2015 marks the 7th year of Trek's four women team of lady-shredders; Steffi Marth and Katja Rupf have been on board since 2008, Kathi Kuypers since 2013 and Birgit Braumann joined in 2014. The season kicked off in Europe with the Riva Bike Festival at Lago di Garda in Italy with the girls taking the chance and get out for a little photo shoot, a guided tour with some lucky winners from a competition from adidas eyewear and hanging around at the Trek booth.
Trek Bike Attack, Lenzerheide Switzerland
It was perfect conditions for the girls in August at the Bike Attack race. After two days of training, the Quali run went really well for the everyone. Birgit finishing in 1st place followed by teammate Steffi Marth, 3rd place Kirstin Kögler and Kathi in 12th place. So the girls were ready for the mass start race on Sunday. Birgit finished on 2nd place, Kathi on 8th and Steffi in 9th place.
A look back with Birgit: TGG's Austrian Enduro Racer
"I started highly motivated into the season at the Enduro 3 Camini in Trieste, Italy in April. The new Slash 9.8 was feeling really fast and the body was ready for racing. But on the last stage of day 1, not even 20 seconds before the finish line and holding the fastest time on all stages, I crashed hard more or less from of nothing – I must have touched a tree with the handlebar. Immediately it was clear my arm was broken badly at the wrist.
Sometimes things don't go as planned any my racing plan schedule was skipped...
After surgery my surgeon told me I wouldn`t be allowed to ride a bike for the next 3 months. This was quite a shock having to suspend from biking for such a long time but as it turned out I really would not be able to at least pedal carefully without any bumps on the road before 8 weeks…
In July the Glemmride Festival in Saalbach was my first attempt to be back on the bike. I met with my teammates and decided to give it a try in the bike park, but all those breakbumps and the rough ground caused too much pain and I had to surrender.
The next test for my recovery should be Trek Bike Attack in Lenzerheide. I was able to ride pain-free on my home trails the week before, so I decided to give it a try because for me this race is especially linked to a lot of positive memories.
After two days of training I was terribly nervous at the start of my Quali run. I didn't know if I could hold together a full race run and my arm was ready for 15 min of race modus... As we Austrians started as the very first, I didn’t know for a long time how much my time was worth – but after hundreds of riders and finally all of the women being down, I knew I had won the qualification run just in front of my teammate Steffi Marth and Kirstin Kögler from the BMC Enduro Team! Race day also turned out fine – finishing 2nd behind Kirstin Kögler without that much training and practice was much more than I could have expected.
Podium Trek Bike Attack, Quali and race run.
Lenzerheide’s results encouraged my decision to register and start at the Downhill Masters World Championships in Vallnord/Andorra – top priority again was taking absolutely no risks and not to crash. The trackwalk nearly caused bad dreams as the lower part was that steep you weren’t able to walk down there without prepared ropes... The first run revealed a really varied and fun downhill track, and the steepness of the lower part was no problem at all - it felt a little bit like powder skiing (you just weren’t able to stop straight away. Summarized, I went home with my first Masters Worlds Title!
My last "serious" race was the final stop of the SSES in Leogang. Training on Saturday was fun, I like the stages in Leogang a lot - at least, when it’s dry… But like last year, the weather changed overnight and on Sunday morning it was foggy, rainy and particularly really slippery on all those roots and rocks. Finishing 4th in Elite
class was still fine with me, some of the girls got really fast this year and especially in these wet conditions I’m still in no-risk-mode.
Big thanks to my TREK-family and sponsors, proud of my TGG-teammates and looking forward to a new season ripping all those well-known and still unknown trails!
A look back with Kathi: TGG's Bavarian Freerider
"What day is it today?", asked Pooh. “It’s today” squeaked Piglet. Pooh answered: “my favorite day”.
Kathi at Greenhouse Urban Pumtrack race.
Perfect conditions at La Poma Bike Park Barcelona during winter times in Bavaria.
And that’s how I have spent my last 12 months. A huge thank you to my parents and sponsors for making it possible to experience and learn so much again this season. I feel super lucky to be able to compete at several races, loved it and had some joyful results.
I am at my happiest when on a bike, doesn’t matter which one or where I am. Learning new tricks and learning how to be steezy on my bike keeps me going and there is always room for improvement. That’s why I spent the rainy days in my foam pit and the dry ones at my local Bikepark or on a trail around the world.
My TGGs are my partners in crime and I couldn’t imagine anything better than spending time with these rad girls. They are not made of sugar and spice and all things nice. They are made of adventure, fine beer, brains and no fear. There is no competitiveness within the team and supporting my girls’ success makes me proud and won’t ever dampen mine. We travelled to almost every bike event in Europe, gave clinics, raced and infected other riders with our Trek Gravity Girls vibe.
One of my best week was at the rude Lodge in Morzine. I got to know the rad Fox crew and did the Passportes du Soleil three times in a row. I’ve pedaled over 200km through Portes du Soleil’s bikeparks and amazing trails. It was good for my cardio and a test for my Bavarian liver function!
For 2016 I want to improve myself and push limits on to the next level. No matter if it's the dirtjumpbike or the Enduro bike. I'm looking forward to film more and participate in events like Crankworx and some enduro races. I'm so ready for another year on Trek Bikes.
A look back with Steffi: TGG's German Downhill Racer and Freerider
Every time I come to reflect on my past bike season I wonder if there is any chance for it to become even better than the one before. Luckily I realized this happened once again a couple of days ago when I flicked through all the great photos I have from 2015. It all started with an exciting winter in the mountaineering Mecca of the French Alps that is Chamonix. I was lucky to call the area under the great Mont Blanc my training ground to get fit for the upcoming season.
Wintertraining Chamonix style for Steffi in the offseason.
With some visits to Pila and Sanremo I built up the friendship with my lovely toys for the season - the Trek Session 9.9 and Trek Slash 9. The first DH World Cup came along very early in Lourdes, but I had a good start with a 15th place in qualies and lots more to give. Unfortunately I crashed on the steep chute section during the early morning practice before finals and got taken to hospital, sealing a less-than-ideal fate for my summer's racing. From then on I had lots of problems with my right shoulder throughout the whole season with a torn rotator cuff and detached bicep tendon. Nevertheless I managed a 15th place at the DH World Cup in Fort William and gave it some more tries in Leogang and Lenzerheide before deciding I needed a break from racing to heal it up.
Away, from the race tape and ticking clock, my boyfriend Nathan and I took a little time-out to explore what Japan´s bike scene had to offer. After getting bombarded with all the amazing ski footage in the winter before we just had to check the main island Honshu out on two wheels. Top Japanese DH rider Hiroshi Ato and his lovely girlfriend and mtb-ripper Keiko Tomita showed us around their Osaka local trails, Kyoto´s bamboo forests, Fuji Panorama bikepark and some Tokyo culture. The whip-off champ, Bernardo Cruz, completed our happy travel team and I will never forget the great time we had between all the Sushi and sick bike action.
As the downhill racing was a bit on ice because of my shoulder I decided to compete at the slightly smoother 4X World Champs in Val di Sole. Although it seems like 4X is dead, the brilliant Italian venue took it back to the main stage under floodlights and in front of huge crowds. All the corner carnage, crashes and champagne reminded me a lot of the old 4X World Cup atmosphere and I came away with my second bronze World Champs medal.
Two weeks later I was back on the big bike in Andorra for the World Champs. It was a tough race for me after the long injury break and still not finding full strength, but although my result was not what I went for, I had heaps of fun on this amazing track in the crazy mud-fest. As racing was done for the year Nathan and I felt this travel desire again and we booked a last-minute ticket to Utah.
Rampage was always the mtb-event on top of my 'must-see' list and did not disappoint! Just watching and helping Nathan out with the photography wasn't going to be enough though - I wanted to sample some Utah Freeriding myself! After riding some smaller stuff at the old Rampage site we found a big road gap Wade Simmons built many years ago and I ended up jumping over our rental truck for the best picture of my career so far! It was such a great trip and the perfect end to a tricky season. Now I've had surgery on my shoulder and can't wait to grab life by the bars again!
A look back with Katja: TGG's Swiss All-mountain Extraordinaire.
My bike season started with the traditional come together at Europe’s biggest bike festival in Riva del Garda. It’s always nice to meet each other again after winter and have some time together with my teammates Kathi, Steffi and Birgit. Next stop for me was GlemmRide Bike Frestival in Saalbach, Austria. Shredding trails together with Kathi and doing many laps on the pumptrack.
Definitely the highlight in 2015 was the journey to Nepal together with my boyfriend René Wildhaber.
Twelve days in a row on the bike in an amazing scenery. One backpack for each other so that we could travel light and could enjoy the trails. We started our trip with our friend and guide Tenjing Gurung from Trip Himalaya in Jomson. On day 5 we arrived in Lo-Manthang – the capital city of Upper Mustang, where we changed our bikesaddles and switched to different saddles for some horse-riding. The air was getting thinner and thinner and on day nine it was money time. We started early in the morning in Muktinath, 2570m above sea level. On the long way up we to Thorung La we saw Yaks grazing on frozen grass in an amazing sunrise light . Above 5000 meters the air got really quite thin and the bike on the shoulder felt as heavy as Benders drop machines back in the days. With a big effort we made it up to the pass at 5416 m.
The downhill from Thorung La to Manang on 2570 m was epic – the longest single trail I ever rode. Many hikers were astonished to see a woman descending this steep and rocky trail on a bicycle . In Besi Sahar on 970 m our trip ended and we took a shaky taxi back to Kathmandu. This great journey ended, but the memories in my mind will always live on.
Beside working full time I managed to coach at the Dakine Freeride Camps in Switzerland and enjoyed every possible Minute in my home mountains in Switzerland.
That's it for 2015 with the Trek Gravity Girls... See you on the trails in 2016! Follow us through our season facebook.com/TrekGravityGirlsinstagram.com/trekgravitygirls/
Thanks for the pics Trek Bicyles, Adidas Eyewear, Katja Rupf, Rene Wildhaber, Steffi Marth, Nathan Hughes, Birgit Braumann, sportograf, Nejc Bole / SloEnduro, Clemens Capeller, Christian Egelmair / Green House Pumptrack race, Dakine Switzerland, Johannes Fredheim, Alexander Keil, Dominik Schall, Ben Winder photography.
Last but not least a big thank you to our amazing team sponsors for making it possible - Trek Bicycle, Bontrager, Adidas Eyewear.