Isla Short Interview: Mental Health And Confidence

In this podcast episode, I interview Isla Short. If you don’t know Isla, she’s a professional mountain biker on the world cross-country circuit.

What makes Isla stand out is her honesty and transparency. Rather than joining a big team, she races solo. This has given her the opportunity to only work with sponsors she believes in and can endorse.

She’s also upfront about her mental and physical health struggle struggles. After a personal best 5th place at the 2020 world championships, she’s struggled with both the pandemic and imposter syndrome competing amongst the best women in the world.

We chat about all of that in this interview, and more.

isla short
Photo Credit: Pete Scullion

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Interview Transcript

Kristen  

For anyone who doesn’t know who you are, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself?

Isla  

I am a mountain bike racer from Scotland. I race on the World Cup circuit. I currently ride for my own kind of setup. I don’t ride for a factory team. It’s quite a personal way to race. And yes, those are pretty much kind of the main things about me, I guess.

Kristen  

Can you tell us how you first got into into riding bikes?

Isla

My family have always been super outdoorsy people. And I went on a lot of cycling during holidays when I was younger.

And I’ve got two older sisters. So we would ride on the back of the triplet or the tandem, touring Scotland and France and Germany.

And then my dad raced a little bit domestically when I was kind of like 10 and 11. And I would go along and support him. And then I kind of liked what I saw. And I started to get involved a little bit myself.

And it was just something different to do the weekends, like going on trips. And I made a lot of friends. And from there did a bit of racing.

Kristen  

At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to go pro?

Isla

I’m not sure. I’m not sure there was a specific point or moment for me where I decided I wanted it to be my career. I think I just continued to find fulfilment from it as a young teenager. You know, like being successful, it keeps you in success as a teenager and going into under 23.

I think that for me, it was something that was worth being at university and kind of tried to go down that pathway. But for me, it didn’t feel necessary, necessarily right at the time. Whereas racing has always felt like there’s so much to explore for me. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a lot of potential.

So I guess, you know, it’s just a really natural process. I haven’t Yeah, I was never aiming to be a pro cyclist. It’s just kind of happened but it feels really natural and really nice.

Kristen  

Used to do a lot of different kinds of racing lots of different disciplines. You’ve raced on the road and cyclocross. Why did you end up choosing mountain biking to be your specialty?

Isla

I think the thing with mountain biking and cross country in particular is that you’ve got such a variety of skills involved in different aspects of the sport. You’ve got downhill, which is obviously gravity focused and same with enduro I guess.

And then the road for me just didn’t–track and road don’t interest me an awful lot. So, with cross country, you’ve got that mix of technical trails and being out in nature. But you’ve also got to be super fit. It’s such a physical discipline.

And I think I just love having the variety in my training, and you know, every training day is so different for me. And there’s so many ways to get better at all those skills. And I just think it’s like the perfect combination of that kind of physical strength plus being in the outdoors plus having to have that technical skill.

Kristen  

Absolutely. That’s what I liked about mountain biking, too.

Isla

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I think that because cross country mountain bikes are so they’re so capable these days for all kinds of terrain, they’re the perfect bike for going on tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to go on. And I think that’s the thing. You can just explore places that you couldn’t go on other bikes.

Kristen  

Absolutely. So speaking of bikes, you have Juliana as your sponsor this year. Which is a women’s specific brand. What is your personal philosophy or thoughts on women’s specific bikes?

Isla

I think it can be a really good thing to kind of go down the route of creating something which is for women and made for women. I do think you need to be careful with that. Because in the past, there’s been kind of like branches of brands that have gone down a female only route. And they’ve, you know, made women’s only frames, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me, and have kind of advertised women’s bikes as not needing to be racy. And that I think, yeah, obviously that’s not useful for anyone.

So I think with Juliana, what I really love about it is that, although they’re kind of the sister brand of Santa Cruz, and they are made for women, it’s kind of like the so the frames are exactly the same frames as the Santa Cruz one, there’s no difference there other than the color. I think that’s a really nice way to kind of promote women’s cycling and create this space just for women to kind of thrive in without having to go down that route of we’ve made this thing for women and kind of making up this idea that women need to different bikes, because that’s just not true.

And so that’s why I really love about them. It’s just a space where, you know, women with different stories and different backgrounds can express themselves through bike riding. And there’s some really gnarly rider who are on the Juliana Ambassador kind of squad. And I just think it’s really cool to be part of something which is pushing women’s cycling in the best way possible.

Kristen  

Absolutely. And I think the one really nice thing too, about the women’s specific brand is like what you had mentioned, you don’t need a different frame. That pointless. But one thing that women do need generally are different saddles, and maybe different crank lengths, and the components that are built up on the bike. And for someone like you, you’re probably gonna build it up with the components you want regardless, but for l a more entry level rider or somebody who’s not going to build up their own bike, it can be nice to have some of those components already specifically picked for a woman.

Isla

Yeah, exactly. I think that’s, it’s really important, I think, to have a brand where the bikes are focused around, you know, what, like, women’s comfort and what a woman needs from a bike because obviously, the industry is so dominated bymales. And all the equipment is, you know, the production behind the equipment that’s dominated by males. And a lot of the research is done on men.

So something I found in the past is, you know, working with male team managers and kind of not having that separations I was I was riding a mens saddle for like three or four years racing world cups, and I’d never ridden a women’s one. So I was just like, I don’t know why everyone talks about women’s saddles, being confused, and I finally tried one and I was like, Whoa, I just normalized the discomfort.

So having a brand where you’ve got that as the primary focus is, I think, really important and actually it’s quite unique which it maybe shouldn’t be. But yeah, it’s really cool thing to be part of.

Kristen

What saddle do you ride?

Isla

So at the moment I ride a Selle Italia Superflow Boost or something, I think it’s called. I don’t have a saddle sponsor, because again, I I just like to find a saddle that fits me and I think you can because I because I have loads of individual sponsors.

There’s a limit there with my like brain capacity. I can’t I can’t be like promoting everything all the time. So I kind of just find saddles that I really liked. Every few years I’ve kind of like gone down a new route maybe or try something else, but I just kind of had have committed to spending the money on on the saddle I want to be able to ride them and not have to, like market them and just know that I’m comfortable. And that’s the end of it.

Kristen  

Your solo right now speaking of that, and not on a team, Why have you chosen to go that route?

Isla

Um, yeah, I’m not, I’m not on a factory team for a lot of reasons. I think, primarily, I struggle with the idea of factory team being a package deal, where you kind of get to love the products that are used. And, you know, they might those products might change within a winner within a multiple year contract, and you have no say in that necessarily.

So, you know, you’re committed to writing things, and maybe you don’t know, if you like, or you don’t get on it very well. And likewise, you know, you’re going into this, this race environment, which is, you know, it’s a high pressure environment anyway, and you need to have the right people around you for that. And it can be a little bit scary.

For me anyway, the thought of signing into maybe a three year contract with a, a team where maybe don’t know anyone, and have all this new equipment to learn, and get to know and, and then obviously, you’ve got the big social media side of it, which is that we’re essentially paid to market these products. And I think most of us know, anyway, that marketing is mostly a load of nonsense.

But, you know, there’s people paid in the world to make to make products be sellable. And I’m not really interested in that. And I’m aware that it is part of my job to sell products. And I think the only way I could be comfortable, the only way I’m comfortable with that, as is knowing that at least I’m marketing something that I genuinely believe in. So that was kind of my basis for kind of doing it my own way and seeing if I could have my own stuff or World Cup. And it’s definitely challenging. I, especially as my results have gotten both of my profiles grown and I definitely have felt myself taking on like a team manager role, as well as being an athlete.

And it’s only now that I’ve really got the resources and kind of the experience to bring other people on board to kind of help me with that. But yeah, there’s like, there’s pros and cons.

And, like, financially, I probably make a little bit more than I would if I was on a factory team, which is obviously a really good thing.

But then equally, all my contracts are quite short term. And I’m having to pay for a lot of my racing expenses out of my own pocket, if you’re on a factory team, kind of, you know, everything is paid for. And whereas I don’t I don’t have that luxury but equally I know that you know, having the ability to decide my schedule, be home when I need to be home, have the people around me, I’m comfortable around riding the equipment, I want to ride that or, like that definitely puts me on the start line. And thats like a much better headspace. So yeah, that’s kind of the summary of it.

Kristen  

I think that’s so brave. And I just love too that you’re being authentically who you are. I’ve talked to a lot of professional athletes and sponsored athletes who feel so much pressure nowadays with, you know, the influencer space and money going to influencers in the cycling industry, rather than necessarily just racers. How, how have you navigated that, like the social media and being kind of forced into this influencer role?

Isla

I definitely find it quite challenging, especially as someone who’s maybe quite skeptical of the media and marketing. And I, it’s so difficult, because I’m kind of being forced into being something that I hate to see.

But I think, I think like I’ve been able to, like, CK a way to do that, that’s fulfilling for me. And part of that is not is being, you know, using products that I want to use and kind of like be and kind of just being honest on social media. Kind of like acknowledging that. I know I’m selling a product, but at least you guys can have the reassurance that I do actually like this. Which is really difficult to do, but it is, it’s hard.

Like, I think it’s quite sad that sport seems to be professional sports seems to be so focused on number of followers and marketability, when, you know, it really should be on skill and strengthen the work you put in and I quite often feel like the bits of my job I’m paid for are being on social media and stuff. When am I training and stuff? I don’t really feel like that’s what I’m being paid to do.

But then like, sport is entertainment and entertainment sells and all that. So yeah, it’s definitely difficult and I hope that it doesn’t go any further into the influencer world than it already is. Because I think it’d become superficial then and I think we move away from like, the sweat and tears and the stories of professional sport and like the kind of personal investment and athletes I think, for me anyway, that’s, that’s what the sport is about being able to relate to like your your Heroes. And yeah, I hope that we can continue to kind of like focus on that, despite it becoming more and more about selling ourselves and selling products.

Kristen  

So I hope that people like listening to that or think about it for a moment, too, because I really do see that, you know, turn on your Instagram, and it’s nothing but marketing, or everybody or following is just trying to sell you something in one way or another. And I think it’s just so damaging to ourselves, and obviously damaging to our sport. And I think it’s good for everybody to reflect on that a little bit.

Isla

Yeah, definitely. I think as well, like social media is such a difficult puzzle to solve. Because, you know, you’ve got your sponsors who you have obligations to post once a month, or to promote a product.

And, but you’ve also got this other side where sponsors really want you to have like, lots of engagement on social media a big following. If I, if I’m posting something about a product, I always get less engagement unless, like, so. It’s like, it’s a catch 22. And I find that quite difficult to so I just kind of kind of gone down the route of just sharing, like real stories.

And you’re saying things that I actually think are valuable and meaningful, because I do think people, people don’t necessarily buy a bike because they saw a rider win a race on that bike, I think they fall in love with somebody story in the background around that race and the performance. And I think that’s what sells things. So I guess that works quite well with me, because I like to tell stories rather than buy this thing, because I use it and I’m going to tell you the best.

Kristen  

Speaking of telling stories on Instagram, one thing you shared a lot in this last year, were some of your health issues. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Isla

Yeah, I kind of had like two, ongoing, separate, but inter like, health issues going on last year, I had following the 2020 season, where we kind of had the first year of COVID. And the first lockdowns, I my mental health was it really suffered through that winter. Um, and that was kind of connected to my diagnosis of endometriosis, which it wasn’t actually diagnosed until September 2021. But I was kind of dealing with those the symptoms and the impact that was having on my life during that time, which obviously impacted my mental health even more.

So yeah, it was a really difficult time trying to be an athlete on the world stage as well, whilst going through all that, and then going back to having to be present on social media, through all of that, as well as being the best version of myself was really challenging. But I’m kind of out the other side of it now, hopefully, although I have, I have learnt so much about mental health. You know, I think, with mental health, we approach it with this kind of perception that when when somebody is, you know, you wait for somebody to have a catastrophe with their mental health, and then you try and fix it rather than a prevention kind of stress.

I think we’ve realized this winter, I had, I guess you’d call it like a relapse in December, when I wasn’t very well again, and it really made me understand that you don’t, you know, like seeking out the tools that allow you to maintain a more stable well being rather than feeling like you’ve recovered and you’re fine there. And it kind of I have my I have sight out of mind. And then suddenly it hits you again, and you then have to pick yourself back up. I think I’ve learned so much about why do I feel happy now? And how can I? How can I continue to manage my mental health? Because it’s not, it’s not fixed? It’s the same as physical health.

And I think, yeah, like talking about that a lot more really helped me and just like helped my understanding of, we don’t need to approach mental health with this person. This person has mental health problems, or this person is going through a really tough time. It’s like, yes, being a bit more positive with it and thinking like, Well, why do I feel good when I feel good? And how can I? How can I use those those like, pills to help me when maybe I feel like I might be slipping? That’s something I’m still working on?

Kristen  

I think we all should be doing that. That’s amazing. And we do spend so much time I think in our culture, like focusing on what we look like and our physical health and not nearly enough time thinking about what’s going on inside and how to maximize our enjoyment of our life and to deal with some of those because I think everybody at some point deals with mental health issues.

Isla

I think so many more people deal with it, then people talk about and that’s something I find, I think, I find quite difficult but I also think it’s something And I may be quite good. I’m a really open person. So I don’t have a problem. Like, I’m not scared to talk about these personal things. And I think like last winter, nobody was talking about, like mental health and COVID. And I was like, how? How is everyone? Okay? And

Kristen  

No one was okay.

Isla

I was like, what? Why is nobody talking about this? Um, like I was, I had a big, like, existential crisis last winter. And I, I’m sure, I’m sure it wasn’t the only one I know. But I just, I kind of was like, on my social media with the girls I race against because obviously, that’s a big part of my life. And everyone was kind of gearing up for the Olympics. And I ended up like picking up a post and getting like, Hello.

Does anyone else feel shit? Yeah. And I got like, kind of a lot of a lot of my rivals kind of liking my post and a couple people messaged me privately. And we’re like, thank you so much for kind of voicing this. But it was a really interesting dynamic, leading into the Olympics, because I felt like everyone wanted to come across as being really robust and focused on that race. And, you know, I kind of was wondering if people were reluctant to like, share them, they’re, they’re going through tough times are being affected by COVID, because maybe it was a sign of weakness leading into the Olympics. I don’t know.

For me, I was just like, so I was on the the Tokyo Olympics were quite like, I was only on the radar for that for quite a short time. So I wasn’t expecting to go and then I had a really good year in 2020. So then I was put on the shortlist. And for a few months, I was like, Okay, I might go to Tokyo. That’s pretty cool. Um, but like the worst my mental health got through the winter, like, the less relevant that became. And by February, March, I, I couldn’t have cared less if I was going to Tokyo or not, because it just, you know, when your mental health isn’t somewhere like that, you can’t possibly be bothered by things like that. And then, yeah, I think that’s why I felt quite separate from a lot of the other girls I raised against us, because nobody was kind of nobody seemed to be that affected by it. But actually, looking back this season has been a real like, I think breakthrough for openness in the women’s field.

There’s a lot of riders sharing their mental health struggles. And I think from the outside, you can look at and be like, well, all, like a lot of women have, are really struggling mentally or like have had a really hard time. And I’m like, No, I think we’re just talking about it. Like, because I think we all realize how hard how hard it was like trying to focus on the delayed Olympics, with the pandemic and with lock downs and not being able to race and the impact that had on our health.

And it was, I hope that I’ve been a part of that kind of willingness to speak out and have helped other riders to do the same, because it definitely has brought us closer together. I think as a, as a, like group of athletes racing each other, which is actually really nice.

Kristen  

That’s beautiful. I think that’s such a true thing too, that in life, like the more vulnerable we are, the easier it is for people to connect with us.

Isla

Yes, absolutely.

Kristen  

For 2022, what are your goals?

Isla

This year, I would like to stop being scared of being good. So I’ve been, I’ve had like blitz of being one of the best over the past few years. And I’ve always known, like, physically it’s there. But I’ve struggled really hard psychologically with the pressure from myself mostly, and I’m a little bit scared of, you know, when you suddenly find yourself quite close to the thing that you have dreamed off, I’ve definitely find myself like backing away a little bit.

Because, you know, you hear lots of stories of people achieving their goals. And our 2016 Olympic champ Jenny was said she, she had a really terrible time after she won the Olympics when she was I think she was 22 which is so young. And there was other things going on in her life. But like, I look at that and I think you know what, what happens when you achieve this big thing that you’ve been working towards?

And I think for me, that’s always scared me especially because my mental health has been really up and down. But because I’m learning to like find ways to be happy outside of sport as I feel much more ready this year to kind of face my goals and head on. So I would really like to break into the top 10 World Cups and get on the podium. I think that’s you know me in a good headspace is there already I think so. I’m excited for that.

And we’ve got the Commonwealth Games, which annoyingly clashes with the world that schedule. So I would love to go and win the games, but also missing a World Cup means I lose a lot of ranking points. And we’re also back into a new Olympic qualifying year. So also are so we really want to get two or three spots at the next Olympics and we’ve got three Raiders me either Richardson any last or going really well. And we have such like, we’re set up to, to have like an amazing Paris Olympics if we get the strategy, right. So as a bit difficult. And other than that, just Yeah, continuing to like, develop, like in races and progress. Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty much it.

I’d like to do some cyclocross this year. I say this every single year, but I really feel like this year is the one. I’d really love to just give it a shot over in Belgium and try and do a few World Cups and just curious see how it go. So yeah, that’s, that’s pretty much the plan.

Kristen  

It’d be pretty exciting to do one of those races. They’re very rowdy.

Isla

I, I’ve watched so much of it over the years. And I raced in Scotland in the UK, but never taken it that seriously. And I think like, so I did an AWS last year for the first time. And because because, you know, I just love bikes, and I love racing bikes in any form, really. And because bike racing is never a job for me. And obviously, that comes with financial pressure. And, you know, sponsorship, pressure and internal pressure.

I think, you know, that’s not why you that’s not why start racing bikes, there was none of that it was just a fun weekend. And I love the bike race for what it was. And there is no baggage like emotional baggage attached. And that UWS was, it felt like I was a kid, as well. I know, like I’m chasing individual placings now, and you know, I’m chasing career best. And I’m chasing, like always being better than I than I was the week before and to go from chasing the front of a bike race to so I was in the pro category.

But on the first stage, I was laughing, I was just like, so humbling. And it made me realize like I don’t like winning is not the be all and end all for me. I just really love a bike race. And that’s kind of how I feel about craw. Like, I’m not really invested in like my results there at the moment, I just really want to go and like get my head kicked in.

Kristen  

On the Juliana website, there’s a quote of you. And it says the only thing between me and the box is confidence. What things specifically have you been doing to work on your confidence?

Isla

And so I have. So previously, it’s kind of cause and effect, my confidence has not been that high. Over the past few years, I’ll do an amazing race, but then the pressure of repeating that performance will get to me so much that I just choke at the next event. So I’ve had seasons of like, oh, I mean, the season 2019 My best result was 14 When my worst result was 46. Which is like not consistent. And also, you know, I wasn’t less fit the second race, I just choked because of the pressure.

And I think a lot of that is just being like a young athlete and an immature athlete and, like psychological sense. But the so I’m working with a psychologist and have been for a year and a half. Kind of over that time, I’ve seen a huge difference in my ability to perform well consistently in races.

And we’re now at the point where I’m not worried about the physical stuff at all, like my lap times last year showed that I can race, you know, I can I can let at the front of a World Cup. My problem is I you know, I’m on the start line, and I like shy away from the front of the race because I think that I’m not good enough to be there. And then it’s like, halfway through the race. I’m like, overtaking like five people a laugh and laughing in the top five, which is a bit frustrating.

But, um, so this year, I’ve just, I’ve just been trying really hard to like, convince myself that I belong at the front of a bike race. And I’ve had a couple races in the past, I’ve done that. So I’m really trying to draw on those experiences and and, you know, let all the kind of bad races fall away and know that those races happen so I can get back to I can do that any day I want to my headspace is there. So the last two races I did, I’d say were really quite special because I raced out the front of the bike race from the gun and landed on the podium twice. And I wasn’t like surprised because I am super confident in my physical ability but for me to like, feel that confidence in a race is really new to me.

And I noticed on the first race in Spain I was I was in fourth and I was like capping the leading group and they were like 10 seconds in front I mean, and then I was like, I, I felt really good at this point.

I was like, I think I’m gonna win this race. And it was a big race like Yolanda Neff was in it. Who’s obviously Olympic champ. He had been racing, although she had back issues. So she pulled out but there was like, Yeah, Olympic bronze medalist, I think.

And I was like, I get intimidated by, by these. Like the results people have had, I think in a race, but this is, this is like the first ever time I was in a, in a race with world class riders and thought I was gonna win. And I’ve just like, held on to that feeling the past few weeks, because I can do it. And I didn’t win because I, I go off a little bit, but um, yeah, just and I think having.

So I have a few friends who raves. And like one of my best friends is a cyclocross racer, Cameron Mason. And he, he’s had such an amazing season, and he’s so confident. And I would FaceTime him this winter, like every race he had, and he just like, I just like, feed off his confidence. And my boyfriend says to me, that’s what you need.

Like, you need to go into a race thinking you’re gonna win it. And not and not be like, because I think every time something doesn’t go to plan, I, I stopped believing myself straightaway, because one thing didn’t work. And I’m like, Oh, well, obviously, I wasn’t going to win it. So why did I think I was? So now I’m trying to be like, Yeah, every race, I just triangle in front of the bike race. And then it’s working so far. So fingers crossed, that I continue to take that confidence into the world cup season. If nothing else, have a consistent year where I’m not having a career best or a disaster.

Kristen  

Well, we’re all rooting for you. Where do you see yourself in five years? Like, what are your ultimate dreams?

Isla

So I say, I, in the next five years, I would really love to win a World Cup. Or I’d love to win a world championship years racing for the win. And I would just really love to feel successful and stable enough to not be worried about money with the job. Which is, yeah, like coasting or anything like that relies so much on like, social media and, and results as well. And like, so yeah, that’s kind of where, where I see myself. And I think I read, I don’t, I don’t think I want to race my bike until 40. I know, there’s some, some women who like have continued to race. I know, our oldest World Cup winner, I think she was 45 when she won a World Cup, which is incredible.

But for me, I’m also I’m aware that like, there’s a lot of other things in life. You know, like having a family and just enjoying other things. And also, in the grand scheme of things professional bike racing is, is not that important. But I think there’s like other good that we can be doing in the world. But I want to be able to like use my, my platform as a bike racer, to then take that into something bigger, but also something simpler, like using the bike as a means to integrate people into, like, I don’t know, like useful spaces for people’s mental health and for, like, children learning. Yeah, that’s kind of like, after racing.

But I’d say like, yeah, next five years, I obviously I would love to go to the Olympics and win a medal. But I’m kind of like, less bothered about the Olympics, because I’m aware that it happens once every four years. And you have to do everything right on a day that 20 Other people don’t do everything, right.

And so it’s a goal that’s like, very uncontrollable. And I think, for me, going down that tunnel of I want to win the Olympics. And I’m going to put everything into that. And sacrifice everything. I think if it didn’t work out for me, it would have a really, really big impact on my well being. I’m kind of just like, yeah, like, World Cups are different.

We have eight or nine a year, there’s always another opportunity to win a World Cup. So I have like, that feels like a much more stable way. And I think if we get to Paris 2024 And I’m winning World Cups, then why can’t I win the Olympic Games? That’s kind of how I see it.

Kristen  

Yeah. Have you seen the documentary “The Weight of Gold?”

Isla

No, I haven’t. It was really fascinating. It’s I think it’s on Netflix. And it’s Michael Phelps, who produced it and everything. But it’s basically about these Olympic athletes and how many mental health issues they have because they do put their whole self worth and their whole value on going to the Olympics and doing well and Yeah, just like a lot of suicide, a lot of very serious mental health issues amongst Olympians and professional athletes in general. So I do think it’s very healthy that you’re already looking beyond, you know, cycling and seeing yourself as a valuable human being aside from your sport.

Isla

Yeah, I think sport can take you to really play. And I think like, it’s being a goal, like learning something or, or, or a result, I think it can get a lot of time, a lot of the time or stand that I can be happy without, without success on the bike. Racing a lot more fun, because I’m not going into races with this urgency that I need to perform well, or nothing else matters.

Kristen  

Three final questions for you at the end here. But first, where can people connect with you? And do you have any sponsors you want to give a shout out to?

Isla

Yes. So I’m mostly active on Instagram. I’m Isla under slash short. And yeah, that’s pretty much my only kind of properly active space.

Yeah, I will give a shout out to Hunt Bike Wheels. They are my title sponsor on the circuit has a title sponsor is a wheel brand, which I think is pretty cool. And they’ve like really allowed me to pursue my own setup, which is really special. Thanks, guys.

Kristen  

Very good. So first question is what bike or bikes do you ride?

Isla

So I spend most of my time on the Juliana Wilder, which is my race bike. I run it with 100 reps out front and rear. The stock version comes with 115 for kind of 110 shock. And I also spend a reasonable amount of time on my road bike, I am still waiting on a couple of my bikes from Juliana just because of COVID delays.

So I have a gravel bike on the way which is the Quint. I live in like gravel, Central and Scotland. So I’m excited to pick that bike to use here. And then I ride a reasonable biton my trail bike in the winter. And I will be riding the Ruby on which is I’m going to get the six foot up version because I’m really small. And yeah, I do quite a lot of trail like techy trail riding on that sometimes on flat pedals, just to work on my skills.

But yeah, most of my time I’m on the cross country bike just because yeah, it’s super versatile. I can pretty much take it anywhere. Yeah, and I just like chalk on you know, I have like wheel setups where I have like fast tires, and then my mud tires and stuff. So yeah, I just, I just love spending time on that bike.

Kristen  

Second question is where’s your favorite place you’ve ever ridden your bike?

I’m gonna have to say somewhere in Scotland because I’m super sentimental about the home up north and torrid and it’s on the West Coast. Like kind of, I’m going to say five hours north of Glasgow. It’s pretty remote.

And it’s just really, really natural kind of mountain riding, technical, big slabs, big rocks. And when you get nice weather, there’s nowhere better. I mean, you don’t often get nice weather I really awful conditions. But you know, you’ll be off in the mountains on your bike, and you’ll see a stag or an eagle, and it’s just a really beautiful place. But unfortunately becoming a little bit commercialized, which is really sad. But yeah, there’s some amazing riding there.

Kristen  

I ask that question of everybody. And I think you’re the first person who’s ever said home. So that’s pretty amazing. And last question is what do you love most about riding your bike?

Isla

I, I find that a bit hard to articulate. But I think what I love most is that feeling when you’ve been out all day, and it doesn’t really matter where you’ve gone or how far you’ve gone, your face is flushed, because you’ve been probably in wild weather. If you’re reading here your body feels like so much. So many. What are they called? Endorphins. That’s the word and like, because you’ve exercise and like everything’s moving and you’ve had like the wind in your hair and you’re tired and you just like want to like cozy up on the sofa. And that’s just my favorite thing I think is like writing like is just everyday is an adventure.

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