Kathi KuypersCrankworx Innsbruck:
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you know. - Winnie Pooh.
Sometimes it needs a stroke of fate to realize that riding mountain bikes is an absolute privileged activity that very few people have the opportunity to enjoy. I don’t want to bore anyone with another injury story and I’m not a big fan of making a drama out of injuries but sometimes destiny is a lousy traitor. I always knew that one day, if I keep hitting these big jumps and keep pushing my limits it will end differently than I expect.
And I felt it first hand. In September 2017, I ran out of talent, crashed on dirt jumps and broke several parts in my left leg. The first 2 months I wasn’t allowed to move at all and my therapists concentrated on just stretching my leg and being able to turn around in bed and sleep better.
I had to get through so much pain. Physically and mentally. Being off the bike, missing having sessions with my mates and missing the confidence it gives me was so bad to my mental state. I made the best out of it and because I didn’t have any muscles left and no neuronal control of my leg, I rode my E-MTB most of the year. It was the only way to keep up with my friends on a trail ride and in the bike park and those good vibes gave me the strength to keep fighting.
What I learned from it: riding mountain bikes is an absolute privilege and we should enjoy every second and cheer every little progression. I will never take it for granted to be able to ride bikes as a profession. I’m on a very good path on my road to recovery with the help of Sportschule FFB - Puch and on fire for 2019. It’s hard to realize that all of this will make me a better rider in the end but I’m a stubborn girl and I will make it work.
Huge thanks to my sponsors: Trek Bikes, Bosch, POC Sports, Five Ten, SRAM, Rockshox
Don’t forget to be awesome! Amen. - Kathi
I am riding and racing bikes for over 20 years now (damn, don't guess my age ;-))… so every season is the same in many ways but also completely different in others. On my agenda were countless bike events and riding skills courses but my personal highlight was probably to get back to racing after my heavy injury in 2016. I won the national title and got 5th place in 4X World Champs. It's such a shame to see this discipline getting less and less attention but in my eyes it's still one of the most spectacular races to see and most fun to take part in. I did a lot of trips in the Alps to ride in absolutely stunning scenery like Verbier and Zermatt in Switzerland and Sölden in Austria.
A big part of 2018 I used to organize my own first Bike Festival in my hometown in East Germany. I totally underestimated the amount of work that goes into running an event like this and I had to cancel my trip to Canada in August in order to make it happen. But at the end it came out super successful with about 500 visitors and many happy kids trying out bikes and racing on our new Pumptrack which was my intention.
Some of my most fun and exciting moments of 2018 I experienced with my dear friend and soul mate Micayla Gatto. In June we hung out in Saalbach Hinterglemm at Spielberghaus, rode amazing trails and organized another Bike&Art Retreat which was a super rad and unforgettable times.
In October we met up again in Portugal to go riding with local hero Francisco Pardal. We totally fell in love with Portugal and wished we didn't have to leave again. We will be back for sure!
Last but not least I spent December in my second home, the Canary Island of La Palma. It's just the best way to end a year on a high and reflect on all the amazing trails I was able to ride and all the great people I met.
More than ever I am extremely thankful for all the opportunities I am able to take and I wish the same to every other person that is so passionate about bikes. - Steffi
I decided to start the season with some cross-country and marathon races – serving as a bit of training motivation and getting used to competition load, too.
At the end of May ‘proper’ Enduro racing started within the Bikefest Kalnica, Slovakia hosting the first stop of the “Central European Enduro Series” CES. The first race of the season is always kind of special and happily I was able to win the elite category.
As I was aiming for the overall series, I had to hit the road again the following weekend, this time driving to Bielsko Biala, Poland for the 2nd round of CES. The trails were great, I managed to finish prologue in 2nd position. Because of some confusion on the part of timing or the organizer I was listed in Men 40+ results - I even had to struggle to be allowed to start in women’s field - during and after the race (although pointing out the mistake repeatedly), no awards ceremony for me despite finishing 5th, and it took them weeks to correct results...
Three weeks later in June the Austrian National Enduro Championships - concurrently CES #3
– were carried out at Schöckl / Graz. After winning the title in 2016 I went home with the bronze medal this year.
My personal highlight should be stop #4
of Enduro World Series in Petzen / Jamnica – the first EWS event carried out in Austria, spanning both Austria and Slovenia in one single event. I had major respect for this race as it would be a two-day-event with 2 days training and 2 days racing. This meant approximately 50 kilometres of pedalling with about 1500 m climbing each day.
Due to heavy rainfall the days before the race especially the rooty parts of the stages got extremely challenging. I guess it was not just me hoping for drier conditions. Apart from that every single stage was absolutely great. A nice extra was the underground liaison between stage 4 and 5 leading twenty minutes through old mining tunnels. After day 1 I was leading Women Masters Category with a comfortable advantage of nearly one minute, despite flatting my rear tire somewhere at the beginning of stage 3, the longest one with 6 km. It was crazy riding this stage with a flat tire!
On Sunday, a stupid crash on stage 4 sent me tumbling down a steep slope beneath one of the many switchbacks. My bike got caught by the branch of a fallen tree and it took me ages to free it and try to climb back up the slope where I left the track. Apparently as a result I was riding stage 5 much too defensively, and although my confidence was back on stage 6 I found myself finishing 3 seconds behind on 2nd position after the last stage. To be honest I felt a bit disappointed for the moment but hey, new game new luck! Besides, they were fun days out on the bike, chatting with the other girls. Hope to see you again at some races in 2019, ladies!
After these intense past weeks I’ve earned myself a bit of easy-going – suitably two weeks later I went to the biggest MTB event in Austria, the Salzkammergut Trophy to start at the eMTB Challenge. I was really enjoying the out on Trek’s Powerfly, cruising uphill easily on the transfers and only pedalling hard within the stages. The difference to common Enduro formats: each stage featured a so-called “No-Feet-Zone” (mostly situated within a technical uphill section) where you got penalty time if putting a foot to the ground. This kind of racing was really fun and finishing 2nd was a nice bonus, too.
In the middle of August a friend phoned to ask if I would want to join him in a Mixed Team at 3-Länder-Enduro Reschenpass since his racing buddy was injured. Never done this in Enduro before, I thought this quite appealing. We met on Friday for training some of the stages and most of all to get an idea of each others speed, riding style, line choice etc. At first I set myself under pressure as Niki was able to ride much faster than me of course. But soon I calmed down and started to enjoy just trying to follow as fast as possible. Niki was able to adapt his riding to my speed almost perfectly. After race day 1 we were sitting comfortably on 2nd position and finished the race on Sunday on just the same place, both happy with the result.
My final scheduled race of the season took place in Treuchtlingen, Germany at once the final race #5
of Central European Enduro Series. Meeting old and new friends and with a 3rd place in Elite Category I was able to secure my overall win of CES, too.
During the long and beautiful autumn, I was able to undertake some nice bike trips with friends cresting peaks around Vienna with stunning views and brilliant trails. Winter started promising, even Vienna received exceptional amounts of snow before Christmas.
A big thank you again to Trek, I’m really proud to be on the team for quite some years now! I’ll again give my best on your bikes for another race season, let’s shred and have fun! - Birgit
See you on the trails in 2019!