Robin hails from the Chatham Islands, a small island with just 663 locals, its 800km off the coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Robin made waves this year with her performance at Crank Worx Innsbruck, winning the Whip Off and Back Flipping during the Speed and Style.
I (Kashi) have just had a great chat with Robin to discuss how the year has gone so far, what’s coming up and how she got into it all. Photos are from a recent photoshoot in Rotorua with Ronja Wurcker (Ron Ron) shot by Robbie Dalziel .
Recently Pink Bike did a great article introducing Robin (see this here). She was introduced into the sport while in the NZ Army as a plant operator in the engineer Corps. Operating heavy machinery. She quickly became hooked on the sport. Three years later she decided she wanted to throw herself in fully and see what was possible.
“I pretty much left the army and turned up in Rotorua and went to work for Tak and Tu from Mountain Bike Rotorua. When I started working there I told them I wanted to see what was possible as a mountain biker. Like this is my goal, so I need a job which will enable me to be focused on biking. And they did. They gave me a job and kept it casual, allowing me to work when I want to” - Robin.
Over the past few years Robin has been progressing her riding in DH racing, Enduro racing and Freeriding. But it was only this year that it became really clear that freeride was a serious option as a female. Events started springing up which supported the progression and really show casing what these riders were doing, including Future Grounds by Mons Royale. I personally remember watching Robin racing at the Emerson’s 3 Peaks Enduro and being impressed, not just by her, but by a lot of the young female riders such as Jemma Hastings & Jessica Blewit, who were clearly on another level then we had previously seen, especially in the air. Something exciting was definitely going on with female riders in Aotearoa.
“Only at the start of this year I was still really focused on racing, and to me if I wanted to become a professional mountain biker it seemed the only path for women was racing, be it DH, XC or Enduro. But this year things have changed. Its kind of the perfect time for me to jump on the freeride bandwagon as the sport is just taking off for women. There are so many events. Its the start of something really cool”.
“I had been saving to go overseas for a while. It was always the goal. So I had plans and I really wanted to do it, but because of Covid I was like hanging back cause of the extra costs. It’s $300 per covid test and you need to do them all the time, plus of course MIQ and extra travel costs. So I was on the fence if this was the right year. But then when I won the Mark Dunlop scholarship which provided me with 10K towards my expenses, this gave me no excuses as it covered all the Covid rubbish and allowed me to go do Mega as well. So it was really the difference between going and not going for me this year” - Robin
At the time Robin didn’t have a good bike partner. Mat from Wide Open contacted me to discuss ways to support her and then after some discussions with Yeti in USA, we managed to help piece together two bikes for her, a SB165 for her freeriding and a SB150 for her enduro events. Wide Open did an awesome job getting Enve wheels and SDG and parts and co-ordinating with other sponsors of Robin, including DVO. Robin also is supported big time by Mons Royale and Wide Open provide POC protection.
The trip Robin had planned was incredible considering it was her first time overseas. She was invited to help support other riders at Formation, a ground breaking event for women’s freeride held in the same location as the infamous RedBull Rampage. Robin was to support the eight women competing by helping dig the lines and was a back up rider incase any of them couldn’t complete the weekend due to injury. Looking back, Robin seemed thankful of the experience, however it clearly left her wanting more.
“I guess I definitely took a lot from it and now really want to go back as a rider. It was cool to see how the event ran and the environment was super strange. Like the first time I walked up the mountain there. I could hardly walk up it and I was absolutely terrified, so to get that out of the way without having to ride it a few days later was probably good”.
“I did get to ride a bit, but not as much as would have liked. That was probably my fault for crashing and knocking myself out. That was our day off and all the diggers were riding. We went out and had a big sesh. It was our only day to ride so I wanted to go hard. We were not allowed to ride the actual Formation site, so we were on the 2013 Rampage zone. I was trying to do a backflip and went in too fast, ended up over rotating and cleared half the landing. Then got crooked and landed sideways. Luckily I didn’t get any signs of concussion. I think I was pretty lucky. I honestly didn’t believe I was knocked out but later when talking with the boys who I was with, they reckon I was out for at least a minute” - Robin
The next stop on the trip was Crank Worx Innsbruck. Robin was doing all the events possible and with the help of her partner Kieran managed to pull off some incredible performances including nailing that back flip six times during her runs in the speed and style. A move that earned huge excitement and international headlines
“I didn’t want that crash to wreck my confidence. It was one of those crashes that you know what went wrong and just kind a, know how to fix it. I was on a mission I knew I could do it. I trusted I could do it and get it right next time.
The whip off was also surprising. It was a bit windy up there, and I was unsure if I wanted to hit it. It had been a big day, we had practice for every event that day and I was like, on my bike all day, pretty tired, and it was a little bit windy. People kept crashing and the jump was closed for ages. By the time I got my first jump in it was almost the end of the session. My first jump I just like straight aired, then ran up and managed to get one whip in and then it was over. Somehow I got into the finals with that one whip and then it was on after that. For the finals they run it like a jam, and you get judged and they pretty much go off the best whip you do during that time frame. “ - Robin
Robin ended up winning the whip off event and again, more international exposure followed .
“Yeah I didn’t expect that response really. I guess you forget the whole world is watching
It was really intense, I was so lucky to have Kieren for that, cause like, every single day I was either on bikes for training, qualifying or racing. Getting bikes dialed for events and trying to find time to eat. I think I lived off red bulls and clif bars for a week. Its a crazy week, honestly without Keiren that week I would have super stressed out. - Robin
Following Crankworx, Robin headed to Canazie, Italy for the first two rounds of the Enduro World Series where she placed 36th and 23rd respectively. And then she finished off the trip with an awesome 4th place at the Mega Avalanche, one of the original all mountain events that’s been going on since well before enduro’s were a thing!
After a short stint back in Aotearoa, Robin is now about to head off again for some more events. The first will be a massive freeride jam in Germany called the Audi Nines. This is the first time women are on the start list and Robin is one of the few women to be invited. She will then head to Whistler for the Canadian Crankworx round. The event has been changed dramatically due to Covid and instead of a big festival, Robin will compete in many small events held over three weeks in three different resorts. She is one of sixteen women selected worldwide to attend the events.
Finally she will return back to Aotearoa in early October and will have approx one week out of MIQ before Crank Worx Rotorua.
“Its a busy year. Definitely wasn’t planned, but its exactly how I want it to be” - Robin