Chelsea Gowland: Racing into a new era of sport

23 Sept 2022

After years of competing in the tough world of motocross, Chelsea Gowland is finding the eSkootr Championship a breath of fresh air and she’s looking forward to racing on her own terms.

What attracted you to eSC?
It’s nice to join a sport that offers a level playing field, having raced previously as part of a relatively male grid. You can’t beat motocross for the pure adrenaline rush, but it’s a physically demanding and, dependent on the rate at which you’re racing, can be tough financially. Only when you reach a particularly high level within motocross, will you reap more financial benefits.

Chelsea Gowland in action at the second eSC round in Sion, Switzerland.

So, it’s refreshing to be able to compete with men on a more level playing field?
What I love about eSC is it’s a new sport that wants both men and women to be able to compete as equals. In other forms of racing, competitors and teams will use different machinery that has been adapted, but in eSC we're all riding the same escooter which is new and exciting.

Was it important to get in on a new sport at the ground floor?
Definitely. I like that it’s so accessible. Not many racing fans have access to similar machinery that is used by the pros, but an electric scooter is affordable and is becoming more accessible as micromobility landscapes increase globally. And I think it’s exciting that eSC wants to promote racing at grassroots level[JH1]. That means putting on events where people can try racing e-scooters with all the safety equipment and expert guidance that we have. That will be great.

What’s surprised you the most about eSC?
The response in Switzerland was fantastic. Lots of kids were coming up to the riders and asking for pictures and it was really refreshing to see how popular and positive sport can be. You often forget that kids look up to you and, when they’re inspired, they’ll copy what you do. Hopefully we'll see some of those kids racing in the championship one day.

Tell us about your background.
I’ve been racing motocross since I was five years old. When I was a kid, I used to go racing every single weekend and I won the British Championship three times as an adult. I'm still doing it now, but I’m coming to the end of my motocross career.

Do any of your motocross skills come in handy for racing electric scooters?
Quite a few. I'm good at picking the racing line and I’m aware of where the other riders are around me and how to set up a good lap. We start from lights and out of a gate in motocross, so the starts are quite similar.

Chelsea with PLYR:1 teammates Matis Neyroud and reserve rider Zechariah Dzegede.

How have you adapted to riding the S1-X eSKootr?
I'm used to having a seat. When you’re racing the S1-X, it's a real leg workout. The races are only about five minutes, but you couldn’t make them much longer because your legs would get too tired.

How much would you say you've learned from your teammates and from the other riders as you collectively figure out how to race?
My fellow teammate Matis Neyroud is one of the fastest, but it's interesting because we're all from different sporting backgrounds and everyone's got their own style. I think everyone's learning from each other and continuing to try different racing styles.

What would you compare racing the S1-X to in terms of the physical demand it puts on your legs?
It looks like nothing when you're watching, but after a few rides you definitely feel it in your legs. It’s like doing a five-minute HIIT session. Exercising at very high intensity for five minutes.

Has it helped working with the eSC’s own performance coaches?
Definitely. My partner’s a personal trainer, which is also helpful. In pre-season, they gave us one-to-one training and personal training programmes. I've been working on my legs a lot. Every night, I do a wall sit with a 20kg plate to build up the strength in my legs and it's working. During testing, my legs were killing me after day one but when I go to the races now, my legs seem OK.

Work hard, play hard: Team PLYR:1 in the paddock.

How have you come together as a team with the rest of PLYR:1?
Between the riders, mechanics, engineer and Jof Cox, our team manager, we’ve got a good relationship. What’s been useful is the feedback we get in terms of track data and analytics. I’ve never previously had that in motocross and it’s insightful to know exactly where you can gain some time by going a bit quicker or brake a bit later. Matis is a really good teammate and he's fast, so I might ask him for a bit of advice on what he's doing in certain parts of the track. Going forward, I'd like to for both of us to get a podium finish, and I know we've both got the potential to do it.