With the booming women's mountain bike scene, more and more riders are registering for races, taking courses and getting out there seeking adventure.
It's great to see keen riders jumping out of their comfort zone, and jumping on the trails. With inspiring women such as Juli Furtado, Manon Carpenter and Tracy Moseley leading the way, women all over the globe are swapping their heels for the cleats and getting muddy.
Within the race scene, more females are entering than ever before and with the encouragement of women's specific event such as the Red Bull Foxhunt and Maidenduro, women are able to test those competitive waters.
One passionate young gun who's hot on the enduro race scene is Martha Gill. She's 18 years old and hungry for the podium. We caught up with Martha at Flyup 417 Project to find out more about this riding star.
"It was because of Tracy Moseley I got into enduro racing. She's a big inspiration to me, on and off the bike" - Martha Gill
On a warm and cloudy day in the heart of Gloucester, I met Martha at the Marin bike launch where we began to unravel the story behind this promising racer.
Hailing from Horwich, Martha has been cycling from a very young age. Fuelled by a competitive streak, Martha soon joined a local cycling club where she was encouraged to enter some road cycling events and races. Having a taste for the race scene, Martha took her riding off-road and began getting dirty with cross-country.
Looking to further her skills and develop her riding, Martha headed out on a training camp with legendary multi World Enduro Champion, Tracy Moseley.
Seeing the potential in her riding, Tracy convinced Martha to give enduro a go. Which is exactly what she did. Pursuing an enduro career with determination and passion in her pedal strokes, Tracy Moseley was quick to offer Martha's name into the bid for a team spot on Marin's race team.
Marin have been undergoing a lot of change in the last 6 months having recruited key people from leading cycling brands, including ex pro riders, to help drive the brand into the modern market with revised geometries and new models.
Martha tells me what it's like being a part of this dynamic change: "There's a greater team vibe now with new people joining. It's got a nice team unit, which was strengthened at our team launch in Madrid."
There's a lot more that meets the eye with Martha, being 18 she's in her final year of college where she's in the middle of that dreaded exam time. With a deferred entry to study mathematical engineering, Martha intends to spend a gap year solely focusing on her riding and training with the new team coach. For 2017, Martha intends to race every stage of the Enduro World Series for the Marin race team.
When asked about the pressure and balance of studying for exams and racing, Martha explains that: "It's really stressful, but I find that organisation is key. I start my day with a bike ride to clear my head and get ready for revision. If I don't ride, I can't focus. The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself, because I'm so competitive. The team are nothing but supporting, which is a great feeling."
In addition to exam revision, Martha will be racing the 3rd round of the BES at Afan Forest, and riding the final two EWS rounds to prepare for 2017. While making her home in enduro riding, Martha still enjoys taking part in regional and local XC events to maintain fitness and endurance.
Martha is a truly exciting enduro racer to watch out for in the future. With a great energy and passion for riding her bike, I hope to see Martha pedal it out to the top spot in the not-too-distant future.
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