This article was previously published on Silent Revolution as part 1 of a blog series on Women in Gravity Enduro.
Genevieve “Smiling Assassin” McKew
“I was one of those riders who thought I would never ever want to do a jump or a drop off a rock”
Tell us a bit about yourself and riding experience.
For the last four years I have loved gravity-fuelled riding – ever since I was convinced to get a freeride bike and get my wheels off the ground. Before that I was one of those riders who thought I would never, ever want to do a jump or drop off a rock – but things have changed since then! I love downhill, the gnarlier the better, and big mountain rides. Backcountry missions on technical trails with a bunch of friends are my idea of heaven.
Why race Gravity Enduro and what kind of rider do you think should do it?
Race Gravity Enduro because it’s a blast! Riding with your mates, combining technical the challenges of downhill racing with the flat-out lung busting burn of a short track race. It can be great for your technical skills because you can choose to practise a section of the course a few times. Then you can pick the line that suits you best – just like at a downhill race. But it rewards a fit rider who can pedal out of those sections as fast as they can.
It’s a much more social form of racing too – you pedal up the hill at a leisurely pace with your mates, chat and practise together, and at a lot of events you get to stay together the whole day, without the need to race in separate categories.
Tell us about your bike that you raced on and the kind of riding you enjoy?
I raced on my Knolly Endorphin, a 140mm travel trail bike, courtesy of Michael Berryman of Endless Flow Cycles and I love it to bits! I was stoked at this round because I had never been able to do the jumps at the end of the DH track before (on my previous DH bike) but on the Endorphin I was able to go for the jumps. I ran 2.35 Specialised tyres – a Butcher on the front and a Purgatory on the back. It has a great pedalling platform and the very forgiving suspension design with a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air lets you bomb down most rough sections without a second thought. The current generation of trail bikes are so capable and so much fun – it’s a great time to be on a mountain bike.
If you had to choose, Downhill (DH) or Gravity Enduro (GE)?
I will always love the raw speed and technical challenges of a DH race. But the DH races I love best are the long, tough ones, like Thredbo’s Cannonball or the 15+minute Garbanzo DH in Whistler. At the moment I’m enjoying GE more because you get to spend a lot more time on the bike and less time in shuttle queues on race day. I like the social atmosphere and the strategic challenges of a GE race: getting enough practice on the bits you need to, whilst conserving energy for race runs; taking the right amount of food, water or spares (I have seen an Elite rider rolling down a 30-minute fire road climb on his rim because he punctured on the first corner and didn’t have a tube); learning to pace your efforts over the different stages while racing; and moving around the hill as the day goes by.
You’re quite the seasoned racer. What would you say to another, less experience female mountain biker, if they were a bit hesitant about racing a Gravity Enduro?
Come and race! Chasing your mates down the hill is one of the best parts of Gravity Enduro racing and a great motivator to ride a section faster or get fitter. You could think about tweaking your bike set-up to play to your strengths – if you’re a strong pedaller, maybe put on some burlier tyres so you will be able to hit the rougher sections harder – and if you’re not such a fan of pedalling, maybe some lighter tyres will help, and you can take it a bit easier on the rough stuff. But riding the bike you feel most comfortable on is probably the best option. I would love to see more female riders out there, and especially the XC riders as I think they would kick some serious butt!