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Ravanel on the DH Uomini stage during the 2018 EWS round in Finale Ligure, Italy. Photo: Gerow.

Current EWS and former XC racing legend, Cécile Ravanel, works as hard on creative projects as she does skills and performance. The veteran shredder has designed helmet-wrap graphics for a number of pro riders, through her aptly named Cécile Ravanel Designs (CRD) company. Each design is formed around the specific rider’s interests and style, allowing Cécile to create art that her fellow racers will cherish. No one wants to crash and mess up their friend’s art, so there is some added incentive to stay upright with a CRD helmet on.

In addition to racing and graphic design, the tireless Frenchwoman fills her time by mentoring and coaching young mountain bike athletes at her local club, in Fréjus, France. She helps young riders organize workouts around their race schedules, works with them on their technical skills, and shares the invaluable race knowledge she has amassed over the years.

Since breaking her back in a nasty training crash this past February, Cécile has been fully dedicated to helping top-ranked U21 rider, Antoine Vidal, in his international racing pursuits. It seems things are working out well, as Antoine is currently leading the EWS overall rankings for U21 riders after earning the top step in all but one event this season.

Read up on Cécile’s design and coaching endeavors below.

When did you start designing helmets?  

I started very young. At the beginning, I painted my bikes and my helmets, and around seven years ago when my godchild asked me to create stickers for his company. I also started making deco kits for Cédric and me.

Did you go to school for design, or did you teach yourself?

I learned myself, and I still have to learn and test a lot of things. I have time.

What do you use as inspiration for helmet designs? 

In fact, it will depend on who I draw for. If I know the person well it’s easier but I like brush drawings style. For example, the last one I did for William Robert is in the spirit of his tattoos.

Is CRDesigns a business you are working to grow and open up to more consumers?

I would like to eventually open it to consumers but I am still traveling too much to allow it.

Have you designed graphics for anything other than full-face helmets? 

I drew the jerseys, and the trailer for my club, phone stickers, mudguard, cards for signing session, my dining table, and some furniture at home.

The Gherig Twins rockin’ CRD graphics.

How do riders get in touch with you for graphic design work?

It’s usually people I know and through Instagram.

What are some of your favorite helmet designs?

It’s difficult to answer this question. Usually, the last one I created.

What is the process like to adapt designs to different helmet models?

Making templates for different brands, models and helmet size takes the longest. I will not reveal all my secrets, but it is really done by hand.

How many riders are on the Frejus VTT squad? 

Fréjus is a big club, with 200 licensed riders in different levels. We start with very young kids, from 5 years, up to the group competitions.

How long have you been working with junior riders?

I started in 2013, training with Gaëtan Vigé.

What are some of the things you do to help development riders progress? 

I work a lot with training schedules. The program is sent every month to the athlete, with detailed sessions day by day, with intensity sessions on the bike, weight training sessions, technical sessions, and readjusted sometimes day by day according to the shape of the moment.

Do you feel that development cycling programs in Europe are well supported? What about enduro programs specifically? 

Enduro is a young discipline, and there is still a lot to do to structure it. I was fortunate enough to have the coaching knowledge at the beginning of the EWS. I practiced XCO at a high level for years and then Downhill also brought me a lot of experience as a coach. High performance forces us to always challenge ourselves to progress or stay at the highest level.

What is the most important thing for young racers to learn as they progress in the sport?

First of all, I would like to say “keep the pleasure of riding.” If they want to be at the highest level they must be aware that even if it is one of the most beautiful jobs, it requires sacrifices and rigor.

Who are some young riders from Frejus to watch for in future professional races? Who is riding strong and motivated to continue doing better?  

This year we have discovered Antoine Vidal, and we have some good younger riders who are doing well, but there is still work before talking about the professional level.

This interview was edited for length and clarity. Thanks to Cécile for illustrating more of her multifaceted story!

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