Scotland native and reigning Xterra world champ Lesley Paterson shares her keys to success on the mountain bike.
This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
Pro Lesley Paterson always leaves an impression—whether it’s her pirate-like swearing or her passion when speaking about every aspect of her non-stop hectic life. In addition to training 35 hours a week, Paterson coaches 20 athletes through her Braveheart Coaching business, writes and produces films (she has a master’s degree in theater) and is developing a reality TV series. Despite all her commitments, she achieved a breakthrough on her mountain bike last fall in the lead-up to her first Xterra World Championship victory and let us in on her secrets.
Don’t steer with your brakes. “You have to let your bike do the work, and you steer it with your body. … When you start going down something really technical, the first thing you want to do is lean over and brake, which means you’re going to go arse over tit. So if you see this big fucking dropoff, you have to [think,] ‘I can do it, I can do it,’ and almost relax. It’s almost like not overreacting, which as a female is pretty challenging.”
Find your rhythm. “I totally sing. When you are on a technical course and you’re getting frustrated, you can lose your rhythm. I’ll have a couple of songs that help me find the rhythm again. I did that at ITU worlds—I had that Chris Brown song ‘Beautiful People’ in my head. … I’ll actually ride with music quite often on the mountain bike, one earpiece in, one earpiece out. I’m actually really into techno right now. On rides, [one of my training partners] is like, ‘Fucking hell, it’s like a German night club!’”
Let it flow. “There’s a state of flow, especially on the mountain bike, when you’re going over a trail and you’re navigating stones and rocks. You’ve got to push really hard, but you’ve also got to let it go. And it’s magical, absolutely magical, when you get it right.”
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