Women on Bikes Series: English Clough

I’m a 51-year-old Registered Nurse and have been riding a bicycle since I was 5 years old. When I was young it was my main source of transportation in my small hometown. As I grew older it became my main source of exercise. This exercise was done on a road bike until I met someone willing to teach me to mountain bike.

I had always been interested in mountain biking but couldn’t find anyone who would ride with me and had more experience through my female friends. It took me meeting my husband until I was able to a consistent more experienced riding partner who could help me learn the mountain biking ropes.

Now I am able to ride confidently and I find mountain biking brings me joy as if I was a child again.

When did you first start riding a bike?
When I was 5.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Physical fitness, stress reduction and just plain fun

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I love the Beti Bike Bash-seeing so many women riding mountain bikes is great. I’ve ridden the Bash since it’s first year and I love seeing more and more women getting involved and all the men and families out there to support their women.

I’ve competed in sports all my life and I find it motivation to stay in shape and a great way to challenge myself.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Timid and scared-which is a bad combination on a mountain bike

If you had nervousness at all, what did you do or think to overcome it?
Try, try again

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I do use clipless. When I started mountain biking I was already proficient on using clipless on a road bike. I find the pedals very helpful, they increase your pedaling strength on uphill climbing, and they also keep your foot on the pedals more securely when riding down a bumpy trail. My advice to get use to them would be to practice on a flat surface, make sure they are not too tight so you can release them easily. And know that they will release when you really need them to or you fall down, I’ve tested that theory many times.

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I’ve been somewhat fortunate; I have falling many, many times and lost a lot of skin, but no serious injuries. I just get back on that “horse” and try again-but usually after I’ve healed a bit. As for healing ice, rest and elevation, ibuprofen and some antibacterial ointment are the best treatments. Don’t forget to clean the wound as much as possible and you may have to scrub hard. This is advice from a nurse.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
When I started everything was a challenge. Rocks moving under your wheel are nerve racking, very rocky climbs (steps) and some tight switch backs continue to be challenging. Words of advice, don’t hold on too tight trust your wheel to find the way, breaking too hard is the best way to crash, look ahead of any challenge not directly at it.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I just keep trying to do them. And ride as much as possible. I will also sometimes try an obstacle over and over again right then-trying the best route through an obstacle

What do you love about riding your bike?
The adventure, being able to get to some beautiful places that many people will never see, being outdoors, the rush of physical activity, the FUN

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My current favorite bike is a Yeti sb95c-A sweet and expensive ride but it has made riding so much harder. 29 wheels really help you climb over obstacles and up hills. I enjoy the smooth ride the shocks give me too.

I have a backup mountain bike a Scott Spark 40-nice little 26er that also likes to climb. Great bike but the wheel size is a disadvantage

I also have a Specialized Ariel cross bike that I use to commute to work and to ride around town on.

And I have a Fuji Superteam road bike, which I don’t ride much anymore since starting on a mountain bike. It sits on my trainer and I ride it in bad weather.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love my Garmin 510 bike computer because it gives me such great information about my ride and my physical fitness. I also like my hydration pack-I don’t drink enough when riding if I don’t wear a hydration pack and have the drinking tube isn’t close to her mouth.

You are a member of Dirt Divas, tell us why you joined the Dirt Divas club-
I wanted to ride with women instead of only men for a change, and the Dirt Divas are a fun group who support each other in a non-super competitive method.

What has been the best thing about having joined Dirt Divas?
Having teammates at the races to ride with

What advice would you give someone seeking to join a club for the first time?
Do it

What is the best thing about being able to join other women with a common interest?
Friendship and others to ride with

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Not having other women to ride with because men can be so intimidating.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
There are more and more, women only riding clinics which will help women to learn and we as women need to be willing to help teach other women how to ride.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I want them to experience my joy

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I love to combine my passions-I frequently carry a heavy camera on my rides so that I can take pictures of the beautiful places I get to.