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April 28, 2020 3 min read

While we do our best to keep Isla Short busy putting our latest products through the wringer, her main focus is the cross-country MTB race circuit. Here's the latest from Isla and Short Factory Racing on the peculiarities of this season – both personal and global:


The biggest lessons I’ve learned in 2020 are just how quickly life can change, the importance of being able to reshuffle priorities and how seeking out positivity in the smallest of experiences is essential. 

I had surgery on my throat at the beginning of March. It was a relatively minor operation, aimed to reduce the effects of a condition I was recently diagnosed with called Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction. Shortly after I returned from London after the surgery, the COVID-19 outbreak escalated almost too quickly to follow and not being able to ride my bike for a few weeks very quickly became a non-issue in the grand scheme of things. On doctor’s orders, I was to stay inside for two weeks – avoiding all social contact and public spaces. Lots of people have told me said “you picked a good time to have your op!” as a way to console me through my self-isolation from germs in the outside world, reassuring me that there were no races to go to anyway because they’d all been cancelled and it wouldn’t matter that I would lose some fitness. Actually, having been through a fortnight of staring at the four walls of my flat without seeing friends or family, with dribs and drabs of Coronavirus updates reaching me, the one thing I really needed was my bike. I exercise every day for lots of reasons, one being that it’s an essential part of my sanity, my wellbeing and my ability to find hope through darker times. 

Our first step of isolation was to stop talking about a second dog and get a puppy for Mama Short!

I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to access the hills in the UK but for now, I’m back turning pedals in the great outdoors, exploring the roads on my mountain bike around my hometown. If I need to turn to indoor training, Zwift awaits me, and my local gym has kindly lent me a variety of strength equipment to mix things up in the house. I’m much happier than I was a week ago, because I have back the most important thing to me and know that as long as I can kit up and feel fresh air on my face each day (whether in the hills or in my garden), I’ll be okay, and in turn will be able to be there for the people around me who aren’t.

First ride back outside since my surgery brought more appreciation for the outdoors than ever and a new love for road riding very slowly on fat tyres!

I’m still recovering from my surgery, so riding is steady. In some ways I am lucky to be in this situation because each week brings new goals to my recovery timeline; new HR limits, faster runs, weight-bearing exercises. These objectives have become milestones that prevent me from looking too far into the future of 2020 and wondering when the world will see light at the end of the tunnel. And I guess this outlook could be applied to any hobby, project or goal at the moment – surgery isn’t the crux of this! We’ve been forced to live more simply, communicate better and find joy in the smallest of things; there’s opportunity for growth and strength for the future in all of this. Crisis brings people together in a way that nothing else can compare too, and the sense of community has never been so present or comforting.

I came back to my mum's in the Tweed Valley for isolation so that I could be near the hills. I LOVE cruising around my local routes just now.