Name: Emma Whitaker
Discipline: Mountain biking / Gravel riding
What bike(s) do you ride? Juliana Maverick and a Juliana Quincy
Where are you from? Yorkshire, UK
How did you get into riding?
I was extremely fortunate as a kid that I’d spend a lot of my time growing up in Chatel, in the French Alps. One summer when I was around 14 some family friends decided to take me mountain biking in the bike park that summer and I fell in love with it. I bought a second hand full suspension with some of my christmas, birthday and chore money that I had saved up. Once back in the UK I started exploring my local trails more and riding in all my spare time. Safe to say I was completely hooked.
Favourite HKT product?
I love the simple life branded bits, I just love the tree and mountains - no fuss, nice and simple.
Rider you most admire and why?
Casey Brown all day everyday. Her riding is just so effortless, and her whole journey from racing to freeride is something I really admire. I think there’s too much impact on racing being the only true way to make ‘it’ in the sport. Especially for female riders. Brown has really paved the way for future female freeriders in the sport and I really respect and have a lot of time for.
Favourite bike-related event?
Any event I’ve been to that has had a focus on being inclusive and allowing more people from different backgrounds to discover the sport (be it any kind of cycling). Riding is about getting people together and having a good time, any event that focuses on that camaraderie is a firm favourite of mine.
Best trail ride snack?
All of the snacks? Ha! It’s got to be buttered banana soreen or a rice cake sandwich with PB and nutella. Don’t knock it till you try it.
Any strange habits you do whilst riding?
I struggled to think of something for this, I first thought ‘hmm I talk to myself and I’m pretty vocal when I ride - but I know plenty of other people who do that too’. Then with a little help I realised I have no mtb superstition, I don’t fear the ‘last run’. I don’t tap one of my feet on a pedal or grip my brakes before a run, I just clip in and go. Maybe that’s the strange thing about my riding!
Favourite thing about modern-day mountain biking?
Can I say Gravel Bikes? I just love how far bike’s have come. A modern day Enduro bike is basically a DH bike from 10 years ago, and a gravel bike is a mountain bike from 20 years ago - but so much better. I ride stuff on my Quincy I wouldn’t have ridden on my MTB 10 years ago and I ride stuff on my Maverick I only would have ridden on a DH bike 10 years ago. That plus droppers, long live the droppers.
Describe mountain biking in 3 words?
Escape, Thrilling and social
Funniest experience while out on a ride?
This one time Carly (my partner) and I were riding back from Morzine towards Chatel, and Carly had a crash, slashed her elbow pretty bad. She had sat herself up, took her helmet off and was just having a breather. Then she decided to lay down, and I decided to take a selfie - turns out she had passed out. Don’t worry I realised after she wouldn’t reply to me, so I sat her up, showed her the selfie and we had a good laugh. She's fine, we’re fine.
If you could only ride one trail for the rest of your life what would it be?
There’s this trail in Chatel that is away from the bike park, it’s just this picturesque singletrack that is the perfect gradient and flows so well alongside the mountain. I could (and have) ride that trail all day long.
If you could magically tell every mountain biker in the world something. What would you tell them?
Psssst, riding isn’t all about the pressure of progression and racing, it's about having a damn good time, not giving a toss and having a reyt good laugh. It doesn’t matter if we’re riding a green trail or a black trail all day. All that matters is that we’re here, we’re sitting on our bikes, in the open air and it’s bloody great.
What is your party trick?
I have a scar on my arm from a mtb crash and I can make it look like a butt crack.
One random fact about yourself?
I can squeal like a pig.