I've been riding bikes for as long I've known, but I first got on a mountain bike way back in the '90s after hooking up with my mountain bike crazy husband Andy McKenna. It’s now my passion too, and I love nothing more than going on a mountain bike adventure with the girls in search of new trails and bothies around Scotland!
Scotland is home for me and where I am the partner in crime of Go Where Scotland, mountain bike tours in the most incredibly remote beautiful landscapes of Scotland. My role is a very important one: to make sure everyone has a lot of fun and laughs on their Scottish adventure! I also run a mountain bike lodge in Innerleithen, home to some of the UK’s best Enduro trails.
Scotland has a strong women’s mountain biking scene and I love that I am very much at the heart of that. So I’ve taken an active role in bringing women together to race, learn new skills, or just ride their bikes.
What’s your day job?
I’ve got 2 jobs. My day job - I work as a Diversity and Inclusion professional. I'm also a Mountain Bike Guide - part of the Go Where clan run by my other half, Andy McKenna, but I'm the brain behind the outfit really! It's true, they say 'behind every strong man there’s a strong woman…’
What’s your favorite part of your day job?
I particularly love my work on gender diversity. I find nothing more satisfying than seeing other women build confidence, strength and resilience to take on the world! And that involves challenging gender stereotypes and assumptions to allow everyone an equal chance to flourish.
It's the same in mountain biking. How often do you hear women speak confidently about their riding? Or beat themselves up over their riding ability or performance? That's why I'm passionate about getting more women riding, to gain confidence in their abilities and value their skills. So in 2015, I introduced new women’s adventures into the Go Where schedule and in 2016 joined up with Anka Martin to run Soul Trails, an all women's adventure tour in Scotland. What I find most rewarding from these trips is how women have really enhanced their lives from the experience like trying out racing for the first time, making new biking buds to ride with or even organising their own women's rides. That what's so awesome, women getting the best for themselves and taking their riding to another level.
Who’s your favorite riding buddy and why?
My favourite riding buddy has got to be Andy - first of all he's my soulmate but riding bikes is what bonds us together. For twenty years we have explored every part of Scotland together, and been on some wild crazy journeys on our bikes – long days in the saddle in all sorts of weather (it’s true 4 seasons in a day in Scotland) on challenging terrain. It's made me a stronger person for sure and if I can tackle these extremes on a bike I know I am am ready for anything! Thanks to Andy and his crazy outlook on life!
When did you start mountain biking? Why did you start?
It was a long time ago when I was riding v brakes and full suspension mountain bikes were a thing of the future! To be honest I started mountain biking so I could hang out with Andy who was bike mad—going for a ride was like a date! It was a world unknown to me. I grew up in the inner city of Glasgow and my idea of an adventure was going for a stroll in the local park. So I persevered and it took me a year or two to get into my biking but when I really got serious was when I moved to Innerleithen and started to ride with other women. Now I was starting to push myself. It's difficult to describe, something just clicked in place, and that was me I was totally hooked – since then I haven't stopped planning my next adventure!
What made you a lifer?
Riding with the girls. My progress went through the roof. I was no longer the girl at the back of the pack and I had a posse of women who could ride together/ support each other. It made me push myself out of my comfort zone – chicken runs became a thing of the past. And what’s brilliant is that it's had a positive knock on effect on how I ride with Andy too.
What’s the thing you love second to cycling?
Motivating others and seeing people get the best for themselves. It's what I live and breathe.
What’s the thing you love third to cycling?
Afternoon tea. I love cucumber sandwiches with the crust cut off, scones with jam and clotted cream and good pot of tea! Since 2015, I have been organising afternoon tea rides, where we ride hard during the day followed by afternoon tea, tea served in proper china cups with a tea cosy to keep the tea warm. It's quite surreal all us women having afternoon tea while sitting in our mucky riding gear but everyone loves the experience. Any excuse to eat cake.
What’s your favorite ride snack?
I don't really have a favorite food snack. I always have a couple of emergency snack bars in the pack but I love to see what everyone else has got on a ride and munch on it. Most interesting trail snack that came out a pack is a raw courgette!
What's one thing that no one knows about you?
One thing no one knows is that I can be quiet when I want to be. I often hear people say they can always hear me before they see me! It is true but I do like some time out and reflection time too although Andy might disagree!
What’s your favorite local trail? Why is it your favorite?
Now that's a hard one. I have lots of favourite trails in the North East and North West of Scotland where most of our trips run from, but since you ask which ‘local’ one it's got to be ‘angry sheep’. This one was made with love even though the name suggests quite the opposite. Janey, one of the Go Where clan, built this trail with her man, Neil. It's loamy, grippy and got some cool berms which make you feel like your are gliding the whole way down. Not many trails you can say are built by a lady shredder!
How many times a week do you ride?
I ride three times a week. Every winter involves a training programme to get me ready for the busy bike season which in Scotland is April to October. It's hard to find the time but you have to make it work. I would like to be one of these people who ride at 6am before work but I have tried so many times and failed! The good thing about spring is we have a regular ride out which we call golden Tuesday and after work a big group of us ride together, whether it's rains or shines. Its always 'golden' on golden Tuesday, no matter what the weather. Yes, we talk a lot about the weather in Scotland!
2014 Ten Under the Ben, 10hr race, 1st female vet pair
2014 Scottish Enduro Series, Laggan 21st female
2013 Glentress Seven, 7hr race, 1st female trio
2013 Tour De Ben Nevis, 72km race, 11th female
2012 Diva Descent DH, Hamsterley 21st place
2012 Tour De Ben Nevis, 72km race 14th female
2012 Air Maiden, freeride event, 14th place
2012 Air Maiden, kicker competition, 7th place
Launched Go Where Scotland, mountain bike tours in Scotland in 2009
Launched Innerhaven, Mountain Bike lodge in Innerleithen in 2008