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Girls bike mag


Emilie and Flo ride for Scott11 Downhill racing team. Their lives


involve road tripping with their team to local and far-flung places on the World Cup circuit. It is a life of constant travel, in confined spaces with a close crew of people; team mates, mechanics, managers, for the thrill of competing on the worlds most difficult and exciting courses. In Summer 2011, Emilie, a familiar face on the World Cup tour, she was back to try her chances at the Canadian and North American

The team met at Zurich airport

with 20 pieces of luggage to check in, big bikes, helemts, body armour, tools, it begins to add up. They flew in to Montreal, then jumped in a truck with the rest of the team from Scott Canada to roll over the long drive to Mont St-Anne. According to Emilie “The first two

days are always the same: set up the pit, build up the bikes, recovery with massage, naps and some short xc rides, and walk the track.� It takes a lot of

organisation and focus to prepare for even the shortest of Down Hill races, and walking the track, analysing sections and have it imprinted in the riders mind is fundamental to good results. Anyone who has seen Cool Runnings will understand that level that memory plays in a down hill sport, remembering each turn and root and rocky section, so the girls spent a few days training on the same track making sure they got it nailed.

´ Qualifying is serious, as you only get one run and if you don’t make the cut, you are out of the main race. Mont St-Anne is a true down hill track, it’s long and very physically demanding, so fast but also very technical in some places. Emilie and Flo both qaulified easily, taking a respective 6th and 2nd place. Both riders lost time at a boggy dead spot, and needed to learn from it to improve their results for the Final two days later.

All the training and fitness paid off

as both girls managed to hold their postitions on the long track. Despite that, the down hill race scene still has a strong party element to it, so once the race was over, it was onto the dance floor to celebrate with all the other competitors.

´ Both girls are loving the jet-setting lifestyle, as they cross boarders and go from one place to another around the globe, following the best and most technical Mountain Biking possible. They told Girl Bike Rider that they stay in all sorts of bizarre accomodation.

During the travelling, thrown

together and having to get on with it, the team becomes immediately close, messing around and playing pranks at the level that you would expect from a group of people who live by the rules of extreme sport. With so little time off it is rare that they get to go visit sights and landmarks of the places that they travel to. At the North American World Cup they had one day off and planned a jammed packed day into New York, snapping the sights, Emilie said “It was such a perfect day! Beautiful sunrise in the morning and sunsets at night over the Brooklyn bridge… We visited a lot of stuff although we had just one day, maximized our time and saw practically whole Manhattan. We drove Broadway, Saw the statue of liberty, walked through Wall street, posed in front of the Empire state building and went shopping hard in Soho. We ended up in Central Park for a small 15min break, the only break we probably did. Great day, amazing memories!”

But as dedicated sports women,

after this short time off, it was back to Game On. Back to training, looking at tracks, building up the confidence to try blind gap jumps with rock landings and working out their capabilites and limitations. There are inevitably big crashes, injuries and breaking bikes, and it is how they deal with this, as a team, that will allow them to be the best that they can be on race day. Following the final race, in which Emilie podiumed in 5th place, and Flo in 2nd again, they piled back into the truck and drove to Motreal. Stepping off the plane at Zurich to their proudly waiting parents, it is easy to imagine how the World Cup DownHill series shapes the lives of these girls. Bringing them new experience, cultures, places to ride and friends. Getting used to taking it all in her stride Emilie said “We sometimes forget how pleased we are, world cup riders, to get to travel the world racing here and there...I’m so happy to be part of the Scott crew and Mountainbike World Cup family!”

Emilie is sponsored by: Scott Sports, Velosolutions, Châtel bike park, Shimano, DT swiss wheels, FOX suspension, Schwalbe tires, TSG protection gear, Syncros parts, Aweka AG, G-shock watches

North American road trip Scott11 racing team 2011 Emilie Siegenthaler and Floriane Pugin


ride for the Scott11 racing team. Road tripping round the world, squashed in with your crew, lugging gear around to compete on the most difficult and exciting courses is what makes being part of the World Cup circuit.

The team met at Zurich

airport with masses of luggage to check in; big bikes, helmets, body armour, tools (the excess charges really add up). A flight to Montreal, then in a truck with the team from Scott Canada for the long drive to Mont StAnne outside of Quebec. According to Emilie (a familiar face on the World Cup tour) “The first two days are always the

same: set up the pit, build up the bikes, recovery with massage, naps and some short XC rides, and walk the track.� It takes Focus and organisation to prepare for even the shortest of down hill races. Walking the track and analysing the sections is fundamental to good results as is spending a few days riding it until they have it nailed, remembering each turn, root and rocky section is crucial.


Mont St-Anne is a true DH track; it’s long, physically demanding, extremely fast and technical. Emilie and Flo qualified with style, beating the cut and taking 6th and 2nd place respectively. Both riders lost time in a boggy section, highlighting an area for improvement before the final.

All the pain of training and preparation paid off

as Flo held on to 2nd place and Emilie to 6th. With the same enthusiasm that they throw themselves down mountains, down hill racers also party. So once the race was over, it was onto the dance floor to celebrate. ´ Crossing borders, globetrotting from place to place, following the circuit of world-class mountain biking and staying in all sorts of bizarre accommodation – the girls are having a blast. A strong bond forms from being thrown together, messing around, playing pranks and having to get on with it. With a packed racing schedule it is rare for the team to see the sights and landmarks of the places they travel to. They only had one day off which they spent in New York City with a rammed itinerary.

On the Windham course Flo Beautiful sunrise in the morning stormed to the 2nd place podium spot with Emilie in 5th. Following and sunsets at night over the the final race they piled back into Brooklyn Bridge… We visited a the truck with souvenirs of mud, lot of stuff although we had just bruises and trophies, broken one day… We drove Broadway, saw the Statue of Liberty, walked bikes and great memories. Stepping off the plane at Zurich through Wall Street, posed in front of the Empire State Building to their proudly waiting parents, and went shopping hard in Soho. it is easy to see the positives for Great day, amazing memories!” the racers of the World Cup Downhill series. Bringing them Said Emilie. new experiences, immersion in Then it was straight back to being other cultures, places to ride and focused for the next race at new friends. Taking it all in her Windham in upstate New York. stride Emilie said, Training, studying the track, “We sometimes forget how building confidence to try blind pleased we are,(as) World Cup gap jumps with rock landings and working out capabilities and riders, to get to travel the world racing here and there...I’m so limitations. There are inevitably big crashes, injuries and trashed happy to be part of the Scott bikes. It’s how they deal with this, crew and Mountain bike World Cup family!” as a team that allows them to be the best they can on race day. “It was such a perfect day!

Emilie is sponsored by: Scott Sports, Velosolutions, Châtel bike park, Shimano, DT swiss wheels, FOX suspension, Schwalbe tires, TSG protection gear, Syncros parts, Aweka AG, G-shock watches





WHEN AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO CYCLING AS A COMPETITIVE SPORT? My mum and dad had always cycled and they encouraged us to do it when we were younger so we just did it for fun. At one point, our local bike shop, Phil Corley Cycles, had a banner on the door for a local Trek youth challenge at Milton Keynes Bowl, so I went along. They seemed to think I was pretty good. Dad then took me to Sunderland and I did one of the national series races there and won it – beating all the boys, and I decided to carry it on.

WHY CYCLING? WHY NOT ANOTHER SPORT? At school I was in to all sorts of sports and took part in all the competitions but cycling was always the big one, I suppose it ran in the family so didn’t cross my mind to do anything else.

DID YOU EVER THINK ABOUT IT BEING A MINORITY SPORT FOR A FEMALE TO TAKE PART IN WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG? No, I never really thought about that. I knew I just loved it! Nicole Cooke won the Olympic road races and Vicky Pendleton on the track. I just assumed it was going well for women as well as men. Reading more magazines recently has meant I’m starting to notice it a bit now, and being in a continental team is making it more obvious too.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS KNOWN THAT YOU WANTED TO BE PRO? I never really thought I was ever going to be a pro. I always thought it would be a dream of mine. I am not the most intelligent person and when it came to school work, I never had a lot of enthusiasm for it. I was the only one from my year who didn’t apply for university, and when I explained to the teachers they didn’t quite get it. I kept getting phone calls from Connexions asking me what I was going to do, I was like “I want to race bikes” and they were like “Okay.” I am really looking forward to next year with my new Specialized DPD team and just generally living the dream.

HOW WILL YOUR LIFE CHANGE? My life will change a lot. Not having mum cooking me dinner and dad not being there for me when I need a mechanic. I will be living in a house with eight girls from my new team; we will be training together, cooking together and racing together. From the one weekend we spent together it looks like we all got on pretty well, but none of us know who’s fastest, or what our roles will be in the team. This year we will just be working it all out and trying to prove ourselves for next year. I do love going to the cinema and that will be a thing I will really miss. Also the fashion, no offence to the Dutchys but they have a totally different style to what I am used to. The biggest thing I will miss, though is my family. Not seeing them near

enough everyday will be awful, and I don’t know who I will argue with now.


My new team is Specialized DPD. I got their contact details from a friend and e-mailed them, then they got back to me saying they would be up for me joining the team, which was great after I’d applied for so many and noone had got back to me. My Dad never wanted to me to join the British Cycling Academy, although they weren’t taking riders this year anyway. Joining a professional team feels really real, it’s like getting stuck in and having to perform straight away and should be great fun too, travelling to big road races, not just having to train on the track every day. I don’t know what to expect from them. It’s my FIrst year on the continent so I don’t really know the score. I am just looking forward to the whole thing and to getting some good experience in the major, big races. I’m not entirely sure what they are looking for from us, they haven’t said anything. I think they just want to suss us out. They expect for us to do our best and to get some good results in big races.

WHAT ARE YOUR RACING HIGHLIGHTS? I don’t have a specific racing highlight. If I had to choose, I think it would have to

be the Commonwealth Games time trial gold. It always upsets me that in the Worlds I could have stood a good chance if I hadn’t punctured. Winning the Assen Youth Tour this year and then going straight to the Elite Women’s Circuit Race Champs and winning that was great as well.


The Worlds as a whole was very disappointing for me, with the puncture in the time trial and then I got a cold, so it all was a bit of a disaster! But with Elinor (Barker) coming second in the TT and Lucy (Garner) winning the road race it wasn’t all bad. British Cycling is good at saying it’s all about team work and they congratulate the team which is nice.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS IN THE SHORT TERM AND YOUR BIGGEST DREAM? In the short term I would love to do well in the UCI races I will be taking part in next year. In the longer term I would like to take part in the Rio Olympics in the road race and hopefully take part in another World Championships.

DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE MISSING OUT ON ANYTHING WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP AS SUCH A DEDICATED SPORTSWOMAN FROM A YOUNG AGE? When I was younger it was really fun. Mum and Dad tried to make it as fun as they could so we would still enjoy it, but then it suddenly got serious. During the summer I tend to miss out on things but I don’t really mind too much as I love what I do and I still get to enjoy spending time with all my friends (who also ride). When the season ends I tend to make the most of it. Especially up until the New Year, then it gets a bit more serious again.



The Olympics in London is a huge deal for the UK. I think the biggest bonus is the new velodrome. Now having three indoor tracks in the country is great and means I have now got one that is a little closer than Manchester or Newport. Hopefully our track racers will do as well as they did in Beijing and the sport will get even bigger here… and you never know, it might even catch up with football! With the Team Pursuit team doing well, Laura (Trott) in the Omnium and all the sprinters being so good, I think women’s cycling will definitely grow afterwards.

Women’s cycling is getting noticed a lot more now, with them doing so well on the track and Lucy winning the World Champs… it’s made it a lot better. It still has along way to go to get up to the men’s standard but I don’t think that will ever happen. It’s the same in every sport really, that’s just how it is.

Interview by Lara Dunn Freelance Journalist and Product Reviewer


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Cyclo-cross, the national sport of Belgium; the sport that draws tens of thousands of spectators at events, turns riders into celebrities and race courses into mythical theatres. The same sport that in the UK is only known to exist by the most dedicated of cyclists and the unwitting dog-walker who stumble across an event during a Sunday mor ning stroll. What is it? Who does it? Who cares?

Helen Wyman, one of the most talented female bike riders to be produced by the UK, divides her time between Bedfordshire in the UK and Oudenaarde in Belgium for the sake of being able to make a living doing what she loves.

Listening to her at a public talk in the Winter, it became clear to see why she chose to leave her home country to pursue a discipline that simply is not publicly-followed in the UK. Whilst she is also a competitive road racer, she prefers ‘cross. Whilst track racing here has televised events, nothing can compare to a course lined 5-deep with fanatical cheering fans. Races become festivals, and Helen is one of the rock stars that they are there to see. Cyclo-cross is a winter sport associated with mud and cold. To describe it in a nutshell, Helen says cyclo-cross is “Full gas, action packed, technically

challenging and adrenaline filled racing off-road”. It is a speed-event, in which you dodge trees, negotiate pits of sand and race elbow to elbow against other riders. It is not a sport that a person will just “do” it is a sport that has to be raced. This means that to be a ‘cross rider you are very likely to be a committed cyclist. The bikes, styled as a durable road bikes with knobbly tyres and extra mud clearance, will only be ridden for racing and occasional training. It requires at least 2 bikes to be brought to a race, plus several a portable jet-wash and cleaning equipment, plenty of changes of clothes and support people in the pits.

We are left wondering why riders are so committed to this sport and what draws the spectators. Helen explains “Cross is special from start to finish. It’s the Marmite of cycle sport. Everyone at events loves it, on both sides of the fence. As you stand on the start line, waiting for the Formula 1 style lights to give you the start, you can see the passion on the faces of every spectator. When the lights are red, you block everything out, ready for

what in most sports would be a finishing effort. That’s how we start and finish races, and we tend do the same in the middle. It’s unique. The courses are hugely varied, from fast dusty wide tracks, to deep sand dunes. Every course brings its own challenges, its own skill set and its own masters. With 3 bikes, 15 pairs of wheels and 2 support crew, it takes a big plan to keep the show on the road for each rider, and all of that for a 40 minute race”

And the spectators? well, we believe this to be a cultural revolution, with spectators you get more spectators, simples. And the crowds draw the riders and the riders draw the crowds until you find a small, European, land-locked country making flags and singing songs in such a way as you would only see at a football match here. Over 20,000 spectators line the 2.5km at certain courses creating a hyped atmosphere that’s addictive to the fans and the riders alike. Each supporter has his or her ‘rider’ and wear their supporters club hats and jackets with pride. Cyclo-Cross in the UK is growing once again, after a decline started after the UK hosting the 1992 World Championships in Leeds. Last winter the London Cyclo-cross League saw participation numbers of female racers rise significantly. There is a small band of super hard-core cyclo-cross riders across the country, the numbers are growing, the courses are improving, but the is one fundamental piece missing: the fans. It is a tough living for a female professional cyclo-cross rider in Belgium, so without the following it is an impossible task to get supported by sponsors in the UK. So each winter, Helen, along with all the best riders in the world, migrate to the mud fields of a small, fanatical country to try their luck at winning races and being rewarded with living the life of a professional cyclo-cross rider. There are not many that can say that.

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