Feature image by @duncanphilpott
For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, let me introduce you to Tahnée Seagrave.
Tahnée is an extraordinary young woman who, with no shadow of a doubt, has been following her dreams from the start. Having just been signed by Red Bull and specializing in Down Hill (DH) mountain biking racing, she’s pretty damn hardcore, too. There are not many women – especially one so young – who have the guts to tackle the courses she does. But the best part is – she’s a completely normal person too. When not pelting down a steep and gnarly course she loves shopping and helping others onto the bike, too. Read on to hear how she does, including her top 5 tips for improving your biking.
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m a 21 year old girl with big dreams. I grew up with 2 brothers so had to fight for my territory, which I am very appreciative of because it has helped me in so many ways.
How did you get into bikes? Was it from a young age?
My parents were quite outdoorsy people themselves- very much get up and go. So we learnt to ride bikes from a young age. Only as your average person does though, and when we moved to France that’s when we found out what DH was, but I rode more BMX at the time. (And I was awful at it to say the least!)
Why DH? How did you get drawn to that particular discipline?
As a youngster I did loads of different sports. Mum and dad gave us every opportunity. Along the way I did gymnastics which looked promising, but then moved to France and took up figure skating. I got quite bored of that too. I think with the type of personality I have I need things to keep moving, keep changing, keep challenging myself. And that’s what happens every time I get on a DH bike – it never fails to bore me. Most times it scares me!
How soon did you know that becoming a professional rider was the thing for you?
I didn’t really. I always “want to be world champion”. That’s all I would ever dream, think or say (and I still do! Ha). I guess pursuing that and driving towards that has, along the way, made me in to a professional rider!
How did you go about achieving that?
I just kept trying. No such thing as can’t in our household.
Where is your favourite place to ride? I notice you live in Wales, so there must be some good tracks near you?
Around here for sure! So many awesome tracks. All the national tracks are pretty close, but there are some phenomenal secret trails that just put a grin on your face.
You’ve just been signed by Red Bull as only the third woman to have gone onto the team. How excited were you to find this out?
I was super excited. I’ve been working with RedBull since I was a junior so to finally qualify to be a branded athlete feels like an honour. You know it’s like one of the premiums in action sports. I was so shocked, as didn’t expect it.
You were close to winning the World Cup in 2016. Is winning that your main goal for this coming year?
How do you aim to achieve that?
Well it’s hard, hence why I love racing. The only person you can race is yourself. You don’t have control over how fast or slow other people go, the only thing you can aim to do is be the best you… but that lies on a very fine line.
What goes through your mind when you’re racing?
I’m very nervous. If I were calm it wouldn’t be right! I thrive off adrenaline and proving myself wrong. I’m not going to lie a lot of doubts go through my mind. It’s a very tiring mental battle.
What is the most memorable moment from your biking career?
Raising £10,000 for Coppafeel!, raising awareness and being able to help others all by doing what I love. It was awesome, and Coppafeel! are the most inspirational bunch of people I know.
Do you have a motto that you live by – to, say, get you through tough training?
I have quite a few, but the good quote from Talladega Nights “If you ain’t first, you’re last”. It’s funny because it’s true.
People congratulate me for getting second, but what I love is getting home to see some friends and family and they say it how it is. A friend of mine that I don’t get to see very often (massive shout out) David Read will, every time without fail, look at me and say “well, if you ain’t first, you’re last!” It makes me laugh, and it’s because he knows what I’m capable of and knows what I want. It’s a nice reminder that drives me forward.
Has anyone ever told you to give it up?
I get a lot of people saying it isn’t a real job. That they’d love to see me in said real job and that we have it easy as athletes. I don’t think anything infuriates me more because truth is I’ve probably worked 10 times harder than they have to get to where I am.
“I was brave enough to follow my dreams. Strive for something better.”
When you’re not training, what’s your favourite thing to do?
I think I’m quite close to being a shopping addict. I love clothes and bags and shoes so much it makes me worry!
What are the top 5 things you’d recommend for improving your biking?
- Set little goals for when you go out riding. They don’t have to be huge or even many of them but try to stick to at least one. I often begin a trail and say “right this time I’m not going to pedal and just pump every bump I can”.
- Know where your comfort zone is. When you know where this is and get comfortable with your riding you can then start to feel more confident.
- You don’t have to do it today. I feel a lot of people pressure other people in to doing things when they don’t know how you actually feel. You’re probably more than capable, but it’s ok to take your own time in doing it. Just because others are impatient doesn’t mean you have to be. The goal is you get there, right? Doesn’t matter how long it takes you. Having said that,
- Push yourself just a little bit out of your comfort zone. Even if it’s a split second. In your own time. Trust me, that little spike of adrenaline is worth it. You’ll soon be addicted.
- Trust your ability. Give yourself some credit. Having doubts? Tell your head to shut up and let your skills do the talking.
Lastly, do you have any advice for women wanting to start mountain biking and down-hilling?
Yeah, don’t take any of the guys crap!
Feature image by @duncanphilpott