Through the eyes of a Mountain Biker
We sat down with MTB rider, racer and Sigma Sports staff member, Kirsty, to chat about everything from dogs to downhill.
Thanks for taking some time to chat! For those who don’t know you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Kirsty and I have been working for Sigma Sports in Online Sales and Customer Care for about a year and a half. Before that, I was a Bikeability instructor in schools and taught beginner cyclists to ride in the local area. Since starting at Sigma Sports I've lived in Surrey with my other half, our 1-year-old German Shepard Nala, and our many, many bikes!
Do you find working in the industry has strengthened your passion for cycling? And Is Nala a trail dog in the making?
It has made me spend a lot more money, that’s for sure. The temptation is higher when you get to see new bikes and kit on a daily basis, and 95% of conversations in the office are about bikes, so it certainly wouldn’t be as enjoyable if I didn't have such a love for the sport. Nala is still quite young, so isn’t ready to head out to the trails just yet, but she loves being around bikes and at the races. I think she’ll make a great trail dog when she is a bit older!
So mountain biking, where and how did it all start for you?
I started mountain biking around 5 years ago now. It all started with a trip to Swinley on my Mum’s hybrid bike and I have been hooked ever since! Swinley was certainly a great place to learn as everything is rideable as a beginner, but then you can push your limits the faster you go. Since then I have travelled all over the UK to ride, but I’ll still pop back there every now and again.
Great to see you’re as passionate as ever, what is it that keeps you hooked?
A love of the great outdoors definitely helps keep motivation high throughout the winter months. It can be difficult to get out sometimes when it is constantly wet and cold, but you never come back from a ride regretting heading out. Although I do have to admit that I have chosen to hide away in the gym this winter during the week instead of night riding, and I’ve been really enjoying making progress that is going to benefit me come race season.
Racing or riding for leisure, which do you prefer and why?
That’s a really difficult question, as each has its own benefits. Racing enduros can often just feel like going out for a ride with friends, and having so many people all in one place does make racing so much fun! Downhill racing is all about that one run and making it count, so that kind of racing gives you a huge adrenaline rush, and is really exciting. Riding for leisure is also great fun as you can pick and choose what you feel like riding on the day, and the opportunities for adventures are endless.
Living in Surrey, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to great local riding. Where are we most likely to find you on a weekend?
There are so many options to choose from, so I tend to mix it up to keep things interesting. If I’m riding locally you’ll find me at Leith Hill, Peaslake, Rogate or Aston Hill. Peaslake and Leith Hill are great for longer pedals, whereas Rogate and Aston Hill are perfect if you’re just looking to ride some fun downhill tracks.
What are your plans and goals for 2020?
My main goal for 2020 is to have lots of fun racing and to visit some spots across the UK that I haven’t had the chance to ride yet. There are a couple of Scotland trips in the calendar already, so I am super excited to head up there again and explore some more trails. Fingers crossed there will be another trip abroad at some point, but that is still yet to be decided!
You’ve spent some time riding abroad, what’s your favourite location?
My favourite spot has to be Morgins. We visited there for the day during a holiday in Morzine and the trails were so good! There was a great mix of fast, flowy trails and steep technical descents. Even the green trail featured some of the best corners I’ve ever ridden!
Number one riding spot still on your bucket list?
It would have to be New Zealand. The trails look amazing; it would certainly be a trip of a lifetime. I have family close to Queenstown who actually own a bike shop, so that seems like a great excuse for a visit.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting racing?
Just enjoy it and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to begin with. Enduro mountain bike races are really relaxed. They feel more like a day out riding with friends than the normal pressure associated with racing between the tapes, so they would be a great place to start. Make sure you take plenty of snacks to keep you fuelled up and just enjoy it!