Helene Fruhwirth

ENDURO MTB

I JUST NEED A BIKE AND MY DOG TO BE HAPPY

I mean, what really matters in life? I guess being healthy, surrounded by the ones you love and being able to do things that make you happy; that’s pretty much it.

I am lucky. I have it all and I am so grateful. Nothing hurts. I survived a brain tumor. I have a wonderful family and a dog. I have achieved what I wanted in my sport and I can ride my bike whenever and wherever I want. It sounds cheesy but our decisions are ours to make, so make sure they make your heart beat in the right way.

Everything started with my first dog Apollo, a Flat Coated Retriever, when I was about 12 years old. My daily dog walk passed a Dual Slalom Mountain Bike track. I would always watch the riders and one day, when I finally got my first Hardtail Mountain bike, I tried it too. So yes, that was basically the start of my professional mountain bike career. Since then I’ve never been off the saddle.

Then my dog died 4 years later of cancer. I finished school and so I started to race and travel around the world as much as I could afford. I had the best years in my MTB career and I explored the whole world. Then after 18 years of racing I thought, “I want a dog again, but how should that work out when I travel so much?” You know what? When you really want something you will find a way to make it work.

So here he is, Merlin the Silver Labrador Retriever. Never heard about a silver Labrador before? Neither had I, but as soon as I saw one I wanted one so bad. He is the friendliest, bravest, most outgoing, cutest action dog ever. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have him.

We bought a big van and taught him very good behavior from the first second he was with us, so we can take him everywhere without any problems. When I ride my Enduro Bike he comes with me and when we go downhill riding we leave him under the car. He stays there in the shade and sleeps. How handy is that? Once we forgot to leash him up but he just stayed there. And it doesn’t matter if he waits there for 1 minute or 1 hour, he is always so happy when you come back.

The only thing he is not so amused about is when I ride my bike in my race run and I pass him and my boyfriend (who takes pictures). Merlin is not allowed to make a burnout and follow me. That’s something he doesn’t like at all. He can pick out the sound of my Novatec Hub from all the bikes and way before my boyfriend sees me he starts to get kind of crazy.

That’s something I still have to work on with him, so he stays calmer.

This summer we took him on a European road trip. We stopped at the two big Crankworx Events in Les Gets and Innsbruck, where I took part in the DH, Pumptrack and Dual Slalom races. Of course, it is sometimes stressful at the races and sometimes some bits of the track freak me out and scare me. But when I come back after a training run which hasn’t worked out like I wanted, I know Merlin is waiting under the car and doesn’t care if I am the best or the last; for him I am always number one.

I am very happy with Selle San Marco products.

I ride the DIRTY Carbon FX Narrow and I love this saddle.

I have it on my enduro bike and because I like narrow saddles it is just perfect. I normally hit my inner thighs on the saddle and get bruises, but with this one that is all in the past. And I prefer the one with the carbon rails so I don’t have too much to weigh me down when I pedal uphill.

When I look back on my racing career I am very proud of my 13th place at the DH World Champs, my 2 overall Pro Tour titles, many Pro Tour wins, my second place at Crankworx in Dual and of course my Bronze medal at the World Champs.

My biggest goal was always to win the World Champs, or at least get a medal. And after nearly 20 years of racing, I achieved my goal in August 2017 in Val di Sole (3rd place). So far I can finish my chapter as a 4X racer. Maybe you’ll see me somewhere turning up at the 4X race but I won’t complete in the entire series again. I will go back to my roots and race more DH again. I love DH very much and I also love riding my big bike.