Meet Josie Millard, a Brighton-based skateboarder-turned-cyclist who already holds an impressive track record as a competitive athlete, model and motorcyclist. By 18 years old, she had won European female skateboarder of the year at the 2016 Bright European Skate Awards and began representing NIKE SB alongside some of the most trailblazing skateboarders in the field. In this interview, we caught up about her recent journey into the world of off-road cycling and what that has meant to her.
Hey Josie, how's it going?
Heyaaa! I'm really good, finally healthy after 3+ weeks off with the flu. I've got that post illness life gratitude!
Great to hear. Can you tell us a bit about your journey from pro skateboarding to cycling? I've had a crazy career in Skateboarding, traveling the world filming and competing for Nike and many other sponsors. It was amazing and I have some epic memories, and I'm really grateful. During that time though, I also went through some really big lows, and like so many others I found other forms of exercise and time outdoors helped me cope. This started with CrossFit, running, and lifting. I got big into wild camping and my friends were turning up on gravel bikes with all their gear strapped to them. I got pretty encapsulated with the idea of bikepacking and knew I'd have to buy a gravel bike myself. I bought my bike in July last year and have not looked back. I quickly became obsessed, not just with the beauty of spending time in the outdoors, but the physical push too. I'm an athlete to my core and having a new sport to pour my love and drive into is delightful.
Photo credit: Henry Kingsford & Sirus F
How's that transition been for you? It's been wonderful. Difficult at first, but wonderful. I think a lot of athletes struggle with identity - especially when injured, taking time off, or in my case pivoting to a different sport. Social media applies a certain pressure here too, but I've moved past that and I genuinely couldn't feel more at home in this community!
What feeling do you get (or feeling are you chasing) with your riding? I love the long days, tracing those familiar paths that lead out to somewhere new. Time with friends and the shared love for just being outside and pushing. No better feeling than arriving at a café after a big effort - sweat covered and caffeine deprived.
How does that compare to skateboarding? In essence its actually very similar! Wed often be out in the streets all day, filming, working hard and messing around, its known as being a street rat. I like to think of gravel riders as the same, were just nature rats!
Whats been your most memorable ride so far? Riding the Great British Escapade (485k race). Riding through two nights, feeling like pure death and hallucinating after 30+ hours on the bike. The high of waking from a quick nap and feeling like a new woman. It was the height of summer and the sun rising at 4am was epic and filled me with confidence.
Whats the best thing you've discovered on a ride? Gwyn's bakery in Horsham. You will not find a better croissant trustttt me.
And who is the most interesting person you've met through cycling? Ahhhh too many to mention! If you ride a gravel bike you're likely cool AF. It just attracts the right people, doesn't it?
How did you find your way into gravel racing? I really got hooked on riding late last year. I knew I'd start racing because I was enjoying the bike so much and Ive been an athlete my whole life. So whilst I started cycling for the outdoor vibes, its no surprise I've fallen for the physical pursuit too.
What's been your most favourite cycling race? The Gralloch (UCI gravel race in Scotland). It was my first race ever and the vibes were unmatched. I met my dad straight from work in London, who drove us over 400 miles to get there on the Friday evening. We had a few hours sleep after getting in super late and then we were up again early doors for the event. It was such a hard race, unrelenting ups and downs, so fast. My HR was max for like the whole first hour, I remember thinking how on earth am I supposed to take on fuel when I cant breathe I was totally inexperienced and just left it all out there. I finished with the biggest smile on my face. And to see my dad cheering for me too. I cant wait to go again next year.
You recently competed in the King Cup Gravel Race, how did you find it? Ahhhh it was epic! I didn't have the start I wanted, but I had great fun and I'll definitely be going again next year.
How did you prepare for the event? Prep was minimal if Im being honest... I went into this very open minded, knowing it was pretty different from the other events I've done.
How were you feeling during the race? At first awful, after having such a rubbish start - I missed clipping in and lost those vital first few seconds on the all out sprint. As you're all lined up in one row its super important to start well and get in a good group. I picked up after the first lap and really enjoyed it. I knew if I quit or let it get to me it would haunt me and feed a negative mindset. So I'm super happy I stuck to my guns, had fun and picked some people off along the way.
What did you think of the course? I enjoyed the flat/fast element, but really I'd have liked to see more techy sections.
How are you feeling with your result? Happy considering the circumstances. I started at the back and finished in the middle, so thats good to me. Next year I'd like to be up there in the front though.
Has it inspired any more races for next year? I've got a big season of racing planned next year. I'll return for round 2 of Kings cup for sure but I've got so many others to look forward to too! Lots of the UCI qualifiers, Traka 360k, one ultra abroad, so Basjuan or Badlands and loads of local gravel races too. Ive started working with an amazing coach to help with all this - Paul Delani at Trainsharp. Obviously I had no idea what I was doing when it came to cycle-specific training, so he's upped the game for me massively! It's got me even more stoked for these events.
You've been riding the Gran Tourer IIs for the last year, how have you found them? They're rad. Comfy, reliable and most importantly they look steez. I've recently got a pair the Gran Tourer XC too and the addition of the second dial is great, I love having that fit adjustment! Excited to take them all over the world on epic adventures next year.
And finally, can you tell us a bit about your ultimate aspirations for cycling? To travel and race as much as possible, to keep meeting beautiful people and making wonderful memories. This is just the beginning for me and I'm really excited to see where things go.
Words: Holly Bendall
Skate Images: Henry Kingsford, Sirus F