Massive Upgrades Geek Out And Looking Ahead to Ard Rock – Meet Supported Rider Jade Limpus
She’s secured a clutch of podium places over the past 12 months in competitions like Ard Moors, the Welsh Enduro and Boltby Bash and competing in the EWS100 over at the Tweed Valley in the wettest year to date. With Ard Rock coming up this weekend, we talk to our supported rider Jade Limpus about what she loves so much about throwing herself off jumps and down hills.
How did you get into mountain bikes?
I moved to sunny Yorkshire from Cambridge just over 10 years ago to be with my partner, Winston, and then I got into riding about eight years ago. My partner was my number one advocate and pushed me into it. I had an Iron Horse Hollowpoint MkIII at the time and I would go round the red route at Dalby.
My partner would help coach me and push me to get out on my bike. He was also new to the hobby so it was like the blind leading the blind sometimes which made for a good laugh. A couple of years into the hobby, I brought a downhill bike and I started racing at Farmer John’s [MTB Park, near Stockport] and Wharncliffe Woods in Sheffield, usually being only one of three women who would attend the races - the women’s field was very thin on the ground back then compared to now. These races were a great place to learn, being surrounded by other like-minded and supportive folk – happy to see you get to the bottom of the course in one piece and smiling.
At the start of my enduro racing, I initially got into it through the Northern Downhill series at Hamsterley Forest. I was rather nervous initially. My step mum brought me the series entry one Christmas, which meant I had no choice but to go and get stuck in. At these races, there was always a friendly bunch of women, supporting other female riders and making it such a welcoming experience. One of the best groups I joined was the MTB Chix and Trails group on Facebook. A friendly group of women all over the world, predominantly in the UK and all into cycling. It was a great and welcoming place to help me feel welcomed in the sport and I still find it is a great forum to connect with other riders and ask questions to other women about kit, bikes and more.
What’s your current ride?
Big Bear Bikes have just supplied me with Trek Session 8 29 GX - it was the last one in the country, and they pulled a few strings to get me the bike! The Session is a great choice for me as I do a fair bit of downhill riding over summer, especially with going out to the French and Swiss Alps each year. It certainly comes into its own over there and is perfect for those long downhill trails. The larger suspension front and rear means I can easily do a couple of weeks out there without arm pump, feeling like I’m being shaken to bits, and helps me tackle the steep and uneven descents. My Session has 200mm Rockshox Boxxers on the front and a 200mm Fox DHX2 Coil rear spring, so it’s definitely quite a beast! It’s pretty niche.
It has Trek's innovative, high pivot suspension design which means the length of the bike grows as it goes over uneven terrain, and with the ABP (Active Braking Pivot), it means that when you’re braking, your rear suspension still works, which is really handy. You also don’t get as much pedal kickback, making the handling of the bike that much better.
Working with Big Bear Bikes, we’ve added upgrades for better performance and personal preference in a couple of key areas. Hope Tech 4 E4 brakes with 200mm Hope floating rotors front and rear give enhanced stopping power and feel. We’ve also upgraded the rear shock to a Fox DHX2 coil shock as this will have more tunability, meaning I can adjust the rebound and compression on the go. When it comes to the pedals, We chose Crankbrother Mallets as I’ve recently learnt how to clip in on the enduro bike. There are a few other enhancements we’ve made such as changing the grips to Burgtec Bartender grips, as well as changing the original raised crown that came on the Rockshox Boxxer forks to a flat crown. This is so that I can slam down the front of the bike and have more standover on the bike, as well as stability over the front wheel. Due to being 5ft 1, a raised crown would have made the front of the bike too high and would have been a struggle when it came to handling - if I had lowered the stack height on the front with the raised crown, it would have hit into the frame under impact so a flat crown was a must to get that perfect front end height.
With Big Bear Bikes, we are also 'mulleting' the bike with a 29-inch wheel on the front and swapping the 29-er rear for a 27.5-inch wheel, making it easier to handle for my height and more playful, but possibly with the loss of some speed - but lets see! With this wheel size change, we saw it as a great opportunity to upgrade the wheels to DT Swiss EX511 with Hope hubs and have gone tubeless with these. The other big change is to the tyres, switching them up to Downhill Casing Maxxis Assegai on the front and Downhill Casing Maxxis Minion on the rear, with added Cuchcore tyre inserts for increased grip and to reduce the risk of punctures. The bike has been fitted with Ridewrap by Big Bear Bikes to prevent any frame damage whilst generally using it on the trails, loading on and off uplifts, and so on, which is a great extra touch to keep the bike looking fresh.
Which competitions do you enter?
I race mainly enduro races like Boltby Bash and the Welsh Enduro, but do downhill occasionally in my spare time, to keep me sharp on the bike.
Coming up I’m in Ard Rock Enduro this weekend and then Ard Moors, Welsh Enduro and Tweedlove Pro AM, all three in September! A busy month after just getting back off holiday from being in the French Alps riding my bike for two weeks.
Racing gives me something to strive and work towards, constantly pushing to beat my own times. It just gives you the hunger to try and be better, feeding into that human nature of wanting to constantly improve - to get on the bike and do better.
Why do you compete?
Getting a race photo with the candid look of fear on my face has to be up there as to why. But honestly, I just enjoy the experience. I used to get unbelievably nervous with that sicky feeling in the pit of my stomach (probably still would do in a downhill race setting). But with enduro racing, it feels like a day out with your mates on the bike when you can all go around the course together - chasing each other and creating some amazing memories. I find it such a better experience for me personally. I love the buzz of so many people being in one place, doing the same thing, and having the same interest. The support and camaraderie is unreal. Events, especially Ard Rock, are amazing and more like a festival. It’s a great event where you get to see people that you’ve not seen for ages, kick back and have a beer, but the next day you’re on the bike for a solid five or six hours over seven stages having a great laugh racing. It’s an unreal experience.
In races such as Ard Rock, the level of rider that enters means I probably couldn’t get on the steps so I just ride for fun, and go for the social side of things which is nice as it means I can enjoy the race a bit more without the added self-pressure of behaving and staying rubber side down. This makes for a good excuse to have a few beers the night before the race - it’s “carb loading” I've been told! Certain races such as the Welsh Enduro and Ard Moors are the two coming up where there’s a healthy competition so there’s a little more pressure to pull out all the stops, stay on the bike and pedal hard. I came third at Ard Moors last year and second at Welsh Enduro earlier this year.
What do you love about mountain biking?
For me, it’s a massive release both mentally and physically. There’s nothing better than having a hard day at work, jumping on your bike in your free time, few snacks in the pocket and just time on the bike. Switching off from all of your troubles and just focusing on the descent and trail in front of you.
When it comes to why I chose the discipline I do. I love the variety of exercise as well as scaring myself. Throwing myself at things that scare me, finding trails that I find tricky and learning how to do them - constantly growing and improving, with a few spills along the way. Never stop learning and pushing those boundaries - we’re all here for a good time and to make amazing memories.
Keep up to date with Jade’s competitions by following @jadelimpus on Instagram or our own Facebook and Instagram.
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