What a week! Over the next seven days we’ll be celebrating females on both International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day. In light of these two amazing holidays, we caught up with Osprey Ambassador, Tracy Moseley, on how she balances motherhood and mountain biking.
Hi Tracy! Do you want to start by introducing yourself, and telling us a little about what you do?
I’m Tracy Moseley, 41 somehow, and used to be a professional mountain biker, still racing a little bit, but now I’m more involved in athlete logistics with Trek Factory Racing Teams. So still working in the industry and trying to help the next generation of mountain bikers be successful.
I started racing 25 years ago as a 15/16-year-old youngster just getting involved in mountain biking. At the time it wasn’t really disciplined, it wasn’t downhill, it wasn’t cross country, it was a bit of everything. I started off with a few cross country races, realised quite soon that I enjoyed the going down bit, that adrenaline rush, rather than the painful pedalling up hills, puffing and panting, so naturally for me I got straight into downhill racing. . . . From 2000-2011 I raced on the World Cup Downhill circuit, the goal for me was to become World Champion and it took 10 of those 11 years to finally get there. . . . In 2015 I retired from World Enduro and then since then I’ve been working within the industry and had a little boy in 2018.
Can you tell us a bit more about your son, what he's like and what he’s into?
We always said [with Toby] he’s going to become part of our life, rather than him take over our life. Right from the start the first year, [end of March 2018] I still worked for the Enduro World Series going to some of the European races just checking out the safety of the courses, being a liaison between the organiser and the EWS organisation, so he came with us in the campervan in Europe! He did, I think, out of his first six months of being on the planet he was out of the UK for three of them. He just joined in, travelling has been part of our family since then. He’s an outside boy, we live on a farm, so he’s grown up just playing with diggers and tractors. Loves his little balance bike, loves climbing on the rocks and I mean, I’d love him to ride a bike, I’d love him to enjoy riding bikes because that’s my life, but just being outside and enjoying being a little boy and playing is the most important thing right now for us and for him. It’s been really, really fun seeing him grow and love all the stuff that we love at the moment, so fingers crossed it continues.
Does Toby understand what you do as a career?
Do you know what? I don’t really know. He kind of gets that mummy has to go to work and sometimes going to work involves being in the office and sometimes going to work is mummy riding a bike. Obviously he’s been to see me race quite a few times and he loves sitting on the side-lines shouting “Go Mummy! Go, go go!” which is quite cool to see him there cheering, but I don’t know if he really gets it. Be interesting to see when he goes back to nursery what he tells the teachers and stuff. What does mummy do? And what his explanation would be, would be quite interesting to find out actually because he’s still too young to really understand what it’s all about or what I’ve achieved in the past.
So, going back to you, have you always wanted to be a mum?
I would say no, that would be my first answer. I’ve definitely not been one of those people that have grown up thinking oh I can’t wait to have kids, but I think in the back of my mind I probably always knew I would. I knew in my mind that we wanted to do it at some point so it felt right and time was ticking I guess more than anything. Mother nature says even if you’re not interested in others, you love your own to bits and thankfully nature does work! It’s just seemed like the most natural thing to do and it’s amazing having not had anything to do with kids before you do think, “Oh my word, how is this going to work?” but it does. And your own child is something completely special and different. . . . Every week is like a new challenge and development phase and it’s the coolest journey ever. The hardest one, but one of the coolest things I think you could ever do.
Would you say being a mum is more difficult than being a cyclist?
Oh definitely. Being an athlete, you’re in charge of what you do, your motivation gets you places, your effort gets you places and you’re 100% in control of that. Whereas being a mum is like every day is a discovery of trying to do the best you can do, but not necessarily knowing how to do that because there’s no training diary to take, no one tells you how it works and every child’s different so you really do feel like you’re learning on the job.
There are days when you question, “Are we doing this right?”, you know, “Are we doing it wrong? Should this be like this?”, then that phase goes and something else starts. The hardest thing is that it’s 24/7. . . It also has its tolls on us, we don’t really get much respite from him and it’s definitely something you can’t just switch off from and have a rest day! That’s the biggest difference, you don’t ever get rest days being a mum! But it’s more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done before so it’s worth it.
What changes have you made to your lifestyle after becoming a mum?
Well, I always enjoyed getting up in the morning, and doing stuff and exercising first, but if I want to do any exercise it has to happen generally before 9 o’clock in the morning because otherwise there’s just stuff that takes over. . . My husband James isn’t a great morning guy so he’s happy to have Toby, and they play around, and snuggle in bed for a while, and I can get up and get stuff done. That’s how life changed in that respect. James tends to go out in the evening and do his exercise and I’ll be working while Toby’s asleep. Then in the daytime we just tag team.
I have to have way less things to try and achieve each day, that’s been the hardest thing to adapt to. Rather than having all these plans in my day I struggle now to try and pick one or two things to do, and then think I’ve done that and that’s a good day. You just can’t plan; you never know what’s going to happen. Quality time with your kid has got to overrule those desires to tick off mundane life tasks.
You’ve been a competitive mountain biker, now you’re coaching, are there any traits you want to instil in Toby?
I think more just determination, and wanting to have a purpose and set goals. As hard as it is with little ones, you know, I see so many young kids now that are just obsessed with their computers and their phones and that kind of thing, and I’m sure that will be part of Toby’s life, we can’t change that in any way, but I’d love to see him have something he’s passionate and interested in that’s not just computers or indoor stuff. Whether it’s rock climbing, fell running or something, I’d love for him to have that love for the outdoors as well, and appreciation for nature. . . . Also, I’m really conscious of trying to make sure that he’s polite and a nice human being and can communicate.
Is there anything that you’ve had the opportunity to experience with Toby that has derived from your career?
A lot of our racing involves going to the mountains so he’s been on a chairlift, on a gondola and he’s done some amazing trips in the Alps already in those first couple of years, and even Fort William. Even now he wants to get to the top of the hill, being surrounded by nature is something that you might do on a one-week holiday if you’re lucky, a normal family holiday, but that’s my office in many ways, so for him it’s quite normal to be in that situation. Also to be around lots of people and for it to be normal, for it to be busy, to come into the race pits and hang out with all the racers. I’m hoping that not too many things are going to scare him. He’s been to World Cup downhill races at Fort William with all the noise and it’s just normal, so that’s been quite a unique opportunity for him.
We’re then greeted by Toby who makes a brief appearance before going back to playing.
How are you inspiring the next generation of mountain bikers?
That’s been one of my main goals, wanting to put a bit back and being able to give a few kids opportunities. One of my big things is I just want to be able to impart some of my knowledge that I’ve gained over the whole career, trying to help kids not make mistakes along the way or just give them some input from the things that I’ve learnt, but in a really non-official or pressured way, I want it to be quite natural and that’s always been my goal. For me, I want them to still love riding bikes when they’re my age, and not have got burnt out by the sport by the time they’re 20.
Is there any advice you’d give to your younger self?
Being able to reflect on what you’ve done would be the one thing. Even now I’m still always looking ahead at what’s next. There’s always this hunger to do more and I think it’s only when you have time, it’s when I’ve been injured more than anything and sometimes Toby slows down life, is when you really get a chance to appreciate what you’ve done and who you’ve been with and what you’ve done with people.
What advice would you give to other mum’s who are balancing their busy lifestyle and motherhood?
Just be realistic with what you can achieve. Even if you don’t do anything in a day but you’ve been as good a mum as you can be to your child then actually that’s the biggest achievement of the day. Make that list of to-do jobs a bit less than you would normally and enjoy the time that you’ve got with your little one.
So here's to all the women out there. Let's celebrate our successes no matter how big or small. We've got this.