Tegan Molloy is a racer who is quietly spoken, a rider who really let’s her results do the talking. Over the past summer season she has really come into her own, leading the charge in Women’s downhill in Australia with strong results in both the VIC and NSW state downhill series. She rarely misses a weekend, fighting under the Kona Factory Australia banner, racing is in her blood. Now looking to the future, she is ready to tackle the entire World Cup series and we caught up with Tegan to find out just how this all came about.
There aren’t too many girls who enter downhill at a young age, what got you hooked on downhill?
My first introduction to mountain bikes was through school sport when I was at Jindabyne Central School. We would ride the local trails and dirt jumps within riding distance of the school. At that time I had a low entry mountain bike which I rode fairly hard, dad thought I was going to break it if I continued riding it the way I did. So I started to ride dad’s hard tail instead and loved it. That same year I tried downhill mountain biking in Thredbo, I only did it twice that season, but I was hooked. The Christmas of 2008 I got my first downhill bike.
You used to ride Kona under a bit of a Thredbo banner but how did the jump to the official Australian Kona Factory Team come about?
My first downhill bike was actually a Kona Stinky, which I rode at my first National Champs in Canberra, this is where I first met Ty McLean (Kona Brand Manager). South East MTB who originally had the mountain bike shop in Thredbo stocked Kona as their hire bikes which I maintained a connection with as well as Ty. So at the beginning of 2013 when Kona Australia was looking for a junior female rider for their team, I was lucky enough to be the rider they took on.
Must be good having a solid team behind you. What do you like best about being on the Kona team?
The support from Kona has been beneficial to my riding, little things like having a tent to chill out in, having a mechanic on hand, being able to ride with fellow team riders, the friendships I’ve made have also been very positive to my riding.
The team recently made the switch from the alloy to the Carbon Operator, how have you found it so far? Easy bike to adjust to?
As soon as I jumped on the Carbon Operator it felt comfortable, being lighter in weight you can really notice the difference when cornering, I feel like I can throw it around more and it just skims over the rough stuff.
As you’ve come up through the ranks who have you looked up to as a rider?
Tracey Hannah. Way back when I first started riding, Tracey Hannah was working for South East MTB in Thredbo. I did my first riding clinic with Tracey in Thredbo when I was twelve, that weekend I was star struck. I came away from my first clinic with so much extra knowledge. When I had a chance to put everything I had been taught together, it definitely improved my riding. Since that weekend in 2009 I have continued to look up to Tracey both as a rider, athlete and mentor.
Danielle Beecroft started around the same time as you, whats your rivalry like with her?
Yeah Danielle and I have always had a bit of a battle going on, we’ve always raced pretty consistently against each other. The rivalry is definitely healthy as it motivates you to go harder and to try and be the stronger person.
What occupy’s you away from racing?
Just going to gym and staying as fit as possible, really. I play touch football in a local comp and in winter I like to ski. Generally though I ride tracks around Jindy for fun and just hang out with friends.
You live around Jindabyne so it must be great having such proximity to Thredbo in the summer but what do you do for winter riding? We hear the trail network is top notch.
It’s awesome living so close to Thredbo, it is the perfect training ground and now that I have my licence I don’t have to rely on mum and dad to shuttle me around. Come winter I do most of my downhill riding in Canberra as well as riding on some local tracks. Including Mill Creek and just out of Jindy, the Thredbo Valley Trail plus Lake Crackenback . I have a friend who I ride cross country with; she pushes me hard on the XC bike, because I prefer not to peddle otherwise… The trail network around Jindabyne and the surrounding resorts just keeps expanding and with the wider community getting behind mountain biking, it’s a fantastic place to be.
Last year was your first real crack at World Cups, how did you find that experience?
Mind blowing! To think that as an eleven year old girl I had a dream of one day racing World Cups and that it came true, has been awesome. Travelling as part of the Australian Team was an honour and a privilege. Just seeing the big names in racing, like Rachael Atherton, Greg Minnar, all these people you read about and look up all in the one spot, with you is just amazing.
The National season has only just finished, you spent a lot of time this season in a category where you were sometimes the only entrant. With several of the girls moving into elite this year, did you find it hard to measure your efforts without the competition?
No. At this point in my racing I am always racing the clock, I am continually comparing my times to the Elite women. “It is not about the win it’s about the time.”
The Womens World Cup is unique in that it pits the junior girls up against the senior women at least on the results sheet, something the juniors guys no longer have to worry about. Do you think it’s time for a stand alone junior women’s category?
No not really, it is good riding with the elite girls as you know there are not too many junior girls. We as junior females don’t have to qualify and make the top twenty like the elite women so that takes some pressure off, at the end of the day you are still getting two timed runs to compare with the big guns.
Whats your approach to training? What does an average training week look like for you? Do get into road or moto?
My training consists of gym work, core sessions, interval training and cross country riding with a little bit of road riding. If Rando has it on the program, it’s gotta get done!
You’ve been doing plenty of traveling between the nationals, VIC and NSW series races, do you ever just need a weekend away from racing?
This season I have been doing a lot of racing leading up to the World Cup season, a goal for me was to be able to maintain race pace leading into the World Cups. This is my primary focus so racing comes first. And if that means riding every weekend, that’s what I have to do.
At the World Chamionships last year you took out bronze, you must have been stoked. What was that experience like?
To come away with a podium finish at my first World Cup was a dream come true. Sitting in the start gate, the adrenalin hits you, you are trying to stay focused, trying to remember the track and what’s coming up next.
South Africa was an experience in its self, hanging out with my other Aussie team mates was a constant laugh, it was great having all disciplines stay together as we all got to know each other and support one another.
The track Pietermartizburg didn’t wholly suit your style do you think this years destination of Hafjell will better suit you? What do you think of your chances at a track like that or is it too far in the future for now?
Pietermaritzburg was a really fun track, the top section is loose and reminded me a lot like riding in Australia.
The Hafjell track looks like it would suit me better but you never really know what its like until you actually ride it. To early to call and anything can happen on race day.
Cairns is obviously a big race for many Australian Downhillers to both ride and spectate, will we see you there and have you had a chance to view the track yet? Feeling excited?
Definitely looking forward to riding a World Cup here in Australia. To have the support of family, friends and the Aussie crowd behind me, motivating and inspiring not just me but my teammates is going to be an unforgettable experience.
Will you be returning overseas this year? What races are you aiming to do ?
Yes, now that I have finished school, I’ll be taking a gap year and I plan to ride all the World World Cup Series, starting in South Africa.
What races other than Cairns are you really looking forward to?
I am looking forward to going back to South Africa and Fort William as I rode those tracks last year and I know what to expect, I will be hoping that I can improve on my times. I am also super keen for the World Champs in Norway being part of the Junior Team.
It’s easier to take things one season at a time but what are your aims for the future?
At the moment I am just living the dream. My aims for the future is to have a solid Word Cup season and to go one or two better at World Champs.
Thanks for your time and good luck in the coming year.