May 26, 2016
Over the past 15 years, there has been an extraordinary shift in the sport of mountain biking. The evolution of new technology, gear, races, destinations and the expansion of trail systems around the world has opened doors for the sport. On top of that, the women’s mountain bike community has seen huge growth — with more women hitting the trails, entering races and starting up their own community mountain bike clubs, it’s no surprise that women are taking the mountain bike world by storm.
Here are 8 signs that women’s mountain biking is on the rise…
1. The Trailhead
Look around the trailhead — you are guaranteed to see female riders getting ready to shred. If you’re new to the sport, don’t be shy to strike up a conversation with a fellow female rider for tips and trail recommendations. If there is one thing I have noticed, it’s that female riders are happy to share their passion and encourage other women to hit the trails.
2. The Bikes
Mountain bike companies have realized the women’s market is growing and there is demand for bikes that complement our body type and shape. The women’s line of Liv bikes, a sub-brand of Giant, is a great example. Liv created a frame with women’s specific geometry, while cutting unnecessary weight by using a special carbon lay-up process. The Lust Advanced 0 weighs in at just over 22 pounds, which is a big deal for us ladies. It’s a question of biology, math and physics: women develop less power to weight than men, so the lighter the bike, the more we will feel in control and as a result, we gain more confidence. That means, if you’re a woman choosing between two bikes, and one is lighter than the other — choose the lighter one.
3. The Gear
Trying to fit into baggy shorts and loose jerseys with boring colours are a thing of the past. Companies are starting to recognize that women have and want their own style on the trail, we don’t want the same riding gear as their male counterparts. It’s a necesscity, for comfort, style and safety to have mountain bike clothing, gear and bikes catered to women’s bodies. Our female guides are always trying out new gear made specifically for women and recommend the following…
Cristina from New Zealand –>
MacPac women’s mountain bike shorts are super comfortable with a detachable liner, and they get bonus points for style and durability!
Charlotte from Ontario –>
A women’s specific bike seat: let’s face it—our tushies are not designed the same as a man’s and investing in a women’s specific bike seat can make a big difference. Take time to test out a few saddles and find the right fit. Most bike shops will have a fit guide for saddles, and you will be able to assess the proper size seat for your unique bottom.
4. The Rides
The best thing about mountain biking is the community. Mountain bikers bring passion, determination and camaraderie to the trail. We are eager to learn, ride, share and create life-long memories with each other. We are focused on maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit and understand one of the most important elements to being healthy is surrounding yourself with other like-minded, positive mountain bikers.
On top of this, women’s mountain bike rides, groups, skills workshops and tours are sprouting up all over the world — dedicated to providing women a place to learn from each other and practice their skills in a safe, welcoming environemnt. Many community mountain bike clubs will offer women’s only rides, events and races. Check out the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA), either in the US or Canada to find rides and clubs near you.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to hit the trails with our male-counterparts, but sometimes the support, advice and trailside conversation from other women is inspiring and more relatable. Plus, it’s motivating to witness more women falling in the love with sport — which for years, was dominated by men.
Here at Sacred Rides, we are super excited about more women hitting the trails and over the last few years, we have launched our special line of women’s rides. The trips encourage riders to explore remote trails and new cultures with like-minded women and learn from qualified guides in an inclusive environment. It’s a life-changing experience to spend a week mountain biking in Costa Rica, Utah, British Columbia, Ontario or New Zealand with other kick-ass female riders.
5. The Pros
Professional female mountain bikers are taking the world by storm. Testing their limits, challenging boundaries and inspiring other women to ride has created an environment where more women feel comfortable to join the sport.
In 2005, Rachel was named Times Young Sportswoman of the Year after winning a variety of categories in downhill racing. In 2008, she took control of the women’s downhill circuit by winning the World Championship gold and winning the World Cup overall. Not to mention, she continues to dominate the sport after bouncing back from a pre-season injury in 2009. Since then she has won three UCI World Cup titles in 2012, 2013 and 2015. She is on the right path for proving to be one of the best darn female downhill mountain bikers in the world.
Jill is an accomplished female athlete dedicated to two wheels. She has dominanted several disciplines including Downhill, Slalom, 4X, BMX, Pumptrack and Enduro. In 2008, she won an Olympic Bronze medal, three consecutive 4X world titles, Downhill World cup podiums and 15 élite USA National Championships.
6. The Clubs
Many communities have women specific mountain bike clubs. Can’t find a women’s club in your area? Think about starting one. Find one other woman to ride with and expand from there, you may be surprised at the number of women in your community that are itching to get out, but don’t feel like they have the right people to ride with.
Check out these women’s mountain bike clubs for a little inspiration.
The Spin Sisters - Calgary, Alberta, Canada
“The Spin Sisters inspire a world where no woman fears rocks or drops, by bringing women of all abilities together for super-duper wicked riding in an environment of camaraderie and support whilst building leaders, and being a positive force in the community.”
Wild Bettys — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
“We are women of all ages and abilities who love to mountain bike. Our club rides are fun and non-competitive, and provide an opportunity for us to grow as mountain bikers. Wild Bettys offers support and guidance out on the trail as everyone faces unique and personal challenges.”
Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club - Austin, Texas, USA
“Based on the theory that women learn new skills differently from men, rides are designated as for women only. While a sub group of the Austin Ridge Riders, Ride Like A Girl is self supporting and estrogen powered!”
Women’s Mountain Bike Association of Colorado Springs- Colorado, USA
“The Women’s Mountain Biking Association of Colorado Springs (WMBA of COS) engages a community of supportive female cyclists of all abilities through organized group mountain bike rides.”
7. The Races
If you’re a female mountain biker with a competitive edge, you probably won’t find a shortage of mountain bike races in your community. Look up your local mountain bike club and they should be able to provide you with a list of races to enter.
Oh… and if you can’t find any women’s mountain bike races, just compete against the dudes. If you need some motivation for this, read about Trish Bromley competing against the men at Cranxworx 2015!
8. The Spirit
With more women hitting the trails — you are bound to hear more laughter and enthusiastic “Yahoos!” out on the trail. We have fun, we laugh at ourselves, we are humble, determined, focused, and love a good trailside chat. Most of all — we support each other, cheer each other on and appreciate breaking a good sweat. Here’s to getting even more women out on a mountain bike!
Keep challenging yourself, pushing your limits and most importantly — have fun.