Katy Winton, mountain bike racer, answers our questions


This rising star of the sport, who features in the Outdoor Passions section of our May-June issue, gave us so many great answers that we couldn’t squeeze them all in. Here are the ones that didn’t make it.

How did Round One of the Enduro World Series, in New Zealand, go for you?
It was an awesome race. I was travelling all the way to the other side of the world just to race my bike, and that totally blew my mind. It was the first time I had been there. I feel so lucky to be in the position I am in. The race itself was really tough – seven really physically stages in seven hours was hard work, with 1,800m climbing. The tracks were really varied, lots of roots and turns and lumps that made you have to really work the bike, then two super fast trails at the end, with big jumps and drops. I had five good stages and two not so good, but I got through in one piece and achieved my goal of top 10 (ninth), which I am over the moon with.

How long did you have there to prepare for it?
ENDURA-JPEG-HIGH--206We had a week before the week of the race to get prepared and get over the jet lag, which was perfect. I wasn’t sure how I would react to jet lag, but I was fine. It was also good to have an extra week of summer weather.

How does mountain biking there differ from in the UK?
Well, when you go to a new race spot you want to know how the dirt is so you know how much grip you have, and how fast it is. In Rotorua the earth is volcanic which is so cool. It’s really weird to ride in because it’s like sand and mud mixed together. In some areas it’s packed down and like a motorway, and in others it’s loose and deep dust. In the UK we don’t have earth like that. The forest in New Zealand is like a moist jungle, as opposed to our old wood forest. The biking community reminded me of home, though – so many people mad for riding bikes. Kids, groups of women, families – there was even a group of grannies out loving it. During the race people were in the most remote parts of the forest to watch and cheer us on. I was only in the North Island, I’ve yet to discover the South but it’ll be a whole other load of epic.

What’s been your worst accident so far?
BGM_CW_Rotorua_2015_14_3590When I was in Finale Ligure, Italy in 2013 for the final Enduro World Series of the season I had a dodgy crash on to a load of rock on my wrist. I thought something was up but I did the final stage. It was actually a fractured scaphoid – a notorious bone for slow healing. The crash itself wasn’t traumatic but the injury meant six months with no bike riding to make sure it healed properly and strong. It was a tough six months but I learned so much about the power of attitude. That injury was a test and a learning experience. My legs were still working, so I made the most of what I had and did running rather than focusing on the fact I couldn’t ride a bike. It was a positive experience rather than a negative one. A situation is what you make of it. It’s up to you.

When away from home, how do you relax between races and training sessions?
Well, last year I was living out of a van so usually we’d be travelling or finding the next river to wash in, or a launderette. It’s a bit different this year as the races are spread out differently, so there is more time to do nothing, which is what we should be doing. I like to nap, eat, chat to people… anything really – so long as I can sit or lie down.

Do you take an interest in contrasting forms of cycling, such as track cycling or multi-day races such as the Tour de France?
Yeah, I love sports and admire what the cyclists do. No way would I want to train on the road for five hours plus every day, or ride round in circles all the time. I train hard but I also get to go to the tops of mountains all over the world and have a lot of fun. For me the fun part is really important. I admire the track and road cyclists for their dedication and I love to watch them compete.

If you hadn’t become a cyclist, what would you have done instead?
029-1I would have wanted to do something in media, TV or radio – I like to chat. I give talks for Winning Scotland Foundation’s Champions in Schools programme and get so much satisfaction out of talking to the kids to try and inspire them to be active and to be the best they can be, so maybe some sort of public speaker or something.

If you’d like to read the rest of Katy’s answers, click here to buy the May-June issue of the magazine.

In each issue of Scotland Outdoors, our Outdoor Passions section features a different personality. Here’s another one, featuring the nature and landscape writer Robert Macfarlane, who also gave us too many great answers for the space available. His popularity has grown even further since we interviewed him, with the publication of his current book, Landmarks. Read on.

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