Anna Glowinski – Interview
If you are into mountain biking you will have heard of Anna Glowinski. You might have seen her pumping round a BMX track or watched her on TV and Youtube. Maybe you have even seen her company, Anna’s Legs, producing one of the best looking pair of leggings for cycling I have seen.
Anna Glowinski also stars alongside Andrew Dodd (Factory Jackson) in the latest BIKE channel series, showing off a number of the top riding spots and opening up the sport to those on the outsiders.
The mountain bike industry is still somewhat niche, despite the surge in popularity in recent years, and Anna has been there shaping it, participating and reporting back to the rest of us, that is why I felt it so important to hear what she had to say.
Anna is an extremely busy individual but thanks to the power of the internet I managed to track her down and ask her some questions.
Cranky Betty: Obvious first question; how did you get into biking and especially mountain biking?
Anna Glowinski: I got into cycle racing when I was 5. My dad was keen on Cyclo-cross racing and in order to keep his passion alive with two young kids, he took my brother and I along and entered us into the youth races. We loved the family days out, getting wet and muddy and then spending the evening discussing the day’s events over dinner.
I was very involved in the cycling community as a child, racing road and track until I was a teenager. For a few years I stopped cycling as a sport, only using my bike to ride to uni or parties. When I was about 24 I started dipping my toe in again, getting in touch with some old friends through events like Rollapaluza and somehow ended up trying mountain biking with a downhill focus. I was hooked from there on, it was the form of cycling that reignited my passion for it and I’ve not looked back.
CB: On a personal note, have you ever looked into where your family are from? I ask as a Polish girl living in the UK, your surname certainly sounds like we might have both come from the same country a long time ago!
AG: My Grandad came to England during the war as a refugee. The part of Poland where he is from is now part of Belarus, so we have had no reason to visit. But we keep Polish Christmas traditions…and vodka of course!
CB: As a rider of many disciplines, what would you say is your favourite and why? Are there skills that you pick up in one discipline that transfer well to another? I ask as a girl with no immediate plans to pick up a road bike!
AG: Mountain biking with an emphasis on gravity riding and jumping. My dream has always been to ride dirt jumps, but I’ve never found a good and accessible place to learn with friends to join me, whereas trail riding is so popular these days, with thousands of trails to choose from in the UK and so many people always heading out for a ride it has been easy to keep in going. I love the community and the skill side of things.
Road cycling definitely helps with fitness, and if I’m ever feeling weak in my body I’ll often just pop out on an impromptu road ride to appease the guilt. I also like road riding as it’s something I can share with my mum or best friends, we can get out for a pedal and a shit chat, I love that.
BMX skills in theory should help my MTB skills, pumping, flow and bike handling…but it is so difficult and I do it so rarely that I never seem to improve much past beginner stage.
CB: It looks like you pretty much live in both the UK and Spain, is that right? If so, how do you like to spend your time out in Spain? What is the riding scene like out there?
AG: Yeah, the last two years I have lived in Malaga for the winter and the UK for the summer. This is because 90% of my work happens through the summer and by the time winter arrives I am pretty burnt out. I love my summers, but I normally end up with a twitchy eyelid and border-line sick from exhaustion. I use winter to recuperate, to work on creative projects, drink tea, talk to friends, ride my bike in the sunshine when I feel like it, surf when there are waves and practice Spanish.
The riding scene is lovely. I feel very at home in the Spanish environment, everyone is always late, happy, loving and puts quality of life over stress and money. It’s great! It has been hard finding a group and making friends, especially with the language barrier. It takes time and perseverance to make proper friendships, but I can see from the outside that this is something I want to be part of from the inside and it’s worth it.
CB: When it comes to female riding role models, who inspired you when you were getting into biking, and who do you look to when it comes to the future of the sport?
AG: I’m not big on role models – I am a great believer in friendships. I started cycle racing aged 5, so I was really young, but as a teenager I drifted away because I had no female friends in cycling and all my friends were at school. When I started getting back into cycling in my 20’s I clicked with some of the other women and formed a little cycling team with them. That was so important to me to keep me motivated. Some of those girls are my best friends now and although we may not cycle together that much, they understand my sport and lifestyle and I don’t have a split life.
When I see groups of 11 year old girls riding together at Herne Hill track and then going back together for sleep-overs, I’m like, yeah! That’ll do it! They have no reason to stop cycling.
CB: I haven’t seen you write or record much about racing? Is cycling a competitive sport for you or more of a leisure activity/way of life?
AG: I’d love to race more! I do get quite competitive when I’m on a start line. But my media schedule is so hectic, I’m working most weekends through the summer and if I do have a weekend free I am too unfit or tired. I think racing and events are so fun and brilliant but I wouldn’t swap it over the work I have so can’t complain really.
CB: Why did you decide to create Anna’s Legs? Would you say that Anna’s Legs are also for mountain biking? If not, are there are any plans to expand the range? Can you give us an insight into future plans for the brand?
AG: I used to have another women’s cycle clothing brand, AnaNichoola, that I ran full time. But it grew too quickly, I was too young and ended up unhappy with running such a fast-paced thing that I felt like I had no control over. I missed the designing, I missed my communication with the women’s cycling market, I felt like I knew it so well and there were parts of it that were so fun and rewarding.
Anna’s Legs has taken the best parts of designing, with my favourite clients from previously (VeloVixen.com) to create a perfect product, that I am 100% proud of and will stay small and exclusive. It is a cycling leggings-only brand, focusing on creating the best leggings on the market, with great prints to boot. They have been designed with road cyclists in mind, but they are suitable for anyone who likes to pedal in some padding!
The brand will continue to make the best leggings, with new prints each season. We have a super-brill Ambassador programme that we have just launched, that works with some of the coolest, most inspiring cycling women that we have come across.
CB: I’ve seen you checking out a number of different trail spots in the UK for the BIKE channel recently but where is your ultimate favourite place to ride in the UK?
AG: Ohh, I just couldn’t say. I always am picking out places depending on who is free and what stuff I think I want to work on. Sometimes it is steep stuff, sometimes it is flow, sometimes fitness and pedalling and frequently jumps! The truth is, we are spoilt rotten for mountain biking locations on the small island that is the UK. Really, we have it all, and everyone should be out exploring and making the most of it because we have so much variety and we’re just so lucky!
CB: What bikes are you currently riding, talk us through some of your setup choices and how they work with the types of riding you are doing at the moment?
AG: I am on Cannondale for this season. The UK distributor CSG have sponsored my TV show Mountain Biking Adventures from day one and supported me for many years. I am absolutely in love with my Trigger, it is the most responsive and playful bike I have ever ridden. I have it in what is probably a size too small for me, but it I think that works for me, I can throw it around and really pop off things and make shapes. It’s blinged up fully with Hope tech parts too!
CB: Any tips for a girl that is learning how to wheelie and just generally find her balance on her bike?
AG: Yes! Hopetechwomen are working with me on a series of How-To videos, plus bringing together communities of mountain biking women from all over the country. I’d suggest practicing after getting some tips, and always, always ride with friends!
June 10, 2017