Last October, as Tracy and Anne Caro rolled off the start ramp in the final EWS round in Finale Ligure the overall title was still wide open, points were so close they may as well not have raced the six previous rounds. The two year battle between Tracy Moseley and Anne Caro has been one of the most gripping in any competitive sport. Both racers brim with experience, dedication, and raw power; separated by the smallest of margins, trading the top spot on the podium. After a nerve-racking day, it was to be Tracy’s year, as she crossed the finish line of stage six she knew that she had done enough to take the championship title for the second year running.
Tracy has always been dedicated to the promotion of women’s racing; inspiring a generation of young riders with her unrelenting speed, skill and humbleness. We caught up with Tracy for coffee to find out more about her 2014 season, and what lies ahead for the future.
First off, massive congratulations on a successful season, how does it feel to take a second Enduro World Series Championship? It feels amazing and a huge relief, it was a close battle all season long! The stress levels at the final round were so high it was not fun, just knowing that a whole seasons hard work could be gone with one mistake or mechanical, so it’s such a great feeling to have been able to retain that title.
It must be great for motivation, so tell us about your winter, do you have some time off now to enjoy the moment, or is it straight into a winter training program? I had a few weeks off after Finale and stayed out in Europe and enjoyed some holiday time, but then it seemed as though I was straight back on it when I got home with sorting out plans and sponsorship stuff for 2015; and then back into training at the start of December. It seems like the busiest winter ever for me, which I guess is a good thing, as it shows that the interest in Enduro is growing nicely!
After your success, will you be changing anything for the coming season, will your training and preparation be the same?My preparation for 2015 will be pretty similar to 2014 however I will not be trying to juggle qualifying for the XC Commonwealth Games, so will have my entire winter focus on the EWS.
What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to racing? I think my strengths are definitely my experience of racing for so many years in a variety of disciplines, and also the consistency in my riding. My weakness is not being able to rest and chill out so I’m always busy and don’t always get the best out of my training; sometimes I find it hard to really push myself and take a few risks on some of the shorter stages, I like to be in control all the time and sometimes that can be a bit too slow!
I think ‘slow’ may be a relative term here! As a highly experienced athlete do you factor in total downtime in your training program? I should do, but I am the worst person for resting and doing nothing! I like to be busy and always have something going on! This year I have had some advice and coaching from Phil Dixon and that’s been a great help as often the best advice he gives me is to take a day off, or to rest; I almost need someone else to tell me its OK to have lie in as I can’t make that decision for myself!
As enduro now rolls into its third year as a global sport, is the sport developing well from an elite women’s perspective? I think the sport as a whole is definitely developing, growing and gaining some great coverage. I also feel that the women’s side of the sport is getting taken seriously too, which is great. I think my season going head to head with Anne Caro has been a great thing for women’s sport as it was really close tight racing and I think we were pushing the level all the time. I really do think that enduro is such a great format for women to participate in and the bigger the fields we can get the more competitive and better the racing will become.
Many of the female racers met up in Finale to discuss the EWS with the organisers, was that a productive session? Yeah it was great to get a big group of the girls together and it was good to see the organisers were open to listen and genuinely do want to make sure they are doing the right thing for the women’s side of the sport.
After the groups feedback, do you hope for any changes in the EWS for women in 2015? I hope there will be a younger age category like a Junior or U23 type of category to showcase the younger riders and help encourage the future generation to get the racing experience and coverage they deserve. I also hope we will continue to see the women’s field growing and the level of riding improving.
Do you think there are more difficulties for women in terms of ‘making it big’ in the sport compared to men? That is always a hard question to answer as it’s hard to compare men’s and women’s racing as the field size is so different. It is definitely a male dominated sport; and sometimes I do think it’s hard to be taken seriously and respected by the guys. The men’s fields are huge and the depth of talent in the men’s field is so much greater than in the women’s, that getting sponsored and supported can often be harder; I think for the guys as there is so much talent and competition for those sponsorship slots getting that opportunity is hard.
However in the women’s field there are fewer of us, and many of the girls racing do get opportunities of support as the visibility they will gain is high with a smaller group racing. However, getting a discount on kit, bikes and a few free tyres compared to getting a salary to ride your bike full time and to be taken seriously is the big difference.
Girls getting into the sport need to invest time into learning the skills, learning about their bike, set up and how to prepare well and present themselves; as all these things all help gain the respect from the guys out there working in the bike companies. Even after winning a couple of world titles I am still amazed that it takes going for a bike ride with some guys involved in companies that have sponsored me for years for them to realise that I can actually ride a bike pretty well!
I’d love to see more girls able to ride full time and get those opportunities and then I think we will see the standard of women’s riding rise and the depth of talent grow too.
Many people have noted there are less young girls moving up through the ranks in Downhill, with the same big names dominating, is there a lot of young female talent in enduro? Sadly there are not loads of young females racing the EWS yet but, there are a few and they are all really talented. Katy Winton is flying the flag for the UK, switching from XC two years ago she finished 10th overall in 2014 and I know has her sights set on improving that in 2015. Isabeau Courdier, Ines Thoma and Lorraine Troung are all under 25 and all have great talent too; so there are a small group and I think in a few years time these names will be on that top spot week in week out !! Hopefully with a young riders category too next year this should only continue to improve.
What are your thoughts on concepts like the ‘Cyclepassion’ calendar, do you think that is a good way to promote women in the male dominated sport? I think showing that female cyclists can be great athletes as well as still being beautiful women I think is a good thing, as often many girls think it is impossible to be both and often seeing pictures of us covered in mud with scrapes and bruises doesn’t help that image, so in some ways its cool to portray the other side of these athletes. But for me the success of the athlete must be the focus, and they should be having respect for what they have achieved on the bike, not just success and opportunities for taking some of their clothes off. I think there needs to be a balance.
Talking of balance; how do you find a balance between racing and fun, are there any times when you cannot face another bike ride? It can be pretty hard to get that balance, as with any job there are good days and bad days and if I am honest it’s the same with my job. Sometimes getting motivated to do yet another cold, painful training session in the middle of winter can be tough, as can some race days, when the pressure is on and I’m not feeling good or confident, they can be hard days at the office. Then there is the fact that I am getting the opportunity to get paid to do something that I love; and the amazing days out riding and enjoying myself far outweigh those bad days, and that’s what make its one of the best jobs in the world.
Will you be running any women’s coaching camps this coming year? I don’t have any plans to do any in 2015, other than with my local club. I have committed to another season of EWS races and I know each year the competition will improve, so I want to make sure I am committed fully to my training and doing my best; and that takes up all my time unfortunately. Phil Dixon my coach has been great at getting me to reign in all the extra stuff I try and fit into a season and sadly the coaching will have to take a back seat until my full time racing career is done!
You have been at the sharp end of the game for many years now, what does the future hold for you?Another year, another shot at defending my EWS World Title and then I think it will be time to take stock and make some plans for my future, but until then, it’s work as normal!
Did you suffer any injuries throughout the 2014 season, does racing take its toll on the body? I was pretty lucky I didn’t have any major injuries in 2014, the racing was definitely tough on my body but I am finding the more endurance training I do, the better my body reacts and I feel in the best shape of my racing career at the moment which is great!
How do you keep your flexibility after years of training, are you a Yoga fan? I haven’t done much yoga but I do Pilates twice a week when I am at home, a group session and also a 1:1 session. I really enjoy it as it’s a bit of a break from all the bike training; it’s also a great work out without the feeling of exhaustion at the end of every session! I also try and stretch every day and have always had regular sports massage and visits to the osteopath, so I try and do what I can to look after my ageing body!
You spend a lot of time living in your mobile home, tell us about that? Yeah James and I bought a camper van during the last few years of racing DH as I was getting fed up of life on the road, moving from hotel to hotel and living out of a bag and never really getting chance to enjoy the places that the races took us too. Since retiring from DH in 2011 we have spent over 3 months every summer living in the camper at races in the UK and extended trips to Europe. I love it, it’s like having my home with me all the time, I have everything I need there and my own comfy bed wherever we go! It’s also great as we can spend a few days travelling between venues and chilling out, enjoying the area and I can also get in some good training along the way. James drives the van and meets me somewhere or drops me off and I can ride the last few hours to our next destination! It works out great and I think is a big reason why I am still loving life on the circuit.
OK, so let’s talk about the season, the first round in Chile started a battle that everyone was expecting, Anne-Caro and yourself trading seconds, how did it affect your motivation when Anne Caro took the early lead? I knew Anne would come out strong this year, and in Chile I was not ready for the Enduro season as I was trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games; the week before Chile I raced the XC world cup in South Africa and flew direct to Chile, not the best preparation! So I knew I would be on the back foot with limited time riding enduro over the winter and I was on a bike that was not familiar to me. After finishing in a solid second spot, I was pretty happy as it set me up well for the rest of the season when I knew I would be better prepared.
Does running your own team make racing a bit more relaxed for you? I am not sure running my own program makes life any easier, it’s a lot harder I think looking after a number of different sponsors rather than just having one big team sponsor like I did in the DH years, but I love building relationships with my sponsors and I hope some of these will be long lasting even after my racing career is done. I do love having the flexibility to some degree with planning my season and having the camper is a big plus point to all of this, but I am also really lucky as in 2014 and 2015 Trek have stepped up the team structure for enduro around myself, Justin and Rene and we will all be getting some good support in 2015 to hopefully continue as the no.1 ranked team.
Will there be any big changes for you sponsor wise in 2015 or are you happy with your current setup? There are no major changes, still part of the Trek Factory Racing Enduro team and still working with most of my partners from 2014. The only major changes are a bigger relationship with Sweet Protection, using both their open face and full face helmets in 2015, and I’ll be working on some custom T-MO signature knee pads with G-Form my protection sponsor, so that should be cool. I will also be changing clothing sponsor, so a few new things in the pipeline!
What are your thoughts on the technicality of enduro, an often used reason for switching to enduro is that it is safer than DH, but we are seeing more and more injuries on the circuit, is it the stages or the closeness of competition? Enduro to me still has a lot of risks and the courses are definitely not easy, but for me the main difference is the way I approach my racing. You don’t have time to learn each stage in such detail as I used to in DH; so I therefore can’t attack it and ride at 100% as I don’t know every rock and root. So I feel as though in Enduro I am always riding just below my maximum. With that I feel there is a slightly lower risk of injury as I’m not pushing the limit on every section of the trail. I am riding for consistency, accuracy and efficiency and being able to repeat that stage after stage is the key. I think we are seeing injuries as there is a lot at stake now with these races, its big time and people are pushing those boundaries more and more at every race.
What are your thoughts on massive events like those at Whistler this year, many riders were not making the transitions? Whistler is a hard race for me to comment on as I had a bad day, I had no energy and just dragged myself around the entire day, hating every minute of it! I would like to have done that race again feeling like I did at all the other events and then I could make a fair comment! I do know that even if I had felt good it would still have been one hell of a day as it was a big day of riding with some technical terrain! In some ways I really like that physical challenge and it was a real test for everyone, but the fun social aspect of Enduro was definitely lost at this event and most people were in survival mode just to finish the day! It was a hard day, but it is the World Series, the highest level of racing in the World so one day in the year like that may not be a bad thing?
If you could change anything about the series, what would it be? No shuttling at any events and blind racing at every round, that would be amazing
Aside from taking the overall win, what was a highlight for you from the season? I think the highlight for me was the round in Valloire, it was real raw alpine riding and I felt great on my bike that weekend and loved every minute of it.
Which for you was the hardest round? Whistler was the hardest round for me as I had no energy, I think I had overdone my riding coming into the race and suffered for it in the heat and toughness of that race.
Which was your favourite stage of the season? Wow that’s a hard question. I think it was probably one of the stages in Chile from the chairlift, as I just loved the feel of the dirt, it was such a cool feeling to be sliding in the black sand and the turns in the woods were amazing!
Did any of the rounds surprise you? I think Finale surprised me as they found new trails which were very different from anything we rode the previous year, tight awkward trails littered with rocks to catch your mech or puncture on were not what I wanted on day one, especially with so much at stake in the overall!
OK, let’s talk about the bike, will you be staying on the bigger wheel size next year? I think so, I love that bike and have no reason to be changing for 2015. I may go to the 650 for an option for more travel when we get to the more DH focused rounds, but I’ll make that call later in the season.
Interview: Trev Worsey Photos: Cat Smith, Trev Worsey and Manne Schmitt
Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.