Bulletproof Talent: Martha Gill - Dirt

Mountain Biking Magazine



Bulletproof Talent: Martha Gill

Meet Tracy Moseley's new apprentice

We reckon if anyone can spot up-and-coming talent, it’s TRACY MOSELEY. Martha Gill, 18, is her latest pupil and one to watch out for this year.

Photos: Ben Winder

Moseley first spotted Manchester-born Gill at the inter-regional XC championships at Hadleigh in 2013. It wasn’t Martha’s performance that stood out but her flat land skills and the amount of fun she had playing on her bike.

On the back of this, Moseley invited Martha to her women’s weekend in North Wales and, as the youngest member of the party, Martha fled upstairs to do homework at the end of the day instead of socialising with the rest of the women. This attitude was enough to convince Tracey that Martha was worth investing in so when Paligap approached her looking for a new female rider she recommended Martha without hesitation.

Last year, with the UK Marin team, Martha went from strength to strength winning every UK Gravity Enduro in the Open Women’s category. She also started to dabble in the Under 21 category at the EWS (despite being three years below the age limit).

Her first race was a “baptism of fire” at Samoens. Moseley said: “With 20 minute race stages and huge thunderstorms right before our race runs, the stages were more about survival than racing! Martha just took it all in her stride, showed no nerves or emotion and just got on with it!

“Most young riders would have either freaked out or crashed their brains out! I loved her level headed approach in that first international race and since then she has grown in confidence, character and cheek!” Martha finished the year second in her EWS category and picked up three podiums and three stage wins along the way.

We had a chat to Martha to find out more about her and her goals for the season ahead:

When did you first get into riding?

My earliest memories are my Mum and Dad taking me and my brother out for rides in the Lakes at the weekends and I loved it. I joined my local club and started racing when I was about 11 and I’ve never looked back since.

Where are your local trails?

Rivington Pike, on the edge of the West Pennine Moors, is right on my doorstep and that’s where I do most of my riding and training, it’s got a good variety of natural trails and I’m still finding tracks I’ve never ridden before.

How did it feel to be spotted by Tracy Moseley?

Tracy encouraged me to give enduro a go after I’d had a pretty unsuccessful year racing cross country and been let go from British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme.

I felt pretty privileged that she was putting her time into helping me out with kit and advice. It was Tracy who set me up with Marin at the end of 2014 which felt like it was a big step – signing a proper contract with them and being sorted out with bikes and kit felt like a pretty big deal to me.


What was the experience of racing in the EWS for the first time like?

I’d just finished my exams and I headed out with my parents not knowing what to expect. The trails were like nothing I’d ever ridden before, really steep, tight and techy, not to mention 20 minutes long!

I always thought cross country was the hardest cycling discipline to be in but that race really made me rethink. It was a massive learning curve but a great experience as well, it definitely stood me in a better place for the rest of the year.

Which race in your past are you most proud of?

I think it would have to be Finale Ligure last year. I secured second in the overall series and took my first few stage wins, I felt like I truly deserved to stand on the podium after having a good battle with the winner – and it was my best result all year compared to the elite women.

Do you ever miss fully racing cross country?

I see how well the other girls are doing that I used to train with and compete against regularly and it makes me wonder where I would be if I was still fully focussed on XC… But I don’t think I’d be having nearly as much fun.

Who are your mountain bike heroes?

I really admire Julien Absalon.  I’m amazed at how he won his first world champs in 2004 at Les Gets by washing his bike in the lake every lap, but without a doubt Tracy will always be an inspiration to me.

She’s such an amazing role model on and off the bike. It never ceases to amaze me how she makes going so fast look so effortless and she puts in a lot of time into supporting the next generation and definitely doesn’t get enough credit for it!

What are your goals for 2016?

I’m racing in Elite women this year in the British Enduro Series, I’ll miss a few rounds due to clashes with the EWS so an overall result is out of the question but I’ll definitely be going for the top step in the rounds that I race in! This year I’m aiming to get a win at the EWS with results comparable to the Elite women. I’ll also be trying to pass my A2 level exams among all my training and racing!


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