Despite losing much of her 2014 mountain biking year to injury, Sarah Leishman was able to turn her season around last year after accepting an offer to join the new Juliana-SRAM Pro Team.
“I was happy with the sponsors I had before,” said Leishman. “I’m really lucky to have the support I’ve had. It was originally not in my plan, but when (Juliana Bicycles) pitched it to me it was a huge opportunity. There’s never been an all-women’s team in enduro. This is the first of its kind, so it’s pretty cool to be a part of that.”
Juliana Bicycles was championed by Juli Furtado, a multiple world champion and now retired racer, who approached Santa Cruz Bicycles around five years ago about building a full line of women-specific mountain bikes.
This is the first season Juliana Bicycles has formed a pro team, in which Leishman will be riding alongside racing veterans Anka Martin and Kelli Emmet. Being “the new guy” to the Juliana team, Leishman couldn’t speak directly to the level of support for women’s enduro racing, but feels enduro athletes are much luckier than their downhill counterparts.
“I know a bunch of top women in downhill World Cup that can’t find support,” she said. “This enduro program for us is one of a kind, it’s the first of its kind and hopefully it’s the beginning of some change.”
While Martin and Emmet will be attending every race of the Enduro World Series (EWS) tour, Leishman still has to balance her racing season with a full time job as digital content producer for Arcteryx. She still plans on attending the EWS stops at
Crankworx in both Rotorua and Whistler and two of the five stops in Europe, filling out the rest of her season with the enduro series in Oregon and the Sea to Sky, as well as working on media projects.
“I’m a contractor for Arcteryx, so I can work from wherever I want and only need to be in the office two days a week,” said Leishman. “They’re pretty flexible, so if I’m off training in Maui or Santa Cruz I can work remotely. It’s kind of a luxury.”
The low-snow winter has been convenient for pre-season training in Whistler, but Leishman has also been travelling for training camps in Hawaii and California and recently returned from a two-week trip to Ethiopia, where she circumnavigated Simien Mountains National Park and climbed the country’s highest peak, Ras Dashen (4,550m, 14,930 ft), all with her bike.
“I have a long way to go,” said Leishman. “My fitness is all in five minute or less sprints. This is a steep learning curve, but I’m just doing everything I can so when I do go these races at least I can have a good time. I think I’m ready.”
For more information on the Juliana-SRAM pro team visit julianabicycles.com.