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Tracy Moseley on switching from DH to Enduro

We sat down with two-time DH World Cup winner and three-time Enduro World Champion to talk about making the switch from DH to Enduro. Read all about her switch in the second chapter below. Missed the first chapter? Scroll to the bottom of the page for the link to the first chapter of Tracy's story.

Looking back to when I started there’s a huge difference

When I got serious about Downhill competitions I was in my early twenties travelling the world with my bike, but there was no plan, so I was pretty fortunate. I did my education and left University but I was just seeing how it would go year by year. I was going with the flow and the opportunities that came. There was not much planning. I remember thinking that things were going well when I turned up to University with a brand new Ford Focus from a sponsor. I still don’t know how that was possible from just riding a bike! I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to combine something that I love with my job. I know that’s not the reality for many people. 

Those first few years of me racing DH were on these ‘revolutionary’ new Downhill bikes. They were almost like motorbikes. Everything felt over-engineered and over manufactured, mostly they were built to last but nothing was lightweight so pedalling was hard. It’s such a difference to now with all the streamlining, the suspension technology and the brakes being so minimal yet so powerful. Now we get more engineering quality and more ride enjoyment through components being so lightweight.

There’s a big difference in the riders too. Certainly if I look at myself there wasn’t the professionalism in terms of training plans. People who were good a DH rider were the ones who had the most skill or were the most fearless. The after party drinking sessions and general lifestyle that went round it were a lot of fun, and there wasn’t a lot of hard work being done in terms of hours in the gym, maintaining a good diet or training like a full time job.

In the UK there were no gondolas so you’d have to push your way to the top on most of the hills. You’d spend an hour pushing to the top just to ride down. So when I first went to WCs and there was a chair lift it was amazing. I was like ‘I don’t have to pedal at all, I just bomb down the hill’. So many things have changed in terms of bikes and the athletes themselves.

It was only towards the end of my DH career that I started to train properly. Before that I rode my bike loads but mainly doing loads of jumping and slalom tracks, just playing on bikes. Skill acquisition was a bigger focus rather than actually being fitter and stronger. 

The transition to Enduro…

As a young kid I had no interest in training. Training was painful, training was boring. Riding a road bike was something you’d never have dreamt of doing. That changed hugely as I grew older. I needed those extra advantages.

Tracks started to have more pedalling sections around this time so you were losing time if you didn’t. I remember people saying ‘Tracy would do really well if only she would pedal’. I used to stand and just roll down the hill, I would never really pedal.

It was only through meeting James, my husband, that I started doing more adventure, more big rides and I was enjoying more of what bike riding can be. I was then going to World Cup races thinking I’d like to explore what the rest of this area is like, rather than just this one downhill. That’s why the transition to Enduro happened.

I enjoyed the feeling of being fitter, thinking about my diet, losing weight, being a more healthy, rounded person, and that enjoyment of wanting to ride a bike more, exploring where I was, seeing more places. The travel/adventure side of it was huge. I got a lot of pleasure from getting myself to the top of the hill, so the downhill then meant more. 

…It was never really planned

I was 33 when I stopped racing DH. The switch to Enduro was never really planned, but it was the direction I was going in. I liked the fact that in Enduro there were so many more aspects you had to get right to win the race.

When I did the Enduro World Series I was almost training like a cross country rider. I had the technical skills from Downhill but the thing I really needed if I was to be successful in Enduro was to be fitter. I was just doing hours on the road bike in the winter and actually enjoying it.

I think I was a bit ahead of the curve with Enduro in terms of how I was training for it. I did things like bringing slick wheels so I could do an easy spin without having loads of resistance. Or if it was a pedally stage I’d wear carbon XC shoes. Before you weren’t allowed to take peaks off helmets I’d even cut chunks out the peak to get more airflow. I was always trying different things.

I was known for carrying loads of spares. In the early days of Enduro I was still in DH mode so I hated carrying anything. James was my mule in training. But when I was racing I started making all my own food so I knew exactly what I was eating – mostly rice cakes and energy balls – stuff I could eat like normal food. I used to see people on their sixth gel by 11 in the morning, I didn’t want to be like that. Also I didn’t want to get to a feed station and run the risk of there being nothing there, or only local food that I couldn’t eat. After that I started to take lots of spare tubes, a big trail pump, at least three CO2 cartridges, and tools like adjustable pliers. Everyone came to me to use them. 

Tracy Moseley visiting the Shimano Europe headquarters in Eindhoven, the Netherlands

I switched to a 29er and never looked back

I went from a 26” wheel DH bike to the first round of the first ever Enduro World Cup where Trek had their new Remedy 29er bike. They said ‘have a go, see how you get on.’ I did one practice lap and thought ‘that’s amazing, I’m going to use that.’ I would never have thought I needed a big wheel bike, I thought it was a bit of a gimmick. Then when I realised it felt like free speed when you got up momentum, I was a huge convert to 29er and have ridden one ever since. I’m not a super aggressive rider, sliding through corners or anything like that, I’m calculated and in control so I think the 29er works for me because when you’re up to speed you can maintain it, so it’s a really efficient way of riding. It’s not as fun, not as flamboyant, it doesn’t look as cool but at the end of the day I was a racer and wanted to go fast so it was the best tool for the job.

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