Libby is an athlete who is passionate about minimising her carbon footprint as she competes in mountain biking. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, I always loved being outside and moving, but never found a sport I was very good at until I found a passion for cycling.
How did you first get into mountain biking?
I was lucky enough to have a couple of after school sessions during secondary school and found it was the first sport I really enjoyed. I loved the places a bike was able to take you and that feeling of freedom when going down trails fast (probably wasn’t that fast at the time!). Fortunately, my parents were able to buy me a second-hand bike and I volunteered at a local outdoor centre for many years. They helped me with all my questions, maintenance problems and took me to some very cool places. I have never looked back since then and still have that feeling of freedom every time I get on a bike.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
My first Twentyfour12 torchbearer which was held on a very wet weekend in July 2015. The race takes place midnight to midday with the aim being to complete as many laps as possible. This was one of my first proper cross-country races against a lot of very experienced people, all a lot better prepared then I was. The atmosphere here is amazing and draws me back every time. At 4 am when I was tired, wet, cold, all I wanted to do was give up. However, someone who was in the running to win the 24 hour race slowed his pace to cycle next to me up a hill and told me if I just kept going till 5 am when the sun starts comes up it’s the best feeling and I’ll be able to finish the race. He was right.
What is your proudest achievement?
In 2019 I won the South West XC series Sport female, whilst having a hard year trying to balance a new job and training. This showed me that my training was paying off and gave me the confidence and motivation to carry on competing.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
I have been very lucky during races and never had a mechanical, but I have had one DNF from a nasty crash. I went over the bars and damaged all the ligaments and tendons in my shoulder. This took me 6 months to recover from and I missed the rest of my race season.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Something I have learned, which has taken me many years, is that you need to give yourself time to recover from any kind of setback. Too many times I have tried to come back from an injury or illness too soon, which ultimately leads to having more time overall off the bike. This works for any setback though, you need to give yourself time to feel sad or angry or whatever the feeling may be, then work out the solution to come back even stronger. This is something I’m working on, but still struggle with.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
When you are racing nobody is judging you. Firstly they are too busy worrying what they are doing and secondly, especially for women, people are really glad you’re out and giving it a go. Also, the cycling community is so friendly, never be afraid to ask anyone anything, we all had to start somewhere.
What are your goals?
In 2021 I hope to compete in my first British National Sport Series (Covid permitting) with the aim of finishing top 10. My smaller goals are to complete a 200 mile ride on my road bike and learn to manual on my mountain bike.
Who inspires you?
Isla Short has been a massive inspiration, she finished 5th in the World Championships last year. Her passion for riding purely just for the love of it is really refreshing to watch. She also started out just like me racing local races and moved her way up to nationals and beyond. If I could achieve even a small amount of the success she’s had that would amazing. I also find inspiration from my local club, The Wadebridge Coasters, which has some incredible female riders in it, and as a whole is the most supportive club I’ve been a part of.
Why work with Sundried?
As a zookeeper the thing that attracted me to Sundried is that they produce all their clothing from sustainable products and make their production as low carbon as possible. It is important to me to try to leave as small an impact as possible on the planet, meaning my two passions in life have combined in this great brand. Also the pair of velo pro bib shorts are the comfiest pair I own!
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