We chat to the founder of the Dirty Girls Ride MTB collective about the joys of being made redundant and moving to Morzine
Interview by Susan Greenwood
I love riding mountain bikes because I like the feeling of completing a tough track in one piece or a fast track really fast. I like the feeling of achievement at the end.
I had a little bike as a kid but I lived in London so only rode it around the back garden. It wasn’t particularly large and my parents are the most unsporty people I know! My first sporty memory was probably playing football with the boys at primary school. Most of them were better than me but I didn’t care.
In secondary school I was in the basketball and football teams and once I started working I played football for the office team with all the men. But most of them were quite unfit so I had age, rather than gender, on my side. I had always wanted to try snowboarding and once I started working I could afford it so I went on my first snowboarding holiday.
When I got made redundant in 2009 I decided I wouldn’t be sad about it or stressed about finding a new job. So I signed up for a ski season. I live in Morzine and I like it here as I have so many fun activities on my doorstep. I can ski, bike, climb, kayak, swim, even paraglide and horse ride if I was into that.
I’m also surrounded by a lot of people who live here for the same reasons, rather than just friends you make by default through work or school. In London you work a lot, get into debt easily to maintain a certain lifestyle, and have to pay a premium to go and do a lot of fun sports like skiing. I found I was always working but never had enough money. Now I pay for my annual lift pass and it keeps me entertained for a good chunk of the year! And the weather is generally better …
Snowboarding and downhill are not a winning combo like downhill and moto or skateboarding and snowboarding. But it’s being in the mountains, going fast. If you’re that kind of person you are half way to liking either biking or snowboarding.
I wouldn’t describe Dirty Girls Ride as popular. It’s not like we get millions of hits or Facebook ‘likes’. But it’s unique. When I started DGR, there wasn’t anything else like it that was easy to find. It’s a cool thing because of the friends you make through it. I could talk about downhill all day and it’s nice to have some mates I can yap away to and they don’t tell me to shut up. DGR has hooked me up with these girls who I never knew where there.
I work as an architectural project manager and designer helping foreign property buyers in the area renovate or build their new house. I don’t miss corporate life and even working in a French office is nowhere near as bad as London. You get a two hour lunch break that you can head up the hill in. There is no traffic, pollution or crap weather. People are generally happier, healthier and more chilled out.
It doesn’t matter if you are waiting for someone or they are waiting for you as everyone is just stoked to be on the hill.
I’ve been bike riding in a few places. Whistler, France and Switzerland, Norway, Italy and the UK. Whistler was awesome. I love the fact you can ride properly graded trails and build up your level. Finale in Italy is fun. The downs are so long and the tracks really fast and flowy. I think my favourite place is Drammen in Norway. I stopped there before going to Hafjell and it was the most amazing natural terrain. Not big but amazing. I managed to hurt myself so didn’t ride as much as I’d have liked but I’d love to go back for another go.
The best rides are when you are lapping the lift and see a different mate at the bottom of each run, you end up riding all day with a load of different friends and doing lots of different tracks. Then you all get some beers and have a BBQ at the lake and it’s really hot.
It’s very important for anyone to be into sport. It’s too easy these days to sit at a desk or on a computer. It’s good for your body and even better for your brain. There is no better feeling than going to bed and sleeping like log after a day of activity. And so many girls are on diets but if you do lots of sports, you can eat lots of yummy food and not feel bad or get fat. That’s my motivation anyway!
DGR and Diva Descent are looking to work together to promote women’s riding events and to get a few more things organised. Sarah and I both have jobs so working together spreads the workload. I am looking to do my first race this year and Diva is a great platform for that. France is a hard place to get races organised and all the local races are national or European cups. I don’t want to make my race debut at an international race! The UK have a lot more going on at the lower levels and I think an entry level race is a good place to start.
I like the idea of racing to get better. I know I would do things in a race I wouldn’t do normally so I think it’s good to push yourself. All my mates who were slower than me and then started racing are now kicking my butt.
For more info head to dirtygirlsride.com