Perched in front of the screen at the other end of the Skype link with a trucker cap on her head, Ruby looks every part the mountain biker. But at only 8 years old, she’s younger than most of the people you encounter out on the trails. Despite her young age, she’s a very dedicated cyclist. This summer, she’s embarked upon an epic challenge to ride 100 miles over the course of the holidays to raise money for Cancer Research and Help for Heroes.
So why did she decide to set herself this challenge? “I thought, I like riding, so why not do it for charity” she explains. “Lots of people have cancer and lots of people aren’t as lucky as me, so I thought I’d do this and raise money as I rode.”
Ruby started mountain biking about 2 years ago, and regularly heads out riding with her Dad to Haldon Forest near Exeter, the local trail centre. She rides a full suspension Carrera mountain bike from Halfords, that her Dad has made some adjustments too.
“She got it for her Birthday in January. It’s quite hard to find a bike for children her age that can take some punishment but that isn’t too big” he says. “I’ve changed the shifters to trigger shifts and put on hydraulic brakes.”
The draw of being outside, in nature, and spotting wildlife is one of the main reasons Ruby took up mountain biking. She plans to become a vet in the future, and cycling was the natural way to get from place to place.
“I just really like getting outside. I like wildlife and stuff, and going out on my bike and having a bit of fun on my bike and looking at the wildlife. I once spotted a goshawk with a shrew it had caught” she enthuses.
Her charity challenge has taken her to a few different places over the summer, including Lanhydrock, Dartmoor and Bristol where she was joined by World Cup Downhill racer Manon Carpenter. “It was fun! She was really helpful because she was telling me what gears to be in and helping me get better at riding.”
“You did nearly cause Manon to crash into the back of you when you stopped to point out the goshawk, though!” says her Dad.
Manon isn’t the only rider to show her support for Ruby’s cause, as the post that morning brought a surprise. Rachel Atherton and the Atherton Racing team sent her her very own GT Factory Racing jersey, signed by the entire team.
Ruby is clearly a fan of the downhill MTB scene, and follows the World Cup series. When asked which riders she liked the most, some consideration went into the answer “I think Manon and Tahnee (Seagrave) are my favourite!”
The challenge has also given Ruby the opportunity to develop her own skills on the mountain bike, and her achievements to date include completing the blue trail at Haldon Forest in one go, and tackling some of the red Jerrycan trail, which contains some gnarly, rooty sections.
With her skills coming on fast, does she think she might get into racing in the future? “I want to ride for fun, but then now and then I think I want to do it for racing” What type of racing? “Downhill!” comes the sure reply.
Ruby has ridden more than 50 miles so far over the holidays, so she is well on her way to her target. Even inclement weather doesn’t deter her. “I quite like riding in the rain – I get wet and muddy” she says with a smile.
With nearly £300 raised between the two causes, she’s done a great job of fundraising, but there’s still more to do before she returns to school.
Good luck Ruby!
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