British born, Katy Curd took the biking scene by storm when she raced downhill, 4X and back to downhill. Two times national champion, and World Champion in 4X with multiple podium finishes, Katy has moved back into the downhill scene recently and is holding her ground.
She offers coaching for groups and individuals, sharing expertise and giving champion advice. I've been on coaching sessions with Katy to improve my riding technique and build confidence, and she was wicked! Patience of a saint, super kind and a great sense of humour, Katy really made me feel at ease and supported. And what struck me was how cool and humble she is, whilst I'm there awkwardly stumbling over words and forgetting how to ride a bike! I caught up with Katy shortly after her race at Leogang in Austria to see how she's getting on.
Hi Katy! We've all been closely following the UCI world downhill championships this year and it's proven to be exciting, and anything but predictable. We saw you leap from 11th place in Lourdes, to 5th place in Fort William, your first world cup podium and record time. How do you feel the year is going so far?
I'm having a lot of fun out there this year to be honest, it's still a big learning curve for me jumping back on the downhill bike as it's so different to racing 4X but I'm just loving every minute of it. For my first full year back I feel it's going pretty well, I have achieved some goals of mine already and just looking to be a bit more consistent for the rest of the season. The girls are pushing so hard at the moment its really inspiring and keeps me wanting to push myself.
There seems to be a lot of fun friendly rivalry between the girls at the races, is there any dirt to dish out on them?
To be honest everyone is just real sound and down to earth. I love going riding with Manon when we are both back at home as its always just a good laugh and never serious. When we are at races as you say it's only ever friendly rivalry, I think that's the best thing about downhill, it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, its only you that can control your race run so everyone is competitive with each other but still good friends.
In more recent years, there has been a huge increase of women getting into mountain biking, which is great! However there is still a lot of catch up to be done by manufacturers to produce more women specific clothing and protection, how would you like to see the women's market develop? And what are your views on the current image of women in MTB?
It has been great to see more women getting involved in the sport and hopefully this continues over the next couple of years. I think it's great to see more options in women's clothing as this still seems to be a big hole in the market but of course only a small market to aim at. Women have started to get a lot more coverage at races which I think has helped masses in giving inspiration to other female riders, but I think it's the women only events and days are the best for getting female riders into the sport as it gives a chance for people to meet other riders and they can progress at a level to suit them rather than always feeling inadequate trying to keep up with the blokes! I run a few women only events with Pedal A Bike Away at the Forest of Dean and it's always great to see how much riders can progress in such a small amount of time by just watching and learning off of other women riders doing the same thing.
What is the best lesson you've learnt as a rider which you can share with us?
To be honest I'm still learning things every race I compete in. I think the piece of advice that has stuck with me the most is, 'whatever happens, happens'. I'm always one for getting nervous before my race run, but knowing I have done everything I can in practice just gives me the confidence to know whatever happens in my race run now happens, the worst thing you can do is sit there and worry about it. Be confident in knowing exactly what you're doing and just have fun whilst you're doing it.
You run coaching courses around the UK and in Spain, offering bespoke training, women's only and group sessions. With the increasing interest of women's MTB, do you feel it's more important for female pro riders to get involved to nurture this interest and aim to inspire future generations of female riders?
I run a lot of coaching sessions to both male and female riders and it's always really interesting to watch how different riders learn and progress. I enjoy coaching and enjoy seeing riders progress, I have worked with a good few female riders who are now racing national level downhill which is great to see. Over the last couple of years there has been an increase in pro riders stepping in and helping out, Tracy Moseley runs a few coaching camps out in Verbier, which are always a great hit. Manon Carpenter runs women only evenings down at the skate park when she can. Rachel is helping doing track walks with the girls at the National races. All of these days and events I think are increasing the amount of women getting involved in the sport so hopefully more of these events continue to help encourage more female riders to get involved.
You're a World Champion in 4X, two times National 4X Champion, British downhill series winner and now you're a fantastic coach and elite downhill rider in the World Cup with podium finishes! That's quite an impressive list of achievements to have by the age of 26! I've had the pleasure of meeting you and riding with you, and I was surprised at how "normal" you are, really down to earth and you made me feel relaxed too. How do you stay grounded with all that you have achieved so far?
Ha I am no different to anyone else, I just suppose I am crazy competitive and enjoy pushing myself to the limit. I just love riding my bike the same as everyone else. I am mega proud of what I have achieved but I still have a long way to go until I have reached more of my goals. I love meeting other riders and I just think it's amazing how riding a bike can connect so many people, it's always good to ride with others and see that others share the same passion about riding as I do.
And finally, when you're not tearing it up on two wheels, what does Katy do to have fun and relax?
I'm not too good at sitting down and chilling out so most of my time is spent on my bike but I like spending time with my family (mainly my dog!!), I enjoy taking photos and like to keep memories of all the things we do, riding my motorbike, travelling and exploring new places and without a doubt catching up with friends.
Katy Curd continues to be a great inspiration for me, she pushed herself to become World Champion and National Champion in 4X and now she's putting herself through the paces, competing in the Women's elite downhill world cup. However, Katy rides with so much fun and passion that it's impossible to not be motivated to do the same. Her coaching and support for women in riding is great to see and from first hand experience, she's an excellent coach. Riding is fun, and like Katy said, be confident and enjoy yourself!