Even if you are right into your mountain biking, you may not know who Janine Jungfels is. Despite winning the 2014 Elite Female Mountain Biker of the year. Why is that?
Janine is a trials rider, one of the lesser known cousins of mainstream mtb. And her story is anything but ordinary. I met with Janine to ask her a few questions about her bike, her achievements, her goals… and beating all the boys.
Trials riding is quite a niche sport, how did you get into it?
I started riding Trials in 2005 because a family friend started riding. He was given a 2001 221Ti Monty by his older brother and when I tried it I really enjoyed it, so I bought myself a trials bike and the rest is history!
There are some that don't consider trials riding "real cycling" - what would you say to them?
Trials is definitely the quirky cousin of the more popular forms of cycling like road and mountain biking. I think a lot of this negative stigma can be associated with its non-traditional race format - it doesn’t have a set course with a start and finish, where the first person across the finish wins.
It’s a little more difficult to follow as it has a number of courses (called “sections”) which involves the rider to navigate a number of obstacles on the bike without putting a foot down.
From an outsider’s perspective, the sport is definitely different with riders jumping up and over things like cars, rocks, logs and concrete, but that is no reason to disregard it as ‘real cycling’. Trials riding is the most technically difficult sport I have ever tried and is the most unique cycling discipline out there!
To be able to hop a bicycle on the backwheel and then jump 1m+ up onto an obstacle is unimaginable for most people. In Trials, there’s nothing imaginary about that. The fact is – it’s possible, it’s real. So to think it’s not ‘real cycling’ is a misconception.
What is it like competing in a sport with so little female competition?
It’s good and bad.
It’s good in the fact that 99% of the time I train with men so I am consistently striving to ride at, if not above, their level. This made me not only rapidly improve, but also to develop a unique riding style that is a lot more powerful than any other female competitor.
It’s bad to see so little female competitors because for the sport to grow we need to have more females riding! I would love to see more females riding and pushing the limits of the sport.
How do you keep yourself physically ready and psychologically motivated?
I train six days a week both on and off the bike to stay physically fit.
The majority of my training is on the Trials bike practicing technical lines, balance and power moves. To supplement my riding I do cross training which involves Olympic lifting at World Gym Brisbane with my PT Scott Arthy, mountain biking and running for endurance and bouldering for arm strength.
I think staying psychologically motivated is the most difficult, especially when you’re a self-funded rider having to juggle riding, working full time and cross training. It’s stressful to successfully juggle all of these things but if I wasn’t doing this then I’m sure I’d be bored !
The one thing that motivates me and keeps me on track is the desire to win the elusive World Championship title. It’s something that has to be earned through commitment to hard work. You have to put in the hours of training week in, week out. You need to be completely dedicated like giving up nights to party with all your friends because training the next day is more important. You need to be 100% passionate… living and breathing the sport… driving everyone mad with your obsession with it. And you need resilience and determination to never give up after a loss but use that information to motivate you to become a better rider.
What are the key events and goals for you this year?
This year I have a few key events but my number one goal is to win the World title that will be held in Andorra.
Another important event is the UCI World Cup series which is five rounds over the European summer (May-September). Having won two World Cups last year, ideally I would love to ride the whole season but it will be heavily dependent on sponsorship and public funding.
The Australian National Championship in Bright, VIC is a key event that I will be travelling to in March. This is a fun event because we get to meet up with riders from all across Australia and I will be the only female competing against the men!
That’s fantastic!! On that note, what does "equality in sport" mean to you?
I guess the key words that come to mind are respect, fairness and professionalism.
Receiving equality in sport as a female, especially in a male dominated sport, can often be difficult. I personally think one of the biggest things that have caused the divide in equality is a lack of support and encouragement provided to female athletes.
I believe if a female athlete is putting in the same amount of dedication, time, effort, training and money as a male athlete than equal recognition is more than warranted.