The 2015 season is now over so we caught up with Luana Oliveira to see how her 2015 season went and what her plans are for 2016 and the off season ahead!
Luana Oliveira is a Professional Downhill Mountain Biker. Born in Itu, a small city in São Paulo, Brazil.
Her first contact with the bike was so special that she never dropped the two wheels. Early in her career, trails and equipment were precarious and difficult to acquire & find. It was through a newly built BMX track in your area, that the passion for the sport began to flourish.
She is the biggest name in Mountain biking to come out of Brazil and defends the country at international competitions throughout the year. But mountain biking isn’t just a sport for Luana it is her lifestyle, her lives dedicated to training and developing her skills.
Hey Luana! Let’s start from the beginning, where did it all start for you? How did you become interested in biking and more specifically Downhill?
I was born in a small town in Brazil, near to São Paulo and the bike for me has always been a form of transport, since then I had already a strong connection with the bike. Until one day it was built an amateur Bmx track by my house and even with a very simple bike I started going to the track and tried to ride even I didn’t have any idea what is Bmx, because this modality was very weak in my city at that time .
After a while already jumping and having fun, I was invited by a Bmx team to compete. At the time my family weren’t in a situation to pay anything for me, nor did I have good equipment, but with help and support from many people in many different ways I could start competing.
Soon after I was invited to participate in a downhill race with a borrowed bike and the same thing happened, I had good results and had many people and sponsors who helped me to continue. Since the first downhill race I identified myself and since then I haven’t stopped.
How has the 2015 season been for you?
This year I went to California for the pre season, enjoyed a little bit of good weather to get ready for the Inca Avalanche in Peru. It was one of my best experiences ever, meeting an amazing culture, visiting some local community and riding bikes in the middle of the endless beautiful mountains and for my first time visiting Machu Picchu.
The other really nice trip was to the National Championships it happened in Minas Gerais Southest of Brazil, really important place to the country’s history.
My last adventures so far was in Europe for the World Cup and World Championship in Italy and Andorra. Amazing places and awesome track, I always enjoy so much the times in Europe, long tracks!
We don’t really hear much about mountain biking in Brazil? Did you find this made it harder to become an established international rider?
Mountain biking in Brazil is growing, the country has a lot potential to have really big mountain biking and what we really need is people with vision to bring this culture stronger and it’s happening already so it will be better soon.
In the beginning it was really difficult to get to competitions and most some of the most important races of the year, I had to struggle a lot to make it happened but I’m a positive person and it always helped me to get what I want and even the hard times was good and necessary learning.
Life seems like one big adventure for you Luana! But with so much time on the road you are bound to miss certain things! What do you miss the most when you are on the road?
Definitely my family, my dog and my culture.
You get to ride in some of the most amazing places in the world! If you had to pick a favourite place to ride where would it be?
I like many places and I see that each one has different beauty and characteristics, it is difficult to classify what is the best. But one that is really special for me is Peru.
This year your focus was more on the adventure and less on racing and looking through your photos we can we why! It looks like you have had an amazing year! What has been your most treasured adventure of 2015?
I am very happy with the adventures that I have accomplish this year, it’s always very special to take the bike for different cultures, places and people.
One of the trips that marked most was to Peru, we rode all around the Ollantaytamboo, the trails and the endless mountains is amazing.
We had direct contact with the culture, we were greeted by two communities and to be in touch with children who really lives in the mountains make your life change for sure.
What’s your plans for 2016 are you going to continue the adventure or focus more on racing again?
For the next year I want to do more traveling and this time I’m working to produce more videos, show a little bit more the “making off” of the adventures, to share all the learning we have with all that and show some great places to ride.
I will continue competing yes, but is not the priority.
Also I will keep my project of MTB Clinics, I love to help people to ride better and motivate them, so I will be doing it in Brazil and California in some period of the year.
Your career has had many highlights, but what is your most memorable highlight so far?
I think it was the Four Cross Worlds in 2010, it was my first Worlds and I was with a Downhill Bike, it was special for me to make happen. Also the Down Taxco in Mexico, it’s the most crazy and fun Urban Downhill I’ve rode in my life.
Time off the bike is essential for recovery both physically and mentally. What do you do with your time off the saddle?
I love to travel to visit friends, family and I love the nature so always on my days off I try to stay away from the city life. Meditation and yoga are my favourite things.
The off season is upon us now! Do you plan to get straight back into training for next season or are you planning some rest time now?
For me it’s time to keep training and ride but without pressure, I cannot really stops because I like to training but I keep doing it easy in this time.
I’ll also return to Brazil got a few projects that I will dedicate myself to between the training, I build bike trails and also the construction of an ecological house as my base.
What does your off season training involve?
I do every practice as I do during the season, but got more attention in training for concentration and technical improvement. As Downhill trails, meditations, and gym.
Mountain biking is still so heavily male dominated, which can be daunting and put a lot of girls off riding and racing! What advice would you give to girls that want to get into riding & racing?
Something we really have to consider is what we feel and want, looking too much to the side does not help much.
I always say that the best thing to do is to follow your heart and nobody opinion matters in this time. At the beginning to do anything it is always more difficult and only the dedication and love we put on that make us achieving something.
I always liked to be different so for me it wasn’t a hard thing to face.
We women can do anything, so I hope that each one of us remember the potential that exists within us and we can go get whatever we want.
Just do it!
You moved from Brazil to the US. Are you still in California? And how does it differ to your life in Brazil?
I went to California in 2013 for the first time and it was a shock to me, it is very different from Brazil. So I moved and lived for a while.
I see California as a second home, I’m always coming back. But now I’m back to Brazil for a while, I want to bring the experiences I gained in those years I travelled and use it to help mountain bike growth in my own country.
There many differences and I admit it’s a little hard to get used to my country again, the motivation that exists in California doesn’t yet exist in Brazil, you need to start over from scratch, in Brazil the life is harder whereas in California it’s much easier in a lot ways so I chose to leave my comfort zone and go back to Brazil accepting these difficulties but I’m happy to make something to have more people riding.
What one thing about you would most people not know?
Riding and racing is heard enough but without help it was be almost impossible to do it at such a high level! Any special mentions of thanks you would like to make?
Definitely I am super grateful to my sponsors, partners, family and my friends who from the beginning believed in my potential and they are with me to this day.
Oakley for the seven incredible years of partnership;
Nukeproof for the bikes one day I dreamed and all the professionalism;
O’neal for their trust and partnership that motivated me a lot since the beginning of the year, which made my year to be more colourful with my favourite gear;
Marzocchi for quality products that made all the difference and partnership we have since 2013;
DeRose Method that offers me the best training of high performance;