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Flo Espineira, fastest enduro rider in South America

Apr 29, 2020 at 16:08
by Yaroslav Alpizar  

Yari: Who is Florencia "Flo" Espiñeira? Where are you from and where do you live?
Flo: I'm from Chile, 27 years old. I've always lived in Santiago, Chile's capital. Nowdays I live on the outskirts in Melipilla with my girlfriend.

Yari: How and when did you started on cycling in general?
Flo: My first bike was special, my dad built it for my 10th birthday and for me was the best bicycle in the world, red with yellow spokes. With my dad we went for our first rides, no enduro, no DH, just went on longer and longer rides. So I ended up taking on XC until 2014.

Yari: How racing treated you so far?
Flo: Can't be more happy to be true, I'm pretty proud of what I've achieved so far. I'm chilean enduro champ for 4 years in a row and the fastest in Latin America. On the EWS my best so far has been a 6th position in 2018 in Lo Barnechea, Chile. To be able to participate on the EWS and see that I can be on the top10 is a dream come true.

Yari: Which team your ride for?
Flo: For a local team, Huilo Huilo, sponsored by JMC. Trailsports, national Norco and Fox representative support me with bikes and parts.

Yari: Which race, from the ones you've participated, consider the thoughest? Why?
Flo: So far, 2018 EWS race in Petzen/Jamnica and La Thuile. On both venues we had really heavy rain before the race and the course was totally wet and muddy. Where I live is very dry so I was totally out of my comfort zone, struggling just to finish in one piece. It was about been mentally strong and control my ansiety. It was really hard to be able to finish those two races.

Yari: So far which is the race from which you keep the best memories?
Flo: Hard to choose one. I would say the one I keep best memories is EWS Whistler in 2017. I went there with more friends, it was not just about the race but two full weeks riding and enjoying the best place on Earth for mountain biking. The race was the cherry on top of two amazing weeks. It also helped to rise the bar on my riding skills.

Yari: And the worst?
Flo: The first race I ever participated. I was 11 and it was my first technical XC course. I remember it was really hard for me and I ended up crying. From that moment on everything has been lot easier.

Yari: Do you have some kind of amulet or obsession when racing?
Flo: I've a checklist of things to do before the race, I leave nothing to chance. I also carry a small quartz stone that has a sentimental value for me.

Yari: Which are your strong points?
Flo: I would say the main one is my hungry for competing and to be on the top. I've very clear goals and focus on them through training and hard effort. Veen confident and constancy are key on any sport. I face my day to day schedule and trainings with a clear goal and intentions and when racing I give it all. My personal trainer has a phrase: Medals are won training, you just go to the race to pick them up.

Yari: And weaknesses?
Flo: For sure jumping, I learned to jump very late and if I can I stick to the ground.

Yari: For enduro racing: "blind" racing or trained stages?
Flo: Blind racing definitely, is fair for everyone and more fun.

Yari: MTB is a extreme sport and racing at the highest level has its own risks and is almost impossible to avoid injuries. How do you handle it? Have you had some serious injury, did it made you change how you race? How was the recovery?
Flo: 2019 was a tough year for me. Before 2019 I just had a broken finger, nothing else. In march I broke my collarbone in the EWS Rotorua. Got recovered and then in June had a big concussion falling from a 5m high jump. In October in the EWS Continental Series in Barriloche I broke my ankle. This last one was the worst of them from the medical point of view and for the recovery. It all made me to rethink my plans for 2020, I even had some doubts on racing at the highest levels, it was really hard mentally speaking. But I had some good friends and family nearby, my coach Juan Hang, mi friend and personal doctor, Nico Thumm and my girlfriend Coni Lailhacar. In January I was riding once again and it has been a long process to be able to be at my best and recover my confidence on the descents. I still feel I'm afraid to let it go and seen photos and videos I notice I'm not correctly positioned on the bike. I'm still working to recover all my skills and strength.

Yari: Four times Chile enduro champ, four years in a row, amazing results. How do you face the season knowing you may not be able to revalidate the title?
Flo: Well, you must choose what makes you a better rider and riding the EWS is the best experience you can get doing enduro. Racing the EWS I know I must be at my best, I must fight for each second and on every stage. I really love racing at home but is not the same, I only have men to compare to.

Yari: Three times Andes Pacifico winner. What does it mean for you?
Flo: Andes Pacifico is a stage enduro race, the biggest event in Chile and winning this race is all for me. The feelings, the participants, so many friends, international riders, an opportunity to share with the best riders of the world for a full week. I always look forward to race on my home country and if possible winning it for my fans, family and friends, is always special.

Yari: EWS, what about it, how it has been so far?
Flo: By far is the event that has made me grow the most as rider. The level is so high, each girl is pushing each other to be faster, stronger, better. Is hard for me economically speaking, to get sponsorship and travel and train for the race. Is literally a dream come true to be able to race the EWS.

Bike check
Frame: NORCO SIGHT A1 2020 29" size S
Fork: RockShock Lyrik Ultimate
Shock RockShock Deluxe
Wheels: DT Swiss 320 hubs on E13 rims 29"
Droppost: SDG tellis
Tires: F/ Schwalbe Magic Mary 2.6 R/ Hans Dampf 2.35
Drivetrain: Sram GX w/ Absolute Black 32t
Chainguide: Absolute Black
Brakes: Magura MT7 w/ HC3 levers
Seat: SDG Radar
Stem: Sram descent
Handlebar: Renthal alloy 35mm rise 740mm
Grips: ODI Elite Pro
Pedals: Shimano enduro XT
Weight: 13.8kg with pedals

Yari: Other than the enduro bike, what other bike(s) do you own right now, which one you ride the most?
Flo: I just have a road bike and a dirt jump bike.

Yari: 26, 27.5", 27.5+ or 29, what's your opinion, which one fits you better?
Flo: 29 for racing, 27.5" for fun.

Yari: Which rider impresses you the most nowdays or is your preferred?
Flo: I admire Veronique Sandler, I really like her style and I believe she represents everything I love on mountain biking.

Yari: Do you do an specific training, could you briefly describe it?
Flo: Hmmmm... I don't know if I do a specific training for enduro or mountain bike in general. I just do the most complete training possible, gym, skills, series, lot of riding, a bit of everything.

Yari: Which is or are your preferred ringing spots?
Flo: Nevados de Chillan and La Parva, both in Chile. Totally different and incredible places to ride.

Yari: When at home, how and where do you usually train?
Flo: I like to do some long rides. I live near the mountains so I go hiking a lot to explore and find new tracks and lines. I use Google Earth and some other apps to find new routes and then go explore them.

Yari: With the current COVID19 situation, with lots of cancelled or postponed events, how are you facing this season, have you changed something on your schedules or trainings?
Flo: I'm in the middle of a injury recovery so on the personal side has been a good opportunity to fully recover and come back to my full strength. I was struggling to get financial support for this year so I still didn't had any flights or accommodations booked. Everyone is quarantined but I live in the middle of nowhere so I still can go out and ride. Is a terrible situation everywhere in the world. I believe that 2021 will also be a difficult year for everyone.

Yari: How is to get to a race and seeing there are not many girls?
Flo: Well, this is changing for good, each year we have more and more riding and competing. But still bummer sometimes.

Yari: Why you believe there are not many girls racing?
Flo: I think is a paradigm that is slowly changing everywhere, there is a change on everyone's mind and the feminist movement has grown and is getting stronger. All extreme sports has been seen historically as a men only sport but women are getting more and more into them. We still need to break lot of barriers and established thought: mom and dad saying to their girl don't do this because is dangerous, most of the guides and coachs are men, small girls don't see lot of women doing what they like, there is ton of social pressure to do what is expected from you as a girl. Salaries are still noticeable different, sometimes we are considered not to be even professionals.

That's why I believe that other women and myself play a big role to help change this situation and break this chain. As example, I teach and coach on a MTB school, girls see on me an example, someone they see themselves reflected, then they talk with another friend about this, and more and more girls join to the classes. My journalist friend will help me to have more visibility if she is a woman, usually all the focus is on men so we don't get enough visibility. Without visibility there is no sponsors, without sponsors we can be professionals and then we can't progress. Is very important to keep creating women specific events, to spread the word and get all of us together.

Yari: What's your opinion on the present and future of MTB in Chile?
Flo: We have a big opportunity in Chile, for women and everyone else. There is a lot to be done in Enduro, there are not many events and not many kids racing or even just riding. There are some initiatives but still lot to do. I really want to create something around this and help the local riders with events, races, and more.

Yari: To help us to enjoy more our rides what setup of advice for our bikes would you recommend or advice?
Flo: Never stop having fun on the bike, enjoy yourself, do a manual, try wheelies, a bunny hop, track stands. All those are basic skills that will translate on a faster rider on the trail.

Yari: Tell us about what you do when you are not racing.
Flo: I finished my studies in Management and Sales at the university in Santiago and I´ve worked for couple of years with BikesTraining on a project with my coach, one related with women inclusion in the sports and a mtb school at my neighborhood. In 2020 is the first time I've had full support and I'm able to fully commit to my training and racing, thanks to Huilo Huilo and JMC.

Yari: What music are you listening right now?
Flo: A Spotify playlist named Indie 90's.

Yari: A preferred movie or serie?
Flo: I prefer to read. But Simpsons are a good laugh.

Yari: Preferred food, when you can choose it?
Flo: Peruvian food! Best of the world.

Yari: Camper van or Ferrari?
Flo: Van of course, to travel everywhere.

Yari: Beer or wine?
Flo: Beer!

Yari: Future plans and expectations?
Flo: Keep pedaling, getting to know new places and new locations for mountainbiking.

Thanks for your time Flo!!

You can follow Flo on the following social media:
+ Instagram
+ YouTube
+ Facebook


  • 2 0
 Congratulations Florencia!! What a great write up and interview. Have to say Flo is an extremely talented rider with powereful determination and profesionalism. She really is something else... Best of luck for the years to come, for yourself and your team!
  • 2 0
 Flo is a great rider and a very, very nice person. Rode with her (waaaaay behind her) in the last Andes Pacifico, and was amazed by her speed and control on the bike. Keep on riding that way!
  • 2 0
 Congrats Flo, you are a great motivation, looking allways be a better rider and have fun in this beautiful mtb world. Good luck this 2020 with HH team!
  • 2 0
 Que tremenda Flo!!! a recuperarse de las lesiones y volver a las pistas mas fuerte que nunca!!!! Felicitaciones por la entrevista te pasaste!!!
  • 2 0
 amazing athlete, a total example to follow! for the new generations!


  • 2 0
 Esooo Flooooo!!!! Q orgulo ver una entrevista tuya por aca!! y todavia queda mucho pa adelante... Vamos con todo mija!!!!
  • 2 0
 Amazing Flo Espiñeira. She is our maxim representative in the Chilean MTB, and better person also. Congratulations.!!
  • 2 0
 Great job Flo!! Looking forward to see you in a Factory Team soon!! Keep working hard and with passion, as usual!! Best!
  • 2 0
 Que grande Flo! Y muy buena la entrevista! Vamos que saliendo de esta pausa comienza la cosecha!
  • 1 0
 gracias Nico!
  • 2 0
 Grande Flow!!! Vamos con todo
  • 1 0
 gracias por pasaros por la entrevista! vamos Flo!!
  • 2 0
 Seeecaa!! ???????? Laaa mejor ????????????????????????????????
  • 2 0
 Buenísimo, a seguir por más!!!!
  • 2 0
 Esaaa Flo!!!! Eres una gran rider!!!
  • 2 0
 Yeeaah! Really good interview
  • 2 0
 Q año se te viene Flow, vamos por ese EWS!
  • 2 0
 Tremenda rider y aún mejor persona una capa la flow!!!!! Saludos
  • 2 0
 Loooo maximooooo!!!
  • 2 0
 Excelente Flo!
  • 2 0
 Go Flooooow!
  • 2 0
 Te cargo la bip Flo!

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