No 1 | June/July 2014
THE WOMEN’S FREERIDE MOVEMENT
The women behind the WFM and their goals for the future of women’s mountain biking
RAISING A RIPPER
How to introduce your kids to mountain biking
POWER OF THE PUMP TRACK Feel the fear and do it anyway
THE HEART AND SOUL OF BIKE RACING
There’s much more to racing than riding fast on a bike P. 1 | Mountain Bike for Her
COVER PHOTO: COLIN WILSON
5•EDITOR’S NOTE 6•THE WOMEN’S FREERIDE MOVEMENT 16•RAISING A RIPPER 20•THE HEART AND SOUL OF BIKE RACING 32•POWER OF THE PUMP TRACK 38•GEAR: EDITOR’S PICKS 41•PHOTO GALLERY: NSMBA TOONIE PRERIDES Mountain Bike for Her | P. 2
Photo: Colin Wilson
Photo: Charles Seaborn
Ash Kelly has been riding since 2006. She moved from Edmonton to Vancouver in 2007 to spend some time on the North Shore trails. When not on one of her four bikes, Ash can be found trail building, backcountry skiing, sledding, cooking or reading a book.
Jennifer Charrette is the creator of pedaladventures.com. She lives under the San Juan mountains of Colorado, with her husband, son and baby on the way. Her family is also dedicated to getting young kids interested in biking and health through their non-profit, axelproject.com
Karen Kefauver is a freelance writer and avid mountain biker based in Santa Cruz, California. For more stories and photos, visit http://www. karenkefauver.com
Michelle Lambert is a cycling obsessed resident of the San Francisco Bay area. She loves being outside, training and exploring new trails. Michelle has been racing cross country mountain bikes off and on and 5 years ago she took up cyclocross as well.
Norma Ibarra was born and raised in Mexico, and has lived in Canada since 2009. Norma discovered mountain biking in 2012, and has developed a keen interest in helping the sport grow. Currently based in North Vancouver, Norma obeys one rule: “Work hard, do what you love, and do it with passion!”.
Teresa Edgar is based in the Comox Valley in British Columbia, Canada. She can usually be found on one of her bikes, in a kayak, on her skis, or hiking in the backcountry. Teresa has been mountain biking since the ‘90s and founded Mountain Bike for Her in 2012. P. 3 | Mountain Bike for Her
Photo: Norma Ibarra
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EDITOR’S NOTE This first issue is a blend of empowerment, motivation, and encouragement! Ash Kelly focused on a group of women who are based in Whistler, British Columbia and known as the Women’s Freeride Movement; Michelle Lambert took us behind the race scene to explain her love of racing and the sisterhood she experiences while competing; and Karen Kefauver broke through her fear of the pump track. Not only did she live to tell the tale, she decided to share it with us! Also throughout the issue you will find photos from Norma Ibarra that were taken at the inaugural North Shore Mountain Bike Association’s Ladies Only Toonie Prerides! Shortly after submitting her article on Raising a Ripper, Jen Charrette gave birth to the newest member of their family, Lars. Congratulations, Jen! We hope that you enjoy our premier issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together! Teresa Edgar Publisher
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THE WOMEN’S FREERIDE MOVEMENT While mainstream mountain bike media seems to have set a low standard for covering women’s specific riding, there is a momentous uptake by the riders themselves to change the way the female riders are portrayed. By Ash Kelly Specifically, the Women’s Freeride Movement: Lisa Mason, Carolyn Kavanagh, and Berny Jacques. Impressively, all three hold down full-time jobs and don’t earn a penny running WFM in their spare time; this is how they give back to the sisterhood of shred. Each pillar of WFM does something a little bit different. Their Facebook group is the hub of activity, a curated crowd sourced collection of all things rad and female in extreme sports, with a focus on riding. The new website, designed by Jacques was launched last August, showcases the girls’ own writing and videography. For Mason, who does most of the writing, it’s all about using her words to make people laugh. They have also hosted three ladies nights at the Air Dome in Whistler in an attempt to fill the void left when Crankworx Women’s Worx was cancelled. Within six months of the first Air Dome night in 2011, the WFM Facebook group had over 450 active members. The group continued to grow in size and narrow its Mountain Bike for Her | P. 6
focus. “We try and inspire women to do different activities or different genres of biking by showcasing what women can do, and thereby empower them to do it themselves, or push further,” said Mason. What all three of the ladies behind the WFM bring to the table is an insatiable desire to shred. Mason started riding when she was 25 and hasn’t stopped for the last 10 years. “I started [riding] in Whistler so I get to see a lot of women, and get to see all of the best women. I think that it really gave me a drive early on to try to ride my hardest,” said Mason. Her first riding experience sums up her dedication to riding. “We were riding Train Wreck, this Whistler classic trail and we came across a root that was way skinnier than my arm. I turned to my friend and said ‘You want me to go over that?’ and he turned to me and said ‘You suck way worse than I thought you would,’ Ever since then I was like, time to shred. I’m not going to let this guy tell me I suck.”
Photo: Carmen Batek
«TODAY I RUN TO KEEP ON FEELING THIS UNIQUE FULLFILMENT SENSATION… »
Lisa Mason of Whistler B.C. leads the pack down a Cypress trail in North Vancouver. The team’s chemistry is apparent on and off the trail. P. 7 | Mountain Bike for Her
Lisa, Berny and Carolyn (front to back) Lisa Mason, Berny Jacques and Carolyn Kavanagh each bring their own strengths to the WFM project, but on the trail it’s hard to say the same. All three ladies are extremely well rounded riders who can take on some of the most technical trails in Whistler and the North Shore. They don’t shy away from the jumps or the speed either.
Kavanagh, now 42, has been riding since 1999. She started out with cantilever brakes on old school North Shore gnar. “It was kind of lonely at first because I didn’t know anybody, but I knew I liked the sport and I wanted to be better at it and persistence paid off,” she said. In the midst of what she calls a major 40-year-old’s crisis, Kavanagh spent her 40th birthday on Crabapple hits as one of three women that represented at the Unofficial Whip Off for Crankworx 2012. She spends a good majority of her spare time with her chainsaw, repairing long forgotten and neglected trails on Cypress Mountain in North Vancouver. Jacques was lucky enough to start riding Mountain Bike for Her | P. 8
the North Shore at 10 years old. Since then she has upgraded from her first bike, a Wal-Mart special, and raced the B.C. cup circuit. In 2013 Jacques raced her first season as a professional. “I did actually stop mountain biking for two years because I didn’t know anyone that would go with me when my friends moved away. Then I joined an extreme sports club and I was the only girl out of 15 guys. From there I was like ‘I can show these guys that I can do it.’ ” Knowing the WFM is working towards goals similar to her own gives Santa Cruz journalist Joh Rathbun the inspiration she needs to keep pitching stories about women in sport. So far it has been an
uphill battle trying to get women the coverage she feels they deserve. “We’re either sexualized or ignored. I don’t want to be sexualized; I don’t want to be marginalized. “I had one editor at a local mountain bike site, very well know mountain bike site, tell me last year ‘we don’t want any of your women mountain bike stories’. . .he was perfectly comfortable telling me that, and I was just so stunned,” Rathbun said. It’s WFM’s collaborative, inclusive approach that Rathbun finds unique. The team is interested in celebrating professional riders and the progression of the sport, but they make an effort to profile amateur riders and community members at the same time. “I have a lot of respect for them because they are willing to take the time necessary to highlight any woman regardless of where she’s at with things, as long as she’s passionate about what she’s doing, she’s on the bike — they’re going to be there to support and that makes a huge difference . . . with the Women’s Freeride Movement now, I know I’m not alone and I can rely on my sisters to move forward,” said Rathbun. Lisa Mason, Carolyn Kavanagh, Berny Jacques, Kat Sweet and other women are taking media exposure into their own hands and creating the coverage they want to see for themselves. Kavanagh aims to produce three films this summer featuring female riders. “I think of guys like the Coastal Crew. They build trails, they make awesome bike movies and they’re all buddies. They hang out and they ride bikes and they have fun,” That’s how Kavanagh imagines the WFM; but as a group of women. “Why can’t girls go build an awesome bike P. 9 | Mountain Bike for Her
Carolynâ€™s passion for riding is only matched by her love for trail building. She works tirelessly building jumps and trails that are accessible, challenging and progressive.
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trail and use their chainsaw? And why can’t girls make some awesome videos, and why can’t girls ride those trails and throw down some sick tricks? There’s no reason girls can’t do that,” Kavanagh said.
looking at stuff and they’re putting their events or linking their stuff, because they feel like they’re part of something and it’s part of a collective; which is what we really wanted,” said Kavanagh.
With growth inevitably come challenges and hard learned lessons. Last summer the trio published Women Behind Crankworx intending to highlight some of the key female players of the festival. The article garnished some heat from readers, some felt it left out some important members of the community. It was a learning experience self-taught writer Mason had to work hard not to take personally. Mason said she felt bad if she left anyone out because she “didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” an insight that truly aligns with her bubbly and nurturing character. “I’ve had people be catty with me because we’re new and we’re evolving. I wonder what people think, are they being critical of our writing? Are we projecting what we want to say?” said Mason.
The team draws their inspiration from some powerful players. Listing off the heavy hitters like Lorraine Blancher, Casey Brown, Katrina Strand, and Claire Buchar as role models, they single out Kat Sweet of Sweetlines Mountain Biking in Seattle, citing her event, the Sugar Showdown, as a possible model for a future WFM event. Sweet is said to have coined the term sisterhood of shred. “It’s the best women’s mountain bike event. It’s a slopestyle, hang out with your friends thing. We’d like to work with that model and build something there,” said Kavanagh.
“It’s a labour of love, it’s really rewarding. A lot of it is thankless, a lot of the time you hear more of the negativity,” said Kavanagh, who has been trying to understand why women sometimes have trouble working together. “Maybe because we’re always the underdog and we’ve had to fight for everything we end up fighting each other. I really want to see women succeed and do well . . . that’s why I emphasise I really want us to be inclusive not exclusive.” WFM is not about winning clicks or counting followers. The most rewarding part of the job is seeing women connect with each other from all over the world. “I know women are coming to this page and Mountain Bike for Her | P. 12
Sweet is happy to share her expertise and experience with the WFM team. “One of the really cool things about women in mountain biking in general is a lot of us like to give back and we like to bring other women along with us as we progress. There’s a lot of stewardship going on with women in mountain biking,” said Sweet. Her advice for the WFM: “Stick together, work together and don’t take no for an answer. There’s going to be a lot of noes along the way, a lot of ‘well nobody wants that, nobody’s interested.’ Find ways to get them interested.” Looking into the future the girls have a simple plan: ride, write, film and share the stories. Tell the stories worth telling regardless of gender or skill level, and in doing so inspire as many women as possible to get on their bikes.
Berny is a hard working rider who knows what it takes to film or work a photo shoot. Her willingness to hit big jumps and stunts caught Carolynâ€™s eye when she was looking to have a woman represent in her film Cypress Winter. P. 13 | Mountain Bike for Her
RAISING A RIPPER We’ve all seen them on the ski slopes: 3 year olds shredding black diamonds with the parents chasing behind. But where are these little shredders when the snow melts and singletrack appears across the mountain By Jen Charrette With the invention of balance bikes, bike parks, and lightweight pedal bikes there is no reason your child can’t start learning to shred singletrack this summer. Start with these five tips and watch your little one rip.
pounds!” There are a number of balance bikes on the market. Look for one that is within your budget, weighs less than 7 pounds, and has a platform for kids to rest their legs. A bonus for older kids is a hand brake. TIP 2: TAKE THEM ON ADVENTURES
TIP 1: START THEM ON A BALANCE BIKE
Learning to balance, lean and get your feet down when you’re in trouble are important skills to learn early. And nothing does that better than a balance bike. You can introduce a balance bike into your child’s life around the age of 18 months. Balance bikes eliminate the need for training wheels, teach balance, and most models are lightweight. And, as your child progresses balance bikes are still a great alternative to heavy 12 inch pedal bikes. They allow little ones to not only maneuver it easily, but they are also able to lift and carry the bike themselves as well – something they simply cannot do with a pedal bike that weighs more than 60% of their body weight. As Strider’s Marketing Manager Kyla Wright says, “This is comparable to asking a 168 pound adult to ride a bike that weighs over 100 Mountain Bike for Her | P. 14
Even a 2-year-old can start down the singletrack with you for ½ mile or play on the start of the trail. While it may seem hard to load up the entire family, it’s worth the extra effort for the exposure and experience. Max, father of two and owner of Spawn Cycles states, “My kids aren’t big enough to ride longer trails with me, so I’ll go for a shorter spin with them on a trail or ride with them at the skatepark or pump track. When my kids get a little bigger I will spend as much time as I can with them on the trail because as we both age one thing is for sure – they will get better and I will get worse. Right now, and I imagine for a limited number of years in the future, they love riding with me. I can help them improve their skills and we can share a lot of fun times. They won’t want
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to ride with me forever so I want to enjoy it and help them develop as much as I can while I have the chance. I also find that it has the added benefit of getting me out riding more often than I had in the past few years.” TIP 3: THINK BIKE PARKS AND BMX
If you have a chance, get your kids involved in BMX or visit a local bike park. They are a great way to build bike skills in a family-friendly environment. A lot of great mountain bikers have roots in BMX. It helps kids pick a line, handle a bike in tight quarters, and move their body weight around a bike to weight and unweight Mountain Bike for Her | P. 16
the bike. Jumping, bunny hopping, and manuals are great skills that transfer readily onto a mountain bike and can be a lot easier to master on a smaller BMX bike. Any type of exposure to pump tracks and trials type features at a young age is also great, be it skinnies, teeter totters or any other number of fun things for kids to ride. Many BMX parks are also offering balance bike courses, races, and skills clinics. TIP 4: QUALITY MATTERS
While you shouldn’t break the bank outfitting your child to ride, a quality pedal bike will go a long way to instilling a love of mountain biking and enhancing their
experience. Once they have graduated from the balance bike, make sure their first pedal bike is appropriate for their size and weight. “We hear tons of parents worried about the price of lightweight, high quality kids’ bikes,” says Max. “But think nothing of dropping hundreds on titanium parts or dropper posts for their own rides. I know from my own experience, my kids have a lot more time to ride than I do, and the benefits of a pound off of one of their bikes means a lot more to them than it does to me.” It’s true that you don’t see many kids progressing or riding a lot when they have overly heavy or cumbersome bikes. It’s just not fun to deal with faulty brakes, shifters that don’t shift, frames that don’t respond, and shocks that don’t work. Also, a quality used kids’ bike has good resale value while the typical department store bike is probably headed for the trash making the net costs similar.
for riding, and whenever possible I put my son in a long-sleeved shirt, bike gloves, and socks. Anything to cover up skin and protect it from the spills,” explains Tanya, an avid outdoor mom and blogger from Calgary. And once you’ve covered the safety issues, push your kids to progress, while keeping things within their ability levels. Pushing the envelope is important, but scaring kids with bigger features they’re uncomfortable with, or taking them on long grueling rides. aren’t likely to motivate them. When in doubt, err on the side of caution when you’re trying harder features or longer, tougher rides for the first time. Bottom line – Make it challenging yet fun and get them out regularly to build skills and a lifelong love of riding.
TIP 5: ALLOW PROGRESSION
Remember your first few years of mountain biking? I bet as you progressed along the rather steep learning curve you took your fair share of tumbles. And while your kids probably have better balance than you, they are also going to tumble as they improve. Don’t put labels on where they should be based on their age. Some kids will be ready for intermediate and advanced trails well before you think, while others may need additional time on the kid’s loop. “Guaranteed, kids will take their share of spills and wipe outs while learning to ride on both balance bikes and pedal bikes. Try to keep a positive attitude, bring lots of snacks, and dress for the falls. We had a rule in our house against wearing shorts P. 17 | Mountain Bike for Her
THE HEART AND SOUL OF BIKE RACING “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood.” - Susan B. Anthony By Michelle Lambert Many of us who are into mountain biking can name at least one woman within the pro race circuit. We are generally familiar with the names of the teams these women race for, what kind of bike they ride, and what they do in the off season. We see them in magazines, in YouTube videos, and on cycling websites. These pro women are the ones that have a great influence on what types of bikes the companies will design for women riders. They take prototype bikes and race the hell out of them, making sure that the geometry, frame material, and specs are suitable to sell to the general public. These women have to work hard to make it to the pro ranks, giving up normal everyday life to train up to six hours a day and make the commitment to eat a specific diet - which means giving up many of the foods that regular people Mountain Bike for Her | P. 18
could not bear to part with. Chocolate, Wine, Cake... No way! They have to travel many weekends of the year, and they have to deal with a great deal of pressure to perform up to expectations in order to maintain their contracts. With all of this hard work the pros are rewarded with prize money, free bikes or equipment from their sponsors, and possibly a yearly salary. Also within the mountain bike world there is another type of racer, the amateur racer. These are women who put in forty hours a week at their “regular job”, family responsibilities, daily hassles, and tight schedules and STILL fit in a precious few hours of training a week in order to race on the weekends. These amateur women, or weekend racers, who participate in local races are the backbone of grassroots racing.
Photo: Colin Wilson
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Photo: Colin Wilson
HISTORY OF GRASSROOTS RACING
Grassroots racing has been around almost as long as the sport of mountain biking itself. In the early days, a few guys in Northern California and Colorado took cruiser bikes, adapted them to the rigors of off-road riding, and then raced these bikes down fire roads. This idea spawned the first grassroots racing, the Repack Series, a downhill time trial which helped bring mountain biking to the public eye for the first time. The Repack Series is also known as mountain bikingâ€™s first recorded competition. In 1983, NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association) was founded, which was the first sanctioning organization for off-road bicycle racing (now part of USA Cycling). In the 1990s, amateur mountain bike racing really took off and thousands of people around the United States got their first experience racing mountain bikes. Locally held races began popping up as promoters started offering weekend mountain bike racing within driving distance to most riders. This enabled amateur racers to get their chance to Mountain Bike for Her | P. 20
compete against local competitors and vie for trophies, medals, and pint glasses. In 1999, I also caught the racing bug and entered my first beginner race. It was insanely hard, I had my ass kicked up and down the trails but I managed to finish third, and loved every minute of it! That race started me on an obsession with racing mountain bikes and I spent the next few years racing up and down California, moving from the beginner category to the expert category. I have been racing off and on as an amateur ever since. SISTERHOOD
Over the years, while racing the local circuit, I have had good (and not so good) experiences but one thing I have always found when racing bikes is the camaraderie among the women racers the sisterhood you feel when you lineup at the start line. Every race is filled with both new and familiar faces. Some women you see will race one time, never to be seen again, but other women will show up at every race. You quickly learn
Photo: Colin Wilson
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Photo: Colin Wilson
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who your rivals are, and yet, there is a sense of bonding among the racers who line up with you every weekend. One thing is for sure: the other women standing at the start line with you are among the few members of society who can understand - or relate to - your obsessive dedication to a sport as brutally hard as mountain bike racing. They can relate to the pain of trying not to explode during a race when you still have three laps to go. Only they can understand how hard it was for you to fit in several hours of training in a week when your boss is breathing down your neck to get a sales presentation done before the deadline. Only other racers can relate to the bewildered looks when you tell your family why you need to ride your bike at 5:00am in the morning while everyone else is snoozing away. This is the kind of bonding that occurs among women who spend their hard earned weekends paying race fees to get their ass kicked. You feel it when you roll to the start. The talking, laughing, and joking at the start line is in complete contrast to the physical pain you are about to endure for the next two hours: a fast paced, brutal, yet, good-spirited battle to the finish. Once the whistle blows it is every woman for herself. The jockeying for position, the grinding of gears, the grunting of the riders as they make their way around the course. The chatter is quickly forgotten as you begin a tribal battle over who will be the first onto the singletrack, who will crest the top of the climb first, and ultimately, who will survive the battle to emerge as the victor.
There is something primal about racing bikes; you will never go so far out of your comfort zone as you do while racing. Like a soldier in battle, you simply push yourself further and deeper than you ever thought possible. Every woman who finishes a race has something in common: the prerequisite nervousness, followed by subsequent intense pain of going anaerobic for hours, then the complete sense of relief when the last hundred yards of the course is seen. This is followed by the relief and joy that is the crossing of the finish line. After a race, the finishers will usually gather in groups sharing war stories from the battle grounds. The talking, laughing, and joking return as the riders start to relax again, talk about their performances, results, course conditions, and to discuss upcoming races. REASONS WHY WOMEN RACE
Let’s face it, the number of women racing mountain bikes is not as high as the men but the small amount who do participate in grassroots racing are dedicated cyclists that belong to a core group of women who make time to follow their cycling passion. I asked some of my mountain biker friends why they race: “I enjoy the friendly competition with other girls my age and gives me a sense of satisfaction to finish a race” “I love racing because it gives me a venue to release my competitive nature in a healthy way!” “Simply because racing is fun!” “Kicking a$$ is fun”
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“Racing lets me see how I compare to other women in my area in regard to my fitness and technical skills. I can then see what I need to improve upon.” “I get a sense of pride when I realize all my hard training pays off and I end up doing well in a race.” “I want to see how far and how fast I can push myself” These responses show that racing means different things to different women but ultimately we can see that the underlying theme is the desire to be competitive and challenge ourselves in a microcosm. Of course, what would any sport be without competition? Anyone participating in mountain bike racing generally has some kind of competitive urge. By nature, we humans are competitive at work, and in life, so it is only natural that some women look to mountain bike racing as an outlet for competing. FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES AND WORK
There can be many challenges for women when they decide to start racing mountain bikes. Piecing together a workable training program around a family can be difficult, but it can be done with careful planning. Arranging for after school care or to have a babysitter to come by a few days a week can allow us to get out and train worry free. Possibly scheduling training rides early in the morning while everyone is still sleeping is another way racers have learned to adapt to squeeze in more hours. Many women also arrange for their husband or a grandparent to watch the Mountain Bike for Her | P. 24
kids for a couple of hours while they train. Most women have to be creative to make training time work, all while trying to hold down a full-time job; the bosses might not be so understanding about someone wanting to leave early to do a longer training ride, or understand when you come in an hour late because you were held up by a flat tire on your morning training ride. Many times we are often required to work late or come in early so training must be tailored to fit a busy schedule. Lunchtime rides are also another good way for women racers to pick up extra hours, and it really helps to find some co-workers to train with. Solidarity. MOUNTAIN BIKING IS NOT VERY LADY LIKE
It is a sport that can be looked upon as being more on the “manly” side and even the attitudes that run through the cycling world tend to promote mountain biking as a man’s sport: the extreme sport with massive drop-offs, big air, and big crashes. In the “olden days”, women were expected to be properly dressed, be “well-mannered” and certainly never participate in aggressive sports. Luckily, this view for the most part has changed but there are still people out there who feel that women shouldn’t involve themselves in such “animalistic” behavior. This view is more generally shared by people outside of the mountain bike world, especially among other females. Other women at work are shocked and disgusted by the large bruises on your legs when you wear a skirt or dress. Scratches or cuts are yucky! Muscular legs on a girl? Eww! Women should be doing things like
Photo: Colin Wilson
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Photo: Colin Wilson
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horseback riding, taking dance classes or cooking classes... Not bombing down dusty fire roads at 40 miles an hour. Women mountain bikers, and racers are rebels, rebelling against what society views as “normal” female activities. That is part of what makes racing mountain bikes so appealing to me, the outlaw feeling it gives. Flipping off society! WHY RACE?
Racing is a compact metaphor for our daily lives: representing the struggle to compete, thrive, and succeed. Some people may ask why would anyone voluntary get up at 5:00am on a Saturday morning, drive two hours or more to a remote location, pay fifty dollars, spend two and half hours riding as hard as you can, all to have your ass handed to you on a plate? Well, the answer is pretty simple, elemental, and it’s not because we are crazy! It’s simply because the small group of women racers who are out there every weekend competing at the regional level have a passion for the sport, love bikes, and love competing. They love life.
Photo: Colin Wilson
We aren’t racing for sponsorship money, for big bike companies, or as a job, but we are doing it for personal gratification and for a personal challenge. We spend our weekends driving from race to race with kids and husbands in tow. All for the glory of a cold beer, a cheap medal, and a fourth place finish. It’s totally worth it!
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POWER OF THE PUMP TRACK Feel the fear and do it anyway. By Karen Kefauver I was scared to try the pump track. Mostly, it was vanity. I worried that I would look like a fool trying to pedal around the dirt circuit. What business does a 44-year-old woman have getting in the way of all of the guys expertly using the pump tracks in Santa Cruz, California? CRASH TEST DUMMY
There was also the possibility of crashing. But I’ve hit the ground on my mountain bike plenty of times during the past 15 years of riding singletrack trails from Canada to Mexico to Peru. Yet, I was so concerned about my pump track debut that I put it off for years. Finally last week, it was time to take the plunge. WONDER WOMEN AT THE PUMP TRACK
Cycling coach and action sports writer Joh Rathbun, a former downhill pro, was offering a two-hour, women-only clinic Mountain Bike for Her | P. 30
designed to get women on the pump track — perfect! Plus, she’s a friend with a great sense of humor. That would make me relax. Five of us gals gathered on a hot Saturday afternoon at the Chanticleer Pump Track in Santa Cruz for the event organized by Shine Riders and Girls Gone Wilder. Three of us were brand new to the pump track and the others had visited pump tracks just a few times. Here’s what went down. SAFETY AND EQUIPMENT
“The biggest obstacle for women is intimidation… Don’t compare yourselves to others. If you are slow, so be it. We are here to have fun,” Coach Joh rallied us. We prepped: Helmets, knee and elbow pads on, basic bike safety check completed and tire air pressure lowered. We brought only hard tail mountain
Photo: Clayton Ryon
Author Karen Kefauver rounds a corner with a smile at her first ride on a pump track at Chanticleer Pump Track in Santa Cruz. P. 31 | Mountain Bike for Her
Photo: Clayton Ryon
At a womenâ€™s clinic at Chanticleer Pump Track, instructor Johauna Rathbun, center, demonstrates the correct arm positioning to best absorb shock and be loose on the pump track.
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bikes, not full suspension. So far, so good. Then, things went downhill for me. Problem #1: My pedals were rusted on and refused to budge for the pedal wrench. So I would have to spend the clinic with little clip-in pedals digging into the balls of my feet of my running shoes. Ouch! Problem #2: My seat tube was too long to be lowered. Joh took my bike seat off. I was stunned. Where would my tired tush rest? Needless to say, I was worried. OUR HOPE AND FEARS ON THE PUMP TRACK
Before proceeding to the pump track, I practiced my front wheel lifts, while the more advanced girls practiced bunny hops, all under the watchful eye of Coach Joh who had plenty of tips. HITTING THE BIG TIME
All warmed up and stoked we went over the pump track. “Own it, own it, own it!” Joh cheered. After Joh demonstrated where to ride an easy “line” on the dirt track, I followed her path, rolling gently onto the track I had feared for years. Immediately, I loved it! It was flowing, fun and the whoops and hollers of my gal pals pushed me to go around and around (resting in-between laps!) I practiced the push-up-like pumping motion to keep my body going with momentum around the track. Ideally you are not supposed to pedal but I couldn’t complete a full lap without some pedaling! P. 33 | Mountain Bike for Her
Five women showed up to learn bike skills and then test out the Chanticleer Pump Track at a clinic hosted by Johauna Rathbun, pictured far right. Students include (l-r) Melissa Gonzalez, Melissa Cline, Karen Kefauver, Traci Hukill and Sarah Montplaisir. Photo: Clayton Ryon
“This is WAY more fun than I thought,” said my friend, Traci, a beginner rider and also new to the pump track. I had to agree with her. I couldn’t wait to return for another session to practice my pump skills and build my confidence. LESSONS LEARNED
The pump track is a blast – even without a bike seat and little pedal nubs digging Mountain Bike for Her | P. 34
into my sneakers. Adrenalin took over on the turns and berms of the track and it didn’t matter. It’s always fun to learn new technical skills in a women-bonding setting. I feel lucky that I had the chance. Most importantly for me, I won’t let the fear of looking foolish hold me back from trying something new that looks so fun. I hope you’ll go for it, too. Bring it on!
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EDITOR’S PICKS The Editor’s Picks are select pieces of gear that we’ve tested over time. The Race Face Chute is made from Storm Lite Fabric, which is DWR treated 10,000mm; 5,000g/ m2. 3-ply, soft hand Polyester fabric. It’s laminated to a water-proof breathable membrane which is backed by lightweight mesh, and fully seam sealed to keep water out.
The Moving Comfort Rebound Racer offers great support for the girls! Our tester is a DD and she found this sports bra to be one of the more comfortable bras she’s tried. With hook and loop adjustable straps, it’s also easy to adjust for the perfect fit.
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The Specialized Rumor Expert is a comfortable bike to ride for long distances. The Rumor is solid on technical downhill trails and it was easy to get up to speed on both the downhills and the uphills. The Specialized Rumor is also easy to throw around on tight corners and berms.
Rand Momentum is a fairly new lubricant to the scene. It claims to be eco-friendly and it acts as a cleaning agent as well as a lubricator and protector against the elements.
With itâ€™s sleek lines and unobstructed vision, the Ryders Eyewear VIA is one of the more stylish pairs of riding glasses on the market. The VIA also comes with photochromic lenses which quickly adjust between sunlight and shade, perfect for riding on the trails.
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Photo: Norma Ibarra
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NORTH SHORE MOUNTAIN BIKE ASSOCIATION TOONIE PRERIDES Photos by Norma Ibarrra From May to July 2014, The North Shore Mountain Bike Association in North Vancouver, British Columbia is hosting women’s only prerides of their Toonie race course. With Coaches Cynthia Young, Kelli Sherbinin, and Penny Deck, the prerides happen every second Thursday, rain or shine. The first two prerides happened under grey skies on Fromme, one of North Vancouver’s trail networks. Norma Ibarra was there to capture the action for us. Judging by the photos, the rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits!
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Photo: Norma Ibarra
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Mountain Bike for Her is published bi-monthly as a free digital magazine. and is available online through mtb4her.com and as a subscription through issuu.com. Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and may not respresent the views of the publisher, advertisers, or sponsors.
Photo: Norma Ibarra
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