Several months ago, we were treated to an eMTB Skills Session with none other than Tracy Moseley. That was at the Tweedlove Festival, where Tracy took the top step at the Bosch eMTB Challenge, and where we were later introduced to the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Motor with its exclusive 400% assistance Race Mode. Tracy Moseley is a legend of the sport who hardly needs an introduction. However, for the benefit of those new to the sport, here’s a quick one.
At various points in her career, Tracy has dominated Downhill, Enduro and, more recently, E-Enduro Racing, all on the World Stage. As a huge proponent of a multi-disciplinary approach (as you will read), Tracy has also seen major success in Cyclo-Cross and 4X racing at a National Level. She has an eye-watering list of incredible race results to her name, many of which you can see here. She’s an inspiration to riders the world over, and has been a key mentor in the lives of many young athletes who are now themselves performing at the pointy end of their respective disciplines.
It was a delight to sit down with Tracy for a chat. We discussed everything from the perils of social media, the hallmarks of a successful athlete, the importance of having fun in a training programme, how to get sponsored, equipment parity in eBike racing, future adventure formats, and of course her thoughts on the Bosch Performance Line CX Race Motor. Grab a cuppa!
Note: If some of the last questions seem a little out of date, that’s because we recorded this interview on 16th September 2022.
Tracy Moseley on Athlete Mentorship and Future of eBike Racing
Bikerumor: You’ve mentored a number of young mountain bike athletes over the last few years. I don’t how long that extends back, but I know you were mentoring Jess [Stone] at some point.
Tracy Moseley: Yeah. True, actually.
Bikerumor: Would she have been one of the first, you think?
Tracy Moseley: Yeah, I guess. So, I kind of see Jess as more of, yeah, I guess I did mentor her a lot, but it was almost like just, she ended up coming to Uni in Worcester, so she was living close to us. It was more of like where she was and helping her out just with life. It was a really cool thing. Like I think the thing that really, I guess, stood out to me about Jess, and made me realize that often, I think in sport now you see parents pushing their kids to take part in sport at a really early age. I even have friends that have kids in sports clubs that are like, you know, training starts three times a week at age five. And you’re like, whoa, hang on a minute. And I wonder then, is it the child leading this? Or is it the parent leading this kind of dedication to sport? And then there’s concern that eventually they get to an age where they have a choice and they’re like, I will do this. I’ve been dragged around doing this work for so long. I don’t like it anymore. And I always think that’s so sad when you think you’ve got a lifetime to enjoy this joy sport or whatever it is. And I think it’s a long story here, but with Jess, it was different.
Her P.E teacher was Kerry Bason, who was, back in the day, a downhill racer with Helen Morton, who was one of the girls that gave me my first ever bike from a top level athlete, I think Kerry instilled the kind of the love for cycling into Jess. And then Jess was just a kid that started turning up at a train station saying, “Hey, can someone come and pick me up”, having arrived at Ludlow train station with a bike and a tent. Her parents were not supportive, and she never had the opportunity, you know… they didn’t have any of that background or support or even interest in what she was doing.
And it was purely driven from what Jess wanted to do and what she wanted to achieve in her life and to change her life, I guess, from being, you know… the situation she had at home, it wasn’t great. And she could have ended up just going down a kind of, you know, the route that most people would say is easy… get involved in drinking or whatever, but it was like, I wanna do sport. I wanna do something with my life. And I just thought that was incredible. It’s like, this is a kid of like 16, 17 years old. She’s like jumping on a train and coming to a bike race. And I just wanted to help. I thought it was amazing. And you see the contrast with the opposite side… the kids that are being given everything and five grand bikes at age 12. And you’re just like, whoa, hang on a minute. Um, so Jess has just been someone that I’ve just really wanted to help. Cause you could see there was a genuine passion and she’s just such a lovely human.
So that was almost an easy thing for me to do. She ended up coming to Worcester to Uni, and I just loved being able to help support her. So, I think probably it did start with Jess, I guess. And then, more so with Hattie [Harnden] again. Being local, she got involved in the cycling club. I was helping out coaching the cycling club, and just saw her talent.
I think you can see talent in kids out there that don’t even get chance to have a go at some sports that they’ve got talent in. Opportunity is often the way to expose someone to see, can they, you know, are they good at this? And have they got the opportunity to do it?
I think at Malvern’s [Cycle Club], we were lucky the cycling club was pretty healthy and strong and other kids around them were doing it. And we had this opportunity to give them chance to ride bikes and Hattie [Harnden] and Evie [Richards] went on to do better than I had ever expected.
And yeah, I guess it’s been Ella [Conolly] a little bit in many ways, Martha [Gill]. I was involved with cross-country for a while as the Technical Coach for British Cycling for a few years. Martha was on the GB cross country program. So was Ella at the time with Evie. I did loads of coaching with Ella and Evie one winter.
Ella was just like, just not enjoying racing cross-country anymore. And, British Cycling had said, look, there’s not gonna be a future in this for you. And she was kind of devastated and I was like, but there’s other things you could do with your bike. And that was a year, I think I basically just got a bike sorted for her to go and race Finale Ligure, at the end of one of the seasons in Under 21, and I think she pretty much went and won.
And from then on, it was just like, she was like, no way, I can actually do this. I don’t feel like I’ve done loads. It’s just, again, it’s giving people the opportunity, giving them an outlet and showing them they can do it. It was the same with Martha.
It was like making sure that she got hooked up with Marin back in the day and got her sorted on the path that she’s now on. Her pathway’s awesome. She’s made her own niche; it’s not just racing. It’s her style, her thing. And it’s so cool. Um, so I think sometimes it’s just been more networking connections, showing people that there’s other opportunities than just this cross-country thing.
You don’t always fit the box. There’s other boxes you can try rather than giving up and never wanting to be involved in a sport again, which I always find is pretty sad for the sport when it becomes so serious so soon. So, I think that multi-discipline approach is also something that I’ve really, really pushed hard as well.
Bikerumor: Do you think, there are a lot of young athletes doing themselves a disservice by pigeonholing themselves onto one discipline very early on in their career?
Tracy Moseley: Yeah, definitely, I think for many reasons. I think from a physical athletic point of view, I think there’s lots of benefits to be had from moving your body in different ways, you know. Cycling’s very much just one dimensional, turning pedals, your body doesn’t get to like, you know, weight bare that much. Doesn’t get to change direction lots. It’s lots of different things that you get from, from other sports. And I think when you’re young, you’re developing, the more you can get hand-eye coordination, you know, body weight stuff, strength from other areas, then for sure that’s important an important physical thing but also a mental thing like, one – for it to be fun.
For example, I think one of the things with Hattie [Harnden] recently is she’s obviously focusing on Enduro, but she’s still got her cross-country aspect of her training. So physically that helps, also mentally – she comes back from an Enduro block and then almost like switches gears and goes back to training for something else.
And it’s like, you almost have a break from that seriousness of thinking about one discipline and you can just keep it fresh and enjoy the next one. Um, and I think the enjoyment thing as well… I think is really important to like challenging yourself with something new all the time. It keeps it fun. Keeps it exciting, rather than just that mundane-ness of like, “I know I need to do these same intervals or ride this same track. I’ve got to do downhill laps on this trail”. It’s like keeping it exciting and challenging yourself, I think is super, super important.
And also, for that pressure to mount, you know. If you’re doing the same thing and you know, you’ve got this one outlet, one discipline and when you don’t have a great race, it doesn’t go well. It’s like, well, I’ve got to do it again next week. That’s all again, and maybe fail again.
Whereas if actually you, I’m gonna go do something completely different that’s maybe not my thing and I’m not too focused on it and no one’s gonna care if I win or lose, it like takes that pressure off. And I think that’s also really important when you’re young. It’s like, yeah, it needs to be fun.
Bikerumor: So, with those athletes that you’ve supported over the years, would you say there’s any particular traits or characteristics that kind of tie them all together? Anything that stands out as consistent across those athletes? Are there aspects about where they grew up for example, or is it just purely the kind of competitive spirit they have?
Tracy Moseley: I think some of it’s definitely natural, like a natural talent, a natural competitiveness and ability to want to push themselves. I think that drive, I would say like a real drive. Then the other part of it, I think, comes from opportunities and that’s a big part of it. So, you can be the best athlete out there, but if you don’t get those opportunities, they don’t come along or you don’t have the right people to show you this sport, when suddenly you actually need something. That often is part of it. So, it’s lots of little things. I think it’s almost like all of those little pieces of the jigsaw coming together at the right time to kind of make it work.
Bikerumor: It seems you’ve been that opportunity for a few riders.
Tracy Moseley: I think that’s been it, often. I haven’t done, like I’ve not given them the training program, not like said, you know, it’s this interval that’s working. Actually, on the the training side, I’ve done very little with most of them. I’ve been more of a person to ask advice from like, you know, when’s a good time to ask for sponsorship, maybe, how do you go about it? And just, I think trying to give advice as to how to become a rounded human being that is gonna be successful and be someone who is wanted to be sponsored, I guess, and not being that kind of like, “I’m the best this I should be getting this, this and this”. It’s like, you need to be a nice human. And I think that’s one of the aspects I’ve always been really conscious of pushing. You know, you have to earn it. One of the things I did was I made sure they’ve had to earn their support in a way, which sounds probably a bit weird, but like Hattie and Evie both set off on bikes that weren’t the best, you know. Ella definitely started off on not the best stuff.
Hattie particularly has been one person who, every year, she’s got like a bit of a better bike. It was like my one from the year before. And then, you know, next year she got something a bit better. Whereas like, it’s only now when she’s fully sponsored that she’s getting the best of everything. I think that teaches you that you don’t need the best stuff ever to be successful.
And also, you appreciate what you’ve got. I think that’s the biggest lesson is like appreciating the value of stuff, you know, realizing that stuff that’s given doesn’t just go on a tree. Someone’s had to pay for that or it’s, you know, there’s value to it. And I think that’s really important with young kids as well. It’s like, they don’t realize that they’ve got a £400 mech on their bike and it’s like, they go and smash into a rock and are then like “Mummy can I have a new one”. You know, it’s crazy the cost of stuff. And I think that’s really important that starting off on like the hardtail versus the full suspension bike and building your skills and building your pathway there and really respecting, appreciating everything around you and everything you get is one of the biggest life schools you can get.
I think rather than just jumping on the scene straight away and being given the best bike. Because, where do you go from there?
Bikerumor: There’s obviously a huge focus on social media for the athletes now. It’s a huge part of the role, for better or for worse. You started your career when there was less of a focus on that. I mean, maybe none. Do you think, there’s opportunity anymore for that to be the case? For a rider to pursue their athletic ambitions without being that much in the public eye in terms of selling themselves on social media?
Tracy Moseley: Yeah, I think there is but there’s fewer opportunities for that. You’ve got to basically be an absolutely dominant rider, the best rider in the world and win everything, you know? And then, ultimately, thankfully still, winning bike races is the most important thing for most brands and in most disciplines. Maybe in some it’s less.
It’s hard because I have grown up without that and now it’s part of life and thankfully, I’m actually really glad that it’s now not my job to be a professional athlete because it’s a juggling act to try and do all of those jobs. And it’s also… I think it’s a really dangerous part of sport now because you’re being judged on this false image that you can create. You can do whatever you want for a picture. Life looks amazing. Life is look at me doing this and you can spend ages perfecting this perfect picture. But the thing, is that actually the reality of what you’re doing? And also, I think it affects how you then how you go out and ride your bike with your friends. You now go out and plan rides to video, to session, not just for the sake of going for rides, like switching off, enjoying where you are. There’s so much about rides now that are planned because it’s got be content, content, content.
And where’s the actual rivalry? I think that’s quite sad, especially for kids when there’s so many external influences and they want to be cool, they want to be fit in, they want to have followers. You know, you want be a cool person. It’s a big battle, I think, to kind of have the kind of mixer.
Especially for females as well, we can’t help it but everyone realizes that, you know, if you’re blonde, you’re pretty and you wear not a lot of clothes on Instagram, you get loads of followers from middle-aged guys. It’s like, it’s the sad reality of life and a fact. And, if people are gonna sponsor you purely on clicks and likes, then what do you wanna do to get your likes up? You end up feeling like you need to do things like that, which is really, really sad. And I think people are aware of that more now. And I think brands and companies are… I think they’re starting to come round to it and realize that actually, you know, authenticity, people being able to post stuff that is real to them is more valuable now than just getting random clicks from other people.
Cause it’s random. Are they really gonna buy a bike? No, they’re just scrolling through Instagram. So, like what is the value in that? So, I think, I think it is changing and I really hope in time we do find a balance with the two because yes, it is important. We all love social media. We all follow it. It does sell bikes I’m quite sure, and it does increase people’s profile, but ultimately is it really helping the brands that much?
And also, how is it affecting the people that are having to do it? It’s a part of their job, like, you know, is their actual quality of life any better? Are their skills getting any better, are they enjoying their bike riding?
Bikerumor: You often see them at the end of a season have a meltdown. They’ll also just leave social media for six weeks cause they’re like, I can’t face this anymore.
Tracy Moseley: Yeah, exactly. I wanna go ride my bike.
Bikerumor: That will have been playing on their mind all season, about keeping up the content.
Tracy Moseley: It’s crazy. And I just think at some point, the whole conveyor belt has to kind of end, you know. I still hope that ultimately the people that win races are the ones that get the best opportunities to get sponsored and make a career out of it, and not just the ones that are really good at editing videos, because that’s sometimes how it is at the moment. It’s crazy.
I steer the conversation toward eBikes, given that’s why we’d been invited to the Bosch eMTB Challenge, and because they’re interesting, of course.
Bikerumor: Do you think eBikes can be a useful tool for an athlete’s training?
Tracy Moseley: I think it definitely can be. It can be used in various ways. It can be the chance to still ride if you want to have an easy day, but you still want to kind of go out there and… sometimes just for that mental side, I think sometimes rather than having a day off and doing nothing, if you’re the kind of person that needs to still go out and move and you need to do stuff, then actually that can take the load off your training by using an eBike.
Um, and also for people that are maybe wanting to get downhill time, you know, that kind of, that lapping with an eBike for downhill stuff. It does give you so much time on the bike. You know, it doubles the time you’re riding downhill, basically. You’re lapping quickly, so that can be used.
And I also think, more for me, for the eBike, it’s sometimes about the social aspect of it that can bring those groups together. Not necessarily for the athlete’s riding, but the athlete could go and ride with their mum or their dad. And for example, Evie’s dad uses her eBike a lot to go out training with her. She’s a very social trainer. She wants to be with people. So, her coach also rides an eBike to do sessions with her. I’ve done an eBike session with her. So, to be able to create that kind environment of whatever people need to make them feel happy.
And it does bridge the gap between fitnesses. So that’s a really, really cool way I think the eBikes are probably sometimes overlooked in many ways, but it’s not just about riding them fast and further, it can be for other reasons, just to bring a group together and make a ride more social.
Bikerumor: What is your perspective on the future of competitive eBike racing?
Tracy Moseley: Yeah, um, that is a really tough question because I don’t think any of us really know yet. I still think eBike racing is in its infancy.
And I have, I’ll be honest, been like, you know, why do we need to race eBikes? But then you go back to that, why do we race anything really? There’s always gonna be people who want to be competitive. There’s always that competitive drive. And in terms of industry bike development, it’s that formula one style of… like downhill racing exists not because we sell thousands of downhill bikes… it’s more about the constant pushing of technology and testing it. And it’s the same with eBikes. There’s a bigger picture with eBikes to think about than racing. It’s about getting people active, getting people moving, it’s about giving people a chance to use the bike rather than the car. There’s a whole big picture there. And the racing aspect is always gonna be where you develop the next technology, where your brand gets its recognition, where you get opportunities to showcase what you’re doing, and you’re testing the equipment against, you know, the highest level. So, I think that’s in my mind how the racing fits into the bigger picture of Bikes; it’s not just about eBike racing to me.
So, how the actual racing format goes forward… I think that’s still where we are very much in that evolution setting. I don’t think anyone knows quite what is the perfect format is for racing yet. And I think there’s a difference between, you know, the cross-country style, versus the marathon style, versus the Enduro gravity style.
There’s definitely three ways that you use can use one. Whether all those three areas of racing will continue. I don’t know. I still feel like we’re finding that out. And for me personally, I feel like the kind of, the adventure style is something that I really think lends itself to the eBike, because you can do more and do something different than you would probably do on a human-powered bike. You know, you can get that bit further. You can go further into the back country on a day trip and it’s quite cool what you can achieve with a bit of help from a motor. So, I like the idea of seeing where that develops more than the kind of circuit racing which is always gonna be the easy thing to do. Like, challenging people more technically with the speed and with the terrain, but like that adventure style and where we can go with that would be quite cool to see.
Bikerumor: Can you name a race that is similar to that format?
Tracy Moseley: The eBike World Tour, like the E-Tour du Mont-Blanc. So, it’s a three-day race that I did a few years ago in teams and that was literally three days around Mont Blanc. And um, yeah the terrain you cover, the distance we covered was insane. But then that’s thing, like the logistics of those things are beyond mass participation side. So, that’s where I think battery technology, the weight of bikes… um, if you’re gonna do races where you need support crews to, you know, you pick up a battery on route… there’s such a bigger picture as to how these things evolve. So, I think it’s a long way for us to really find that solution.
Bikerumor: Yet, the UCI is already on board with eBike racing. I think we’ve had a few World Champions now?
Tracy Moseley: Yeah, 2019 was the first one. Would Les Gets have been the fourth one? Yeah, I think it would be.
Bikerumor: The UCI has historically been very tight on rules for equipment and things like in cycle-cross and road in particular. Do you think we’ll see them develop a similar set of stringent rules for eBike racing and if so, how logistically do you think they’re going to be able to enforce those rules so that there’s equipment parity?
Tracy Moseley: That’s the thing, I think at the moment they’re just testing to make sure that no one’s going above that speed limit. You know, and also the power output of the engines. And they are doing that quite thoroughly, I would say, at those World Champs races, they are doing that testing and scrutineering. Um, how far they’ve got in terms of, you know… there’s talk that people can wirelessly change them once they’re out on course. And you know, there’s all always gonna be people that tamper with that.
Um, I think the interesting is, I guess a little bit with the idea of Formula One is that the ride weight makes such a difference to the power output you get from your bike. And until there’s a way of maybe making… maybe weighting the bike, so everyone’s on a similar bike. And also, the motors are very good, you know, the Bosch is very different to a Shimano, is very different to a Specialized, you know, so there’s still quite a lot of discrepancy there. So, at the moment, it’s still very hard to have a level playing field with it.
But then, I guess, in Formula One, you could argue that, you know, the technology of motors and engines changes so much that there’s always one car that is always way stronger than the others at the start of the year. So that’s, that’s what does build development. And if someone’s behind on the form we want for the next year, they’re like, right, we need to up our engineering and how are we gonna make this better? You know, Formula One back in the day had all the issues it had to overcome.
I look back at the analog EWS Series and the first few years of that, they were still trying to find the rules and regs, and there was a lot of, you know, people that were, let’s say, pushing those boundaries. You know, it took a few years to find its feet to work to become what it is now.
So, I still think eBike racing will have a few years where it’s a bit like, “Hmmm, is that fair? Is it really right? Until we kind of work out how it can work and how the industry starts to standardize things as well, I think.
Bikerumor: So, onto the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Motor. Did you have a hand in designing it?
Tracy Moseley: No, it must have been just last year. I think, so the 2021 season, at some of the E-EWS races that I did, we had the chance to kind of put on a… it’s not the version I think is now the actual Race Motor, bur like the features of what you’re gonna get on the Race Motor… we trialed that and tested it at some of the races.
Bikerumor: What races would that have been?
Tracy Moseley: That was EWS-E in Scotland last year and Finale last year. Um, and it’s one of those things that I kind of maybe had on for practice and then I took it off because they were able to kind of literally just plug it in and do a software update. That’s the crazy stuff you can do with, you know, with the motor technology.
So yeah, looking at, you know, the maximum top speed. Again, that legal limit, and making sure that we get as close to that as we can. There were things like… as you get to that 25 kph, it would kind of cut off gradually. So, now it basically gives you that max power all the way to the end and it’s quite an abrupt cut off.
And definitely the extended boost that you get when you give it a pedal stroke, it gives you like a meter or two meters of almost like a lunge, or could you call it like a surge? And if you want to get up technical stuff, they’ve basically extended that. So, it gives you a real kind of drive up something, and momentum carries you up. So, it’s just quite an aggressive feel.
Again, for racing, every little bit you can get to help, you know, every little kph you can get, helps you get up stuff easier. So, all of those little things they’ve been developing over the last year with the guys that have been racing them.
Bikerumor: Will you change your set up at all when you get a Trek Rail with the new CX Race Motor?
Tracy Moseley: I don’t think it’s gonna change drastically from what we were testing last year. I think it’s basically gonna be a slightly more refined version that they know is, you know, not gonna have issues and come back with errors. It’s not gonna change. So, I don’t imagine it’s probably gonna. Maybe it’s not even gonna be as aggressive in some ways as the ones we tested there. Maybe they’ll dial it back. Yeah. So, I don’t feel like I’m gonna get something new and be like, oh, what’s this? I feel like I’ve got a good idea of what to expect.
It is a bit like taming a wild horse at times, and it’s just learning its characteristics, learning how to ride it, preempting some of it, making sure you are in a good position, you’re kind of riding aggressively and then it’s awesome. If you’re kind of just like a bit on your laurels, and like out for a cruise, it can definitely take you for a ride.
Thank you very much to Tracy Moseley for taking the time to speak to us at the Bosch eMTB Challenge! You can keep up to date with Tracy over on her Instagram @tracy_moseley.