Emily Batty ranks among the top female mountain bikers on the planet and is one of the most popular ones too. How she rose to that position is not what one might guess.
Emily was the third of four children growing up on her parents’ cattle farm in eastern Canada. She grew up milking cows, among other chores. When her father and two older brothers took up mountain biking, Emily was quick to follow them. She got her first mountain bike when she was around 6 years old. She didn’t take up racing with her family right away, though. When her brothers raced, Emily handed them water bottles.
Eventually, when Emily was 13, she took up racing too. Emily was soon being recognized as one of the top young racers in Canada. She raced road, cyclocross and mountain bikes. She excelled at all of them, but mountain biking was her favorite.
Emily won nine provincial titles and nine national championships while still in the amateur ranks. After that, she turned pro and quickly started working her way up through the professional ranks. We first met Emily in 2009 on our first trip to Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Cleveland, Ohio. Ray was putting on a pro race for both men and women, with $1000 in cash (all in 1-dollar bills) going to the winner of each class. Emily was 20, but she looked more like 16. She and Catharine Pendrel were the top two riders among the women in that event. Catharine would go on to win two Elite Women’s UCI World Championships and two overall World Cup titles in the years ahead, but Emily beat her at Ray’s that day to take home the $1000.
Emily has since risen to become one of the top cross-country racers on the planet. She’s won two Canadian National Championship titles in the elite ranks. She also won the Pan American Games title two years ago. At the end of 2016, Emily was ranked third on the planet in the World Cup series. When she got to the World Championships last year, she finished third and picked up the bronze medal. The Olympics, however, were another matter.
Emily has qualified for the Olympics twice. The first time, in London in 2012, she broke her collarbone in training, three days before the big Olympic mountain bike race. Unwilling to sit out the event, Emily raced anyway, putting up with the pain just so she could actually race in the Olympics. She ended up finishing 24th.
In 2016, Emily traveled to Brazil for her second shot at the Olympics. She was in fourth place in the final lap in Rio and was gaining on Pendrel but couldn’t close the gap. She finished in fourth place, 2 seconds behind her teammate. Catharine picked up the bronze medal for Canada. Emily could have been happy with a fourth-place finish, but she wasn’t. She was battling to win an Olympic medal. If the opportunity comes again, she’ll fight even harder. And next time, if all goes well, she’ll be going for the gold. It’s never an easy ride to the top, but Emily isn’t the type to give up.
Name: Emily Batty
Nickname: “I don’t have one, actually.” Birthdate: June, 16, 1988. Birthplace: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Height: 160cm (5 feet 3 inches)
Weight: 48 kilograms (106 pounds)
Shoe size: 36
Helmet size: Small
Marital status: Married
Current home: Brooklin,
Ontario House: Four-bedroom house on a couple of acres
Cars: Pfaff Auto, Porsche Macan S, Pfaff Auto Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Started racing: Age 13
Turned pro: Age 20
Racing specialty: XCO, climbing and technical
Favorite course (North America): Mont-Sainte-Anne
Favorite course (Europe): Andorra Favorite food: Steak
Goals: To win a World Cup, a World Championship title and an Olympic medal
Heroes: Ken Roczen, Simon Sinek, Janni Delér
Favorite recording artist: A Tribe Called Red
Favorite movie: MX Nation Season One
Favorite hobbies: Dirt biking, gardening, beach life
Jobs held (other than racer): Newspaper route
Most embarrassing moment: Can’t remember. Probably something ridiculous.
Always takes on a trip: iPhone
What you would be if you were not a racer: A racer in another sport. Perhaps women’s Supercross, Snowcross or Porsche GT3 Cup cars.
The MBA Q&A
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Emily: Brooklin, Ontario
MBA: What kind of work do your parents do?
Emily: My parents were, and still are, cattle farmers—South African Simmentaler breed stock to be more specific.
MBA: When did you first learn to ride a bike?
Emily: Can’t remember [laughs].
MBA: Who taught you?
Emily: Probably mom or dad, on a hilly grass field.
MBA: What kinds of bikes have you competed on?
Emily: I’ve competed in all disciplines growing up: cyclocross, road, time trial and mountain bike. I loved them all and had to narrow it down once I began specializing in XC.
MBA: When did you get your first mountain bike?
Emily: Age 6, I believe.
MBA: When did you start competing on mountain bikes?
Emily: At the age of 13 years old.
MBA: How did you finish in your first competition?
Emily: I think I won.
MBA: What titles did you win as an amateur?
Emily: I won national championships in many different disciplines as a young athlete: CX, XCO, Provincial TT, road.
MBA: What have been your best results as a pro?
Emily: Elite world champ bronze, 2016; fourth at the Rio Olympic Games; Canadian national champion; 3rd overall, 2016 World Cup Series; Pan Am champion.
MBA: Did you attend college? Emily: I did not attend.
MBA: What awards did you win in school, if any?
Emily: Can’t remember.
MBA: Is there some other interesting fact or trivia that people might like to know about you?
Emily: We most recently started the Emily Batty Project, which is a call-to- action campaign to help get more kids on bikes through fund-raising, awareness and mentorship.
INSIDE THE PROS’ BIKES
1. Frame: Emily has two bikes that she races. One is her soft-tail Trek Procal Carbon with 100mm front travel. The other is her Trek Top Fuel Carbon with 100mm front and rear travel “I love both bikes. I tend to race the Procal more often and the Top Fuel less often. They are both a blast to train on and really push the limits on. There is no better feeling than pushing the limit of an XC bike.”
2. Fork: Fox Stepcast 32, 55 psi with IRD lockout.
“The new Fox technology has gotten so good—100 millimeters of travel and the bike is compliant to small and big hits. Damping technology has come so far in such a short time.”
3. Tires: Bontrager XR1 2.2 front and rear.
“All the new Bontrager TLR tires are very puncture-resistant and stand the test of wear and tear.”
4. Inner tubes or tubeless system: Tubeless with Bontrager tire sealant.
5. Rims: New Bontrager XXX Kovee wheels.
“Incredibly light, stiff and wide. Tires set up so well, and we abuse the heck out of them for a carbon wheel.”
6. Spokes: DT Aerolite.
7. Front hub: DT Swiss 240.
8. Rear hub: DT Swiss 240.
9. Brakes: Shimano XTR race brakes with ICE rotors 160mm front and 140mm rear.
10. Handlebar: Bontrager XXX, 660 millimeters wide.
11. Bottom bracket: Shimano PF92.
12. Grips: ESI.
13. Cranks: Shimano XTR, 170mm.
14. Chainring: WolfTooth Components with MRP chainguide, 34 or 36-tooth depending on the course.
15. Pedals: Shimano XTR.
“We race on new chains, and our training bikes have the chains replaced bi-annually.”
17. Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR Di2.
18. Front derailleur: None.
“We race a single-ring setup.”
19. Shifters: Shimano XTR, Di2, 11-speed.
20. Brake levers: Shimano XTR.
21. Rear cassette: Shimano XTR 11-speed.
Emily will often use the XT wide-range cassette, which is 11-46, otherwise she is using XTR, which is 11-40.
22. Saddle: Bontrager Paradigm.
23. Seatpost: Bontrager XXX.
24. Cables and housings: Shimano XTR.
25. Headset: Cane Creek.
26. Water-bottle cage: Bontrager RXL carbon.
27. Shock: Fox Float with IRD lock- out technology and Fox Factory tune.
28. Stem: Bontrager RXL, 90mm, -17 degrees.
29. Special touches: Titanium bolts throughout the bikes and ceramic bearings in most cases.
30. Extras: Garmin computers.
31. Head angle: 69.5 degrees.
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