What’s your day job?
I’m a Mountain Bike Guide! I work for several of the most well-renowned companies in Europe, taking people on week-long point-to-point backcountry trips along incredible trails in some of the most beautiful mountains in the World. These include the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, and the beautiful, wild mountains of Northern Scotland. I also do some freelance guiding closer to home, in the Lake District and Peak District areas of Northern England, and am in the process of starting to develop my own guiding company.
What’s your favorite part of your day job?
Getting to ride my bike every day, outdoors, in places that literally take my breath away every time I travel through them…..and sharing these places and the awesome trails within them, with fellow riders from all over the World.
What’s your least favorite part of your day job?
Living out of a bag for 6 months of the year! There are times when I long to be able to spread my stuff out at home, stay in one place for more than one night at a time, and cook my own food….but putting up with this is a small price to pay for getting to do a job I truly love and am passionate about.
Who’s your favorite riding buddy and why?
I’ve got lots of great like-minded friends I love to ride with. All of whom love the same kind of adventures I do, and who I know I can call on when I come up with the next trip plan, even if it’s going to involve something epic!
When did you start mountain biking?
I started riding at University, as something to do when the weather was too wet to go rock-climbing, and quickly became hooked. Many of these rides were with my late Husband, Gareth, and over our 10 years together, we rode, raced, and travelled all over the World to ride in our holidays and free time. When Gareth died in an accident during a year away travelling together, biking became the only way I found to cope with the all-consuming grief I experienced. I slowly rebuilt my life based around bikes, training and qualifying as a Mountain Bike Guide, and working and travelling more and more as I realised I had found something that made me happy again, and that allowed me to truly make the most of my life, doing something I loved.
What’s the thing you love second to cycling?
It would have to be climbing/mountaineering, and skiing. Basically I’m happiest when I’m outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the World, taking in amazing natural scenery in truly beautiful mountainous places. Life slows down, your senses become awakened, and you feel so much more alive when you are out in the mountains, whether it’s on foot, bike or skis. All of these are just different ways to take you to the same kind of places and allow you to have adventures there! I’ve just qualified as a ski instructor, another step towards finding a way to live and work in the mountains year round, sharing my passion for the outdoors and sport with others!
Do you feel that you have a good balance in your life?
Yes! I’m lucky that I do. I work hard, but I have a job that I love, so often it doesn’t even feel like “Work”. But I always make sure I plan things which aren’t work too. Spending time with family and friends, and planning trips and adventures for myself. Since Gareth died, it has been my philosophy to make the most of every day and every opportunity that arises, and as a result of this, I have been to some awesome places, met many incredible and inspiring people, and had some fantastic experiences along the way. I’ve slowly learnt to not worry about planning too far ahead, and that by saying “Yes” more, opportunities arise and lead to new challenges and experiences that you could never have imagined!
What’s your favorite ride snack?
Cold, homemade pizza, leftover from the previous night’s dinner!
If you left for a big mountain bike trip tomorrow, what’s the top 3 things you couldn’t live without?
Merino clothing…I’m a total merino convert. It’s light, comfortable, warm, and doesn’t smell, even when you’ve been wearing the same clothes for weeks!
A camera…It’s usually the one on my phone, but any camera will do. Just something that allows me to record and share with others some of the amazing places I’m lucky enough to visit, and create memories for myself of trips that one day, when I’m too old or unable to do these kind of things, will still make me smile.
A woolly bobble hat! Perfect for hiding sweaty helmet hair that hasn’t been washed for days, for keeping you warm on cold Alpine nights in mountain huts, and because I love wearing them!
What's one thing that no one knows about you?
If I told you then everyone would know!?! Secrets are for keeping ;)…..
What’s your favorite local trail?
I haven’t really had a permanent base for about 5 years now, but I still consider the trails of the Peak District as my “Local” trails. They are where I started riding, and I’ve ridden them more than any other trails, anywhere. I love coming back here to ride, and I think it will always feel “Local” no matter how far away I end up living! My favourite would have to be the Cut Gate path, a wild, natural singletrack through the rugged gritstone landscape of the Dark Peak. It’s not many miles from the city of Sheffield, but it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. It is great ridden in both directions, and has challenging climbs, fast, fun descents, and technical singletrack riding, and can feel totally different every time you ride it depending on the weather!
Is there another trail/area that you could compare it to?
It’s similar to a lot of the riding in the northern UK. Quite rocky and technical, and with a feeling of remoteness despite it’s relative proximity to a big city. It shows that even though we don’t have the biggest mountains in the World, we Brits are lucky to have many fantastic trails packed onto our little Island!
Julia Hobson and Rachel Walker hop the train to find balance.
Julia Hobson turns one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world into a journey of reflection.
The TP is done and dusted. Time to celebrate!
The TP doesn't disappoint!
The racers take full advantage of acclimation day.
Anka and Kelli finish eight seconds apart!
The all new Roubion takes a trip to Roubion, France.
It is a race, yes, but it is an adventure.