5 Things I Learned at the Trans-Cascadia 2021

Oct 1, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
2021 Trans Cascadia Day 4

The Trans-Cascadia was my biggest step yet into blind backcountry enduro racing, and it was one I won't forget anytime soon. Here are a few of my takeaways.

1. A bit of creativity can go far when it comes to tech fixes.

The Trans-Cascadia is the real deal in terms of remote backcountry riding. The venue was remote - at one of the rider briefings, we were told to "manage our lives" because the following day's course would have no place to land a helicopter, should an evac be required. (The following day was also the day that I crashed on my already-injured wrist, so I'm not one to talk.) Personal problems aside, bike failure was a very real concern on those long days, as often the only way out was out via the course, so when Ivan Valdez crashed on the second day and fully broke off his brake lever, things looked pretty grim for him and the rest of his day. It was only with a bit of creativity that he, with some help from some friends, made his bike rideable for the rest of the day.

Praise the plastic lever. Ivan figured out he could zip tie a tire lever in place of his brake lever. While it likely wasn't a confidence-inspiring stopper, it seemed to do the job well enough for him to finish the day. Thankfully, Shimano was back at camp to offer neutral tech support for all the racers, so the life-saving Shimano dudes got Ivan back up and rolling again, well enough for him to take 12th in the burly amateur men's field.

2. It would be great to see more women at these events.

It's hard to figure out how to get more women into mountain biking. At nearly every race since the dawn of mountain bike racing, the racing scene has remained notably male-dominated. The Trans-Cascadia field was roughly 7% women. I'm not a social scientist or an expert in any way other than being a woman and also a person who rides bikes, but I have a few hunches as to why.

If the bike culture at large generally tells women that the sport is too hard for them, that racing is too gnarly, that enduro is too brutal, what are women who've internalized that message to do when they hear that a race like the Trans-Cascadia will likely be the hardest, gnarliest, most brutal race they've ever done?
2021 Trans Cascadia Day 4
Jill Kintner, Corinne Prevot, and yours truly for the pro women's podium.

Sure, you can say, no one actually tells women that biking is too hard, but the message is there each time a women's bike comes spec'd with lesser components than the equivalent men's version or each time a dudebro reassures me that every feature has a B-line. I just think we can do better.

For more women to show up, especially at the "hard" races, we need to change the implicit messaging from "it'll be hard so you shouldn't try to do it" to "it'll be hard and that's the point."

It's not Trans-Cascadia's fault that the women's field was small, especially since the race is meant to be burly. The organizers did a great job of creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere and it seems like all the women who raced had a fantastic time. I think if more women showed up, they'd have a blast, too.

Now, I do want to acknowledge the women who did make up the small but mighty field. Jill Kintner absolutely dominated, crushing her two closest competitors (Corinne Prevot and myself) by 10 minutes over nearly two hours of racing time. Corinne seemed to have a smile on her face for the entirety of all four days, which was an achievement in itself before you even realize she was on the podium. Alex Pavon, a Juliana rider, former ski racer, and all-around badass battled back and forth with me all race, which was a great time. Morgan Kurz won her entry through a Grow Cycling Foundation contest and is the first person I've met who handmakes wool bike clothing - hopefully more on that in a future article. Briana Valerosi held down the fort for the amateur women's category and was a joy to be around. Freeskiing legend Michelle Parker chose the Trans-Cascadia to be her first ever mountain bike race, which is just mind-boggling. After those four monster days, most other races will likely feel pretty tame. And maybe less fun.

3. Try to arrive with your body in decent condition.

Okay, this one should be obvious for any race, especially a massive backcountry race, but I say this because I wasn't ready. I've had a weird summer that's led to more time off the bike than in several years, leaving me objectively not mentally or physically ready to race, and a poorly-timed wrist injury just a couple weeks before the event didn't help things. I was on the fence about whether I could race until the day before the event started... and then clearly made the right decision to go, a choice that I'm endlessly thankful for. Still, I keep saying that the week couldn't possibly have been better, but I'll add the subtext that technically it would have been better if I was feeling a little fitter and a little less injured.
Body by tape, thanks to the massage therapists at the event. At least it helped give me the feeling that I wasn't imminently going to fall apart.

That said, even the injured folks had a great time. I was lucky enough to come out relatively unscathed, but plenty of riders fell victim to the tough course, with a full 13% of the riders joining the DNF list by the end of the race.

The race organizers did warn the riders beforehand that the race would include about 5,000' (1500 m) of climbing each day and even more descending, but the numbers barely did justice to the actual effort, given that most of the climbing was hiking and most of the descending was not cruisey. RIP my right shoe, which began to disintegrate in protest halfway through the race.

4. I finally get the blind racing thing.

Every time someone comes back from a Trans-Cascadia / BC / New England / New Zealand / Madeira / Somewhere Else Cool style race, they come back acting like it's the best thing they've ever done. I think I finally get it. There's nothing like spending that much time out in the woods, meeting fantastic people from all over who are all beyond stoked to be there, having essentially no phone service for six days, and building camaraderie through long days of riding and recapping by the bonfire at night. And, assuming you love bike racing and feel that bike racing makes everything better, it's also a race. There are so many wins.
2021 Trans Cascadia Day 1
The culture surrounding the Trans-Cascadia is largely what makes it so special, so of course it's all about the people - people who pour (likely) blood, (definitely) sweat, and (also probably) tears into making an event with so little certainty about whether the pandemic and forest fires would let the race happen. While it felt good, on some level, to reach the end of the last day, it was sad because we wouldn't all be getting on our bikes to ride together again the next day.

And that's all without mentioning the trails. Reading a trail for the first time is totally different from riding something you've practiced, GoPro'd, and visualized in preparation of that final race run like at other enduro races. Blind racing is raw, it strips the riding down to just the essential pieces, and it forces all of us to have some fun and take ourselves just a little less seriously. The discovery of something new, unexpected, and awesome is part of what makes the experience so cool.

I can't write about the race without at least mentioning the steep entry fee, since that tends to get some raised eyebrows, but that the entry fee subsidizes the nonprofit organization's trail work and has contributed to 500 miles of trail that Trans-Cascadia has worked on helps to bring things into perspective. That, plus riders don't have to think about travel logistics or much of anything besides riding bikes, eating good food, and drinking unlimited beverages, which makes for a decent vacation.

Throughout the race, after a bit of suffering on the first day, things just kept feeling better and better. I got to know the people around me, I had an absurd amount of fun surfing the steep, loose trails, and I enjoyed the crisp, bittersweet feeling of watching the trees yellow with the arrival of fall. The event was the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer, and it was a special kind of magic.

5. The fact that the race happened is a testament to resilience.

Just weeks before the planned race was scheduled to take place, the forest burned, taking with it half of the anticipated course. After months of scouting, planning, and clearing trail, the race crew had to come up with a backup plan, and they had to come up with it quickly.

As we sat around the bonfire after the first day of racing, we were told that the trail crews had just finished working on the next day's course. The same would be true for day three. When there were few options left and almost no time, the people responsible for trail work didn't have the option to quit when they were tired and pick back up where they left off another day. They worked relentlessly to make sure we had rideable courses, and they're the real unsung heroes of the event. More on that in an article to come.
2021 Trans Cascadia Day 3
The world was burning in the background, but we were in our own idyllic little world.

All in all, I showed up to the Trans-Cascadia having done very little blind enduro racing before and tried to arrive with as few expectations as possible, to just let the event unfold as it would. It's out-there, it's hard, and it's a party. It's safe to say that Trans-Cascadia is doing good things for our sport.

Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
745 articles

  • 43 0
 Everyone I know who's ridden Trans-Cascadia is a better rider than me, and none of them have been anywhere near a podium. So, over the past week I learned that Alicia is a badass. Well done.

Also on the cost of the event, we all benefit* from the work that Trans-Cascadia does to open up trails that have, for whatever reason, fallen into disrepair or disuse or lack of interest or whatever. They keep the zones and tracks "secret" but it only takes a tiny bit of effort to figure out who was riding where. The real trick is all the logistics to get yourself there.

* some of these trails are on the verge of disappearing every year due to overgrowth and deadfall so it's only through continued volunteer and/or trail organization work that they stay open at all.
  • 13 0
 So much respect for their trailwork efforts
  • 14 0
 I was reminded that I likely will NOT enjoy every minute of a bad ass day!! Couple times on days 3 and 4 while pushing my bike, I decided this shit was dumb....but by the time I finished my stoke levels were off.the chart and I was back in love. That was a legit event. Great write up Alicia. You're rad.
  • 2 0
 It was definitely type II fun (only fun when you're done, not during) and there w a couple of times it encroached on your III (duck this shit, I don't care if I podium, I'm not having fun anymore). There were times on those hike a bikes that I wondered if it's rather sit at camp tomorrow. After the last decent, it was all worth it.
  • 20 7
 I wonder of the hypothetical scenario where all human-made obstacles and barriers for females were removed from the mtb sport, would female interest/attendance spike and equalize as population distribution e.g., 50/50 men/women? If it didn't, why? At what ratio would females or males feel satisfied? Is there a ratio that would satisfy all? Are there biological reasons behind a skewed sex ratio in mtb? Or for any other hobby/sport/passion? Why isn't everything evenly split among biological men and women? Is it really because of cultural norms or is something biological at play? Perhaps both?

Racing one of these Trans races is on my bucket list. My gf, who is an athlete herself, competes with others and me, and mtbs, is not interested in Trans races. And that's completely OK

13% DNF is nuts!
  • 11 39
flag blackercanyons (Oct 1, 2021 at 19:20) (Below Threshold)
 what a long winded way to say you think women don't mtb as much because they're biologically inferior.
  • 16 1
 @blackercanyons: Only if you define biological superiority based on innate fondness for MTB. It's a legitimate question.
  • 14 4
 @blackercanyons: so you measure biological superiority by the willingness to compete in MTB? Sorry dude, you are way out there.

I'd love to see more women racing, being an husband and a father of a very young daughter. But I can't really subscribe to the "the scene tells woman the sport is too hard for them" thing. Anecdotal, I know, but every group, team or event I know is nothing but welcoming to women.
While certainly there are some remaining toxic attitudes, I believe the biggest "barrier" is simply lack of critical mass.
And even if critical mass wasn't a thing, there is no reason to believe we should expect 50:50 participation rate. Biology exists, and men and women are not identical and that's ok.

What a healthy society should do is to fight the existence of coercion, not fight to get equality of participation numbers on every single field
  • 8 13
flag SHEESHKAH (Oct 2, 2021 at 1:08) (Below Threshold)
 Well since your girlfriend isn’t interested and you are that pretty much covers it.

Clearly all women aren’t interested and we should leave the thinking to people that manage to type an entire paragraph using only questions and poorly implemented punctuation while simultaneously not making a single tangible point other than vaguely outlining their own misogyny.
  • 1 1
 I imagine there is a higher percentage of first time riders in the women’s group and women are way more likely then men to call it quits if they feel they can come back better prepared or just not enjoying themselves enough.
  • 2 0
 I think you've missed the point.
  • 11 2
 This may sound overly obvious, but if you really want to increase women’s participation in events the event managers have got to put an actual effort in. Change doesn’t happen without people trying to change things.

Women’s participation in mountain biking is way way higher these days than it was 20 years ago. Just look at any hot spot for bikes, the all have way more women’s rides, full family participation, etc. Bellingham, Kingdom Trails, Highland, pick your popular venue, it looks totally different than it did 10 years ago.

So, event owners, try some things out! Test what works, push for a goal of equal participation and keep checking the numbers to see what’s most effective. Just like anything.

Some free ideas for anyone who has the powers to test them, no idea if they would be effective, but seem worth trying:

1. Give people more time to commit.

Events like Cascadia sell out almost instantly, and people who are wary of going deep into the woods as a minority participant are going to need more time than your average dude to ensure they will be safe at the venue, have friends who might be there with them, and that will inherently lead to slower registration.

So, hold a block of entries for women racers temporarily, and release that block of entries to the wait list gradually as the event nears. Give people time to get a group of friends to show up with them, come up with the $, psych each other up. No risk at a popular event of not selling out, just a bit more logistics to manage.

2. Use the influencer model.

Give incentives to people for convincing the type of people to sign up that you want to entice into the event. $100 off for each woman you convince to attend? Or swag? Or something special. Turn the “magnet people”, the people we all know who pull groups along with them into your sales team working for you. If those “influencers” can convince enough people in the demographic you’re trying to grow, that person’s entry might even be free. Who knows!

But try something!

Any minority group’s participation snowballs once it gets above a certain point. Participation sits there at minimal numbers with only the super brave outliers attending, then the numbers suddenly raise once enough people’s sense of their safety and faith that they aren’t going to be the only one like them at an event is assured.
  • 23 17
 Why are we acting like it's always someone else's fault that '______' aren't mountain biking? Maybe women just don't want to mtb as much as men do. I know that's real controversial (for no reason at all) but maybe it's ok that men and women want to do different things sometimes.
  • 7 37
flag SHEESHKAH (Oct 2, 2021 at 1:11) (Below Threshold)
 Why are we acting like you aren’t a giant man child? Maybe people like you just shouldn’t share their opinion in any place outside their own inner monologue. I know it’s real controversial (for no reason at all) to not share every electrical impulse that masquerades as a thought in your brain but maybe it’s okay that you just swallow that thought and let it expel out your ass like the hot air it is.
  • 12 0
 @SHEESHKAH: you ever think about practicing what you preach? You disagree with him and went straight to name calling.

Is the goal to change the other person’s mind and bring them around to your way of thinking or to feel good about a zinger?
  • 14 0
 @SHEESHKAH: no, I think he has a fair point. My wife has a mountain bike, and we do ride together intermittently. She also rides occasionally with other women.

I have taken the approach that Alicia suggested, instinctively, that people do mountain biking because it is hard.

She is not an avid mountain biker because she just doesn’t enjoy it they way others do.

My impression is that with human beings in general, is that you can knock down all barriers for a certain activity, no matter what it is, certain peoples will not inherently be interested in it for a variety of factors.

I won’t go so far as to suggest that all barriers have been removed for getting women into mountain biking- I can’t speak for them and I do not walk in their shoes.
  • 4 4
 @vw4ever: Do you believe that women have the same socioeconomic power, recognition of work, and political power as men? Suggesting that women dont want to do "_____" as much as men in light of what history has to show is a form of logical fallacy. If history and our current world are our guide then perhaps we can also assume women are only worth paying 83% of what men are paid. Biking, or even sports generally, dont exist in isolation. So do we expect women are encouraged and welcomed in biking (or so many other facets of life) the same as men?
  • 1 8
flag SHEESHKAH (Oct 2, 2021 at 9:35) (Below Threshold)
 @vw4ever: I’m glad that you concluded a large paragraph speaking for them by telling me you can’t speak for them.
  • 2 5
 @Kevindhansen: The part about the zinger
  • 3 0
 @Planetx888: fair points! So if you look at the countries with better gender equality by political and economic measures--like NZ, Switzerland, Scandinavia--you might expect higher female participation in MTB there vs in the US. I have no idea if that's the case, but it would be interesting to scrape up some data.
  • 4 0
 @ryetoast: I think it is about a lot more than gender equity. The bro culture of mtb in general pushes a decent amount of women away and can be intimidating. Some women love it, but it can be an intense community to break into
  • 1 1
 @FrothDog: Agreed - hopefully women's group rides and kids' programs like Little Bellas will help with that. But I do think economics matter, too, as women statistically have a bit less disposable income and time than men, and bikes ain't cheap, and getting out for a trail ride is usually more of a time commitment than, say, going for a run or to the gym or for a road ride.
  • 3 2
 @FrothDog: @FrothDog: bro culture? So people who like mountain bikes being who they are is a barrier of entry for women? People break barriers when there's interest involved. Where's the women that really really want to mtb, but haven't because of social barriers? I don't believe they exist. I believe the women who really really want to mtb end up mtbing.
  • 1 0
 @Bro-LanDog: How do you explain to a fish what water is?
  • 4 1
 @Bro-LanDog: As a woman, I know many other women who are intimidated by the intensity of dudes in mtb culture and it pushed them away from the sport. This is why women's clinics have been so popular lately. I'm sorry you can't imagine what it's like to not feel welcomed somwhere. Saying you "don't believe they exist" just makes you part of the problem, sadly.
  • 3 3
 @FrothDog: intensity of dudes in mtb culture? Are we suppose to play nick nack patty wack at the trailhead and hold each other's hands? Sounds like excuses from people who don't want to mtb that badly. Mtb is an extreme sport, what do you seriously expect?
  • 1 4
 @Bro-LanDog: Who hurt you?
  • 3 0
 @Bro-LanDog: I don't think anyone wants or expects MTB as a whole to adopt the culture of yoga. But more women's events and more visibility for female athletes would combat the assumptions about the sport that you're kindly reinforcing ("MTB is an extreme sport!" Really? Have you seen how most people ride?) and show interested women and girls that there is actually a niche for them here, where they don't *have* to conform to every park rat stereotype if they don't want to.

Hold up, how about a thought experiment. Say MTB DID, magically, overnight, become just like yoga, and say you're pretty new to the sport. You roll up at the trailhead and suddenly it's 90% women in Lulu Lemon and they look at you like you're from outer space when you show up with your full face helmet, energy drink, and total disinterest in chakras. How long would you stick around? Of course the enlightened female MTBers have the right to be themselves, but I bet you'd wonder if there was a community of riders more like you who you could hang out with instead. Pardon the stupid hyperbole, but seriously--imagine how you'd feel if the gender split was reversed and the culture was kind of alienating even if it meant well.
  • 2 1
 @ryetoast: @ryetoast: My entire life has been a matter of breaking down barriers to do the things I want and/or need to do. Trying to insinuate that the mtb stereotype is my people (it isn't) and that it was easy for me to ride is missing the point. The point is despite these barriers, I wanted to ride bikes more than I wanted to conform to a stereotype, so I rode bikes. You hear the same excuses for people who don't want to join trades, go to the gym, take a class, quit their jobs, end a relationship, ask for a raise, stand up to family members, etc etc. It's the easiest thing in the world to place blame on others, it's much harder to break through your own insecurities and just do what you want to regardless.
  • 1 0
 @Bro-LanDog: yeah, but advocating for self-determination ain't how you sell 40% more bikes.
  • 2 0
 @ryetoast: I'm curious the male/female ratio in the roadie scene. I'd bet it's closer to 1:1
  • 1 0
 @Bro-LanDog: I'd guess that too. The last random VT gravel races I did were 20-25% women, and the last enduros I did were about 5-10% women. No idea how well that correlates to who's actually out on the roads/trails though - XC races might be more representative of the casual MTB population than enduros? Maybe not though... they look like a lot of work.
  • 6 0
 Alicia was a blast to have at the TC, and so damn unassuming that I had no idea how fast she was until, literally, I was sitting around the campfire and did a double take when I heard her called up to the pro podium. In typical fashion - she’s totally downplaying her injury, which I expect would have been race-ending for most of us.

Full-on agreement to the entire article, but especially #5. I kept mentally comparing TC to past events I’ve done, but had to stop and remind myself that they not only had to deal with COVID, but also half the course burning just a few weeks before the race. The TC would have been an impressive logistical feat in ideal circumstances. The fact that they managed to put on the event they did in the conditions they faced was mind-blowing.
  • 6 0
 I thought that was a well written perspective on what sounds like such a great race concept. The whole idea of blind racing backcountry trails , camping away from our phones, beers, good food, beers with like-minded people. But as a trail builder, the idea of opening up miles of backcountry trails for future use, and showing authorities what mt bikers can do . Bravo.
  • 4 0
 Ever since I saw Vanderham do this a couple of years ago and read an article about this, I've wanted to do it! Awesome write up Alicia, looking forward to reading more articles from the race. Hopefully I'll get to do this one day!
  • 6 2
 The answer to more women is more kids…all kids, boys and girls, black, brown and white. Set up a little course at local trails, make racing fun (have them do it with their parents, make it relay/team based, let them experience all types of racing) (but definitely have winners bc thats a good lesson too)…and level it up with ea age/skill level like most sports do…write skill and progression guides for coaches and leagues to utilize (ex USA Hockey)…eventually have girls and boys races and feed that into NICA (here in the US)…rinse and repeat.
  • 4 1
 I ride with a gal who is a much better rider than me, it didn't start that way, but she's surrounded herself with amazing women who have collectively advocated for increasing ridership by sharing the joy of mountain biking. They are incredibly approachable and really try to make it easy to adopt the sport. I'm thankful to see this change over the years, because when we get to ride together I get to see the trail and the environment in a different way, one I don't typically get with other guys. And that's refreshing and humbling. I'm all for more people on bikes, it's good for our mental health, the community when it's not permeated with bro stoke teaches us things we don't get anywhere else; it helps me deal with my social anxiety or could help with self esteem or any number of other things. The thing I think we need to convey about mountain biking is it's a vessel to get us outside, which can improve our mental and physical health, and that it's fun and for everyone.
  • 5 0
 More women would be dope obviously. That price tag is the only thing holding me back from going.
  • 2 0
 Would be sick to see more women. I would be hella stoked on this event and even the chance to chill with Jill but also see the barriers more many women: price, time off work, 4 day event- have to be fit as- proper bike. Unless you breath and live mtb as the pro gals do I can see this be a big push for the everyday lady rider.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the writeup–I learned a few things. And good job getting to the podium.

"It's hard to figure out how to get more women into mountain biking."

Concur, I don't know the answer to this either. I only know a small handful of ladies riding MTB's, and when visiting the Whistler bikepark recently it was roughly 2/10 female.
  • 40 20
 The answer to that lies with the toxic bro culture that permeates the sport. And before you go getting all “this is sexist” on me, let’s be real and admit what I’m talking about isn’t mutually exclusive to those who identify as male.
Also, maybe quit making everything for the ladies generic colors male identified person in the marketing department think female identified people like, and take some cues from the art and fashion world each year.
Next, let’s get some decent cuts of clothing instead of v necks, fit and flair cuts, and riding shorts that look like boxes and early room for actual hips.
Make smaller sizes of the guys stuff because they get all the cool looking stuff but none of it fits us.
Representation and visibility also stinks. It’s dope that there are girls pushing it in free ride and racing , going to new levels at an increasing pace, but we only see the top ten really in any discipline. Make it more accessible by showing more of all types of riders, rider that don’t just have long ponytails flowing from helmets and rocking flannel. Bring some cool style to the functionality. Make more room for self expression. And fo f*cks sake show some female identified people that aren’t YT.

Sincerely, a woman that loves to ride bikes, with a legitimate distain for the culture of beer, aggressive high fives, bro brahing, etc.
  • 3 0
 @soup4myfamily: Thanks for the feedback. Maybe that could also be another poll question: What's precenting female riders from MTB involvement" or something similar.

Do you mean both genders are getting on the "toxic bro culture?":

"let’s be real and admit what I’m talking about isn’t mutually exclusive to those who identify as male."
  • 8 0
 @soup4myfamily: I think... I hope... that social inertia and the bro culture you mentioned have more to do with the lack of women in MTB than the untrendyness of women's MTB clothes. I played soccer in school because none of my (female) friends were into biking. They still aren't, now I just don't care--but when you're a kid the herd mentality matters. More school or community MTB programs to introduce girls to the sport would help immensely, I think. There's still a perception that MTB is a bro sport but that would change if you got a whole generation of girls to grow up riding with their friends.

Don't get rid of the beer, either...
  • 6 1
 ...I also think that the lack of women at races in particular could be partly due to the broad societal tendency of women to underestimate their own skills relative to men with the same skills. To sign up for a race, you have to think you're pretty okay. To sign up for a week-long race, you have to think you're pretty good. There aren't a ton of women in the sport to begin with; of those women, the peak of the bell curve of ability is gonna be further to the left than the men's; and of the few women on that right tail of the curve who could crush an event like this, how many are going to wager a couple thousand bucks on themselves to do so?
  • 2 0
 @soup4myfamily: my gf hates all the pink and purple clothing…and she sure doesn’t want a v-neck while riding.
  • 4 2
 @njcbps: that’s exactly what I am saying. A lot of the female identified people in biking have been just as off putting in their display of the same vibe as the bros they ride with as well some next level cattiness that seems to be rooted in the biker identity they have created for themselves feeling like it’s an invasion of their territory to have another capable FI rider around . This has been my experience in multiple hubs for mountain biking for 10 years. And to be Frank, the PNW is hands down the the worst offender on all fronts
  • 1 0
 @soup4myfsmily Plenty of brands never did a women’s model while marketing towards women and a few who have definitely slanted towards equally rad and in no way feminine color schemes. Also some ladies (and men) want a pink bike. My mom’s liv is silver and blue I don’t know if she’s even aware it’s the women’s brand of giant. I just figured she’d appreciate aspects of their brand model and knew she’d want a women’s seat. There is something for everyone in that regard.

I do agree culture is an issue. Bike parks aren’t anywhere near as devoloped as ski resorts at catering to and growing riders of different skill levels and often close many of the amenities that appeal to casual riders in summer time. So if broing out in the lot between 7 or 8 runs and a couple beers in the lot after don’t sound appealing there is literally no reason to go to my local bike park or the majority of the races that could prepare you for an event like this. I also think mtb at a high level has both a high physical requirement and a ton of risk. I know more women then men honestly who like fitness. I know a ton of woman who enjoy low to med risk sports. I know quite a few women who enjoy high risk sports and activities but have no interest in fitness what so ever. The crossover of enjoying high risk sports and being fit enough to keep up with boys or the other ladies already into sport seems to be much lower in woman than men. Plus men have easier time finding another beginner to ride with or getting out there alone.
  • 3 2
 @soup4myfamily: Thanks for making this point, I wish more people understood why mtb culture pushes a lot of women away. I think it all starts at the bike shops where employees generally assume women know nothing until they prove their knowledge. It's definitely a frustrating expereince to even try and learn more and one that turns a lot of women away before they get to the trails. I've had employees talk at my bf in response to me asking a question.

@alicialeggett I know you agree with that last sentiment through mutual friends. I know you can't speak publicly on the issue, but I know you get it.
  • 5 0
 I loved this summary. Keep doing what you do Alicia!!
  • 6 3
 Came to see the mansplaining…Did not leave disappointed. Some of you are so out of touch it hurts. I’m a white dude, I know how these women feel. Cringe.
  • 1 0
 Alecia, well said! Your takeaways are exactly on point. I don't race, but did this because of the allure of blind racing and backcountry epics. It's fun to play racer but honestly a majority of the riders I believe just go for the trails and experience, not a result. There is the full cross section of skills, fitness, and experience when you look at all the attendees. From memory, there was a much deeper womens field in past events. Not clear why that shook out like that this season, it was weird. For whatever it's worth, I also cringe at the exquisite broculture and sometimes probably fall victem to subscribing at the same time. There is momentum building on the sport being more all inclusive. It's a great time to be a MTB'er. Be the change. Pointing it out helps, arguing it's not an issue just makes you look ignorant. See you all out on trail.
  • 1 0
 I think competition isn't the experience every rider is looking for. I would hazard a guess and say women and men compete for different reasons. My wife isn't a competitive person in the 'race day' sense. She wants to be a better XYZ, but not at an event with dozens/hundreds/thousands of her new closest friends. She has nothing to prove to a stopwatch, a governing body, or another human being. She longs for an intrinsic experience rather than one motivated by the energy of others.

With that said, I disagree with author on the statement referencing the race organizers. They are responsible for organizing an event with a men's and women's field. If enough women didn't compete, something was amiss with the event, especially if the event sells out rather quickly. The organizers may have made the event welcoming and inclusive, but isn't it possible that wasn't the experience the riders were looking for? Was the event advertised as such? The point is, if the organizers aren't seeing who you want to see at an event, they have to look at their own efforts for a solution. I don't think it's fair to put the blame on the community that the event wasn't supported or represented well enough.
  • 1 0
 I did this as an amateur woman (2017). I had mixed feelings about it - mostly positive. The riding was some of the best most memorable I'd ever done in my life, and the people were really nice. But the vast majority of riders had expenses paid by their bike industry employer or sponsors. I felt really out of place, but more because I am not in the bike industry or a sponsored pro. The % of female involvement sadly must mirror what the bike industry looks like.

I've never been to a Sturdy Dirty, but there are definitely some clues not very far away for how to get women to show up for something. I think the secret has to do with community, acceptance, camaraderie, laughter and good times. I think this event has all that, what it's missing is a lot of other women being there - especially amateurs. So yeah, it's a bit of chicken v. egg thing to boost involvement.
  • 4 0
 Alicia Leggett bike check coming soon?
  • 3 0
 A few friends of mine have been to this and said it's the best event they've ever done. Bucket list for sure.
  • 3 0
 "it'll be hard and that's the point." is exactly the message I receive when reading these
  • 1 0
 Good work Alicia! Was out there with ya during some of the transfers and was loving the good energy and vibes we had going! Cheers for the good times!
  • 1 3
 As an amateur female enduro rider one of my biggest concerns before entering one of those multi day events is if I will be able to handle all the transports and hike a bike. With 30% less muscles than men I have to be insanely well prepared to manage the biggest days. For some events, maybe it would be an idea to have the women ride some of the stages not all the way from the top? I know it sounds stupid and less equal, but why should the tracks be all the same when we are so physically different?
  • 1 0
 You can do it! The climbs/hike a bike are part of it, but you still get shuttled most of the way up most of the stages. I think the longest day when I did it was 25 miles. Most days were a lot less. Perhaps they could have one less stage each day for the amateur riders in general.
  • 1 0
 Need to get Valko out there, that’s make for more ladies.
  • 1 0
 No results list?
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