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MTB tips from pro Emma Atkinson

British rider tells us how to go from newbie to trail stomper

Emma Atkinson

Tempted by mountain biking this winter but need some advice? We asked pro British rider Emma Atkinson where our readers should start, how they can improve fast, and more.

Persist and you will reap the benefits of better bike handling, aerobic endurance and strength come the 2014 triathlon season.

Emma, 21, began downhill racing in 2008 and was selected for the Scottish Cycling Talent Team, from where she went on to race for GB as a junior in the UCI World Cup series. A bad injury put her out of action for the two seasons, and she is now targeting a return to racing in 2014.

Absolute beginners

“If you’re looking at getting into mountain biking I would highly recommend a day of instruction with a trail leader first,” says Emma. “They will sort you out with a good bike for the day and show you how to ride trails safely while having fun.

“From there, if you enjoy it (which you definitely will), invest in a decent bike and helmet then get out into the mountains!”


“If you want to improve your riding, I would suggest just riding as often and as much as possible. If you want to be competitive then look at some gym work and specific skills training, getting a coach is a good idea if you want to get serious.”

Emma’s training tips

• Plenty of rest/recovery between sessions and races
• Pace your training – it’s not about going all out every session
• Get into a routine – allocate a time of day for training and try to stick to it
• Prepare – Make sure you have plenty of water and warm clothes for after
• Commit – It will take time to see/feel results so keep it up

Emma’s diet tips

• Eat lots of green vegetables, especially during winter
• “Fat” isn’t as bad as everyone makes out – don’t fear it, you need it!
• Fry food in butter not oil, it’s better for you
• Eat plenty of red meat
• Stick to fruit for sugar, only use unnatural sugar for competition (e.g. jelly beans/energy bars)

Emma’s top places to ride

• Home – the trails around my house never get old
• Morzine in the French Alps
• Innerleithen at the Scottish Borders
• Bala in North Wales
• Falkland Bike Park – the trails local to my university


Emma was speaking on behalf of Flare Clothing Company, who will at the London Bike Show at London’s Excel Centre from 13th to 16th February. For more information please go to http://www.thelondonbikeshow.co.uk

Profile image of Jamie Beach Jamie Beach Former digital editor


Jamie was 220 Triathlon's digital editor between 2013 and 2015.