Exclusive Interview: Hannah Barnes on Yeti Cycles UK

Hannah Barnes is now on Yeti bikes along with a host of other kit from UK distributor Silverfish. Scroll down for some exclusive words with Barnes about the move.

Hannah Barnes and her shiny new Yeti bike. (All photos by John Parkin.)

Last week we speculated as to the possible signing of Hannah Barnes by Yeti Cycles, a somewhat conspicuously tweeted photo of her holding a branded mug giving the game away just a tad. For quite some time we’ve suspected something to be brewing (we’re not talking about the cuppa either) for the keen traveller, it was simply a case of who and when. Yeti’s character and ethos couldn’t suit Hannah’s any better.

Pete Drew, UK Marketing Manager at Silverfish, had this to say:

We’re very happy to have Hannah riding with us this season and for her to choose to pilot a Yeti. Her professional attitude, love of the outdoors and passion for mountain biking seems endless and is just what Yeti Cycles and Silverfish UK love to see in a rider.

Silverfish UK also stated the following:

…joining Yeti Cycles as sponsors for the 2014 season are Race Face performance components & clothing, e*thirteen wheels, SDG saddles, SockGuy socks and EVOC luggage. Hannah will be riding the carbon fibre, 26” wheeled, Switch Link suspension SB66C.

Interview time

The chances are you’ve heard of Hannah Barnes by now. Residing in sunny Fort William and raised on a diet of outdoors living and mountains, Barnes’ passion for an adventure into the wilds of Europe or even nearer to home (remember her recent, brilliant NorthWest film?) is clearly engrained in her spirit. Every summer she can be found touring the Euro enduro race circuit in her van, living the good life and enjoying every location, trail and second of her time away from her work as a nurse (which, incidentally, she also likes). In short, she is a great spokesperson for a brand and we’re sure that Yeti and Silverfish will be very happy indeed with their signing.

Yeti Cycles have always supported riders on the rise and Hannah definitely falls into that category.

We spoke to Hannah about the move: 

Dirt: You announced to the world on Twitter that you will be leaving Orange and riding for Yeti in 2014, tell us how that all came about?
Hannah Barnes: Yeah it’s a big move for me, and a big change! I’ve known Pete Drew and the guys at Silverfish a while now, and have always got on really well with them. I later met the guys from Yeti, they are also great and really nice guys. At lunch time they all head out for an office ride! The whole thing felt great and like something I’d love to be part of. The bike is a big change for me too! I’m now riding the SB66 Carbon, and absolutely love it.

Dirt: Will you still be associated with the Cut Media Team or are you flying solo now?
HB: No I won’t be part of the team at all now, so yeah technically flying solo. I’ll still see Stu Thomson (of Cut Media) for fun rides whenever the crew get together though!

This shot on Twitter was a bit of a giveaway…

Dirt: Life as a privateer can be a bit of a balancing act financially, you are a qualified A&E nurse so has that helped pay the bills through the winter months?
HB: Yeah there is a lot of organising, e-mailing, etc. It’s no different from last year in that respect, I think there will always be a lot of that. The more things planned (trips, races, filming, media etc.) then the more ‘admin’ there is, but it’s good to be busy and that’s all part of it! It’s important to be really organised, I start the day with a list of what jobs/exercise I plan to get done. I have hardly worked in A&E or the Health Centre since getting home at the end of October to be honest. I always love going back for a few shifts here and there, it’s good craic and I love the minor injury/emergency work. I need to do a certain number of nursing hours per year to keep my NMC registration, so I’ll have to make sure I fit some in when I can.

It’s also been really nice and pretty necessary to relax a bit after a long season and all the time away from home. This time last year I was doing 12-hour shifts in A&E, then going straight to the gym, and also trying to do what I needed to do for sponsors. I remember going from a night shift straight to an XC race. I got totally burnt out by trying to do everything, and got ill for about a month. It’s good to have down time, then the ‘up’ time is even better! My parents have been back too (they are usually off sailing around the world, but delayed it this winter), so seeing them more has been great. As soon as we got home in October, Stu and I finished the filming, editing, writing and media for North West, which was pretty busy! Then the planning for 2014 with Silverfish and Yeti took over.

Dirt: What does 2014 hold for you? You have had some good results in 2013 winning the Trans-Savoie and getting some good events under your belt so is the plan for 2014 much the same events wise?
HB: Much of the same. I’m going to do the Enduro World Series, the Trans-Savoie again, the 24 hour Solo World Champs in Fort William (I’ve only done 10 hour XC races before, so that will be interesting), a couple of Bluegrass Enduros, the Tour de Ben Nevis, and a couple of Adventure Races. I’m keen to start doing some more adventure type events in the future, they seem like my cup of tea! My boyfriend and I are going to New Zealand next week for two months of sunny riding and adventures, I’m really looking forward to our first trip over there.

Looks like she’s enjoying the SB66 C.

Dirt: With Orange you rode a mixture of bikes, what are you going to be rolling on in 2014 and is there any hint of working with Yeti on some women’s specific bikes?
HB: In 2014 I will mostly be riding the SB66 Carbon. It is an absolutely awesome bike! I’m keen to ride the Arc Carbon hardtail too, the perfect race machine for the 24hr race. Haha no, no hint of working on a women-specific bike. That definitely is a growing market, it would be cool for that to happen one day!

Dirt: You have picked up Oakley as another sponsor for 2014 along with a host of others you already work with. What’s it like for a privateer gaining support from large brands and do you see the big names supporting individuals as a big thing in the future?
HB: It definitely feels like a big deal to have a brand such as Oakley support me: their product is top end, with a really cool and professional image. Their presence in sport is massive and I’m really happy to be part of it. For them to have me on board is awesome! It’s also really good to keep the continuity with existing sponsors such as Five Ten, Evoc and Bluegrass. Snowboarders, surfers etc. don’t operate in teams the same way as pro cyclists do, so I see privateers operating in much the same way as a pro surfer etc. might do. I love being a privateer: making my own plans, talking directly with the sponsors and not via a team manager, and being more my own brand as opposed to a ‘race team’ rider. I’m not just a racer, I love going on big riding trips and adventures, making videos and doing all sorts of events. Specialising in one thing and being part of a pre-organised set-up wouldn’t suit me, the way I have it is perfect for what I want to do. It means being organised, but girls are good at that 😉

Giving it some on the local trails. 

Dirt: Exposure and association are the main reasons for a brand to sponsor a rider, how do you work with brands to deliver their message?
HB: Brands sometimes ask for something specific, such as for me to answer some questions and for photos of new knee pads for example. But usually I just consciously get photos and keep up positive social media. I try and subtly include sponsors so that it’s a balance of brand promotion but not nauseating advertising. It’s a fine line! By making videos such as ‘North West’, that was for the personal adventure and good times with the crew, but of course also to promote sponsors and myself. The riding was hard, but filming it was harder! If I’m doing a trip or something worth writing about, I’ll contact a mag and see if they’ll feature it. I have my own blog too, which is a good place to centre all these stories, photos, results, bio etc. So I mainly try to promote brands myself, then if they would like something specific they just ask. By doing media for one brand, it also helps out the other sponsors, which is great.

Dirt: What’s the best thing about being a sponsored rider?
HB: Not being tied to a 9-5 in one place. Having the freedom and flexibility it gives is awesome and I never take it for granted. Being able to spend time with lots of lovely, like-minded people and travel the world doing what I love is fantastic!

Dirt: And the worst?
HB: Hmmm…. I’m struggling to think of a worst. I don’t always feel like ‘training’, especially if it’s wet and cold outside! That’s still better than being in an office, so I’m not complaining. If I were in an office, I’d wish to be out getting wet and muddy! Life is what you make it, and I’m loving it.

Dirt: Finally, how do you think female riders and racing for women will develop in the future?
HB: Women’s cycling is massively on the up, which is awesome! The number of women riding for fun right through to racing to an elite level is continually increasing. Women-specific bikes, whether they are just smaller with more feminine colours or altered geometry to fit a female build, are becoming an essential in any company’s range. As well as bikes, more and more female specific clothing, shoes, riding bags and components such as saddles are continually being developed due to the high demand. By all accounts, the women’s market is one of the fastest growing in the bike industry. It’s really great to see more and more women out on the trails, it’s great to be part of it and I’m looking forward to seeing the upward trajectory in women’s cycling!

Dirt: Thanks Hannah and good luck with 2014! Try to enjoy New Zealand too…

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