Jenny Copnall

The Hillingdon Slipstreamers Club Vice President

Jenny racing for Great Britain!

Jenny racing for Great Britain!

Jenny Copnall is a former professional cross country and marathon mountain bike racer with a string of national championships to her name. Jenny has represented Great Britain at 7 World Championships, 6 European Championships, and was a member of Team England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. She is certainly one of the UK’s finest mountain bike racers, having also won the National Marathon Championship in 2006 after a clean sweep of domestic competition!

Jenny started her cycling career when she was 17, and soon after entered her first race in East London – which despite a puncture and finishing last, still felt inspired and encouraged to continue! Jenny has since retired from racing, but as a BC Level 3 MTB qualified coach, she now runs her own coaching and consultancy company.

Slipstreamers were very privileged to have Jenny spend some time with the mountain bikers during a Swinley Forest “Lookout” ride in 2007, where she spent the morning enjoying the company of our riders showing her how much fun they have tackling the hills, drops, fire-roads and forest trails with ease! Read Jenny’s report here.

Recently, during December 2014, we had the pleasure of asking Jenny a few questions which our members were keen to hear the answers to, so enjoy finding out a bit more about our MTB XC VP!

Slipstreamers Members’ Q&A to Jenny Copnall

Jenny and Slipstreamers at the Swinley Forest "Lookout" ride in 2007!

Jenny and Slipstreamers at the Swinley Forest “Lookout” ride in 2007!

{Where were you born/ are you from?} Barnet
{What do you do for a living (when you aren’t cycling)?} Nowadays I run my own mountain bike coaching business, working with a small number of XCM and XCO racers, mostly in the masters and vets age groups, but also mentoring a parent of a promising youth rider based in Europe. This is mostly remote coaching from home / phone / email. I am a L3 Mtb coach and also helped to write the British Cycling course book. Alongside this I am a full time Mum to my 3 year old daughter. I just about manage to combine both, which is a perfect scenario for me, although it has been difficult at times.
{When did you start cycling?} As a racer at 17. I did no “proper” cycling before that, just general pottering about the neighbourhood as a child.
{What was your first club?} I rode for Yellow Jersey, a shop in Camden Town, initially.
{Do you remember your first race at all?} Yes, the Eastway Revolution Mtb Series on a Wednesday evening in about May 1993. I gouged a piece out of my leg in the first big bomb-hole (using clips and straps) and punctured about a lap after that. Thinking that was my way to an early and welcome shower, before I knew it spectators had sorted out my bike and got me on my way again. I finished the race, probably in last place, completely knackered, but with a strange contentment. I was back at another race the following week! The friendliness of this midweek series was a major factor in my continuing my cycling.
{What was your greatest cycling achievement/s?} 5 British Senior XC Mtb National Titles, 5 Elite National Mtb Series titles, 1 Senior National Marathon title plus representing GB at Worlds and Euros in both Mtb XC, Marathon and Cyclo-cross.
{What is your most interesting or fun cycling/ sporting experience?} Every year a big group of girls, brought together by Tracy Moseley, rent a place in Wales and have a weekend of riding / eating and fun. I haven’t been able to make the last few but have been about 6-7 times over the years and it is fantastic fun both on and off the bikes.
{What is your favourite training ride?} Off road around the Chilterns on bridleways, although I don’t get much chance to do this anymore. I also love the roads local to me here in North Bucks, better suited for road riding and including rides over to Brill and back across the hills. If I pick the right route I can accumulate a lot of climbing feet within a ride, I love undulations!
{What is/ was your greatest (cycling) fear?} Towards the end of my career it was definitely the fear of losing my National Champ’s jersey – rather a negative pressure! Generally though, my greatest fear was not fulfilling my full potential as a rider.
{What was your most embarrassing moment?} Having a shower after the Euros in about 2007 and realizing, as U23 guys started to walk in, that I was, in fact, in the men’s!
{What is your favourite food?} A really nicely made Pizza.
{And your favourite drink?} Coffee (proper coffee correctly made).
{What was the first music record/ album you ever bought?} Michael Jackson’s Bad 7” single.
{What were you like at school?} Sporty, opinionated. I liked a good debate followed by a good athletic challenge! I really enjoyed school.
{What kind of books do you read? Current book?} More magazines than books at the moment due to never seeming to have 5 minutes to myself. The last, excellent book I read was Flight from Berlin by David John, who is also my brother in law. It was his debut novel and I read it in about 2 days.
{And your favourite film?} Dr Strangelove, The Italian Job, The Vanishing (original Dutch version), Fight Club, all the Bond movies and a bunch of Art house stuff too.
{If you could be any fictional character from a book, comic, movie etc., whom would you choose and why?} Ripley from the Alien films – cool, strong, effortless.
{What is your ideal holiday destination?} West Wales

Jenny and Bramble!

Jenny and Bramble!

{What do you do in your spare time to relax? Any hobbies?}We have a fair number of pets – chickens, dog, guinea pig and 2 Shetland ponies, so I guess looking after these constitutes a hobby!
{How would you describe yourself?} Driven, focused, fairly highly strung (although I do a reasonable job of disguising it!), passionate.
{If you could meet any historical/ iconic/ celebrity figure, past or present, who would it be?} Muhammad Ali
{Who is your sporting icon/ hero?} There is no standout figure but I love what Helen Wyman is doing for women’s cyclo-cross.
{If you could be any animal, bird or insect for a day, what would you choose and why?} My dog Alan, a whippet. I’d like to know how it feels to rip about that fast.
{What would be the best advice you would give to aspiring young cyclists – particularly to those who would never consider mountain biking?} Enjoy it and remember that you can only do your best, nothing else matters.