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Nathalie Schneitter has ridden and raced just about every discipline in mountain biking. From winning the Junior World Champion title in cross-country (XC) and representing her nation in the Olympics to competing at the highest level in enduro racing, she knows the sport inside-out.
Away from competition, her two-wheeled interests have always taken her to far-away places and experiences. She keeps an open mind and loves anything that involves bikes, not least e-biking. In fact, she loves assisted riding so much that she bought bikes for herself and her family straight after her first try.
It was only natural that Nathalie be a part of the WES circuit. So far in 2019 she has proved her skill, fitness and understanding of e-MTB in taking the XC wins at Rounds 1 and 2.
We asked Nathalie about e-biking and WES.
About: Nathalie Schneitter, 33 years old, born and lives in Solothurn, Switzerland
Sponsors for WES racing: emtb-news.de, Trek, Bosch eBike Systems.
What is your riding and racing background?
I was an XC racer from 14 years old and a professional for many years. I was Junior World Champion in 2004, as well as Under-23 European Champion and vice-World Champion in 2008. In 2008 I competed at the Olympics in Beijing and in 2010 I won the Elite World Cup in Champéry (SUI). In recent years I also competed at the Enduro World Series and managed a few top-10 results. I retired from professional XC in 2016 and am now aiming to inspire people through my adventures.
Where do you live and train?
I live in Solothurn, Switzerland, but ride all over Europe. Despite travelling a lot I love riding at home the most. I ride a lot with all kinds of bikes: road, gravel, trail, enduro and now also E-MTB.
Do you think most people would be surprised when they get on an e-bike or e-MTB for the first time?
YES absolutely – it happened to me too. Two years ago I borrowed an e-MTB to race Transvesubienne (a tough endurance MTB race in France) because I did not feel fit enough to do it without the e-assistance and I have been hooked ever since. One week after that race I ordered an e-MTB not only for myself, but also for my parents.
How can an e-bike help someone’s riding, whether an amateur or expert rider?
With an e-MTB you get further in the same time and any rider can climb mountains and get access to the happiness and stoke levels which come with mountain biking. Since my family is on e-MTB we can ride awesome loops together, which was never possible before. E-MTB allows me to shred some trails even after a long day in the office.
What is it like to ride an e-bike uphill?
Uphill flow is definitely a thing. And with my e-MTB I am riding trails uphill which were until now downhill trails. It means I get to ride more singletrack than ever before.
What is it like to ride an e-bike downhill?
I had to get used to it at first because the bike is a lot heavier. But I am learning to ride my e-MTB downhill and it is FUN!
What is it like to ride an e-bike in technical terrain?
Because the bike is heavier and longer, it’s less nervous and more stable and therefore faster.
How physical is e-mountain biking? Does it take different fitness and training to regular cycling?
E-MTB is as physical as regular cycling if you want it to be. But it is also easier to get out for an easy ride. Because the e-MTB is heavier it also needs more upper-body strength… you get a gym session for free while riding.
Who should try e-biking and e-MTB?
Basically everyone who loves to be outdoors and open minded to try something new.
What is exciting about e-bike racing?
E-racing has an additional tactical dimension. It’s not only about me, but I need to be in harmony with my e-Partner.
What do you think the general public’s perception of e-biking is like?
At the moment most people are sceptical and don’t know what to do with it. But I am confident this will change over the next year.
Are there any common misconceptions, in your opinion, about e-biking?
Yes. People think it’s easy and kind of cheating. But in my opinion people should only judge things which they have tried themselves. It’s a fun toy.
What sort of riding do you usually take your e-bike on?
I normally ride my e-MTB up steep singletracks which are not rideable with a non-e-powered bike. Downhill I ride the same trails I ride with my enduro bike.
Are there particular places/terrains that e-MTBs excel, or are they great everywhere a regular MTB can be ridden?
Yes, for sure. On steep, technical uphills the e-MTB gets me places I normally carry my regular bikes up.
What bike are you on for WES? What are its strengths?
I race a Trek Powerfly LT 9.9 Plus. The bike is amazingly stable and fast. I am just learning how to ride it properly, but I get faster on it every single time I ride.
How does WES help to spread the word about e-biking to a broader public?
When e-biking gets more attractive, better known and widely accepted, more people will dare to ride one. When more excellent riders are hopping on the e-train the public will recognise the sport’s potential.