This summer, Ellie Jones, a sixth-grade student at Moreton Hall, proved her status as one of the nation’s most formidable Enduro mountain bike racers.
Ellie secured her place among the nation’s top female mountain bikers by placing 1st at the Ard Rock Enduro and 4th at the National Championships, among other impressive victories. At 17, she faces women in the under 30 category.
Ellie came to the sport late at the age of 12, inspired by her father who is an avid mountain biker. She immediately became addicted and soon after her father surprised her with his first bike. After trying her hand at downhill and cross-country, Ellie opted for Enduro which combines the technical and endurance elements of both. Enduro riders get on their bikes and then descend hand-carved off-road trails extremely fast. âIt’s the less lazy version of the descent,â Ellie summed up succinctly. Many races have six stages, but the national championships have had thirteen stages over two days. While it can take an hour to climb the hill, the downhill part can be as quick as two to six minutes.
The trails used in competition are enough to make a hiker nervous with both feet firmly planted on the ground: steep, full of ruts, stones, roots and precarious drops, made even more delicate when wet or too dry. Ellie and her competitors rush down the track to get the fastest speed. Like downhill skiing, their differences can be measured in fractions of a second. âIt’s so much fun,â Ellie said. “The race is an escape from everything else.”
Sport can be as dangerous as it sounds. Ellie says it’s not about whether a runner is going to crash, but when and how often. She goes through phases where she crashes more often, and phases where she doesn’t crash for quite a while. âYou get up, get back on your bike and off you go,â she explained. After a particularly severe fall when she and her bike flew separately through the air and landed with a loud thud, her helmet visor broke, her helmet was dented, and she thought she was falling apart. was broken his shoulder. After a few minutes, she was back on her bike, in pain, but with no broken bones. âIf it’s not broken, you get back on your bike,â she said.
The mental aspect of the race and its competitors, not broken bones, is what makes Ellie nervous before the race. âStaying on the bike is very difficult,â she explained. âStaying in line and not getting distracted by other runners is difficult. Following her father’s advice, she learned not to worry about what other people are doing, but rather to run against time and focus on her own performance. Obviously, it works well for her.
The UK has a strong racing scene and is very competitive internationally, producing many of the best mountain bikers in the world. Ellie has experienced tremendous growth in the sport in the five years since she started running. The number of runners and the level of performance have improved considerably. âThe level of competition is insane,â she said. “The level of driving is improving more and more.”
Ellie followed a very successful season before COVID with this winning summer. She plans to continue to push herself to see where the sport takes her: more national championships, or maybe World Enduro qualifiers, to begin with. Ellie still has a month to rack up wins this season, which ends in October. At the end of the school year, she faces A Levels, university choices, and a new Enduro season.
The biggest driving challenge for Ellie, which also applies to life in general: âKnowing what you can and cannot do. How to surpass yourself, but also know your limits.