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Rishi Fox encompasses what I believe is a REAL Adventure spirit.

Around 8 or 9 years ago, Rishi fell in love with the mountain bike and now in 2016 has done many adventures on the bike and today is transforming her experiences into a massive challenge, one that she has set herself that really does scare her.

But that is why she has signed up!

Rishi, correct me if I am wrong, but I met you through doing a MTBSkills course way back, like maybe 2008?
I recall back then you were someone who saw what they wanted and worked out a realistic and achievable way of reaching her goals methodically.

You labelled yourself as a life long learner, I see that trait is still in you today!

Yeah it would have been in 2008. Ben (my partner) and I had just returned from a year living and working in Ireland and for some reason while we were over there I made the decision that I wanted to take up Mountain biking when we got back to Australia. We had dabbled just before we went to Ireland (on shit bikes and fire road), but I had a pretty nasty crash going downhill over a water bar. Supermaaaaaan.

I ended up in hospital with one broken wrist, one sprained wrist, a broken elbow, and stitches in two places across my face. We got bikes pretty much as soon as we got home, but I didn't really want to start riding until I had some lessons, I was determined to learn properly. Since then I think I have done about 10 MTB skills courses with Norm!! He has pretty much taught me everything I know about riding a MTB. I strongly believe that there is always room for improvement, and always an opportunity to learn more than you think you already know. 

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You have a few varied interests in your life from your career to other pursuits, care to share? 

Yes its true... people are often perplexed at the different things I do in my life, there are a lot of different sides to me, and I like to have variety. 

Career wise I am a Scientist, an Analytical Chemist. I currently work in Research and Development for a Pharmaceutical company that predominantly makes chemotherapy drugs. I really enjoy my work. I like being in the laboratory. I like being methodical, having to think things through and be super organised. 

Mountain biking for me is like the complete opposite.... I can't be in control of the situation all the time. Unexpected things happen, and I have to react to those situations. I really like that. I'm not thinking ahead, I'm in the moment. Its a huge stress relief for me.

The other major thing that surprises people is that I am a dancer! Ive been performing as a Professional Bellydancer for many years now. I started learning back in 2001 and quickly fell in love with the music, costuming and movements. Dance is a huge part of my life. I love performing. I love being up on stage, entertaining people. Its a completely different persona for me, I guess its like acting. 

So there you go..... the Bellydancing, Mountain biking Scientist!

I remember the time you and Ben came on the Mt Buller camp.
Ben had not really dabbled in the mountain bike scene like you had, but was a total natural.  We were all extremely impressed! 

Having Ben around, his laid back attitude yet his natural ability on the bike must make it easy to set crazy goals together?

What sort of journeys have you both been on? what about your MTB teams?  

I think it was not long after I had done that first MTB skills course with you guys. I got an email about a MTB camp at Mt Buller and I thought "Wow that sounds awesome!". I asked Ben if  he wanted to go, and we were in! That was a great long weekend. We made heaps of new friends, many of who I am still in contact with now. Its funny everyone seems to think Ben didn't Mountain Bike back then, but really we both started together, he had actually done a bit before me when we lived in Brisbane. It was just my push that got us into it I think. He is a complete natural. It was amazing to see how quickly he became so fast. I remember he would line up at the back of the field at races on his 6 inch dualie with a 3L camelbak on and baggies, and then he would end up on the podium. All the elite guys were like "Who the hell is this guy?!".

I think we are both so lucky that we enjoy doing the same things, and that we enjoy doing them together. I LOVE riding my bike with Ben, and he is such a caring, patient person to ride with. He never complains that I am going too slow (even though he is ridiculously fast) and he always pushes me to improve. I seriously think that riding with him has made me a better rider.

 
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We have been racing together for years now. We love doing the Victorian Enduro 6 Hour Series together as a pair. In the beginning Ben would do a lot more laps than me, but that quickly became lap for lap. He always does the first lap though! And actually I make him do a double, as he usually comes through in first place and I don't want to go out with all the fast guys wanting to get past! Usually if he does a double I have a clear track for my first lap so can hammer it! We have had a string of second places in the series over the years, but 2015 was our first year to take out the whole series in first place! Its a really great fun series and I encourage more pairs to enter the whole series. Ben and I will both be racing solo this year so there is space on the top step for a new King and Queen for 2016! 

As I said, we really love riding our bikes together, so most of our holidays have become bike riding trips. Each year they seem to get bigger and crazier! The first major one was in 2012, we took our MTBs to Spain and did an off-road bikepacking trip from Valencia to Santiago de Compostela along the Camino. At the time it was the most riding I had ever done in my life! It was a huge adventure to have together and so memorable. We just about doubled the distance in 2014 and rode from London to Rome along the Via Francigena. It was AMAZING. If you like bikes, food, beer, wine, history and amazing scenery then this is the way to travel!  

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You have recently set yourself a HUGE goal this year. 
Each time I have watched your journeys from afar and been a little jealous of your adventurous spirit.  

Can you divulge what you are doing in July this year? 

Yes! I am very excited, but equally as nervous! On July 30th I will be setting out from Geraardsbergen in Belgium with about 350 other people to race approximately 4000km to Canakkale in Turkey. The race is called Transcontinental. This will be the fourth year, hence called TCRno4. It is a solo, unsupported bike race. There are four compulsory checkpoints I will have to go though, but other than that I have to make my own route and navigate it carrying all my own equipment and supplies. There is no outside support allowed, and riders are not allowed to ride together or draft.  

Just how did this come about? 

Last year I had been watching the race online. Each rider wears a spot tracker so you can see where they are. There is also a lot of posting on social media, Facebook and Instagram. I was in awe looking at the riders photos and reading about their experiences.

At the time I thought "Wow, that looks like such an amazing adventure, it would be incredible to do something like that some day".

I had signed up for email updates and that was that, it was just a thought. But as the months passed I still had that thought at the back of my head "Why don't you just do it". I thought that was a crazy idea. I am not as tough as those guys doing that! I don't even know if I can ride that far, let alone all by myself, without Ben! I forgot about it for a while, but kept daydreaming of riding across Europe.

In October I got an email saying registrations were open. I felt this massive knot in my stomach "Shit, I actually really want to do this". I hadn't mentioned a word of this to Ben until this point as I thought I was being stupid. So I brought it up.... "I was thinking I would really like to do this race in Europe.... what do you think?" and of course, Ben being Ben was in straight away. We did briefly discuss the idea of doing it as a pair, but it was never really an option.

I really wanted to do it on my own, and if Ben was going to do it he really needed to be set free to give it an honest crack. With the amount of climbing involved (about 58,000vm) he would be WAY faster than me. So we both registered. On registration we got the briefing manual, then application with a little exam questionnaire. Entries were in by the end of November, and positions were released on Christmas Day! We had no idea if we would get in, and if we did if only one of us would get in. There were 1000 registrations, 600 applicants, and 350 places, so when we BOTH received that email on Christmas morning we were elated!!!!

 
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What allowed you to think/believe you could do this? 

I've never believed I cant do anything. I think anyone can do anything if you actually set your mind to it, plan it out and figure out how to get to that goal. When I set myself a goal I always make sure its actually something I want to achieve. And then once it is set, its set. I'm doing it. I don't give myself back out clauses, that makes it too easy to stop. The goals have not always been crazy, they started off small, but with that same mindset. I remember when I did my first 100km MTB race, people would offer me advice and say "Oh if you get tired just walk a bit, have a rest and then get back on". What the hell?! That was never an option for me. I already had it set out in my head: start the race, ride, keep riding, get to the finish line. And that's what I did. This time round is going to be a lot freaking harder than that! But I am going in with the same thought process. Just that it will be day by day. I'm not going to think too much about how many km I've done and how many km Ive got to go.... 

I'm just going to get on my bike each day, ride, sleep, then do that again until I get there. 
 
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What steps did you take to make this a reality?  There would be numerous people out there wondering how on earth you even start contemplating such a journey!

There are a lot of things to consider and prepare for. The riding is actually the least of my concerns. I know if I train hard, that will be ok. I have you, Jess, as my coach, so I know I don't have to plan my own training, I just do what you tell me and I know I'll be ok.

The things that concern me is everything else! Learning how to navigate, how to use all the bloody technology (garmins etc.), knowing how to fix my bike when something goes wrong, what to do if I get into any trouble. But the thing that worries me the most: being on my own. Ive never been on my own my entire life. Ben and I have been together for 18 years, since I was 18. We do everything together, he is my best friend, my love, and my rock.

I am so scared of what I will do when I don't know how to solve a situation and he is not there. And that is exactly why I have to do this. I am challenging myself to grow, to be able to look after myself, to trust that I am strong and smart, and that I can do anything I want. I will miss him like crazy though, and its going to be so weird to be going through all these amazing places, experiencing all these amazing things and to not be able to share it with him. I know it will be worth it though and that he will be there at the end waiting for me and it will be the best thing ever.

Over time, what are some key lessons you have learnt that have made you believe you are more capable that ever before of doing anything you can dream up?

I think the biggest thing for me is if you don't even try you will never know if you can do it. So what you might fail, but gees, you might not and imagine how freaking awesome that would be!!!

 
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Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I have no idea! I don't really plan my life. There are so many amazing opportunities in the world. So many things to see and so many things to do. I just want to experience as much of that as possible. I just want to keep having fun and being happy.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to other women out there on their bikes, wondering, pondering what they might truly be capable of?

If you have been thinking about doing something for a while, why not take a chance and just do it. You wont regret giving it a go, but you might regret not taking that chance.

And.... HAVE FUN! Because that's what bike riding is all about :)

Rishi Fox, I must disclose as I have been coaching you for 2 months and have known you for maybe 7 or 8 years, that I personally am super excited to see the new and improved version of you emerge - as you say, you are a life long learner and its a very rewarding process to be a part of.

Thanks Jess, that means a lot. 

If you are interested in following Rishi's journey, you can like her page,  where you will find training updates, gear info, and also updates during the race :
https://www.facebook.com/RishiTCR/