Juliet Elliott is a former pro snowboarder and model, who played guitar in pop band the Lightning Seeds and now rides bikes of varying types when she isn’t editing her own magazine, Coven. On location in Wales with the Peugeot 208, we asked her where she gets her energy from…
Defying stereotypes at every turn the former Vogue model Juliet Elliott has led a varied life, including a mix of extreme sports and journalism. She’s happiest hurtling around on a bike, whether it’s on the road or up a mountain, so keeping her still long enough to ask a few questions was a challenge in itself. We managed to grab a few minutes with her after a long day of cycling at Bike Park Wales to find out how she finds fits her hobbies and work into 24 hours…
The bike rack featured in this video is Juliet’s own and is not a recommended bike rack for the New Peugeot 208. For Peugeot bike racks click here.
What inspired you to switch from snowboarding to mountain biking?
It wasn’t a conscious decision. My snowboarding career just naturally came to an end and I was in London, so cycling became a means of transport. When I moved to Devon, mountain biking became so much more interesting. The place is ideal for it, with the beautiful scenery and challenging terrain.
Do you get the same rush from biking as you did from snowboarding? Or are they very different experiences?
Mountain biking most closely resembles snowboarding out of all the different types of cycling I do, as when you’re going downhill it’s all about speed, jumps and getting the technical aspects perfect. Mountain biking is an excellent substitute for snowboarding that doesn’t need snow, which is obviously a big problem in the UK!
Do you have a preference between road and mountain biking?
If I could settle on one style of cycling I’d probably be better at it! I enjoy every kind of cycling, from track to road and BMX. I draw the line at unicycles! I don’t think I could choose, because I love it all.
Are there any other sports you’d like to try?
I don’t think there are any that I haven’t done that I’d like to. I’d rather go to other countries to do the sports I’ve already tried. I’d like to go surfing somewhere warm enough to wear a bikini, that would be nice! Alternatively mountain biking in Canada, North America or New Zealand or Majorca on my road bike. Majorca especially looks pretty epic.
You’ve had a wide variety of jobs, from a guitarist in pop band the Lightning Seeds to magazine editor. How do you keep your energy levels up?
It’s easy to keep your energy levels up if you’re doing something exciting or interesting. If you’re constantly challenging yourself you’ll find the energy to get through it, but if you’re bored or disinterested you’ll quickly lose that energy. I like to keep my life pretty varied so I stay interested, and whenever I ride my bike that re-energises me far more than anything else.
What inspired you to start up Coven magazine?
I was looking for a magazine for my friends and I, covering action sports and the outdoors. Most of the sports magazines I saw were pretty geeky and not very stylish, and not aimed at someone like me who grew up skateboarding and snowboarding. I was pretty sure there would be other people out there in a similar boat to me wanting to read about sportsmen and women, artists and photographers. As I could see a gap in the market I thought I’d make my own! I didn’t want to have to explain my concept to someone else, so I learnt how to use the software, and I was already writing for a number of magazines and taking photographs.
You’ve spoken on your blog about the lack of support in some quarters for women in sport. How would you remedy the problem? Would you change the approach of existing events or want completely new, women-only events?
I’ve spoken a lot about the inequality in the world of cycling in terms of gender. I’m saddened that this is still the case. I don’t have all the answers of how to remedy this, but I do have some ideas. Basically we need to modernise the approach to cycling in the UK, and create a pathway for young women. We also need to start encouraging women who want to get into cycling for fun. We need a route to competitions, something they can get their teeth into, rather than just the odd race every now and then.
In snowboarding every event has a women’s category. When I was competing often I was the only participant, but at least there would be a category, and slowly more and more women entered because they knew there would be a category for them. Then the clothing brands would start getting involved, developing women’s snowboards, so men’s and women’s snowboarding grew at the same time. With cycling there are women’s races now, and with more support I’m sure it’ll grow. I don’t have all the answers, but if I can organise a few races and do some coaching (Juliet is a certified British cycling coach) hopefully we can get more women involved.
Given your background you’re obviously a competitive person. Do you find it hard not to be competitive when you’re just out for a ride? Or does the competition motivate you more than anything else?
I’m competitive with myself, so I’ll push myself to do better because I want to know how well I can do. I find it hard to just go out and ride sometimes without pushing myself, but I don’t need someone else there to race with.
With such varied pursuits what constitutes a normal day for you? Do you enjoy not having too much of a routine?
I travel quite a lot, doing shoots, writing or going to London, so no two days are ever the same. If I’m at home I’ll work out my urgent deadlines, then decide what bike I want to ride and where, and plan the rest of my day around that.
With that in mind, what would be a perfect day for you?
It would be just like any of my normal days, except without the work! It would simply be riding my bike and not much else!
Is there anywhere your travels haven’t taken you yet that you’d like to go, or a favourite destination you haven’t spent enough time in yet?
I’d really like to head back to California. When I was snowboarding I based myself out there, but it was always in winter. I want to go over there in summer so I can go to some skate parks on my BMX, go cycling, eat great food and meet some new people. I would absolutely love to go back there.
What could you not live without?
Bikes, my husband, my four cats, Marmite and tea. As long as I have them I’ll be fine.
What are your plans for the year ahead, from a professional and personal perspective?
I’m training for the Red Hook Crit fixed gear track race, which takes place across Europe. I loved the first one, which I participated in earlier this year, so I’m looking forward to completing the series. I’ve got a trip on my road bike to Spain planned, I’m training with British Cycling for some more qualifications, writing for some new publications, doing some work with Fred Perry and visiting my sponsors Assos in Switzerland.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to re-energise their life?
Look at what’s important, and focus on that. Try to lose all that’s superfluous. For me the most important thing was time, rather than money, so I moved to Devon from London. That way I was able to focus on what I wanted to do rather than the drudgery of day-to-day life. That was a bold move, but if you make the effort to transform your life to be more in tune with what you want to do you’ll find yourself re-energised.