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Podcast: Louise-Anna Ferguson shares a mental perspective of navigating the world of professional mountain bike racing



In this episode, I catch up with Louise-Anna Ferguson, better known as Lou,


Originally from Fort William, Scotland, Lou now calls Queenstown, New Zealand, her home, where she's immersed in the thriving mountain biking scene.


Lou's approach to the sport is all about letting her riding skills do the talking. Her passion for uplifting everyone in the community shines through, whether she's leading Women's progression camps or participating in freeride events.


Fresh from her debut season on the global racing circuit, which included stops at the DH World Cup, Crankworx, and the Red Bull Formation, Lou joins me for a chat about her journey thus far.



We cover a range of topics including:


  • The challenges of competing at the World Cup level

  • Managing race day nerves and fear

  • What you can and can't control in racing

  • The importance of being honest yet kind to yourself.

  • The Art of Track Walks and Visualization


So tune in as we explore the world of professional mountain biking through Lou's eyes, and discover the insights she's gained along the way.


You can follow along with Lou's journey on Instagram @loufergmtb and follow her new team @intensefactoryracing.


Listen here or by searching for ‘Grit with Wisdom’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Youtube, or over on my website, and you can follow me on Instagram @the_mind_mountain



Happy trails - Jake Johnstone FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Jake Johnstone: [00:00:00] Welcome to Grit With Wisdom. This is the podcast that delves deep into the inner psyche of mountain bikers from all aspects of our sport in order to discover the tools and the tactics that can help us have more fun out on the trails more often. Our aim here is to help you understand what it takes to push our own personal boundaries in the sport we love, from a mental and emotional perspective.​

 Today on the podcast, I'm sitting down here in Queenstown with Louise Anna Ferguson, or Lou for short. Lou is a professional mountain biker from Fort William in Scotland, and is now based here in the mountain bike wonderland that is Queenstown in New Zealand. Known for letting her ride into the talk in, Lou is incredibly passionate about bringing everyone up in the [00:01:00] sport and has been a key player in a bunch of women's progression camps and free ride events.

Having just come back from her second full season racing all around the world in the Downhill World Cup, Crankworx and the Red Bull Formation. I'm super excited to sit down for a chat and learn about how she made all of this happen. Lou, welcome to the podcast. 

Lou Ferguson: Thanks so much for having me. It's good to be here.

Stoked to 

Jake Johnstone: have you here. We just had a fantastic lap down the bike park there. A bit of a mix of trails. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, it's hard to keep track of what you're actually riding because there's so many options. But yeah, I feel like we had a good run. 

Jake Johnstone: Totally. Yeah,

 how was that intro? Did I miss 

Lou Ferguson: anything there? No, no, that was, yeah, really nice and flattering. Thank you. Um, yeah, it's really interesting hearing everything kind of put in like, yeah, a couple sentences. But, yeah, I don't actually know how it's happened. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster the past couple years.

I've always loved riding, but I never thought that it would actually be a career for me, to be honest. And, yeah, I'm super lucky to be here and like, to be riding my bike full time. But as we [00:02:00] chatted about earlier, it's like such a weird job. Yeah. There's not really like a playbook or a guidebook or something you can just follow.

And like, yeah, I'm still kind of figuring it all out. Um, yeah, I'm lucky to have good people around me and been exploring, um, being part of a team this year. Um, and also figuring it out with like other riders and yeah, figuring out the whole sponsorship and yeah, not being very concise, but yeah, there's a lot to it and it's, probably not super chatted about.

I don't 

Jake Johnstone: know. Yeah. Yeah. That's a lot of things. It sounds like it's a whole journey you've got to kind of figure out on your way along. And yeah, super excited to dive into some of that and hear about how it's been going so far. Might be a cool place to start with a big wide open question. Um, but I always love to ask, what is your why when it comes to mountain bikes?

What makes you so passionate? 

Lou Ferguson: Um, why I mount bike? Um, I guess it's the feeling for me. Like [00:03:00] the feeling of riding and the freedom and the mental space you get like when you can't think about anything else. It's like so addictive. More than like the adrenaline, like it's always good to push yourself and I can, yeah, I can see it in other people when they like are scared of something and do it.

I think that's really inspiring and like addictive, but really it's the, yeah, just if you mount bike, you know, but yeah, when you're riding your bike, you, I just feel so good. And yeah, kind of figure more about myself every time I go ride. and other people too, so a lot of the time when I ride it's with others or you know, the reason to ride is to go meet someone and we just, yeah, you make loads of connections and friendships through, through mountain biking and, yeah, it's not really one answer, but.

Oh, I love 

Jake Johnstone: that answer, kind of like learning about yourself but then also bringing you together with the community and, and friends as well. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, mountain biking is like so Accessible for a lot of people, like maybe it's not affordable, but there's like some level of mountain biking that [00:04:00] you can always get out and ride and yeah, and kind of either go somewhere new or meet new people and yeah, I really love it as a sport and it's funny the balance between being like an individual sport, but I feel like without other people, it's just It's not as fun.

So totally. Yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: there's only so many rides you can go on by yourself before you're like, ah, where are my riding 

Lou Ferguson: buddies? Yeah, and you just like I don't know who had it but when you ride and you You can freak yourself out so easily you like ride something and you run a hundred times and then I don't know for me I just second guess myself and like if I'm riding with people I instantly so relaxed and like I love a good solo pedal every now and again, especially because I don't particularly enjoy going uphill, so like when I do, I'm just happy to just go my own pace.

But yeah, for downhill laps, especially, or just like trail riding and stuff, like with other people, it makes it so much more fun. And I feel like I get my best riding when I'm in a train of people and just like, I'm not going to say the cliche, like feeding [00:05:00] off of each other, but like you just, there's something about it.

Like you get so excited for other people and like that then makes me ride better and I have more fun. Yeah, it's definitely good. Totally. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, the vibe of the whole group definitely feeds into the vibe of my own riding as well. Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people can relate that. And I'd love to kind of dial the, dial the clock back even more here and hear the story about how you got into mountain biking and then kind of like why you were hooked right from the start.

Lou Ferguson: Um, yeah, I got into mountain biking kind of late, I guess. Um, and racing even later. So, um, I just ended up going out with some of my friends in Fort William. Yeah, I don't know if you've ridden there before but it's like really, it's cool. It's like Fort William is, I think it's one of the wettest places in the UK.

And in Scotland the weather is pretty notoriously, you know, moist. But, um, and because of that the tracks are like nowhere else. It's like, everywhere is quite steep and there's loads of ruts. And it's like a [00:06:00] combination of like real tight, twisty, techy tracks. And then there's the World Cup track as well, which is flat out and fast.

So yeah, I got into riding in the woods and my friends like just showed me a couple of local ones and I struggled so hard, but then I, yeah, I guess that's why I liked it so much. It was such a good challenge and yeah, progressed my riding really well, but to this one kind of riding. So like, yeah, take me to any track in Fort William and I felt like I could ride it really good.

And we had some really good role models in Fort William. There's like a couple riders who race full time and yeah. And then the bike club as well was super like friendly and yeah, like really community driven. So yeah. So I started riding with my friends and then yeah, I got to know so many people. Um, and I knew about the world cup and when I started racing, I thought like, you know, maybe one day I'll like race the, like I'll race.

At home in front of like a home crowd and like thought I'd be really sick to give it a go, but [00:07:00] never Got to the point where I actually did it. So when I lived in Fort William, I grew I went to school there I like one of my friends from school Mikaela actually she started racing World Cups and I we were racing downhill together and Then I decided to come to New Zealand for a summer, and I tried to actually race the World Cup just before I left, so that summer of riding, I like, couldn't, I didn't have enough points in the end, but I, what I got to do was, uh, sweep the track, so you get to, like, clear the trail between categories and yeah, it was kind of an eye opener for me, because that was the year that the, we had some really adverse weather, some classic Scottish weather, but they changed part of the track, so in the woods it was like, super steep and gnarly, and I remember, As one of my friends pulled out of doing the sweeping, so I like put my hand up straight away, I was like, Please let me do it.

And we went, uh, there was me and two or three other guys, and we had a bit of a brief. Um, and because we were technically, we were volunteering, but we were like working [00:08:00] for the event. They said like, you have to ride within your means, like you're not allowed to crash, like don't do anything silly, like don't be offensive for anything like that or whatnot.

And I was like, sweet, yeah, I can ride this track. Like I've raced it before at like, I'd raced it a couple times at nationals and Scottish races and stuff and I'd never finished a run. I'd like always run off the track or then had to like start again and then finish or had a crash or something. And like I'd get to the bottom but I never felt like I gave it everything like I had.

Um, but as I can ride, I've almost everything on the track. I've never ridden the road gap cause that's only for world cups. But as I, everything else is like sweet. I'll just cruise down and they're like, Oh, if you can't do the motorway jumps, like just roll them. Like it's fine. And I was like, no, I can do the motorway jumps.

And then they've made that new section and literally every rider crashed. Yeah, it was like really hectic. Like there was so much mud and like, it wasn't, it was super like intimidating and like steep, it was actually the opposite. So there's like so much mud and it [00:09:00] was quite a flat section. So you do these steps and people just couldn't hold the momentum through the compression.

So you just like crash and yeah, we all got to the bottom and we're all covered in mud. And the guy who was meant to be looking after us was just like, he was so off it. He was like, yeah, he's like, you guys are meant to be right within yourselves. Like, and yeah, kind of gave us a ride. And then all the feedback started coming back from the world cup races.

And I honestly, I thought I was like, ah. I shouldn't be here. Like I want to, I'd love to race the world cup, but you know what, I'm kind of glad I didn't get to race because I wouldn't have completed a run. And then I started to see everyone else struggle and then the feedback came back to that guy and he was like, okay, we'll have to try and make the track easier.

And, uh, yeah, I did like runs and I got to hear the crowd and yeah, it was quite a nice experience apart from all the crashing. Um, but then, yeah, after that, I realized. Like I started to watch the race rooms and especially of the women who I like, look who I looked up to. And I was like, do you know what?

I'm not actually that [00:10:00] far off. Like I thought I was, I felt like a beginner, like trying to get through the wood section. And then I saw that half the women ran that section and I was like, Oh, and then half the guys, like, especially in the qualifying, they crashed and gave up. And I was like, I didn't give up.

So I was like, yeah, I left with quite a good feeling and yeah, quite inspired. And then went to New Zealand and whilst I was over here, lockdown happened. And yeah, that's like a whole other story. But yeah, and then my friend from school, Michaela, started racing World Cups, and it was really cool to see her, like, progress and, like, push herself and put herself out there.

And it was quite nice for me to just live through her almost. Um, whilst I was over here, and yeah, just kind of encouraged me to, to, when I had the opportunity to go back overseas, to go and race World Cups. Yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: that's so cool. I love that story. It sounds like you really kind of, yeah, embracing all the opportunities that came your way and kind of looking to people for like, what's the pathway?

How does this all work? How could I maybe do it one day as well? 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, I feel like everyone's path is so different. And yeah, [00:11:00] I never got into racing like as a junior or had like my family at race to kind of like support me. But, um, the way I came into it is like so good for me. Like I knew all of it was like, Not on me, like,I don't know how to say it, it's like, I, all the motivation came from within me, but I couldn't have done it without so many people encouraging me and helping me along the way, 

Jake Johnstone: Like an internal motivation, like you really wanted it rather than wanting to do it for external 

Lou Ferguson: validation.

Yeah, yeah, definitely. You're definitely better with words than me. I do this, I do this more often, don't worry. Trying to explain myself, and it's not something like It makes sense what you're saying. Yeah, it's good, and Yeah, I think the people I see it now, like, there's so many kids, like, into riding, and they're at such a good level, and it's so inspiring, and I just want them to, like, to continue, because you can, it's so easy to see talent, but at the same time, the motivation has to come from within, and without that It's just, it would be really easy to fall out of the sport [00:12:00] or like, or not appreciate like all the amazing people that you're surrounded with or what you get from mountain biking.

So yeah, I think, yeah, because for me it was so internal and it took so long for me to actually get into like racing, um, like on an international level, I feel like I just, yeah, I don't want to take any of it for granted. Um, and even the worst races I've had so far, I've still been. Like in reflection, like probably the best things for me, like the first World Cup I did, I didn't qualify and it was at Fort William.

So yeah, my first one, it was like the first time I'd been home in a couple of years because of COVID. And I think in reflection, there was probably so much pressure and so much stuff going on for me that I shouldn't have had any expectations. Um, but looking back on it, if I hadn't like not qualified. I don't know what I would have done if I'd done really well and maybe I would have been like yeah I can do this and like it's easy or whatever whereas actually I felt like the level of women is so [00:13:00] high you really have to like push yourself so yeah it was a good good beginning and I wouldn't change it.

It's something I 

Jake Johnstone: found so interesting reading your social media posts and like things over the years is your ability to reflect on perhaps like a bad race run or a mechanical or something that didn't go to plan. But it seems like you're able to reframe all of those experiences relatively quickly and, and still say, take something out of them.

Yeah, 

Lou Ferguson: I, yeah. 

Jake Johnstone: Is that something you've had to, to like practice and like consciously work on or is that something that just comes naturally for you? 

Lou Ferguson: I think it's like, it's easy to be positive, but I think for me, like racing, I think it's just to have the opportunity to go there. It's like not many people get that.

So even with a crash or a mechanical, it's still like so much learning. Which is good, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset sometimes, like it's, you put so much into something and a lot of the time it's not even in your control. So like I've started to learn that, that with racing you can put your heart and soul into something, [00:14:00] but it's, you can only do your best with your race run.

And if everyone else goes faster than you, then it's like, it's not a reflection of you and just having a bit more self worth and like knowing you did what you could and yeah, and it's quite nice. You see people at races and it's like, I think one of the things I can do so much better is I want to be more competitive, and it sounds really silly because racing is about being competitive, and that's my job.

Jake Johnstone: That was something I found fascinating, yeah, listening to you speak on the downtime podcast, you described yourself as not a competitive person, and it's like, hang on, is this person that's winning elite races, doing well in crankworx, taking home podium 

Lou Ferguson: finishes? It's so weird. It's such a weird thing though, because You, you think you're competitive, but like, I don't know, you go to a race and you're like, everyone wants to win, like, that's no secret.

But then sometimes I wish I had more, like more fire and more like angry. Like if I finished a run, I don't feel like I'd given it everything. Like I wish I had, like, I wish I was mad at myself and [00:15:00] then it would like fire me up and like, you know, just drive me more. Whereas in fact, I like sit back and I'm like, Oh, you know, like I had a good run, didn't crash.

I, I had more in the tank and it's like trying to reflect on that and kind of get more, yeah, fire in the belly would be really good and, and almost like be more selfish as well. Like I find that's when I decided to race in that people don't really talk about is like you have to be pretty selfish and not like not make, I never want to make anyone feel bad.

Like it's not to do with other people, but you have to really focus on yourself and that can be quite hard to, to do, especially if someone's like, I don't know, at a race weekend, yeah. The best thing you could do is probably like just like finish your practice and then probably get changed to like a cool down and like watch your GoPros and, and go home, stretch and make food and stuff or like go back to where you're staying.

But maybe someone's like, Oh, do you want to go get some dinner? And it's like, it's so nice to be social. And I really want to make the most of being at [00:16:00] the race, but to be a better racer, sometimes it's like. Performance wise, you just have to do what's best for you. And trying to find that balance is quite hard.

Totally, 

Jake Johnstone: yeah. It kind of reminds me, we were chatting there at the cafe before about finding balance in your off season as well. Yeah. Talking about like, yeah, still getting enough time in on the bike but also trying to do some work at the gym and stuff like this as well. Yeah. Yeah, how have you been finding 

Lou Ferguson: that?

Um, interesting. It's been really cool. It's fun to make up your own schedule and, like, kind of, like, do some research and try and figure out the best way to do, do your job essentially, but yeah, it can be hard because I think I could ride every single day if I wanted to, which I do, but I don't ride every day because I have to go to the gym and like, I want to be stronger and like, I want to be more prepared for crashing and yeah, sometimes even like the best thing I should be doing.

I could do for racing is probably have a rest, but, um, [00:17:00] it's quite hard to say no and like not take every opportunity, um, because I'm so lucky to get them. So yeah, I think everyone's like, Oh, I can just like ride every day and I'm like, Oh, I wish I could like, but yeah, sometimes I have to look at the bigger picture.

And even what we were talking about is, is I'm going from summer to summer and there's like this, there's loads of cool races in New Zealand that I'd love to do. But yeah, this off season, I'm going to. Like chill a bit more and by that I mean go to the gym and focus on riding and yeah, having more rest and things instead of doing every race I can and maybe stretch myself too thin or doing a lot of traveling and yeah, just really manage myself and pick like what's really important to me or what's going to really benefit my racing and yeah, try and work that out.

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, it sounds like you're getting wiser and wiser every season and kind of, yeah, figuring out how to do this job, which has been a pro mountain biker. Yeah. We were chatting and you were saying kind of like your, your first [00:18:00] season on that world tour, you were saying yes to everything. You did all these events and you're flying from Europe back to Australia and kind of crazy stuff like this.

Lou Ferguson: Yeah. It's, it was. Incredible. Like me and Dan Booker, who were both on a similar program, you know, we just said yes to everything. It was so cool. And yeah, it wouldn't change any of it at all. But yeah, it was so much traveling. And, yeah, it's super, like, super fun. I think we're both figuring out what we, what was really driving us and like, what races really inspired us and what we wanted to, like, put all our heart into.

So yeah, it was definitely really good fun. But I've even now I've got a bit of a battle for like planning my season coming up. So to decide I'm definitely going to do World Cup racing. So that's where I'm going to focus. Yeah, but what else can I fit in that also like aligns with my other goals and stuff.

So yeah, but not take on too much but not say no to things that I'll regret. So it's like it's such a balance. In the 

Jake Johnstone: past you've done really well at Crankworx and also at some freeride events as well. [00:19:00] Yeah. Are they things that you'd like to keep going in the future or are you going to kind of have a rest from those events for a while?

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, big questions. I, I think I, yeah, I definitely want to do some Crankworx. I love the vibe there. So like, yeah, if anyone has been to Crankworx, you know, it's just like so many different kinds of people and different kinds of riding. It's like Yeah, it's really fun. And I feel like they find the balance of like being really competitive and like really high level racing and also bringing like people who just want to start racing together.

So it's like quite cool. So yeah, definitely. Well, I just need to decide if um, that's going to be part of my goals is like crankworx results. But one of the other things I want to do is Go to hardline. Yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: fantastic. So you're heading down to Tassie really soon now. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, so I haven't booked my flights yet But yeah, I'm excited for that.

Um, it's gonna be a whole new track. So yeah, really interesting really keen to see what they've created 

Jake Johnstone: What do you know about it so far? Have you got an idea of what the tracks gonna [00:20:00] look like? Oh, you know the mountain 

Lou Ferguson: that's on I've been to Medina before it's one of the sickest bike parts ever Honestly, it's like twice the elevation of skyline and like in this tiny little town.

There's like almost nothing there Um, so yeah, really excited to go there. It's where Dan's from. Fantastic. But, no idea, like, about the track. Like, all I've heard is they've got jumps that are like 110 feet long or something crazy. So, yeah. I'm pumped to see what they've created, but I'm also going in with no pressure.

Like, once I get there, I'm sure I'll feel super nervous, but Tassie's just gonna be more of a learning experience for me. and we went to I was really lucky to get to go to Wales for a hardline this year. Um, to be honest, just like, thanks to Jess. So, Jess Bluitt, like, was the first female to go to a hardline.

She really pushed for it and she's, she's a Red Bull athlete and just, so young but so, like, such a good rider. And, um, really driven and, yeah, thanks to her and [00:21:00] Tani as well. They, um, they managed to push for, like, a couple of us women to go and, like, check it out. Yeah, it was really cool. I feel like women in mountain biking has just grown so much recently.

And, I, I'm excited to see where it goes. Like, I don't think there's a limit, like, we can reach as long as we have the right support. And the people who run these kinds of events, like, see value in what we're doing. Like, I think there's just, yeah, a lot of us who are just waiting for the chance. Definitely.

Jake Johnstone: And I think, yeah, thanks to all the good work that people like yourself are doing and, you know, putting your best foot forward and promoting it and advocating, you know, for more women in these competitions. Yeah. I feel like we are in a really interesting time where we're kind of like on the cusp of it, like, completely blowing up and I hope so.

You know, yeah. I feel like there's so much publicity right now, both like good and bad, for events that do get, you know, a lot of coverage for women and then events that aren't. Yes. But either way, it's like I feel like we're on the cusp of, [00:22:00] you know, lots of good things happening. 

Lou Ferguson: Me too. I think, yeah, there's been positives and negatives, but overall I think it's just, yeah, it's only gonna be good for women in mountain biking, I hope, so.

Yeah, and the High Line's definitely one of the series that's really like, like, taking it with two hands and being like, yep, we're gonna do this, so, yeah. I was actually, at last minute, um, Um, addition to hardline Wales, which was like really unfortunate for Casey. Cause she hurt her head, but very good for me to get that chance.

So yeah, it was kind of a bit of luck, but yeah, overall I had a really good time and like, yeah, push myself so much more than I thought I would. Um, but again, I, to do a full run, if any of us like got a full run this year, it would be incredible, but I think we just have to keep going with hardline. It's going to happen at some point, and it's just going to take as long as it takes.

But, yeah, I feel like there's women out there with enough talent to make it happen. Definitely, yeah. Yes, we're in a 

Jake Johnstone: good space. [00:23:00] Absolutely. And it really amazes me hearing about how you got like the last minute invite and you're like, Holy crap, I'm going to hardline. And you're still able to calm the nerves enough to perform well there.

Yeah, we had a question actually from someone on Instagram. They wanted to know from you, like, how do you manage nerves and fear? I feel like This is a perfect example of that. In this case, now you're going down to Tassie. You're riding this new course. It's massive jumps there. Yeah. Yeah. How do you go about managing nerves, fear, and being in a place to put your 

Lou Ferguson: best foot forward?

Uh, good, good question. Hard question. I think it's so different for everyone. Like the way your mind work is, the way your mind's mind works is a total mystery. But I, it's one of the reasons I like racing. It makes me so nervous and I feel like I can really, like, challenge myself with it. So everyone approaches races in different ways, but I guess just finding, just being honest with yourself [00:24:00] and being kind to yourself as well.

So yeah, in a way, like going to Hardline was, um, there was no pressure because I didn't, it was a last minute invite, so I didn't have time to like build it off my head and get really freaked out. But at the same time. I was gonna go watch anyway, I really wanted to, like, see what it was like in person.

Cool. So, I think you have to, like, if this person is asking about nerves, and is maybe thinking about racing, or trying something, then, like, surround yourself with people who, who get the most out of you, like, who help, who build you up. And then you have to be honest with yourself, and then kind. So, like, honest with your expectations.

So, if I was, like, I'm going to come into the first world cup race and I'm going to win and like, that's my goal, but you have to be realistic and also yeah, kind to yourself. So if I crash in the first corner, I did all the prep I could do and you have to take all the positives as well. So for Tazzy, I'm, [00:25:00] I'm really scared and I've got time to think about it as well.

So yeah, I'm not really sure, but because I don't know what the track is like, I'm just going to, when I'm going to show up. And then two, I'm gonna go with an open mind, and then three, I'm just gonna like do what I can do here to prepare. So, and then anything else is a bonus. Like, 

Jake Johnstone: yeah. That's such a good attitude, and it sounds like a really dialed process.

You're like, this is what I'm gonna do, this is the attitude I'm gonna bring. Yeah, I really like that. Is that something that's got easier over the years with like putting yourself into more and more situations like this? 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, I guess I'm still figuring it out. So yeah, I'm sure like, I still get so nervous for racing, but I feel like I'll never not get nervous.

Jake Johnstone: Totally. And you say like, Oh, I'm so scared. I'm so nervous, but I can see you're also like smiling and looking kind of excited 

Lou Ferguson: at the same time. Well, it's when you get the most out of yourself, I think so it's, yeah, it's hard to accept at the time when you're nervous, but then my highlights from this year were always [00:26:00] when I was most nervous.

That's so great to have. Last year, my first world cup was in Fort William and I didn't qualify to then go there this year for a world champs, which probably won't go back there for 10 years or so. It would be, yeah, I felt the pressure of like a home crowd and also to redeem myself from the year before.

But then also that is flip side of it was every part of it was really special and Yeah, I'm so scared and so nervous, but then at the other side of that is that I'm so lucky to get that chance to race. And so you can look at it, everything with two sides. Like if you're positive, it can always be good.

But if you're in a bad mental place, then it can always be negative. So, yeah, I don't know. It 

Jake Johnstone: sounds like you use gratitude in a really helpful way to kind of like, I guess, bring yourself back to the present. Yeah. Like try and have fun with whatever situation you're in. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah. I like that. Yeah, I feel like this year was really interesting being on a team for the first [00:27:00] time because I was really like, I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to be on a team and like have loads of people to support me.

But then the other side of that I found was like, I also felt more pressure to perform for them because I felt like everyone was there to help me. And it's like trying to walk that line of like. I want to do good for myself, but then these people put so much into it that I want to do well for them too.

I see. And when, like, when I didn't get a result I was happy with and I actually was, like, alright with it when I finished and saw my time I'd be like, ah, like, I left too much out there or I made a mistake or whatever. But then when I saw the team waiting at the bottom it made me so emotional, I was like, almost felt worse because I was like, ah, like.

Yeah, I felt like I should have done more, but then whenever I talked to them, all those feelings washed away and yeah, it's quite cool. 

Jake Johnstone: Okay, awesome. So they're all pretty supportive as well, you realise that they're on your 

Lou Ferguson: team? [00:28:00] Yeah, but that's it, it's like such a weird thing, you can look at it in like a good way of you got all this support, but then the negative would be that, yeah, there's more pressure I guess, but.

Jake Johnstone: It's interesting just in riding in general. I think it's, it's so easy to get wrapped up like thinking about what other people are thinking. Yeah. I know even just like if you're on a big climb one day or if you're like the slowest rider in the group, sometimes like you're not thinking about your riding.

You're thinking about like, Oh, everyone's waiting for me. Like I'm not keeping up that kind of thing. Yeah. Then sometimes when you get there, they're like, Oh no, we're happy to take a break. Like, this is 

Lou Ferguson: good. Yeah. We're chilling. Or like, yeah. Like everyone wants to take a break or, or it's an opportunity cause they're like, everyone's so much better.

So I can learn or follow them. It's like, yeah, there's always two sides. 

Jake Johnstone: And then in racing, like I'm sure your team quite often is just like stoked, like looted the best job she could do. Or if like something didn't go right, like they're going to be like feeling for you, not like mad at you for not going faster or something like that.

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. There's just so much pressure with racing. It's just so interesting seeing how people deal with it. Definitely. Yeah, it's fascinating. Always looking [00:29:00] at the big picture helps, I think. Like, just taking a step back or talk to someone who's got a bit better, like, understanding of what's going on is like so helpful.

Jake Johnstone: Hello everyone and thanks for listening. If you're enjoying the podcast, don't forget to give it a like, give it a subscribe. And if you'd like to know more about my journey in mountain biking and my background as a mountain bike coach, check out episode number 29 where I dive a little bit deeper into that.

Now let's get right back to the podcast.

Yeah, and like this year getting to hang out with people that have like, you know, veterans of racing that have been around for a long time. What are some of the biggest learnings for you? 

Lou Ferguson: Um, so at the last race this year, I actually asked everyone on the team what I could do better. Fantastic. And I [00:30:00] think like, just always being willing to learn is like the big thing.

And And something that came back for me, like in feedback was that I need a better process. So I kind of just go with the flow and like, kind of hang out and obviously try hard, but I'm never like, I try not to put too much pressure on myself, but I think what I could do is have like more of a structure, like I was talking about and more of a process and then I can lean on that.

And yeah, I just probably will make my race craft like even better. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, cool. It's, it's so cool to hear that you have that kind of self reflection and you're able to ask like, Hey, what can I do better? Even though you're out there doing really well already. Yeah, 

Lou Ferguson: well, just like it's been for me, like two years of racing, like overseas.

So I feel like I've got so much to learn, like, yeah. And it's quite a nice spot to be in. Cause I feel like I've got so much to improve on. Um, like one of the other areas would be like the gym. So I like definitely could. Probably, I am, I'm going to the gym, but yeah, just 

Jake Johnstone: like, I love how you reframe that as well.

Like, [00:31:00] I'm like, I could to like, 

Lou Ferguson: I am, I am actually, yeah, I'm doing it, but yeah, it's all like, I dunno, it's all just, um, an attitude, I guess, like part of me is like, Oh, I don't know much about the gym. Whereas now I'm like excited because I get to learn loads about the gym instead of, I have to go to the gym.

I'm like, Oh, I get to go to the gym and like try something new and like figure out and feel strong. Yeah, it's quite nice. Awesome. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, that's a great way of putting that. So going to the gym, is there anything else you do off the bike that's helped you on the bike? Hmm. I read somewhere that you were getting into stretching 

Lou Ferguson: for a while.

Yeah, I've been trying. Oh, so Dan's got a really good like, um, habit, which is Tabaz, like this app you can download on your phone. And I think it's actually for working out or doing intervals or something, but what he does is sets a timer every day. So it just gives you some beats. And so it's like, you can set it so it's for me like every 30 seconds.

So I'll stretch for 30 seconds and then it'll beep and then I do a different stretch. And then, so you can set it for like 10, 15, 20 minutes. And [00:32:00] it's just like a nice indicator of like, you have these 20 minutes and you get to stretch and yeah. And at the end of every session you get like a little motivational quote.

And it also tells you like how many times you've been doing that as well throughout the week. So it's really helpful. I feel like a lot of stuff like that, like almost treating yourself like, um, not a kid, but like almost in a way of like you reward yourself for doing something like, that's going to benefit you.

And then, yeah, I don't really do, I don't punish myself for anything negative, but like, yeah, almost like treating myself if I stretch and then, Nyoka's Gorge Road is like right next to the gym I go to. Um, Every time I go to the gym, I go to Gorge Road after. 

Jake Johnstone: Fantastic. So it's like if you go to the gym, you get 

Lou Ferguson: to ride the dirt jumps.

I get to ride my bike, which is good. And it's a good like routine for the dirt jumps as well. Cause I feel like I ride my downhill bike so much. I'm so used to like the way it feels and things. And there's so much suspension. Whereas like when I get on the dirt jumper, it feels a little bit awkward. The first [00:33:00] like time after like a week or something being off.

So, cause I'm going to the gym three times a week, it's like, I ride my dirt jumper three times a week, so now it's even more fun. And so I get to go to the gym more, and I get to ride my bike more, and it's just like, yeah, it just kind of works out really well. Awesome, so yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: like, almost turning it into this thing you look forward to, rather than this thing like, oh, I have to go to the gym.

I have to go to the gym. I like that, yeah. Yeah. And speaking of your, your process there, or like the process that you're looking at making a little bit more structured for racing. Yeah. When you get back to it. Is there any ideas there or anything you think that will definitely be part of your process? 

Lou Ferguson: Um, do you mean for races or 

Jake Johnstone: do you mean for training?

Sorry, I know we're jumping around all 

Lou Ferguson: over the place here. No, no, um, for racing, I think, I haven't thought too much about this, but this is a good question because it is something I should like definitely do. So I'm going to be on a new team next year. Yeah, awesome. Which is exciting. Thanks. It's also bittersweeet.

Yeah, it's kind of exciting because it's going to be all new, and like, I feel like there's going to be so much I can learn from [00:34:00] this team.

But at the same time, I'm also saying goodbye to lots of people I really like as well, and also, like, the bike that I love. Like, me and Nick Proof have so much history together, and Yeah, I feel very loyal, but Um Yeah, I think it's going to be good having new People, new people with different experiences, so I can kind of learn from them too.

But, I'm going to do less, less racing in New Zealand and then build up towards the end of the season. The end of our summer, New Zealand summer. New Zealand summer, yeah. But before the European summer. Um, what else am I going to do? 

Jake Johnstone: We'll narrow it down a little bit because I know it's such a wide open question, but picture like.

Race weekend, rock up, get a suss out the course, like 

Lou Ferguson: walk me through that. So, yeah, well, I'll go through like the routine. So I still feel like it's so new to me. But, um, so last year we do [00:35:00] track walk and then the next day we do practice and then we do qualifying. And it was top 15 that qualified. And then we did the race runs and then, yeah, that's your results.

Whereas this season it's been track walk, practice, semifinals, uh, sorry, qualifying, then practice, then semifinals, then practice, then finals. So the formats changed a lot and I'm not sure what is going to happen in 2024 if the format is going to be the same, but I'm going to do my research and I'm going to have the schedule written out for me.

Jake Johnstone: And the track walk, was that something that was kind of new to you? When you first started like getting into some higher level races, or is this like you always did?

From like grassroot 

Lou Ferguson: stages. Um, weird. Cause like every downhill race has a track walk, but at the same time, I never felt like I got a lot from it. Okay. It is like, I feel like the more you do track walk, the more you understand what you need to do. So yeah, everyone says track walks more important than like, like a [00:36:00] couple of practice runs.

Yeah, I guess 

Jake Johnstone: you can, like, you can literally just walk up the track and chat to your buddies. Yeah. And it's not going to give you much on race 

Lou Ferguson: day. Yeah, and if you're not used to it, you can look at something and you're like, Oh yeah, that looks good. I'll just ride mainline or whatever. And then you get on your bike and it looks completely different when you ride it.

Jake Johnstone: Is it ever distracting? I'm sure like world cups are better because you're all experienced riders, but I find sometimes like walking tracks or features if my buddy's like we'll start looking at all the things that could go wrong or like all the places we could crash and it's almost like I wish I didn't look at 

Lou Ferguson: this before I rode it.

Well that's it you don't go like ride downhill laps and like stop and look at all the tracks like you don't. Like go to the bike park and walk a trail and then go back up and ride it. But that's what you do for a race. So I find like everything looks scary as well from below. Like, so if you walk past a section and you're like, yeah, I'll take this line.

And then you walk down a bit, you're looking at the next one and you look back up and you're like, well, that looks really steep, like, or really gnarly or something. But when you're on your bike, it's like, yeah, I'd love to get better at picking lines that I think, um, would [00:37:00] be the best line for me instead of the best line for everyone else.

Right. 

Jake Johnstone: So you're thinking about your riding style, your strengths. 

Lou Ferguson: Yep. Okay, awesome. And like, figuring that out, cause it is like something, I think doing track walk is like a skill, and the more you do it, you get better and better at it. And uh, yeah, just having someone with more experience as well to help navigate that part of racing.

Cool. And also, It changes throughout racing, so the better you get at it, the easier it is, but also throughout a race week, like, I think a lot of World Cup tracks aren't actually that gnarly, but by the time you get to race it, they're so blown out, like, a line that would have been the easiest, safest line at the beginning of the week, or maybe it was like, this is the fastest line, is now destroyed, so, so it does change so much, and almost some people are so good at racing, they can predict.

What's going to get destroyed and then pick like a different line or just, you know, or even on the fly. Like I think some of the hardest runs for me were like when we practice [00:38:00] and then it rained and then it maybe dried up or maybe it wouldn't, but we wouldn't know until we did a race run. Then we'd do a race run and I would have to, on the fly, kind of decide whether I go for like the off camber line or, or something else and you just don't know what you're going to get.

So, like, that's something I could work on, but I'm not sure how, like, how to predict what the track's going to be like, so sometimes I'd ride a bit more reserved because I think it's going to be, like, really slippery. And then it's not slippery and I've just break down a section and I'm like, Oh, I should have went so much faster.

But then in hindsight, I'm like, Oh, well, if it went faster and it was wet, yeah, maybe I would have crashed. And like trying to find that balance, I guess it comes 

Jake Johnstone: with experience. And like now having raced a lot of the tracks, you're going to go back to them with like, Oh, last time it was like this. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah.

And so many of the tracks are so different, like the dirt's different. And sometimes in the wet, it's really grippy and other. Locations are like the rocks are like ice, so it's [00:39:00] like, it's really, it's really good. And I feel like every year you race, you get an advantage because a lot of the venues are the same.

So although the tracks differ slightly, you do have a better feel of what it's going to be like to race. So you're right. It will get 

Jake Johnstone: better. Yeah. It's like the old saying, you never ride a track blind twice. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah. You just, you've been coming in with like a better, like you just get the most out of your practice.

Oh, that was one of the things. So for your question, what I'm going to change is. I'm gonna be more purposeful with my practice. Awesome. Yeah, so that's like, instead of going and like one of my things is like, oh, I'll hit all the features on the track and then I'll try maybe some different lines and stuff that I saw on Track Walk.

Instead, I'm gonna be like, structured, like first practice run, I'm gonna do this second practice run. I'm gonna do this and, and know how many runs I'm gonna do instead of just going in and kind of like freestyling it. Yeah. Cool. So I think that would be really 

Jake Johnstone: useful. So having like a, an intention for each run.

Lou Ferguson: Yeah. And it's quite hard to do sometimes when I'm like, get [00:40:00] distracted and chat away or 

Jake Johnstone: whatever, but. Well, it sounds like your strengths are your weaknesses, like it is for us all. Like you're a chiller, you're there for fun, whatever. But then when it comes to winning races, perhaps you're having more intention of being more like business.

Lou Ferguson: Yeah. I got to like switch on and be like, yeah, try and take it seriously. 

Jake Johnstone: It's going to be cool to see you kind of balance both this, this next race season. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I wanted to ask, like, going back to, like, yeah, that preparation and the track walks and stuff. Are you visualising yourself in the third person, riding different lines and, and doing different things?

Or what does that look like for you? 

Lou Ferguson: Um, I do try and visualise the track before I, like, drop in for runs. I, like, when I'm, after I've done a bit of a warm up, I, like, close my eyes and try and think about me riding the trail, and I think it helps. Yeah, helps get you into the mindset of riding. A lot of the time when we do practice, we have like a big wait until we do a race run.

So you cool down, but then also I feel [00:41:00] like my brain also like chills out as well. And you want to be like, you're ready, you want to be ready to go really fast. And I know sometimes when I drop in for a run and I'm almost like two seconds behind. And it's, yeah, it's good to visualize to just try and bring yourself back into focus.

Awesome. So to 

Jake Johnstone: try and like act yourself off and Yeah, just like. Activate the nervous system a little bit. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, I feel ready for it and like. Right. Yeah, and awake and switched on and like reacting to everything like as it happens. So, yeah, I definitely visualize a track before runs, but yeah, in terms of like trying different lines, that's something that I definitely struggle with, so I'll practice different lines.

Okay. But sometimes I'll feel that one line is quicker than the other. But if I timed it, I'm not sure if that would be the case. Okay, yeah. 

Jake Johnstone: Sometimes it feels fast when we're like drifting around out of control. But sometimes a smooth, clean line can be 

Lou Ferguson: quicker. Yeah, or you feel like super smooth on one line and you're like, that must be faster.

But maybe it's just the easier line. But the faster line could be the rough, [00:42:00] straight one or whatever. And everyone, yeah, it's really like, really a cool challenge. Like with racing is figuring out what's fast and what feels fast. Yeah, it's a bit of a mystery. Totally. Yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: yeah. Keeps it fun, hey? Yeah. That's awesome.

And on that subject of kind of like, having to amp yourself up or build yourself up a little bit to get into that race zone, I know a lot of people I speak to on this podcast talk about like using breath or different ways of kind of like activating their nervous system, perhaps listening to some, some music before their run.

Is there anything you 

Lou Ferguson: do there? Um, I think I could probably have a bit more structure because like throughout this whole season, I was I'd listen to a bit of music, I'd do a warm up, but it was never the same thing every time. Yeah. I probably could. One of my friends I was talking to recently was saying that, I think it's called like the box breathe in method.

Yeah. And you like breathe in for four, hold for four, like out for four, and then like can repeat it. And I was like, Oh, that'd be really interesting. I wonder if it would help me with [00:43:00] racing. Cause I definitely don't really think about my breathing too much when I'm warming up or like before a race run.

I definitely feel a bit more like, I don't know, like excited, nervous. Um, but one of the things I did, I was actually thinking about this the other day, that there was a couple of races when I was warming up, and I like took a moment when I was like spinning my bike and had a look around and was just like, Oh, I feel so lucky to be here.

And I like be like, in Andorra, it was the view. It was just so beautiful. I was like, We're up in this place and yeah, it's just been such a good week and just even the weather was crazy windy, so it wasn't like perfect, but I was like, this is, yeah, I feel like lucky to be here and I had one of my best results and I was like thinking about that the other day.

I wonder if that was anything to do with it, just like not focusing on breathing, but just taking myself out of what I was doing and like kind of looking around. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, fantastic, like grounding yourself in the presence and gratitude, like getting stoked to be there. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah. I love that. [00:44:00] That really helps, because it's a real weird like, place at the top of like, a World Cup track.

Everyone's so focused. And, yeah, I can't really explain it, it's more of like a feel, like it just feels very tense and weird, like almost weird, but. So yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: try to like navigate your, or not get sucked into like that tense nervousness and just be grateful to 

Lou Ferguson: be there. Yeah, I like not, I'm not someone who feels a lot about energy, but I was like, if you could stand at the top of like a World Cup track before people are dropping in, the energy would definitely feel like, thick, with like emotions and like, yeah, and just, yeah, expectations or nerves or whatever.

Everyone's so like engrossed in what they're doing. But yeah, it's kind of nice to like, kind of have a look around and think about it and take myself out of the situation and be like, yeah, it's quite nice to be here. Yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: yeah. And you talk a lot about self compassion as well as that gratitude. I'm curious, do you have anything you repeat to yourself while you're racing or while you're riding or even beforehand?[00:45:00] 

Lou Ferguson: Uh, no, I probably could. Have you seen Cars? Ah, the movie? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we watched it the other night, like one of the new ones, like me and all my flatmates. Yeah. Yeah, I was laughing because. Yeah, in cars, he says, like, I am speed and I was like, man, that's pretty funny. But I was like, that could be me. I could be like, I am speed at the top and just like amp myself up.

 But, um, I have felt like the first season I was overseas. And. And did a bit of World Cup racing, a bit of enduro, like a bit of crankworx, kind of like everything I could, like, I had the option to do outside.

I'll do it, but I felt like, uh, like a bit of imposter syndrome. I felt like I was like, Oh, I get to be here. It's so cool. But I don't know if I'm, I wouldn't say I was a World Cup racer. I was like, I'm more like I'm Louise and I ride bikes. But I was like, if someone asked me like what I do, I wouldn't be like, Oh, I'm a racer.

I was like, I just felt like I was there and getting to do my own thing, whereas now, especially with it, [00:46:00] like being so lucky to have a contract to ride, like even, yeah, it's, it's taken a while for me to think like, no, I, um, I race World Cups, like I'm a World Cup racer and feeling like I deserve to be there.

It's 

Jake Johnstone: a tricky place to be in or to find yourself in, but it's so cool to hear you've made 

Lou Ferguson: that shift. Yeah. Just to like, yeah, tell myself that I'm like good enough. Yeah. To, to race 

Jake Johnstone: World Cups in hindsight. Do you wish you had have like told yourself that earlier? Would it have 

Lou Ferguson: been easier? I don't know if I told myself, uh, like if I told myself last year, I would have been like, yeah, yeah, of course.

But I don't know if I would have believed it. Okay. Yeah. So I feel like this year I, yeah, it's, it's, it's weird because I feel like a lot of races that are super competitive by nature, like, so, so motivated like that. Anyway, like a lot of people who race have so much confidence and yeah, or at least look like they have confidence, but I don't know if they actually do.

But [00:47:00] yeah, for me, like having confidence, I'm actually like good enough and like should be there is like taking some time, but I'm starting to believe it. So it's quite nice. But yeah, I wonder how many actually feel like that, because I don't know, even watching other people on track at World Cups, I'm like in awe of all the other women.

But I'm like, I wonder if I'm like, why? They're going so fast, like, am I going to go that fast? Like, it's really, like, yeah, I definitely question myself. And then, yeah, whereas whenever I've just stopped watching and just ridden my bike, I usually have, like, yeah, my better runs. Fantastic. And, like, feel like I should be there.

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, and do you find reflecting on those, those wins or, like, those good runs really helps you kind of cement in that, like, no, you deserve to be here? 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, I definitely have, like, such a buzz, like, for a while after, like. Every time I feel good, but that doesn't mean I have to win to feel like that. I just feel like I've done what I can.

Fantastic. You've done your job. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, I've done my job. And yeah, like speaking about doing your job, how have you navigated, [00:48:00] I guess like the confident side of things in like, you know, being a pro doesn't just mean riding your bike these days. You've got to have a social media account and do podcasts and videos and things like this.

Yeah. Yeah. How 

Lou Ferguson: have you found that shift? Trying to, yeah, change my mindset with it all as well because Social media is like, yeah, for me, it's quite a challenge to motivate myself to do it and even do podcasts and stuff. Like, it's quite intimidating, like putting yourself out there for the world to see and like potential, potentially criticism as well.

It's like, yeah, it's a bit tricky, but then like, if you flip it over, it's like also cool to share things with people. Yeah, totally. So yeah, social media is like free and like. It's cool to make connections on there, like sometimes I'll get like a comment or I get to see other people and Yeah, what they're doing and it's like it's really nice.

So Yeah, I kind of need to focus on more of the positives with um Social media and [00:49:00] probably get into more of a routine of doing it because to be honest, I'm not the best But I do want to share, so that's good, and then like, this podcast, if you hadn't pushed me to come and do it, I wouldn't have done it, to 

Jake Johnstone: be honest.

Well, for being open to doing it, it's, yeah, it's fantastic to hear your perspective, I'm sure people are going to, you know, take away lots from this one as well. I, yeah. you're in, yeah, you're in such an interesting, like, cool position, and it's really cool to get a peek into like, what's that like, 

Lou Ferguson: behind the scenes, yeah.

It's not like, uh. Yeah, it's not a traditional job. That's for sure. Yeah, so it is weird transitioning from being like, someone who goes to work and then, yeah, you're restricted by your work hours and like, you have a structure as well, which is like a blessing and a curse. You can't just decide one day you're not going to work and like, I also depend on it as well.

So for, to live, to then transition into following mountain biking and something that I, like I've always loved and now that's. It's like [00:50:00] to figure out that my worth is, as a mountain biker, it like equals my worth as like a tiler or doing any other job. So it's like, it's really weird realization. Um, but yeah, there's definitely a balance.

Like when I was tiling, it was like when I clocked in for work, that's when I got paid and I had to, I'd have to do a certain amount of hours every week. But now. I can, I'm in charge of my own schedule and it's, it's really cool and like gives me so much more flexibility. But the other side of it is that I never really clock off.

Like, uh, yeah, I always feel like I should do more. Yeah, sometimes I feel a bit lost. So like, am I doing enough or should I do less? Should I rest more and like trying to kind of manage that is also so hard 

Jake Johnstone: to find that balance when no one's telling You like you work for eight hours a day and you have 16 

Lou Ferguson: hours off, but this is your lunch break.

I almost want someone to do it. Yeah, someone be like, no, you need to stop. You need to 

Jake Johnstone: go like, yeah. I find I mean like just for me working in the mountain bike industry as well There's kind of so many [00:51:00] weird blurred lines between like work rides and fun rides and you know Try to advantage am I doing enough?

Stuff off the bike, social media, whatever, and then actually get in enough time on the bike. And so Yeah, I hear that. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah. It's a struggle, isn't it, if you're coaching or you're riding your bike, but it's not personal riding. So it's like you kinda have to draw a line and be like, okay, today I'm just gonna go ride and it's gonna be really fun.

And then other days you're like, okay, I'm gonna have to work and focus. Yeah. And 

Jake Johnstone: if you don't do enough of either, like you start noticing like there's some 

Lou Ferguson: imbalances there. Yeah. Yeah. It's an interesting one. So it's cool 

Jake Johnstone: like, yeah, I really. Like, like listening to you, you really prioritise just riding over all else and riding for you, riding for fun.

And I think it shows, like you're still so stoked on it and it's not like, ah, you know, this is my job. I have to do this. 

Lou Ferguson: You're stoked to be here. Oh, I love it. I love it. And yeah, I especially love Queenstown, like riding down trails that I know it's like almost like therapy. I'm like, ah, if something's like stressful or I'm tired or something and I can [00:52:00] just go like ride something that I like, I like know so well, like.

Like I said before, it's almost like autopilot. I can just go down and just like really relax. Yeah, it's good. Fantastic. 

Jake Johnstone: Do you have any, for the people listening, do you have any like tools or tricks you'll use to try and get yourself into like that flow state, so to 

Lou Ferguson: speak? I like, definitely enjoy like full runs more now.

So instead of just like, yeah, in the past I used to stop and talk so much. Yeah, yeah. I just stop for a rest, whereas now I like really enjoy. Like, just doing full laps, like. Alright, so 

Jake Johnstone: you've given yourself the opportunity to get into the zone by riding for a bit longer. Yeah. 

Lou Ferguson: Yeah, that's a good tip yep.

 yeah, I don't know, not trying to go fast, just trying to go fun. Like, it's good. I'm trying to think, I don't know if I've got anything for that question. 

Jake Johnstone: Well, I like what you said there, just like, not trying to go fast, focusing on the fun, because often when we focus on the fun, it ends up being fast.

Lou Ferguson: Oh man, that race on Saturday, that I did is like the classic track of like, The faster I try and go, [00:53:00] the slower I go. 

Jake Johnstone: Right, yeah, so you race up at Coronet Peak, which for those that aren't aware is a pretty gnarly DH track. It's got some big jumps, lots of ruts, and I take it it's pretty blown out after that race as 

Lou Ferguson: well.

It gets like a World Cup track, it's so rough as like we keep, as we, like, further race. So yeah, definitely towards the end when you want to put your fastest run, it's like the roughest run as well. Um, that one, I did a, like, probably the best. It's probably the best I've felt up Coronet and I did a couple of practice runs, was feeling pretty good.

I was like, you know what? Like, yeah, this is going to be a good, a good day. So I did like my seeding run. I wasn't chilling, but I felt like I had so much more to give. So yeah, I was pretty excited for my race run. Tried so much harder and I went exactly the same speed, like to the second, like I think it was a couple of milliseconds faster, but that's nothing.

And for the amount of effort I felt like I tried so much harder. I didn't go faster. 

Jake Johnstone: That's so interesting, isn't it? Sometimes it [00:54:00] feels like we go so much faster because of the effort and the energy exchange. Really interesting. This has been such a fantastic chat. Before we start winding things down, I really wanted to talk about some of the women's mountain bike camps I know you're so passionate about and you put so much work into.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, tell us about the work you do there and I guess, like, you know, the vibe and the community you're hoping to create 

Lou Ferguson: through that work. Yeah, I am I'll start with a confession. Okay, interesting. When I first, like, got into mountain biking, I didn't really see the value in women's events. I just, like, my friends that got me into riding was, like, a mix of, like, girls and guys, and I, like, that was just, everyone was so supportive, like, I feel super lucky that that's how I got introduced to mountain biking.

But, um, after I think my first women's only event was Airmen, it was like a Scottish, um, women who like created this event and just like made it really fun and my friends were going and they were like, oh, you should definitely come. I was like, oh no, [00:55:00] like, I'm all good, I'll just, I don't really, like, I could go, but I was like, why don't we just go ride?

And I ended up going and it was, yeah, one of the best experiences I've had, like, I guess so many. People can feel intimidated, you know, if you're outnumbered in any kind of way, like not just gender. And I didn't, I didn't realise that until Air Maiden happened. And the amount of support and community feel and people just like relaxing was really inspiring.

Right, 

Jake Johnstone: so it's almost like you didn't know like what you were missing out on until you were part of it. Exactly, that was it. And how would you describe the vibe at an event like that? 

Lou Ferguson: It's like, fun. Fun and loud and like everyone just so feeling so free. It was like, I love like every kind of event in a way, but yeah, I don't know.

Women's only events are super supportive. There's like so much encouragement and there's no egos [00:56:00] as well. Like, and I feel like when you put yourself out there for like, say a race. You, it's really intimidating, like whether you're male or female. And so, yeah, I think anything that can make you feel more relaxed is like definitely positive.

And if that's male only events as well, that should be a thing too. So I just like feel lucky to be part of a couple of events that have really made a difference. And one of them was formation. So yeah, that was like, for me, I like progressed so much going to that event. And, uh, Katie Holden just does such a good job of being inclusive and, like, making sure everyone's got what they need to progress and, and, Freeride, I feel like the field is getting so much bigger and a lot of it is thanks to Katie and people like Casey Brown and, yeah, we're just, yeah, we've got so many more role models that are, like, coming out of mountain biking 

Jake Johnstone: It's really cool to see, isn't it? I love the vibe here in Queenstown. I [00:57:00] think we've got such a diverse riding community here. And you go to the jumps and it's not just like a group of like cool guys there anymore. It's a whole community. There's kids, there's adults, there's males, there's females.

Everyone's stoked high fiving each other. It's just like, yeah, such an 

Lou Ferguson: inclusive life. Definitely lucky to be in Queenstown, yeah, everyone's so supportive as well. I feel like the vibe of Women's Only Events that I've been to before is like the Queenstown vibe as well. Yeah. Like it doesn't matter how good you are or who you are, it's like, it's very much like just on if you're happy to be there.

Totally. Yeah. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. And it sounds like you were really lucky with like getting into mountain biking. You had some really supportive, like cool friends that really helped you get into it. Yeah. Um, but yeah, what you're working to create is perhaps like, yeah, more of that vibe for other people that perhaps haven't had the same experience right off the bat or the same confidence to go out and start racing on 

Lou Ferguson: their own energy.

Yeah. I think just feeling not super confident all the time is like quite nice to be able to help someone else. Like, I think I understand [00:58:00] how it feels like to, to be not. Yeah, to, I don't know what the words is, but I like, yeah, I'd like to, cause I don't feel the most confident all the time. For me, the biggest reward would be to build someone else's confidence up.

So, yeah, I know people, if I hadn't come to Queenstown and people hadn't encouraged me, and basically told me I was good enough, like, go and race, like, you can do it, then I don't know if I would have went, like, all by myself, so. Yeah, I just want to try and give back and like do a bit more of that. So I've done like a couple of women's coaching sessions kind of thing in Queenstown, but also like try to help out with like the women's enduro here.

So we're super lucky to have the Dirt Town Queens, which is like, um, pretty much a bike club in Queenstown, but it's just like to help support women and they've been around for forever. Like I heard about them before I came to Queenstown. And I, I truly believe like that's why there's such a good [00:59:00] ratio of women like riding in Queenstown is because they've always been like the backbone, like quietly encouraging everyone to like put themselves out there.

And so, yeah, I've got more plans this year to do like a couple sessions up Coronet Peak. So Yeah, there's actually some ladies who work at Coronet who are awesome and Yeah, me and Jess helped out with some sessions last year and we're hoping to put on 

Jake Johnstone: more. And what does that look like, like the sessions at Coronet?

Is it like a coaching clinic or you're like a big group ride? Like what does it look 

Lou Ferguson: like? Um, there's a bit of everything to be honest because we're kind of like making it up, so yeah I've actually got some guiding qualifications, so I'm not completely like making up like I'm not completely freestyling But I'm not really a coach Me and Jess just want to share like our experiences and kind of like this chat without like feeling too awkward I feel like yeah, because cameras and things are a bit.

Yeah. Yeah a bit hard but yeah, so we just have a group of ladies and then we'll go through a couple [01:00:00] things like Like how to set up your bike Like if they haven't if you have any questions, like if anyone's just like not really sure of anything I'm sure we can help we've been through like most mistakes And riding and yeah.

And then we'll go for a bit of a ride and then I'll usually like pick a couple points to focus on that are really like helpful but also really simple. Great. And then, yeah, we'll just, if anyone's got anything they wanna work on, we can try and like help them, even if it's like the mental side of things.

Like some of the, like Dagmar up at Cornell, she was saying that she was like, oh, it'd be really good if you chatted about like. Racing and the mental pressure and things like that, that we've just been talking about. I was like, yeah, I feel like, yeah, if any of the, like we had some young girls last year who like have done some races this season already.

And yeah, they're kind of more interested in that side of things. And for me, I see the benefit in that because I [01:01:00] actually want a mentor. So I want someone who has been racing forever to kind of tell me like the best way to race and maybe my biggest weaknesses. So, I'd love to help some of the younger girls.

Yeah, I 

Jake Johnstone: think it's so helpful for them. Just like, yeah, seeing you as one, like an inspiration, but also like this is a pathway they could take and then perhaps you're giving them, yeah, some of the directions on that process rather than them just having to figure it out 

Lou Ferguson: by themselves. Yeah, it can feel so, like, it can feel so difficult when you, you've got so many options and you don't know where to put your tokens.

Yeah. Yeah, so I, yeah, I'd love to. Be helpful. And like, I'm so bad at getting back to people on social media, but that's one of the things I need to improve on because I feel like I've missed so many messages of people asking advice and like, yeah, I've written, I've met so many girls through racing and then we've done laps together like the next weekend and I get.

Yeah, such a buzz out of that, just being able to help and That's so cool. Yeah, try and encourage them. And I guess 

Jake Johnstone: like, yeah, on one hand you're saying you're maybe not the [01:02:00] best on social media, but what's really cool is that you're open and willing to go for laps with these people in your own time and you're out there doing that, so giving back to the community in the way that works best for you.

That's 

Lou Ferguson: awesome. Yeah. I feel like the, there's some of my friends here are so good on socials, like Emma is like unreal, 

Jake Johnstone: like, yeah, shout out to Emma. She actually helped connect us and make this podcast 

Lou Ferguson: happen. Yeah, she's, yeah, super cool. Like massive inspiration to me, but also like, she just connects with so many people through social media, like through her videos and being so like honest and open about everything.

Like, I feel like she's such a good role model. Um, whereas for me, I like don't post as much, but I like to think in person, like if anyone I met in the park, like I'm so happy to do laps and yeah, like. If there's any, like, young girls out there or guys or anything who, like, want advice, like, with racing, I, I'm happy to help, so.

I don't know much, but, well, I do know I'm happy to share, so. I 

Jake Johnstone: think you know more than, more than you think, 

Lou Ferguson: yeah.

Jake Johnstone: [01:03:00] Awesome, so yeah, we'll start winding things down here a little bit, but a question I like to ask everyone is these days, what does a perfect ride look like for you and why? 

Lou Ferguson: My favorite ride is no pedaling. No pedaling, yeah. So no surprise there from what we've spoken about. But, yeah, I love, I love a bit of uplift.

And party trains, like heaps of people, heaps of like friends and even people we've met in the park. And yeah, just running laps of everything. Like a bit of tech, a bit of flow. Probably finish up with either some coffee or some ice cream. Fantastic. Yeah, my go to 

Jake Johnstone: good times. I love that. Um, have you got any sponsors or industry partners?

You wanted to mention? 

Lou Ferguson: That's a really good question. Actually. Thanks. No worries. So, yeah, I feel like I don't really shout about my sponsors enough because they all know who they are. But yeah, I've this year I've been riding for a continental Nukeproof factory races. So yeah, it's a bit of my fault, but [01:04:00] yeah, Nook Proof and Tram have been, like, helping me since I was a privateer last year.

And they were the first people to put their hand up and, like, really helped me get to, get to the races. So, I'll forever be thankful to them. Like, yeah, they make sick stuff, and then also the people behind the brands are, like, lovely. And, even though I'm moving on And I'm going to be riding for different people next year.

I like feel like our friendships will just like continue. And yeah, I feel like that's one of the things with mountain biking, the people in the industry are always there and always really supportive. So 

Jake Johnstone: yeah. And always understand as well that it's like nothing personal if you have to switch bikes and stuff like this.

Lou Ferguson: It's so hard figuring out the business side of things. Like, yeah, again, there's no like guidebooks. So I'm kind of just like. Making it up, but I've also learned to lean on like a couple friends who know a lot more than me and like everyone's so happy to help. So yeah, none of it's personal and it's yeah, really, really nice.[01:05:00] 

Jake Johnstone: Awesome to hear. Well, I along with everyone else listening are excited to see what you end up on, uh, in 

Lou Ferguson: the new year. Yeah, it's so, I'm excited to share it. It's gonna be, I've got a good gut feeling about all the people. Um, yeah, and I don't know if I should say because yeah, we're gonna. Yeah, it'll be announced soon, but I'll leave it as a surprise just in case it as a surprise, yeah.

But, yeah, it's so cool working with, like, a lot of different brands in the bike industry, and, like, understanding all the hard work that gets put into products, because it's something that, admittedly, I, like, used to overlook, is, like, even just, like, a helmet, it's, like, such a big safety thing, and I used to just, yeah, buy a helmet probably on, like, price, whereas now I, like, think more about it and think about the brand and, like, Yeah, bluegrass.

They've helped me out for a couple of years as well, and they're such a cool company, and yeah, like literally everyone at Continental are making new tires, and like, they're so good. Like, it's just really nice to see all the effort that gets put into brands, and even at World [01:06:00] Champs, a lot of our sponsors came to see us, and for me, it was pretty special because I was at home, so they got to see me in my hometown, and like, the team made a big effort with our pits and gave us like custom gear, and yeah, that was, yeah.

It's, it's a feeling it's hard to describe because I've never had like a custom biker kit before and it made me feel really like, special. And the whole team was like, was, yeah, they did such a good job on all the paint jobs, um, sorry, the products, like the helmet was so specific and the bikes and everything.

So, um, yeah, and we got to meet the owners of Reverse and they're just like quite, I thought they were a huge company, but they're, they're not. Um, yeah, for the products they make, it's just like really cool to see how much effort and energy they put into it. It's like so much passion. That's so 

Jake Johnstone: cool. Yeah.

It's amazing. The bike industry is now when we think of like this big brand, but quite often it's like just a couple of guys and girls like behind this like amazing product 

Lou Ferguson: that they're [01:07:00] making. Yeah. Like all the marketing is so good. You believe it as like this huge company, but actually it's like.

Probably a group of core people who, like, just put everything into, like, biking because they're so passionate about it. Totally. And even, like, SRAM, I used to think, like, oh, it's this huge corporation. Yeah. And then, like, if you've ever been to Crankworx, they're, like, the main sponsor. And, like, in Whistler, just to see, like, all the people who work for SRAM there, like, having a good time.

And, like, all the different departments. They'll be, like, a department to make, like, the shop. And you get to meet that person who, like, made it. Really cool, hey? Yeah, it's 

Jake Johnstone: very personal. And seeing that they're all real people, they're all still passionate about bikes, I think that's 

Lou Ferguson: pretty cool. They go mountain biking, like, at the World Cup, so the SRAM guys go mountain biking after they've finished their day.

And they have huge days, like, servicing everyone's stuff, and then they'll go for a ride. And it's like, yeah. That's what keeps you 

Jake Johnstone: passionate, though, isn't it? Getting those rides in after a big day of work. Yeah, 

Lou Ferguson: I love it. 

Jake Johnstone: Hey, if you could give our listeners just one thing to take away from this conversation, what would it be?

Lou Ferguson: Hmm. [01:08:00] yeah, I think if in doubt, just ride your bike. Like it just fixes so many of my problems and stress. And yeah, it's so easy to talk yourself out of it sometimes. Like you just put everything else first. Admin or whatever, but yeah, I feel like if you need some headspace or if you're struggling with anything, like a bike ride by yourself or with friends is usually the answer, but it's probably not the best advice on this podcast.

Cause everyone might advice anyway. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. Get on your bike more. Yeah. It's wise 

Lou Ferguson: words. Yeah. Yeah. It's very simple, but yeah, I love it. And maybe be, be kind to yourself. Yeah. 

Jake Johnstone: Fantastic advice. Thanks so much for taking the time. This has been awesome conversation. Awesome ride. Thank you. 

 

What's up guys? Just one more thing before you hit the trails. If you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to subscribe and don't be a stranger. I'd love to hear from you about any topics or any particular episodes that you enjoyed, and even about any guests that you'd like to [01:09:00] hear me have on the show.

in the future. You can find me on Instagram at the underscore mind underscore mountain. This podcast, mountain biking, and mindset are all things that are very close to my heart, so I feel super grateful to be able to share these conversations with you. So much love to you all for taking the time to listen.

I'll see you next time.

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