Thoughts on riding, racing, travel, and challenge

ASJ recently caught up with pro enduro racer Amy Morrison, who will be teaching mountain bike skills at the Nevada County Women’s Mountain Bike Skills Clinic taking place October 13-14, 2018 in Nevada City, CA. Morrison has a long list of racing achievements this season, including (but not limited to) 1st place at the Sea Otter Classic Enduro in Monterey, 2nd place at the TDS Enduro in Nevada City, 1st place at the Northstar Sticks and Stones DH, and 2nd place at the Northstar Enduro on the California Enduro Series schedule. She has been racing EWS events around the world, and is the Pro Women champion of the inaugural EWS North American Enduro Series; races took place in Aspen, CO, Truckee, CA (Northstar) and Burke, VT.

You are relatively new to riding mountain bikes … you started just five years ago and quickly positioned yourself as a force to be reckoned with on the enduro scene. What drew you to mountain biking in the first place?

I started mountain biking after moving to the Sacramento area for work. The appeal of being in the mountains and being able to cover a lot of ground while doing something so fun drew me in. I was hooked immediately. I first bought a hardtail and tried XC. I loved the downhill and tolerated the rest. I quickly bought an all mountain bike and just tried to ride every trail I could find in Tahoe. After about eight months of riding I was told about the enduro style of racing and gave it a go at the Kamikaze Bike Games at Mammoth Mountain. I spent the two days before the race riding the park all day long. I ended up double flatting and had to drop out of the race, but I loved it! I liked how you have to be able to pedal most of the uphills, but are only timed on the downhill. Fitness is still a huge factor, but your skills are what put you at the top of the field.

What inspires you as a woman riding and racing mountain bikes?

The adventure and challenge. I love traveling and seeing new places. The challenge of racing new terrain and increasing speed and skills is addicting for me. Seeing other riders, male and female, push the riding limits is exciting to see and inspires me to continue pushing my abilities.

You are an instructor for the upcoming Nevada County Women’s Mountain Biking Clinic taking place October 13-14 in Nevada City. What level will you be teaching and what type of skills can participants expect to learn from you?

I plan to help coach with all levels — beginner, intermediate, and advanced. My background in racing professionally will hopefully allow me to share helpful experiences and advice with participants. I hope to teach them skills that will increase their confidence and speed on the bike. I hope my experiences in racing can help motivate them to try racing or take their racing to the next level mentally and physically.

What advice would you give a new rider? And, what advice would you give to a not-so-new rider who would like to give enduro racing a go?

Just ride your bike as much as you can. Ride new places, make friends and go do explore. The more you ride the more confident you will become. There are so many amazing trails and people in the bike community that you will grow as a rider and person.

As for racing, don’t be scared to sign up and give a race a try. You will push yourself beyond what you do on your own riding. You may crash, but that is all part of the process to getting better. It can be nerve wracking lining up at the start, worrying about being passed, but those things are not a big deal. If you do get caught, you move aside and carry on riding. The person behind you won’t (shouldn’t) be upset they caught you, it tells them that they are going fast!

What is your favorite terrain to ride and what are your favorite trails?

I love riding in the Tahoe area. My favorite trails have it all … rocks, jumps, steeps, fast and flowy, and good berms. Mr. Toad’s has it all!

What was your most memorable ride within California? What was your most memorable ride outside of the state?

In California, I would say my most memorable ride would be this year at Northstar CES race. I was battling with ALN [Andréane Lanthier Nadeau] all weekend. I went into the last stage up one second, but she was super strong the last stage and took the overall. While I ended up in 2nd, I was more proud of how I raced, and the progress it showed that I’ve continued to make year after year. While Northstar is a very familiar mountain for me, to be battling with a top three EWS rider spoke to my ability to have the speed and focus in a two-day race. Northstar was also one of the few races I did in California this year and I loved being back with a lot of my friends at the races.

Outside of California, I’d say the EWS race in Olargues France. It was the most painful, mentally and physically difficult race I have done. I went into the race slightly injured, jet lagged, and a privateer. The two days of practice into two very big days on the bike was very difficult. The terrain was super rocky and challenging. It rained and made the course even harder than it already was. We climbed 5,000 feet on Day 1 and 7,000 feet on Day 2. I didn’t think I was going to finish, but I took it stage by stage and seeing the girls around me carry on motivated me to do the same. My result was not impressive, but finishing the race was.

What’s the best advice YOU have received along your mountain bike journey so far?

To not let the racing take over the riding, to remind yourself why you are out riding — because it is fun, challenging, and takes you to amazing places!

Morrison is sponsored by Dynaplug, Fuji, FOX, Cranked Naturals, Onyx Hubs, Sensus Grips, Shimano, Trucker Co., and WTB.

Learn more about the Nevada County Women’s Mountain Bike Clinic and Camp here.