In her first full year of racing the Enduro World Series (EWS), Martha Gill (Marin/Stan’s) is making an impression as a promising up and coming young racer. With one round remaining, the 19-year-old British rider leads the Under 21 women’s standings.
Stan’s NoTubes: Tell us about your experience racing the EWS?
Martha Gill: Two years ago, I tried a round of the EWS, and last year, I raced three or four rounds. This is the first year that I’ve been thinking about the overall series and title. It’s going well so far. I raced all but one round in Aspen, and I just won the Under 21 women’s category at Crankworx in Whistler. I hope to wrap up the series win at the final round in Finale Ligure. I think I have enough points that I just need to finish that race.
NT: What’s been your favorite round so far and why?
MG: Tasmania. It had cool trails - not like anything I’d ever ridden before. They were flowy and fast and straightforward, but every now and then, there was a techy section to break up the fast and flowy. It was a crazy because we had a big thunderstorm on race day with torrential rains. Although we had only practiced in the dry, being from England, I liked the rain. The dirt was different there and even though there were some big rock slabs, drops and rollers, they were still quite grippy in the wet.
NT: Any other highlights this season?
MG: I did Trans-Provence. I’d never done a long stage race like that before, but I’d always wanted to. It’s an iconic race; we start in the mountains and five days later, we’re at the sea. I went for the adventure and the experience, and I was happy to get fourth in the open women’s category. I also did the Megavalanche for the first time. I’d wanted to do it for ages, and this year, it worked out and was fun.
NT: When and how did you get into racing?
MG: When I was young girl, I always went on family rides on the weekends. I was active and did after school clubs like running, hockey and netball. Then I joined my local cycling club, and they got me into road racing. I also tried racing ‘cross, the velodrome and cross country mountain biking. I was picked up by the British Cycling program for the Under 18s, but I didn’t get the results I needed to stay with the program. That’s when I got into enduro, and I decided that was a lot more fun.
NT: Do you race full time, or are you in school or working?
MG: I finished school last year, and I’m doing a gap year this year although I work at a local supermarket through the winter so that I can afford the season. I’m not sure what I will do next year. I had a place at the University, but then the class got cancelled for this year, so I’ve almost decided to have a second gap year. Next year, I will move up into the elite women’s category, and I don’t know yet if I’ll do the full EWS. I’ll do at least a few and see how I compare to the other elite women.
NT: What Stan’s NoTubes wheels do you currently have on your bike(s)?
MG: I did have the 29er Flow MK3s, but now I have the 29er Arch MK3s. They are great, lightweight wheels, and I’ve never had any issues with them. They’re strong - I haven’t dinged any rims all season on them, and I’ve bashed them into lots of rocks. I love that I can use them on all kinds of terrain.
NT: What’s your take on 29” vs. 27.5” for enduro?
MG: I had 650b [27.5”] last year, and this is my first year racing enduro on 29ers. I think the main difference is that once you get going on 29ers, they roll so much faster. You can plow through rock gardens so much easier. It helps you more. I’ve come into a few really tight corners - like in France and Germany - that were hard to get around, but I think they are hard to get around for everyone. You just have to practice your stuffy turns. I think 29ers are the way to go, and I enjoy riding and racing them.
NT: Do you see more and more 29ers on the enduro circuit?
MG: Initially when they first came out, everyone went to 29ers, then everyone went to 650b. But I think people are slowly starting to realize that 29ers are faster rolling. You even see them in downhill now as well. Technology is always developing and getting better. NT: What trends are you seeing in women’s enduro racing?
MG: Participation is always increasing. For example, I did my first EWS race as an Under 21 woman in 2015, and for all of those, there were only two of us. This year, we had more girls - as many as seven. That might not seem like much, but it’s good for Under 21. It’s also good to see more elite women racing as well. I think there were 50 - versus 30 or so a year ago - at the last round. The standard of women’s racing is increasing, too. It’s not just the numbers. It’s hard to make the top 10 among the elite women.
NT: What do you think is the future of enduro?
MG: A lot of the women have come over to enduro from downhill, like Tracy Moseley, but I think that in a few years’ time, there will be more racers who just started with enduro. The discipline is growing so much. It’s come a long way, but has a long way to go. It’s cool that each race is so varied, and while I don’t think enduro will change dramatically, I think the organization will evolve - such as the UCI getting involved and or/drug testing being implemented.
NT: What’s left for the rest of your season?
MG: Besides the EWS final round in Finale Ligure, I’ve got a few local races back home in England that will be fun. I can’t wait to see friends I haven’t seen because I’ve been gone all season. It’ll be good to take it back to the grassroots.NT: What’s your favorite place to ride?
MG: I enjoy being at Whistler. I went there last year for the first time and loved it the whole time. It has such a cool variety of trails. I also went to New Zealand for the first time this year, and that was an amazing place. I went for a month before the EWS round and traveled all around the South Island; the scenery, variety of the trails and friendly people were cool.
NT: Would you ever own an e-mountain bike?
MG: Yeah, I think so. Maybe not now, but when I get to the stage when I can’t be bothered to pedal uphill. I’ve never used one. I like the pedalling uphill and doing the descent. But I think it’s cool if it gets more people out on bikes and enjoying it.
NT: When you are not riding a bike, what do you like to do?
MG: I like playing different instruments like the piano and guitar and socializing with my friends. But even when I’m not properly training, I like playing on my bike - doing silly stuff like wheelies and improving my skills.
NT: Any parting thoughts?
MG: Thanks to all my sponsors who made this season possible for me: Marin and Stan’s NoTubes especially as well as Troy Lee Designs, Burgtec, Crank Brothers and Five10. And last but not least, thanks to my parents.