Where the ladies at?

It was about this time last year I made the purchase of buying my very first full suspension mountain bike, and I won’t be looking back anytime soon. However, unlike other sports I’ve dabbled into one thing seems to stand out no matter where I’m biking.. Where the ladies at?

It appears the female mountain biking community is much smaller than I initially thought. I decided to do some online research with hopes of finding the answer as to why it appears most women just don’t seem quite drawn to the sport?

Michelle Lambert wrote a great little piece in Mountain Biking For Her: It’s a Small World. She highlights that women are generally more drawn towards road cycling as it comes off being less associated with “macho dude riding”. Lambert elaborated further that road biking for women is a much larger social community, which in turn draws a greater interest of ladies by the fact there are more races, events, group rides and the availability of gear and bike specific options for females. There’s also the clear underlining fact she points out, and a major reason I believe there’s a lack of estrogen in the biking community.. Women find the sport dangerous and with high risk of injury.

I grew up playing some pretty aggressive and high risk injury sports like ice and field hockey, rock climbing and snowboarding. However, mountain biking takes the cake for my list of injuries. Getting into the sport I’ve had some pretty hard hits to the ground (one that even put me in the hospital). Hucking over steep drops, getting big air over jumps, and blazing down techy root or rock slabs at high speeds doesn’t really tend to catch the female interest, am I right?  So, it sort of makes sense why the majority of ladies don’t really wanna participate in a sport that typically leaves you covered in scratches, bruises, some blood and dirt (and maybe tears of frustration) at the end of the day.

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I probably wouldn’t have gotten into mountain biking unless my partner introduced me to it in the first place. Lambert highlights this point of male introduction, and the struggle (which I felt during my first season) of trying to learn proper skills and feeling rushed to keep up with the boys. Not a fun time when you’re always the one left behind. Being said that, I’m still biking and with a second season under my belt and I’m not only starting to get a natural rhythm in my riding and catching up to the guys, but I’ve finally had the experience of biking with a couple of ladies!

My most recent lady bike was a week ago in the Whakarewarewa (*Fuka-wara-wara) Forest “The Redwoods” in Rotorua, New Zealand. Her name was Indi, a Hungarian bike instructor living in Australia. We met at the top of the shuttle drop-off when she asked me where a specific trail began. Something that ties back to Lambert’s article, female bikers tend to feel most comfortable and less intimated around other females. I was the only other female on the shuttle that day, and if I was in her position I probably would have done the same thing riding alone in unfamiliar territory.

Fortunate for me that she was an instructor, I got to ride a few laps with someone I could finally keep up with as well as getting some much anticipated advice on proper technique and skill. She mentioned back in Australia a growing network of female group rides, and her push of teaching women specific sessions. From Indi’s experience as an instructor (and similarly outlined in Lambert’s article), whether it being a group session or casual ride, women still feel most welcomed and comfortable biking with other females.

That’s just it with female mountain biking! Women push the drive in other women to wanna be apart of the sport. Indi is a great example of a women who is not only opening the doors for ladies wanting to get into biking and/or progress further in the sport, but she’s doing a great deal spreading her knowledge and word of the female mountain biking community. As Lambert quotes it best, ” We need to spread the word of mountain biking like a religion, use your power of being part of the small world of female mountain bikers to make everyone aware of the awesomeness of the female mountain bike rider!”

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Get out riding ladies and grow that female mountain biking network! I might just happen to catch a lap out there with ya  🙂

Posted by Marisa

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