Sport and nature - the mountain bike fanatic Steffi Marth combines both in her life. The full-time "bike adventuress" is J. Athlete and tells us how she found her way onto the bike, what it takes for a successful sports career and where she prefers to get on her mountain bike - including tips for beginners.
Whether on the Dachstein, near Tibet or on the Great Wall of China - Steffi takes her bike wherever it is technically possible and where there is something to experience. The German athlete focuses on exploring nature and enjoying outdoor exercise.
From BMX to mountain bike
Steffi's cycling career started on the BMX track in her home town. She started training there at the age of 12 and soon celebrated her first successes. If eight people are on the track at the same time, it may look dangerous, but the sport is "really cool," says Steffi. At the age of 16, the athlete was German champion in the junior class and thus directly in the national squad.
A short time later, BMX races became Olympic and the intensity of the training increased. The sport was still fun for Steffi, but: "I quickly realized that BMX wasn't really my thing." four people compete against each other on a mountain bike trail at the same time. "I rode the first of these races on a BMX bike," says Steffi - but she soon switched to a more suitable mountain bike.
To date, the athlete has won five German championship titles in BMX and Four Cross races. She has also been on the podium twice at Four Cross World Championships - with a third place in 2015 and 2016. "Four Cross was exactly mine, and it's pretty cool that I was so successful at it," says Steffi . World Cup races in this sport were soon abolished. This is how the athlete finally got interested in longer downhill routes.
Around the world by bike
Even while she was still racing, Steffi kept receiving requests from sponsors who wanted to go on bike trips with her and document her. In 2016, however, she had an accident during a race and broke several bones.
"I had such a great year back then and always wanted to make higher jumps"
The athlete liked the idea of combining her sport with exploring nature so much that after her accident she started planning cycling adventures abroad herself. Since then, Steffi has lived from her work as a "bike adventuress" - she drove her last race in 2018.
Steffi has already made numerous trips with her bike. With a team of camera people, she was already on the road on the Great Wall of China, cycled through the extensive landscape near Tibet or looked for the coolest bike spots on La Palma. Her favorite place to experience something with a mountain bike: “Of course La Palma! Because the island is easily accessible for everyone, the nature is amazing and there are ideal conditions for mountain biking.”
From beginner to professional
What inspires Steffi most about cycling is that cycling in nature can be a cure for all sorts of problems - physical or psychological. In addition, cycling is interesting even as a child and offers a good opportunity to gain initial experience with competitive sports. An added bonus: Experienced cyclists can get to the most remote parts of nature.
In order to have long-term success in cycling, the athlete recommends taking a riding technique course early on - especially when it comes to downhill or mountain bike routes. Early learning of the technique is important so that later mistakes in driving behavior can be avoided.
"There are so many people who just get on their bikes and think they can do it all - but such a course makes perfect sense, even if you've been riding for 10 years"
Stylish on two wheels
According to the athlete, in terms of physical requirements, endurance plays a greater role than muscle strength. Especially on longer mountain bike routes, it is important to get up a mountain without too much effort - the muscle strength comes by itself.
In addition to physical endurance, the right material is also important. "For the bike itself, the right size plays an important role." In order to save a little money when buying a new one, she advises: "Used bikes are always an option if you know what to look out for - for example whether the gear shift or the brakes are well maintained."
When it comes to sportswear, Steffi recommends a suitable helmet and other protective equipment as well as well-fitting sunglasses. Particularly important: "The wind shouldn't get in your eyes." The shades should be big enough and not too heavy. Together with J. Athletics, Steffi is currently working on her own glasses with all the advantages. But if you already need glasses, the bike adventuress recommends the J. Athletics "Skyball". The model not only meets the requirements of the athlete, according to Steffi she also looks good.