise Science so I'm flat out. I've joined the cycling and boxing teams at Uni too - I'm keeping busy.

Jess racing at the World Cup in Bromont, Canada earlier this year.

I always ask this question: can you tell me a story? It can be any length, and about any subject, it just has to be a true story in your life.
Oh dear I'm rubbish at stories! I have a few pretty cool ones but I'll tell you this major one in my life:

I played football for as long as I can remember. When I was five or six, I used to watch the big kids play and all I wanted to do is to become a footballer. I moved up to Shropshire from Surrey when I was about eight. I started to play a bit of football and got pretty good, beating the boys and scoring goals. When I got to Church Stretton secondary school, things kicked off. I was asked to play for the school football team and I was put in goal (because I was so enthusiastic and no one else could be bothered). So from then on, I was to become a goalkeeper. I had no idea about goalkeeping, so I had a few tips then went for it.

I did my first national with the team that year. Looking back, I was a terrible goalkeeper! However, we got to play on Aston Villa's premiership ground, Watford's and Chelsea's Stamford Bridge pro ground where we won 6-1. That was such an amazing experience!! I was totally hyped and determined to be a better goalie! I worked really hard, went for trials and ended up playing for Shrewsbury's centre of excellence team. I got a little bit of coaching there. I also started to play for the county (Shropshire) and we were doing pretty well. I managed to get some specific training off Andy Mulliner who was a top goalkeeper coach.

When I was 16 (2007) I started to play for Crewe Alexandra Ladies team, who were a league below the premiership. It was hard, the standard was so high. At this time, I decided to have a go at downhill biking as well. My P.E teacher had inspired me to have a go so I went for it, now saving for my first DH bike.

That year, our school football team went for another national title. I was ready for it this time. We kicked butt in all the matches with a only couple of close games. Every game was so emotionally draining for me as I wanted our team to win so much. We did awesome and got to the finals which were at Manchester City's premiership ground! I was so nervous I felt sick. However, I had the best game of my life and only one goal got past me. We scored six! That feeling was amazing when we won. Like nothing I had ever felt. We were on TV, had interviews and everything!

Shortly after that, I received a letter saying that I had been selected to be on standby for England's Under 19's and Under23's training camp and I was so happy! However, things were getting rocky with Crewe, I did not like the players they were bringing into the team, so I wasn't motivated to play for them anymore. I wasn't enjoying the football and I couldn't transfer to another team as transport was a huge issue for me. I had also managed to save up for my DH bike and I was really getting into it. The biking was so different.

Two months after this, I did my first race and did well and decided Downhill was the way forward. It was the hardest decision I had ever made. A massive risk I know and I got a lot of stick off people - they couldn't understand why I was leaving football. I guess they thought I was giving up and lost ambition. I believed in what I could do, so nothing else mattered.

That first year in 2008, I won the Junior National Championship, the Junior English Championship and won two Series. (I had been both a National Champion at Football and Mountain biking before the age of 18!!) Then I moved into Elite this year (2009) and won myself my first International Series: The Maxxis Cup, I had 3rd place at the National Champs and Won the last National Round at Rheola ...

So I guess I'm not doing too bad for a young novice!! ;)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Morvelo online store now open

There is life after Twin 6 apparently. I am currently working with Phil 'the horse' Moore who races for Morvelo, on a podcast for next week. The lovely chap has just informed me that the Morvelo online store is now up and running.

If you've not checked out the apparel from the boys from Brighton yet then I'm afraid you are missing out on some really rather lovely cotton, loveliness. Everything this lot do, scream 'I love riding bikes' in a rather non-cliquey bollocks kind of way which makes refreshing change these days. The designs are nothing short of rad and coming in at £20 for a t-shirt, pretty affordable too.

At this juncture it's also worth pointing out that Phil once raced FIXED GEAR MOUNTAIN BIKES. The big, big freak.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Stop the madness!

I'm busy at the moment. Like, proper busy. I got back from Vegas on Monday - Interbike, radness but also involved quite a lot of cliquey bollocks which was weird. Best part? Leatt neck braces, in particular this one:

Yum, yum, yum. Vegas baby!

Anyway, I digress. So yep really busy, not getting any time on the bike due to business and busted back/ knee scenario, except to commute to work which frankly five times out of 10 just makes me angry. So when I'm busy and angry and contemplating the Cycle Show in a week, it doesn't help to get a press release about women and bikes which includes the line: 'In a first for the cycling industry, Cyclodelic's Girls Guide to Cycling will demystify many of the issues facing the growing number of women who cycle; by hosting specialist talks from celebrity experts about everything from nutrition, fashion, hair and make-up tips for cyclists training kits and how to get started in competitive cycling to the best routes around the ...' And it ends there. Which is probably good because it's hard to see where the patronising meter could have gone from there.


Could someone tell me how putting on make-up and doing my hair is a mystifying issue?

When it comes to cycling the issues I want demystifying are:
1) How the sweet bloody jesus can I clear that triple at Chicksands?
2) Seriously, does beer make me a better dirt jumper or is that in my head?
3) When will someone make a DH jersey that is cool?

I could go on. But I may go to the Cycle Show, visit Cyclodelic's stand and just have a big fat laugh. Women don't need to be patronised into cycling. Here's a news flash: maybe some women don't want to cycle! Who'd have thought it? Where are the campaign groups trying to get more women into yoga? Or snooker?

And perhaps if people started thinking of women riders as athletes rather then people who look pretty on bikes, Victoria Pendleton and Nicole Cooke, Florianne Pugin and Tracy Moseley might actually get the recognition and sponsorship deals they deserve.

I'm ranting. Must go and stare at that Leatt neck brace for a bit.

But thoughts welcome.