Awesome mum Sally Wright rips it up in Enduro!

Awesome mum Sally Wright rips it up in Enduro!

Awesome mum Sally Wright rips it up in Enduro!

Sally Wright is one half of a husband-and-wife Enduro racing duo, competing – and securing podium finishes – in events such as the PMBA series. She’s also one of our supported riders. As a woman in a male-dominated sport who is mum to 17-month-old son Harvey, and with Mother’s Day approaching, we spoke to Sally about getting back to race condition after having a child, her ambitions for 2021 and her favourite biking memories.

How are you finding biking as a mum?

It’s still a male-dominated sport but more and more women are biking and racing, although there aren’t many that continue after having children. It seems like it goes off the radar for many after they have kids.

Now Mat and I are living and breathing it, we are understanding the complexities of having kids and wanting to mountain bike but also be good parents at the same time. Once you add a baby into the mix, someone needs to look after Harvey. We used to spend most of our weekends either riding together or in big groups whereas now that just doesn’t really happen. It takes at least half a day to have a decent ride so one of us goes in the morning and the other in the afternoon, so that one of us can stay with Harvey. We’re like ships in the night. For you both to carry on mountain biking it requires you both to share responsibility and to be flexible around each other. Logistically, it’s a little bit difficult and very time consuming.

Sally introducing son Harvey to the Enduro scene!!

How have you found getting back in race condition after having a baby?

I would definitely say it has been a challenge. I ended up having an emergency section which meant I couldn’t exercise for 12 weeks. I found that really hard because every day in pregnancy I was cycling and running, right up to D-Day. Coming back after that – because I’d been pregnant and then had 12 weeks of doing nothing – trying to exercise I found it really demotivating because my fitness was at a level I had never really had to deal with before. When you’re unfit it’s not enjoyable to exercise so you don’t do it. Because I had always had a good level of fitness, I had always enjoyed exercise so that was a real mental battle. Plus, last year working from home, going through multiple lockdowns, and of course looking after Harvey, it disrupts your whole routine and trying to get a consistent exercise routine has definitely been trying. Trying to motivate myself through winter and this third lockdown has been difficult because you can’t go anywhere and you’re riding the same trails all the time, in the usual rubbish winter weather! This year once the first race is confirmed, it will definitely help me because I’ll have something to aim for.

How do you feel about racing again?

When I go into that first race I’ll definitely have some trepidation as I won’t know where my fitness is. A lot of people have said they’re surprised I’m going to race again and that I wouldn’t want to be taking risks now. I think I’ll be OK but until I’m in that race environment I won’t really know. That first race will definitely be the test.

How did you get to the level you compete at?

It was Mat who got me into mountain biking. On our second date, he borrowed a friend’s bike and we went to Dalby Forest. He didn’t take it easy either. He said he was testing my character. Prior to that, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was little. I enjoyed it. I’ve always been fairly active, I love outdoor stuff and I’m incredibly competitive so if someone challenges me I have to rise to the challenge. Going on that date gave me that fire. 

I didn’t do that many races to start with as I was also just starting to get into triathlons, but I realised I wasn’t able to do it all and mountain bike races won as they are so much more fun! That’s what I really enjoyed and that’s how I naturally progressed. At the same time, Enduro racing kind of exploded, so there are a lot more races than there were five or six years ago.

You work for Quorn. How important is diet to you?

Diet and nutrition are really important to me, but it’s definitely a learning process of finding out what works for you and your body as there is so much conflicting advice out there. In terms of eating meat I’m not vegetarian but I eat a lot less meat than I used to. I now only eat meat as a treat, say, on a weekend or if I go out to a restaurant. Other than that, we eat mainly vegan and vegetarian meals. From a health and diet point of view, for me it definitely has a massive impact on how I feel. I can really tell if I have had a rich, meaty meal and then go biking the next day; I don’t have the same levels of energy. It makes quite a big difference. I also eat less meat now for sustainability reasons and to reduce my impact on the planet. Meat is one of the biggest areas where you can easily effect change. I guess over time meat has become an everyday purchase where it used to be a luxury and the impact on our health and the planet is noticeable.

What’s your current ride?

I currently ride a Trek Remedy 8, and I absolutely love it! Plus it looks lush too.

How did you get involved with Big Bear Bikes and how has the support helped you?

I have only recently got involved with Big Bear Bikes, through my husband as he has been a supported rider for a couple of years, but their support already has been invaluable. It means that I will be going into my first race back on a fantastic new bike that is suited to racing Enduros. It pedals really well uphill and then feels incredibly planted and stable on the way back down, which is what you need for a full day of racing. The whole team at Big Bear are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable too, which will be a huge support as I go through this year.

What is your ambition for 2021?

I haven’t raced for two-and-a-half years because I was pregnant and then COVID hit. I did plan on getting back into racing last year but obviously I couldn’t, which in hindsight wasn’t a bad thing. I was perhaps being a little bit ambitious. I would love to be on a podium by the end of this year but I don’t know if I’m setting my sights too high. I’m coming back and I don’t really know where I am skill-wise and fitness-wise.

What are your favourite biking memories?

Biking in the Alps. The environment. The scenery. The incredible trails. Literally being able to ride and get that adrenaline buzz all day. In that week when you are away, the amount that you can improve is massive. And then to come back home and ride the trails I’ve ridden before, I can always feel a massive difference.

Heli-biking in New Zealand is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Getting dropped off by helicopter at the top of a mountain and riding down it… you almost can’t explain that feeling. Whilst in New Zealand we lived out of a camper van, switched off our phones… no internet, no social media. We lived pretty much day to day. That has to be the most relaxing two weeks ever and to be able to share that as husband and wife… I think it’s amazing when you share a hobby and a passion.

One of the things that most excites me about the future is sharing with Harvey the amazing experiences that Mat and I have had together. Being able to see him getting joy out of biking and being able to travel and bike around the world as a family will be incredible. (Hopefully he likes bikes!)

The whole team at Big Bear Bikes are immensely proud to be supporting Sally in her Enduro ambitions - Sally is an awesome rider, a great character and a fantastic mum!  We wish you all the luck in the world in 2021 Sally and will be right behind you!

David and the team.

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