10 Minutes With… Amber Southern

Amber Southern won’t need any introduction to readers who follow mountain biking as she’s been ranked one of the best riders in Britain for some time. After taking a short break from racing to have her second baby, she’ll return to competition with the new PH-MAS team which has brought together a selection of road racers, mountain bikers and cyclo crossers.

When and how did you first get into cycling?
I started mountain biking in the Summer 2011, a year after having my daughter. My husband had done a few races prior, so I thought I’d join him and I was instantly hooked.

What do you love the most about the sport?
The freedom that it gives you. There’s nothing better than being in the countryside, no one else around but you and your bike. I also love the technical aspect of mountain biking as well. I like to challenge myself.

What was the highlight of your 2013, and what are your goals for 2014?
The highlights for 2013 were moving up to Elite, coming 4th elite in a South African National and coming 5th in the British Marathon Champs. My goals have slightly changed for 2014. I’m due a baby boy in April so I hope to rejoin the season half way through and regain my fitness with some quality training over the winter ready for 2015. 

image c/o Amber Southern

image c/o Amber Southern

What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Very optimistic – I’ve only been in the sport 3 years and you see more and more ladies giving it a go at the trail centres every time you go ride. There definitely still needs to be more equality in the sport in general however.

How can the cycling world – fans, riders, race organisers and the UCI – encourage more women and girls to start racing?
More women-only skills days, social rides, women-only bike maintenance courses, promote trail centres better as I don’t think many women know about them as well as better promotion of the cycle to work scheme. It needs to start from the roots upwards.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m not! Lazy I know but what with my job as a teacher and a mum, I don’t get time to read.

What’s on your Ipod?
I’m a music teacher so I have a real mixture – dance, pop, classical etc

Here’s a time machine which you can use to meet any rider from any point in history. Who will you be meeting?
Burry Stander – I saw him race at few World Cup rounds and he was a machine, so young and so much left to give. Amazing skills. We have family in SA and he is a legend there, a true inspiration to many. 

Last question, and it’s the one that top psychologists agree reveals more about a person than any other: which is better – cats or dogs?
Cats for sure.