Serious Sisu: Bec Henderson
We have been talking a lot recently about women on two-wheels. We believe it is an area we need to encourage - for women and girls to get comfortable and confident on bikes, because so much freedom can be found through riding. Therefore, we loved catching up with Australian professional mountain biker Bec Henderson, who at 23 years of age, is playing a very important role in encouraging more girls to feel comfortable in the sport and is pursuing her passion with serious sisu.
Please can you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
My name is Bec Henderson, I am 23 years old and I am a professional mountain biker. I started mountain biking with my Dad and older brother when I was about ten years old. I would borrow my sisters bike until I received my first bike for Christmas when I was 11. At the time, I was playing hockey and cross country running at a National level, but as I got older I decided to focus my energy on mountain biking. For me, it was the sport I enjoyed the most, where I had the most fun, and it meant spending lots of time with my Dad and brother.
As a young girl in a non-main stream sport, I didn’t have many other girls to race against, so I was often racing against the boys. I raced my first World Championship in Italy in 2008 at 16 years old. It was my first experience overseas, and I had such an amazing time that it sparked my passion for the lifestyle of the Mountain Bike World scene.
In 2010 I started to travel Europe independently with my partner following the World Cup races and in 2012 I qualified for the Olympic Games. Following the 2012 Olympics I was given the opportunity to race professionally with Trek Factory Racing, who I have been with since 2013.
What does a typical week look like?
It depends on the time of year. From September through April I am at home in Canberra, Australia training in the summer weather and racing the Australian National Mountain Bike Series. From April through till September I am following the World Cup circuit with lots of travel between Europe and North America. There is no typical week during that time.
When I am at home in Australia, my typical week is pretty quiet. I take the mornings nice and easy before heading out for a training ride, which in the Australian summer months are often up to 5+-hour in length. I like to catch up with my family a few times a week as well. I train heavily five days per week and have two recovery days per week.
What’s the best part of your day? And what’s the worst?
The best part of the day is usually getting home from training, after a good, hard session. It’s a great sense of accomplishment.
The worst part of the day is having to go training if my motivation isn’t high and the weather is poor; that’s tough!
Do you ever get scared, and if you do, how do you deal with it?
Absolutely! I am lucky to have an enormous amount of positive support around me. My partner is also a professional racer, so we train and practice the race courses together. Often the technical features on a Mountain Bike course are intimidating and high risk. Sometimes it's just having the knowledge that someone ‘has your back’ if anything goes wrong.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
For me, happiness is so important. I know I won’t succeed in my goals if I am not happy. I have learned to stress less about the things out of my control and not get dragged down by other things, be it negative people or circumstances.
Over the next ten years, what is your big goal?
I’d love to make it to the top! I want to Win a World Cup and a medal at the Olympic Games.
What piece of advice would you give to girls who want to pursue a life in the outdoors?
Lots of outdoor sports are male dominated, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t sports for girls! Pursue a sport that you truly love and are passionate about, the rest will follow!
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
What is something that you know now that you wish someone had told you earlier?
I wish I had known how much fun I would be having, and how happy and rewarding the sport is. I would have dragged all of my girlfriends from school along with me and got them into mountain biking!
What makes you wake up each morning?
Knowing that I have something to achieve that day. Whether it be training or resting, each day is important in the big picture.
Who inspires you?
The quiet achievers!
Who do you think has serious sisu?
Everybody has SISU! Are you willing to back yourself and show it?!?