Rachael Walker's Instagram account is one of our favorite to watch—she's always off in some far-flung location, riding her bike and smiling. And even when she's not in a far-flung location, she's usually riding her bike and smiling!
What’s your day job?
I am the Brand Manager for Hope Technology, based in the UK. Aside from the honour of working for a great brand, what I love about my job is the variety. Whilst it sounds clichéd, its really true, no day is ever the same. The best days involve the Hopetech Women rides, getting out on the trails meeting fellow riders. Unfortunately, I do have to spend good chunks of time sat behind of desk which isn’t always the most fun!
Who's your favourite riding buddy and why?
I am really fortunate to have met some amazing ladies through racing, riding and taking part in Women’s rides. I have some amazing adventure buddies that I can’t possibly choose between!
One of my top riding buddies has got to be fellow Juliana ambassador, Julia Hobson. I know if I ever have a crazy adventure idea or equally just fancy a long old pedal, Julia will always say yes. Julia and I have had some amazing adventures together in the UK, Europe and further afield in Nepal. You know you have a good riding buddy when you can talk all day non-stop if you choose, or say nothing all day and its ok!
When did you start mountain biking?
I came into mountain biking quite late on in life. It wasn’t until I was around 17 that I was introduced to mountain biking. I was a keen snowboarder and had done a few seasons in Europe. The boys I snowboarded with told me I should try downhill mountain biking. They borrowed a bike for me and sent me downhill. A few crashes later, I was hooked. The thrill of riding downhill picking your way down the trail grabbed me. It was like snowboarding on dirt in a way.Since then I’ve gone through periods of loving downhill, road racing, cyclo-cross, enduro – basically any type of riding on two wheels!
What’s the thing you love second to cycling?
I love to run, in particular trail running. Trail running offers you a sense of freedom different to mountain biking, you don’t really need to concentrate too much on what you’re doing. Its great thinking time. Being out in the hills hiking. I guess for the same reason as fell running. Hiking for me is just a more chilled version of running. Being in the hills clears the mind, offers calm and peace which is often missing from day-to-day busy lives. Cycling, running and hiking offer that time of being out in the countryside, having a little adventure each time you’re out there. You can push yourself in different ways, explore and have some you time, time without phone’s or computers. Just enjoy what you are doing at that moment in time.
Do you feel that you have a good balance in your life?
I have a good balance in general. I work hard and play hard. I used to be a corporate lawyer before joining Hope so the drive to work hard is instilled in me. To keep my balance I make sure I ride a bike at least 5 days of the week – whether this is commuting to work or riding in the evenings or at weekends. Getting those mid-week riding hits is key! I find that nothing prepares you for a full day at the office, like an early morning ride to work. A bit of rain and wind in the face sure wakes you up!
What’s your favourite ride snack?
Hmmm touch one – if I’m being healthy it would be Medjool dates filled with almond butter. If I’m being naughty, a Snickers can go down a treat (alongside a hot chocolate)!
If you left for a big mountain bike trip tomorrow, what’s the top 3 things you couldn’t live without?
Obviously my Juliana bike would be coming with me so I’m not including that! Garmin! I love knowing how much I’ve climbed, how far we’ve gone. My dad’s knickname for me is Statto – obviously because I love a good statistic! The garmin is useful for recording route. If you have an amazing ride, you obviously want to go back there and know how to get there. PhD Waferlite jacket. This is one of my all-time favourite bits of kit. I bought the jacket specifically for the Yak Attack race in Nepal last year. When you’re up in the mountains the weather can change pretty quickly. It can be hot one minute and freezing the next. Stopping for a mid-ride snack can mean you get cold pretty quickly. This waferlite down jacket packs down so so small and weighs on 104g – you can carry it anywhere and definitely not notice it! It comes everywhere with me now. Galaxy chocolate…. I love a bit of chocolate and Galaxy is one of my favourites. Having a little treat to finish off a huge day in the saddle is brilliant. Galaxy never tastes better than after a 6 hour ride!
What’s your favourite local trail?
I spend a lot of time in the Surrey Hills in the south of England. The network of fun flowy trails there is amazing! One trail in particular always puts a grin on my face, no matter what the conditions – Barry Knows Best. The trails in Surrey aren’t super technical but they are always guaranteed to be fun. If I ever need to get my riding mojo back, or just ride for fun without thinking too much – it’s the place to go. I know I will ALWAYS have fun on that trail.
Is there another trail/area that you could compare it to?
The Santa Cruz trails remind me a lot of the Surrey Hills. Fun and pumpy, almost like giant pump tracks. Guaranteed to have you smiling.
What’s the one other thing in your life that is as good as this trail?
Hmmmm I would say having the Lake District mountains within close driving distance to my house. Having such a beautiful area close by is a real treat.