Double Century on a Fat Bike: 9-Year-Old Prepares for Charity Challenge

During the thirty minutes that I’m interviewing nine-year-old Ruby, she doesn’t sit still for longer than thirty seconds.

Exeter based Ruby is not your average nine year old (if there is such a thing). One year ago, aged eight, she rode a mountain bike century over the summer holidays to raise money for charity.

Now she’s nine, Ruby is looking for bigger challenges – fatter challenges, even. Between the end of July and October this year she’ll be riding 200 miles on a fat bike to raise money for Dementia charities.

Ruby is currently riding her dad’s modified fat bike, but she’ll soon be getting her own children’s “Fatty” from On-One.

Ruby’s dad Chris explains: “It was my bike, bought for my Birthday, but Ruby had a go, and we realised with the saddle right down she could ride it. When we got home I made a few modifications and she loves it.” Understandably, he’s looking forward to his daughter picking up her new On-One as much as she is.

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She said about her new ride: “It can be harder at times when you are bouncing a lot more, I like the way you can take corners, you lean to the side more. And it is faster. It’s a new way to ride, but I’ll get a lot better.”

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She’ll need to develop extra core strength to cope with the challenges of the fat bike – so she’s been seeing experts at Revolution Sports physio. Ruby runs off our Skype screen to grab her “space hopper” board – a board which has a ball in the middle, so she can practice squatting and balancing, to build up strength where she’ll need it.

Ruby rides for fun, but she’s thinking about getting more serious, saying: “My favourite riders are Manon (Carpenter) and Tanhee (Seagrave). I want to race when I’m older… I’d never be allowed to do jumps yet. I just enjoy riding for now. [To race] I’d need to get faster and learn how to jump.”

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Learning to jump isn’t far off, and Ruby has a one-to-one session coming up soon so she can hone her skills.

Riding is about more than the bike for Ruby, however – she says: “I like being outside and seeing the animals”. She wants to be a vet when she’s older, and her favourite animal is the Bearded Dragon lizard.

While we’re chatting, suddenly an idea pops into her head and she adds excitedly: “I could take a notebook and keep a journal of all the animals we see along the way.” She discusses various photo and colouring-in options with her dad, Chris – it’s clear to see how the duo come up with so many great ideas for their Facebook page. 

The unique nature of her challenge means she’s picked up a number of supporters, including MBUK Magazine, One Industries, Juice Lubes, Mountain White Clothing and Evolve MTB coaching.

The nine-year-old has already had a four page feature in MBUK magazine and she shows me the pages up close to our Skype screen, saying: “It’s really cool, I took it into school and my friends liked it.”

Ruby was also featured in our 14 most inspirational and influential women in cycling article to celebrate International Women’s Day – she thought that was pretty cool too, especially because she was “two places ahead of Rachel Atherton!”

The bike change and doubled distance are major differences in Ruby’s challenge this year, but it’s not the only distinction – this time around she’s inviting other children to get involved.

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Children from local groups, such as the Forest of Dean Children’s Club, will be encouraged to come along and join Ruby for rides all over the country.

Currently, Ruby doesn’t ride very often with other children and said: “It would be nice if there were other girls who liked riding as much as me. There is one boy in the year above me,  we bump into him out riding sometimes… some of my friends ride their bikes in the park sometimes, but they don’t do mountain biking.”

One year, Ruby had a mountain biking birthday party. Her birthday being early January, the weather was always going to come into play and the rain was torrential. She said: “They all had a good time though, we hired out the hall and had bike limbo and cheesy chips, too.”

According to her dad, Chris, “all the kids where smiling at the end”, and Ruby adds: “they were covered in mud!”

The pair hope the summer ahead might get more kids out on the trials, discovering the joy of cycling, and raising money for their own charities.

Chris explains: “Ruby will be raising money for a dementia charity, because her great, great Nan suffers from Dementia now. But the other children will be encouraged to set up their own Just Giving pages to raise money for their own chosen charity. We’re hoping to get kids outside, having fun, rather than playing computer games.”

You can find out how to get involved, and keep up with Ruby’s Big Bike Challenge on the dedicated Facebook page here. 

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