A very successful motorcycle athlete in her own right, Becky Cook had a total change of direction in 2017 as she moved to pedal power in the competitive world of Mountain Bike Enduro. For thirteen years of her life she dedicated all her spare time and money towards competing at the highest level in motorcycle trials, collecting a very impressive eight British Championship titles, 2012 European Champion, five times Vice FIM World Champion and seven gold medals at the FIM Trial Des Nations. Using a mountain bike to train on she came to a point where she liked riding the cycle more than the motorcycle. With funding to compete at the very cutting edge of the Ladies’ World Championship becoming harder to find, she took the brave move to change direction in her career. After entering a few mountain bike races, which she really enjoyed, she got ‘bitten’ by the British Enduro Series and took the British title in the elite women’s class in her first year. Now riding for the Orbea Team it was time to catch up with the determined Becky Cook.
So; how different is your world after the move to pedal power?
BECKY: It all started in 2015 with a race in Wales, for which I had borrowed a bike off Jono from Tred-shop.com. Typical Wales it rained all weekend, but I won and that was it — I was happy! The following year in 2016 I won the British Enduro Series, which gave me a wild card to race the full 2017 Enduro World Series. After much deliberation between me and my husband Craig we made a joint decision; that it was now or never so why not give it a go! My main sponsor was still Tred-shop, so along with their support and a little bit of help from Pivot Cycles I competed in the full Enduro World Series as a privateer.
Is travel easier with a cycle?
The good thing about bicycles and travel is that you can take them on a plane very easily, so not so many hours are spent behind the wheel driving. I travelled to all the events on my own staying in hostels, Airbnbs, campers, basically whatever the cheapest option was depending on the country I was in. It was pretty tough as I had to organise everything, look after myself and my bike with minimal spares, time and energy. I had a pretty good year though, being consistent and finishing every race placing 9th overall and beating some factory supported riders, so once again I was happy with the reward for the hard work. So in many ways it’s the same as the motorcycle world as I still get to travel the world with my bike, but venturing further afield and seeing new places.
And so you found your way into the world of Mountain Bike Enduro. How does this differ from every other cycle discipline?
I compete in the Enduro World Series in the Pro Women’s Class which is the highest level in the sport. We race usually between six and eight timed stages and the fastest cumulative time is the winner. But we also have to ride between the stages so can easily cover 50k on a race day. Some races are twoday events, so it’s a pretty tough weekend out on your bike.
How did the connection with the Orbea Team happen?
Tred-shop.com became an Orbea distributor halfway through 2017 and the UK representative passed my details to the Orbea factory knowing they were setting up a new team to compete in the 2018 Enduro World Series. Before I knew it I was offered a contract to ride for the Orbea Enduro Team. The amount of support from Orbea is just incredible and it’s made it a lot easier for me to concentrate on riding my bike, I cannot thank them enough. It has been a crazy few months after so many years having to do everything myself, sometimes it can be difficult to relax and let them do the hard work. It’s still early in the season but I am really happy with the team, the bike and my team-mates, we’ve already done some training camps in France and Spain, pre-season testing with sponsors and fine-tuning our bike setups to get the best out of our equipment.
Where do you see the sport taking you, can you be world champion in your class?
To be world champion is a big ask but I am naturally a very competitive person, so who knows. This year I am looking to improve on last year’s result; a top-five finish would be amazing but the competition is so strong. There are at least twelve riders all capable of a top five in the championship. I am one of the older riders but my experience from riding motorcycle trials at the highest level has definitely helped me and I will continue as long as I still enjoy racing.
Are you a full-time cycle athlete?
I train every day but I am still working part-time as a lorry driver in the family business between races. My training is a lot more structured now and I have a coach who plans my schedule, so I will usually do a session in the morning before work, then another in the afternoon after work. It is still quite difficult to fit everything in, as the training is pretty intense so rest and recovery is just as important. I am very grateful for this opportunity so I intend to work hard. Orbea have been very generous by supplying me with a couple of training bikes as well as my race bikes so I’m spoilt for choice.
Tell us about your most recent travels and where you have competed.
I’ve just returned from the first two rounds of the Enduro World Series in Chile and Columbia. They could not have been more different, we went from riding in thick dust to thick mud! I had two tenth positions which in truth I am slightly disappointed with but all the girls are so strong now, the competition is really close. My new Orbea ‘Rallon’ performed perfectly in both races and I took a fourth position on stage five in Colombia so I am very happy with this and it gives me a lot of motivation for the next race.
Do you miss motorcycle trials?
Yes I miss riding a motorcycle with friends and certain events like the Scottish Six Days Trial but I have no regrets, none. I had a good few years competing at the very top in the Ladies’ World Championship and enjoyed every minute of my time in motorcycle trials. If you can just imagine representing your country in the Trials Des Nations, it’s like competing in the team events at the Olympics. I still keep in touch with everyone and Craig is in partnership at Bvm-Moto now, so I feel like I’m still a trials rider. I try to ride when I get the time and Steve Saunders, the UK TRS importer, lets me borrow a machine any time I want. I still consider motorcycle trials as a very good skill base for most bike sports, and I for one have certainly benefited from my motorcycling years.
Where will you be in five years’ time?
Who knows! I don’t tend to plan that far ahead, I just want to see where it takes me. I will no doubt be riding on something with two wheels. I am enjoying myself and the new challenges Enduro brings at the moment and am very lucky to have the support of Craig and my family. My motto, as with many people, is ‘One life — live it to the full’. Becky Cook has shown just how important it is to have an open approach to life. Women in sport, any sport, is most needed, and in many ways she has been a pioneer from the trials world to show that with hard work and commitment you can change sports disciplines and become just as successful — we miss her in the trials world but it’s so good to see her achieving success in another sports arena.
Full on in Chile.
Colombia: Fully 100% committed. Team talk at the Orbea test camp.
Colombia: The amount of support from Orbea is just incredible and it’s made it a lot easier for me to concentrate on riding my bike, I cannot thank them enough.
The last world round in Italy 2016.
Enjoying the last ride at the SSDT in 2016 on the TRS. Steve Saunders was 100% behind Becky’s move to pedal power.
TRIAL MAGAZINE Who knows what the future will hold.