Going Batty: Leaving a tough season in the dirt bike’s dust

Emily Batty escapes her injury-marred 2012 season on the dirt bike, re-setting for 2013 and building handling skills in the process

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ST. LOUIS (VN) — A favorite going into the 2012 London Olympics, Canadian Emily Batty of Subaru-Trek had prepared in every way she could to make the podium.

Two weeks before the Olympics, at the World Cup finals in France, Batty was right on track with a podium finish that put her in excellent position for a well-timed peak. And then she crashed in training and broke a collarbone, just days before the Olympic cross-country race at Hadleigh Farm. Despite the injury, she showed strength, passion and perseverance, racing and finishing 24th.

Batty went on to race the cross-country at the world mountain bike championships in Austria in September, but finished a disappointing 18th, nearly six minutes behind winner Julie Bresset of France.

It was a tough way to end the season, she said.

“Post-Olympics I didn’t really let the injury take me down too much because worlds was so close and I still wanted to race in Austria,” Batty said. “After worlds, however, was very hard. I just felt like I had something missing, the season ended on such a bad note for me.”

But after a stretch of surrounding herself with friends and family — and a little change of pace, riding dirt bikes with fiancé Adam Morka — Batty says she is on her way to “bigger and better things for next year.”

“The dirt bikes are so fun,” she said. “My fiancée got really into it… He picked me up a Honda CRF150R. Post-worlds we were getting out quite a bit, hitting the trails and track like two, three times a week.”

Like other throttle-twisting mountain bikers, Batty has found a bit of motorcycling enhances the mountain-biking skill set.

“Going from a 170-pound motorized bike with 11 inches of suspension to a 17-pound MTB is a pretty big advantage in my opinion,” she said. “There is a lot of skill involved.”

As the weather became less dirt-bike friendly, Batty resumed non-powered sports, finishing second to Luna’s Georgia Gould at the Iceman Cometh Challenge in Traverse City, Michigan. It was Batty’s first time racing Iceman, and having been training only casually she knew what to expect.

“The race played out well with an early selection. Georgia is still very World Cup fit so I knew it would be a race for second,” she said.

Batty found the Iceman “pretty amazing.”

“It’s truly a giant bike festival, way bigger then I had imagined,” she said. “The coolest part about it is that the community is small and the crowd so large. The fans are amazing; so supportive everywhere you go. Even in the candy shop I was seeing people that would just stop and say ‘Hi.’ People look forward to this event all year round and the eager energy is clearly in the air.”

What is Batty looking forward to? She plans to race a little cyclocross — including the U.S. Gran Prix stop this weekend in Louisville, Kentucky — and the Canadian national championships November 17 in Surrey, British Columbia.

After nationals she will take a final break, then begin training for 2013, with a focus on mountain bike worlds — and a little more shredding on the dirt bikes.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.