Patricia Druwen is clearly comfortable flying through the air. The 16-year-old ended the 2022 season at the top of the Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour rankings, taking first place at two out of three stops last year. She’s been riding her dirt jump bike for just three years, using skills she learned in gymnastics, particularly trampoline gymnastics.
There aren’t a lot of dirt jumps in Druwen’s hometown in Germany despite what she describes as a decent bike jump scene there. “Usually, I have to drive 1-2 hours to the next spot to train at. But my dad just built a foam pit in our garden!”
Last year Druwen notched a number of impressive runs, and was one of the first-ever female riders to compete in the Red Bull District Ride. Ahead of her run, she said she wasn’t feeling well, then proceeded to calmly land her jump and snag third place. Afterward she said she felt great.
“When I dropped in I had so much adrenaline pumping through my body, that I was super happy that I did it afterward.”
Known for her bar spins in particular, Druwen tells me she’s running a Title gyro headset to get in as many spins as possible while in the air. The system ensures her mechanical disc brake cables don’t get tangled. In addition to partnering with Title, Druwen is currently riding for ROSE Bikes and SRAM/RockShox, Troy Lee, and Industry Nine.
This year Druwen plans to compete in more freeride and slopestyle competitions, including Crankworx Speed & Style and The Nines while looking to stay atop the FMB Tour again. While it might be surprising to see such a young athlete with a gymnastics background competing at that level, for some observers it’s a natural development in the sport. In a 2019 Singletracks podcast interview, Darren Kinnaird, Crankworx World Tour Managing Director and FMB board member, predicted the rise of just such an athlete.
“I truly believe that if you gave a five year old boy and a five year old girl mountain bikes and gymnastics classes, by the time they’re 15 years old, they both ride the same tricks, the same jumps the same everything,” he said. “One of the things that we hope to one day see is is a female competitor in the top levels of slopestyle. And I believe that the first female competitor right now is maybe 10 years old, maybe 12, maybe eight.”
At the time of my interview with Kinnaird, Druwen was 13 years old and had likely just started riding a dirt jump bike.
Druwen tells me that while her training won’t be much different for 2023, she hopes to have a few new tricks up her sleeve.
“My training is actually pretty much the same, but before a contest, I will focus more on getting new tricks dialed,” she says.
Now there’s someone that loves playing with toys!
Way to go!!