At the beginning of the year, Trek announced that seven professional female athletes would be riding their bikes. This roster included downhill racers Rachel Atherton and her junior protege, Mille Johnset (from Norway), XC athletes, Emily Batty and Bec Henderon, the ever stylish, Casey Brown and enduro athletes and the focus of this article, Brits Tracy Moseley and Katy Winton.
Tracy and Katy make up the female portion of the 'Trek Factory Racing Enduro Team' - the product of Tracy and team manager, Ray Waxham, which was started back in 2014. "In 2012, after Val di Sol, I was talking with Tracy, our 2011 UCI DH World Champ who was starting to race a new (to me) discipline... enduro"
says Waxham. "After our conversation, it was apparent she needed support, so I extended my ten-day trip to five weeks and followed her through some regional enduro races and into the newly formed Enduro World Series. As the series gained momentum, racers from all our Trek programs took part. Tracy was joined by her DH teammate Justin (Leov) and Megavalanche expert, Rene Wildhaber. Then, Trek XC racers Ross Schnell, Heather Irmiger and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski were on board too. I was the default team manager as I had worked with all these athletes through Trek’s Race Shop for years."
Moseley has been riding and racing for 20-years and has undoubtedly paved the way for many female riders over a variety of disciplines. She is a role model to many girls and women, many she supports through her own up T-Mo Racing team.
Tracy's active involvement with the next generation of female mountain bikers is no secret but she hasn't had a female teammate for six years. Katy Winton’s potential and determination to succeed on the EWS caught Tracy’s eye and over the years that followed, they eventually formed a friendship. True to Tracy’s nurturing nature, she pushed for Katy to be part of the factory team in 2016. We hit the road with Tracy and Katy as they loaded up the camper and traveled between the Irish EWS and the TweedLove Festival in Scotland to got an inside view into what it's like to be two top female racers on the Enduro circuit...
|It's awesome to ride with girls. You ride with them and not just get dropped and left to ride round yourself. It's great, you get to have the banter that usually all the lads have except you're at the back and can miss out on that. - Katy|
From Dublin, we loaded everyone into the van - myself, Tracy and James - and with Katy at the wheel, headed over to the Ticknock trails for a Trek dealer ride. With an energetic and outgoing personality, there was rarely a moment, if at all, that Katy wasn't laughing or smiling.
At only 22, Katy has spent most of her life riding bikes and prior to getting involved with Enduro had raced XC. Katy comes from a background of road racing of which she says, "can be easy to feel like an outsider in road
" and that she's found "the MTB community to be more welcoming to all sorts of riders, male or female, young or old, with only one provision; that you are enjoying your time on the trails
." After a day spent with dealers on the trails, we were to head out in a camper van for a few days and make our way to Scotland and the TweedLove Bike Festival...
Our first port of call was to Kirroughtree's world famous trails in the Galloway Forest Park, home of the McMoab trail; Scotland’s version of Moab... With pale white rock, and enough grip to hold an off-camber track-stand on without sliding out, the trail certainly seemed lived up to its name. With no immediate race to practice for, no pressure and no stress, Tracy and Katy were excited to be riding Kirroughtree. It’s one of their favorite trails in Scotland, but one that they rarely get to ride due to racing schedules.
|Katy brings a real fun element to the team as she is always a happy, smiley face who just loves riding her bike and having chance to ride on a pro team has been her dream come true so it's been cool to have someone with that energy around the team. - Tracy|
|It's like having a guru of experience with a depth of knowledge and not just of bike riding and racing but of the bike industry and how it works. Tracy and her partner James have been so helpful and generous with their time, I can't thank them enough. - Katy|
|I love life on the road now that James and I have the camper van... I can just pack everything in and it's just like having our home on wheels! - Tracy.|
TweedLove Bike Festival
We roll into the Tweedlove Festival and the International Enduro after a rest day on the road. The girls head straight into practice and while it would be impossible to go through each trail and know it all root by root, the discussion over lines and tracks goes into overdrive as everyone regathers at the pits after practice. The girls share lines and thoughts on the stages and question what mechanical specs for their bikes would be most suited for race day. They each have their different strengths and weaknesses, but it's clear they use them to help each other progress.
|There is so much to learn from Tracy with all her years of experience of being an athlete and racing... The most benefit thing is seeing the way she balances her time around training, the way she prioritizes and prepares for events and day-to-day life. Like food prep, regular massage to look after your body, etc. At races she is unfazed and doesn't get flustered... that calm, solid and happy attitude is perfect to be around when racing. The endless amount of time she has to put into the next generation of bike racers, female bike riders and generally getting anyone and everyone out onto bikes is what inspires me the most - she's just a bike rider, like the rest of us, with no ego to get in the way of that. - Katy|
Come race morning, the atmosphere in the Trek pits are lighthearted with Katy and James keeping the laughs coming, but the main focus is bike maintenance and to ensure that they were ready for a long day of racing. That and the increase in fans approaching the pits to grab a chat and that all important autograph.
|From being a privateer or being on a small time sponsorship deal, at the pits you've got to look after, maintain and fix your own bike. You have to ensure transport and accommodation is sorted beforehand, prep and sort out your own diet and maintain training, whilst also attempting to fully focus on racing. To be part of a pro team and to have people there to ensure that all you have to do is focus on racing, is very surreal... especially when you've only recently transitioned. I get to ride and race bikes with Tracy Moseley - the best female enduro rider ever to exist thus far, not to mention all her DH achievements and learning from the best is only going to make me faster. To have the support I have with Trek Factory Racing alongside Tracy... you couldn't ask for a better set up, I feel very lucky! - Katy|
|Yeah I hope Katy can learn a few things from riding with me and also how I go about my racing. Things which I have developed and learned after so many years at it! For me having someone younger and with boundless enthusiasm is great as it keeps me young, and also reminds me just how much fun bike riding is and how it should still be even after 20-years... Sometimes I can get tired and grumpy of life on the road and that in reality, I love it! It makes me realize how lucky we are to have this opportunity and that's cool. - Tracy|
Tracy's Coaching Tips
Tracy had Hattie Harndon with her too, a member of her grassroots T-Mo Racing team. Hattie is a recent addition to the program, and every ride or race together is a learning curve for them both. One of the stages at the Tweedlove Enduro was particularly steep, loose, tight and very technical. To prepare Hattie for this stage Tracy simply prepared her for the type of terrain that she would encounter and made sure that she gave Hattie plenty of faith and no fears. This type of coaching is typical of Tracy's style and personality.
|Stating that there is a potentially difficult feature at some point in the trail can fixate the riders mind on it, leaving them with little concentration for the rest of the track as they're constantly on the look out for this forewarned feature. Instead, explain the type fo terrain the rider will encounter. Everyone perceives obstacles differently. What may be a big jump for some, may be a small mound to others. Remember this when offering tips. - Tracy|
Tracy won each of the 7 Stages over the weekend and by at least 7-seconds over Katy who came second, who is gradually trying to close the gap down between them. Given her time and prominence within the MTB community, Tracy is one of the most down to earth and sincere female riders around.
Throughout the week Tracy and Katy each used their strengths to help the other overcome obstacles - both mental and physical, making their bond both on and off of the bike even stronger. These are two awe-inspiring women whose friendship, laughter, riding, bond and impact on the MTB community is everything you could imagine and hope for. Having role models like Katy and Tracy is amazing and it only shows that riding isn't just about going as fast as you can between the tape, but about the relationships you form along the way.