Emma Bristow, born in 1990 in Boston, UK, is both a Trials rider and Enduro champion of both the United Kingdom and current World Champion. Here, the Sherco rider talks to sponsor, Braktec about her goals and her feelings on the sports.
The achievements of Emma Bristow:
2 x Super Enduro World Champion
2 x World Trials Champion
4 x World TDN Champion
4 x British Trials Champion
4 x British Arena Trials Champion
4 x SSDT Women’s Winner
Are you satisfied with your second position in the World Championship Superenduro?
After being Champion for the last two years I am disappointed with the way the Women’s championship was cut to just two races and to lose my title because I was 1st in race one and 2nd in race 2 is a cruel way to finish second.
You were defending the SuperEnduro title that you won on 2015, did you felt a lot of pressure?
I started preparing for the defence of my championship immediately after the 2015 trials season as originally the Women were meant to race in January. When this race was cancelled I felt the disappointed because I knew I had to start training for trials as If I continued to ride only with Enduro I would not be ready for the trials season which, for me, started the day after the new Women’s race in Prague.
If the calender had been as I had planned for I would have been very ready to defend my title, but with the change to the schedule I decided to go to Spain for 5 weeks trials training as I have many trials titles to defend as well.
This meant I did feel more pressure for Prague because I knew I was not as ready for Superenduro as I was in January but I had no choice, this is the hardest problem when competing in two very different motorcycle disciplines.
You were told that the second round in Madrid had been canceled so the championship would be decided over two races that night. How do you felt in that moment?
We were only told this news during the riders briefing in Prague the week before Madrid. When I found out I was very upset because I take this championship seriously, I had worked very hard in the winter months and spent a lot of time and money improving my practise track at home. To be told months of preparation would come down to one night and the championship would be decided on only two races was not a nice feeling.
How you value your eighth position in the first round of Trial Spain Championship?
During my time in Spain training in Jan/Feb I was very pleased to be able to ride in the opening round of the Spanish Trials Championship. As I am always trying to improve myself I decided to ride the TR2 class which is a high level with some very good riders, so when I finished in eighth position I was very happy as it was my first trial of the year and I was riding well although I always want to do better.
What do you think about the presence of women in male competitions?
I think women competing against men is a great opportunity for the women to compare themselves against the men. For me this is the best way to improve my skills and I enjoy the challenge of a more difficult competition. Riding in women’s compeition generally means the level of the sections is lower and so without competing against the men its almost impossible to compare yourself with them.
Is it difficult for a woman to achieve success in sport? Is it important to promote women’s sport?
Yes I think for sportswomen in general its harder to make a career in sport than men. There are less opportunities, our competitions and championships are usually shorter meaning the pressure is very high to get it right 100% of the time and there is usually no room for illness, injury or just a bad day.
I feel promoting womens sport is just as important as promoting mens sport. In the modern world girls can compete in any sport they like and if their chosen sport is not promoted in the same way as the mens the sport could be missing a potentially large part of the market
Take the Women’s world trial championship, it gets a higher entry than the men’s World Championship which shows the great interest of girls in motorcycle sport.
I feel promotion of the championship is always improving but this is surely a market that could grow very easily if it was pushed harder by manufacturers, federations and clubs, after all, dad’s can buy bikes for their daughters not only their sons!
Our championships should be longer so more countries and young girls get to see the women ride. I hope before I retire the Women’s trial championship will visit Japan or America to showcase our wonderful sport and inspire more girls to get involved.
Do you see differences between Trial in Spain and Trial in your country?
There are many differences between trial in the UK and Spain and not only the weather! In the UK I feel we have many more trials, riders in UK can choose to ride a trial in their area every weekend if they like as we have lots of clubs all across the country regulary holding club trials. We have many national championships but unlike the Spanish championship our categories are sepaerate trials. So the girls and Women have a completely different British championship to the men, as do the Youth and then their are other national championships for older bikes, traditional trials etc.
However I like the setup of Spanish Championship as it far more professional with great facilities and paddocks. I like that all classes compete at the same event and share the same paddock which results in a far greater atmosphere than our British Championship.
Do you feel favorite for the National Championship Uk of Trial?
I have won the Women’s British Championship for the last three years so I guess I do feel I am probably favourite to win another. I have already won the first round of the championship (the day after Prague SuperEnduro) so I have made a good start to this years season. Besides retaining my World trials title an ambition I have this year is to improve my ranking in the men’s British expert championship. I think my best result last year was a 6th position and I really want to podium at some point this year.
You have won many titles in your career, where do you find the motivation?
This is an easy question for me because I always want to win which means I always have to improve and so I am constantly comparing myself to my male competition. My motiviation comes from watching the boys, seeing what they do and how they do it. Once I understand how to do something I will pracitise over and over again until I can do it. Once you get a new technique its a great feeling and I work everyday to improve myself as a rider. I am not happy just to win because I want to win and feel like I rode at my best.
The Trial requires you more on the psychological aspect or physical aspect?
This is a difficult question because I think initially trials is very physically demanding but when you have a good riding level and you are challenging to win a compeition it becomes mentally demanding.
In a trial you are constantly turning your concentrate on and off every time you enter a section and the second you let that lapse is when you will make mistakes so it can become very psychological.
In what discipline you feel more comfortable? Enduro or Trial?
I am at home riding a trials bike. I can remember watching my uncles ride trials bikes and thinking they were incredible and that I could never do what they are doing! So when my brother and cousins began riding trials bikes around the farm and surrounding areas it was a natural thing for me to join in. It never crossed my mind that I was a girl and that bikes were for boys I just saw the fun everyone was having and was fortunate enough to be given my own bike. Since then I’ve never looked back, I certainly feel more comfortable on a trials bike and I only decided to ride an enduro bike because the first round of 2014 Superenduro championship was in UK and it looked like fun. I ended up a close second to Laia Sanz in my first race and then got the opportunity to race the entire championship and went on to win two Superenduro world titles.
Who is your idol?
When I first started to compete in Women’s world trial I would watch Laia Sanz and think how amazing she was and it inspired me to work hard to improve as I wanted to ride like her. However, now I would have to say Toni Bou is my Idol because I know how difficult it is to win World Champioships and he has won so many. From the outside people think its easy but it never is and its his mental strength that I find incredible.
What advice would you give to young people who are starting in Trial?
My advice to young riders starting in trials would just be to have fun and enjoy it but also to remember that trials is a friendly sport so if you need help or advice we are one big motorcycle family that all help each other.
This article originally appeared on the Braktec Blog. Reproduced with permission.