Ruth Emily Davey is the owner and head shoe maker at RED, a brilliant, boutique shoemaker based in Machynlleth in West Wales. Not long after she bought one of our bikes for her daughter Tali, we caught wind that Tali had been taking lessons from her aunty – the world’s top Downhill mountain biker, Rachel Atherton.
Naturally, we wanted to hear more about RED, Tali’s love for cycling and to get Auntie Rach’s thoughts.
BM: Tell us a little bit about your family (RED etc) and why you wanted to get Tali into riding?
We are a family of 4, we spend a lot of time outdoors, climbing trees, mountains etc. We live in an area where mountain biking is part of everyday life - the Dyfi, Machynlleth west Wales. I am a Shoemaker, I run my brand RED from a shop in our local town where we make Shoes bespoke, designed to last and be repaired - so I am a big believer in supporting UK based companies and industries based here.
We also have a second business called The Original Shandals co. Ltd where we do shoe repairs and courses. As a maker myself, I have an appreciation for things that are built to last and that was originally why we decided on the Black Mountain bike being Tali’s first bike - the fact it is made here in Wales made it a winner for us.
BM: What were your first impressions of the bike and how easy was the bike to setup when you received it?
Ruth: I’m not going to lie, we got Rachel and Olly (Rachel’s fiancé) to come and put it together! It arrived the night before Tali’s 5th birthday and we didn’t want to get it wrong, but literally it was super easy to assemble and I love the look of the design, the adjustability and the high quality build was clear to see.
BM: How enthusiastic was Talitiu on riding bikes before she got her Black Mountain bike?
Ruth: Tali had a balance bike before her Black Mountain, (a present from auntie Rach!) so she kind of started to get her confidence on two wheels which I think is such a good way to start off. I was a bit apprehensive with how she would be with proper pedals but she literally got on for the first time ever and just cycled across the living room like she had done it forever!
BM: Has this changed at all now she’s on a SKOG? What has been the biggest benefit to her riding since she’s been on the Black Mountain?
Ruth: Literally you cant stop her now! She’s off and she goes fast too! We live around 3 miles out of Machynlleth and she cycles into town with me regularly. She takes it absolutely everywhere with her. I think her confidence has gone in leaps and bounds. Her balance bike has been passed on to her 3 year old brother Tau and he races to catches up with her. We spend A LOT of time at our local pump track and Talitiu does all sorts of tricks now too. I love how much riding feeds on kids’ appetite for adventure - they would never walk that much would they?! But on a bike, they can go on forever.
BM: What does Tali love most about the bike?
Ruth: In her words “because it’s mine and its orange!".
BM: What about you? What do you love most about the bike? If you were to recommend a Black Mountain bike to a friend, what would be your headline thought on the bike?
Ruth: I think the design is great because you can adjust the height. It’s really well built, and personally I think in terms of the look I love that its unisex because there is so much ‘boy’ / ‘girl’ out there when you buy anything - I was a total tomboy myself and I guess its a sort of rebellion passed down the line to want to get something for my kids that’s just cool and built to last and then to pass on to the next rider in the family.
BM: The lock down periods have been weird times for all of us. Did Tali spend much time on the bike and was this a benefit for you as a family?
Ruth: I think that bike saved us all from going mad! We live up a steep hill on the side of a mountain so Talitiu and her little brother Tau spent nearly the whole time racing each other down, it was endlessly fun for them. I don’t know what we would have done without it to be honest.
BM: You have a pretty famous mountain biking sister-in-law in Rachel Atherton - does Talitiu want to follow in her riding shoes?
Ruth: Talitiu really looks up to Rachel, she follows her around, trying to copy everything she does . Also, Rach is great with kids, she gets on their level and encourages them so much and brings out their adventurous side. We live in such a cool place, the outdoors is right at our fingertips - we have spent many a time with Rach riding the trails and she’s a total natural with children - which is lucky because this year she will have one of her own..!
Between racing World Cup Downhill, launching Atherton Bikes and becoming pregnant with her first child(!), we managed to catch up with Rachel to get her thoughts on the Black Mountain.
BM: Rach, have you noticed an improvement in Talitiu’s riding and confidence on the bike - what aspect of its design would you say has most benefited Tali's progression?
Rachel Atherton: I noticed as soon as Ta got her new bike that she was more confidant to ride in front of “strangers” at the local pump track and proud of the bike, A) because it was hers, and it was especially the perfect size for her and B) she loved that it was a special sort of bike that could grow with her and not a “normal bike” like her brother’s!
It was her first pedal bike and making the transition from balance bike to this was made easier by the fact that she loved the look and colour, and the bike fitted her really well, she was able to reach everything which gave her confidence - the bars and levers, the seat and pedals were all perfect height and she really benefitted when we made the bike “longer” for her when she grew. But, it was still her own bike that she was used too so she jumped straight back on and off she went!
She loves that it looks like the bikes she sees at Dyfi Bike Park too!
BM: Have you ridden the bike? We find most mountain bikers can't resist having a little blast!
Rachel Atherton: Yes I’ve had a few goes on the bike much to the dismay of Tali who thinks I’m too big and grown up for it! I prefer to push it back up the landings of the big jumps for her so she can fly down the steep bits screaming!
BM: Thanks Ruth for the great words, and thanks Rach for taking the time out to answers our questions! If you want some beautiful, handcrafted made-to-last shoes (to wear when chasing after your little rider!), look no further than https://www.ruthemilydavey.co.uk/