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Rider Profile - Michelle Muldoon

21/07/2016

Michelle Muldoon

Discipline: MTB - Enduro
Rides for: Vitus Factory Team and ambassador for Sweet Protection
                  Also an ambassador for Cycling Ireland's Gearing Up Off Road programme
From: Dublin
Blog: michellemuldoonmtb@weebly.com
Facebook: Michelle Muldoon MTB

    

Best Results so far this year:

· 1st Welsh Gravity Enduro Series Round 3 – Wales

· 1st Irish Gravity Enduro – Round 1

· 6th Mega Avalanche Cup - France

· 11th Enduro World Series – Ireland

When did you first get involved in mountain biking and why?

I first tried mountain biking the summer of 2010 while on holiday in Lake Garda, Italy. I bought my first XC (cross country) bike, a Giant XTC hardtail on the bike to work scheme in February 2012 and entered one of the Biking.ie Blitz’s in Derroura, Galway. I fell in love with it immediately, but as I was playing basketball at the time so I didn’t get out on the bike much.

It wasn’t until May 2012 that I decided to give biking a go again so I sought out my local MTB club, Connemara MTB. I joined them on a weekly spin across the Burren and had an absolute blast! A month later, I was racing in the first round of the Irish Gravity Enduro series in Djouce, Co.Wicklow. This was my very first experience of natural, technical trails with fast descents and killer climbs. I was hooked! I raced every round of the series that summer, and haven’t looked back since.



 

 

What does the training consist of throughout the year? Does it get more intense when you are about to compete?

 

I try to get out on my bike for at least two mid-week spins and the gym twice a week also. Weekends are devoted to all-mountain adventures on the mountain bike. This is when it really doesn’t feel like training, more like having fun on the bike with my friends. I also like to mix it up during the winter with some trail-running and indoor bouldering at my local climbing wall.

As the race season approaches, my training will vere more towards interval training and focus on maintaining power and strength in the gym. Weekends are spent sessioning different trails and doing downhill runs to keep the skills fresh and reactions sharp.

Is mountain biking an expensive sport to take up?

Initially, it can be, but once you have forked out for a half descent bike, and some knee pads, you can pretty much bike in a any old pair of trainers and clothes. Once you get bitten by the bug, then it can become expensive! There are so many great second hand bikes out there for sale, as well as second hand gear, which really brings the cost down for people new to the sport. After that, its all about maintaining the bike, which can get expensive, especially if you like nice shiny things!

As you have mentioned before mountain biking is quite a male dominated sport. Why do you think it is not recognized enough in Ireland?

I think there is a perception out there that mountain biking in general is a full on extreme, high speed sport, with massive risks involved. To an extent this may be true, but it depends on the type of mountain biking you do. There are many mountain bike disciplines, Enduro, Cross Country and Downhill. The type I compete in is mainly Enduro and also some Downhill races. Enduro racing involves riding around the mountain at a leisurely pace with your friends, but then racing down each of the ‘special’ stages as fast as you can. It is becoming more and more popular for women across the world, especially with the likes of professional riders Tracey Moseley, Anneke Beerten and Katy Winton being such excellent role models for young girls.

The Irish mountain bike scene is still heavily male dominated, however there is a growing number of women and girls riding at the weekends and showing interest in the sport. Now with the opening of biking.ie bike rental at Ticknock Mountain in Dublin, as well as the Giant Liv Women’s spins every Saturday morning, more and more women are trying it out and having the craic together!

The beauty of mountain biking is that you can be a weekend warrior, who likes to head out with friends over the weekend, maybe enter an odd race, or you can be super competitive and race both in Ireland and Europe. And it can also be a very enjoyable solo sport, a perfect form of mindfulness, riding alone on the open mountain!

When it comes to competing, there is still a lot less women racing compared to men. The best thing about Enduro, is that it is accessible to all levels of riders. It is a really sociable weekend event where you get to ride with your group of friends up to the start of each stage, and then race the clock back down again.



 

 

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

 

It’s been a pretty good season for me so far with winning a round of the Welsh Enduro Series as well as coming 11th in the Enduro World Series in Ireland in May. This is my best result in the world series so far, which I have been competing in for the last two years. However, making the podium at the Mega Avalanche recently in Alpe D’huez, France where I came 3rd in Masters Women and 6th overall was a big result for me. This is the biggest downhill race in the world with over 1400 participants from 20 different countries, 4 days of training and racing, a total of over 4000 downhill metres of descending. A mass start on the top of Le Pic Blanc glacier at 3300m and decending on snow at crazy speeds was the best part of this race! It was an accomplishment to even make it down in one piece!





 

You competed in the Enduro World Series. What does this competition consist of and how did you find it?

The Enduro World Series is where the best riders in the world compete in seven rounds which are held around the globe. It began in 2012 and is in its fourth year, with new riders coming through each year from the professional to the privateer. I began racing in the EWS in 2014, where I raced the Scottish and Italian rounds. Last year I raced the Ireland and French round and unfortunately was injured for the Scottish round. This year I am going further afield, not only am I racing the Irish and Italian rounds, but also Colorado and Whistler. It will be my first time racing in North America and Canada so I’m really excited about it.

What are you hoping to achieve this year?

To come top 20 overall in the EWS as well as win a few rounds of the Irish Gravity Enduro Series.

Mountain biking is somewhat considered an extreme sport. Have you ever experienced any serious injury from competing?

Hopefully my parents wont read this. Ive broken my elbow and suffered a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) after a crash during the Irish round of the Enduro World Series.

What has been the toughest competition you have competed in and why?

Most my recent race, round 4 of the Enduro World Series in La Thuile, Italy, has by far been the most physically and mentally challenging race for me to date. These are four day events, with two days practice and two days racing six stages, three stages per day, which is the norm for the EWS. However, every one of the six stages were extremely technical, steep and long, that required huge demands off every riders skill, strength, fitness and resilience. With a two hour transition climb to the top of stage1, I was pretty tired going into the first stage and exhausted by the time I got to stage 2. With a dropped chain on stage 2 and two big crashes on stage 4, I was really shook and ready to quit. A feeling I have never experienced before and one that worried me. Knowing I had two more stages to tackle, that were the most technical and steep of the whole race, I had to really dig deep and decided that I my goal now was to just finish the race, and get down smoothly. It was a race that pushed every rider, even the pro's, to their absolute limit but was the most amazing riding I have ever done. I will surely be back to La Thuile to ride in the shadow of Mont Blanc again soon!



 

For anyone wanting to take part in mountain biking what advice would you give them?


Well first of all you could try Cycling Ireland's Gearing Up Off Road Programme, its a great way to get an introduction to the sport or build up skills. You could also try a trail centre like Ticknock, Ballinastoe, Ballyhoura or Rostrevor where they rent bikes and have a blast. Or join one of the many fantastic mountain bike clubs in Ireland who are all super friendly people!


Influences or people you admire in the sport?

I am huge fan of Tracy Moseley, otherwise known as T-Mo. She is such an amazing ambassador for the sport. As a 3 x World Enduro Champion and with multiple World Enduro wins, Tracy is a legend in the Mountain bike world and is a huge advocate for up and coming young female riders. She announced her retirement this year to focus on developing the sport.

Favourite place to ride?

It has got to be La Thuile, in the Italian Aosta Valley. I first visited La Thuile in 2014 for the EWS and fell in love with the place. The riding there has got to be the best in Europe with an amazing network of alpine trails, epic descents views of Mont Blanc to die for, it really has it all. Not bad gelato and pizza too!




                            Photo Credit: Dermott Sweeney   

 

Current bike

For the last two seasons I have been riding for Vitus Bikes on board the 650b Vitus SommetPRO. This year’s model is very similar to last years with a few upgrades built with RockShox Pike forks, Mavic Crossmax XL PRO wheels, a SRAM X1/X01 groupset and Reverb dropper seatpost. I love this bike and it has been an awesome machine to race both at home on Irish trails as well as in the tough Alpine trails of France and Italy.

Ambitions for the future

At the moment I’m just enjoying racing and progressing every year. If I can continue to progress the way I have been since I started biking just four years ago, I will be happy. My ultimate goal is to be able to sustain this level of racing for the next 5 to 6 years, to expand on the type of racing I do such as 6 day enduro’s and to make it into the top 10 in the Enduro World Series. I also want to focus more on coaching too, and help develop mountain biking in Ireland. I think what Cycling Ireland are doing for the sport is fantastic with programmes such as Gearing up off road and Sprocket Rocket, its making the sport accessible to kids and teenagers as well as adults wanting to improve their skills.




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