The woman who changed MTB apparel forever
Words by Mike Levy, Sterling Lorence, Geoff Gulevich, Kerri Holmes, & Johnny Smoke.
Photos by Sterling Lorence, Kerri Holmes, Ian Hylands, & Derek Frankowski.
The early days of freeriding were a heady time, and that's probably understating it when talking of North Vancouver's pioneering days. Before the internet made everything feel as if it were right outside our door, the North Shore was in its own rooty, steep, misty bubble, where normal gear didn't cut it and riders were resorting to protection borrowed from other sports.
In the 90s, while the cycling world at large was wrapped in lycra and chasing podiums, the Vancouver scene didn't really have its own identity yet. But that changed with Ingrid—if you rode on the 'Shore back then, you knew of her and her company, Roach Clothing.
Ingrid's pads and clothing were essentially indestructible, especially compared to the fragile gear that was everywhere at the time. She was learning as she went, taking riders' feedback and changing designs on the go so that her products evolved with the sport. Even now, you'll still see the odd set of Roach pads protecting someone's knees while they're out for a ride.
She was far more than Roach, though, with countless stories of her helping friends in need, her cantina, and of course the Shipyards Night Market. Her impact on mountain biking is incalculable, but that's dwarfed by her contribution to the community of Vancouver.
Ingrid sadly passed away last month
. Below are stories a few of her many friends have shared with us. From all of us at Pinkbike, Ingrid you'll be missed and your impacts on the sport won't be forgotten.
Sterling Lorence - Photographer
Those early days of the North Shore scene and the progression of freeriding out of B.C. was full of Roach. Ingrid loved the riding scene, and she truly came across as one that loved all the riders, her team riders, and all the expression and creativity that was happening. She showed that by always supporting the riders that were making films and shooting photos.
She was super creative and was able to convey mountain biking into her clothing/protection designs, color-ways, and style. And most importantly, she would listen to the riders and the scene and take that input into how things were made and performed.
I can remember going to visit her early in my career to show her photos and we discussed optional color-ways of her designs that would help pop more in the dark north shore forest light. A week later we'd have custom color kits for Wade Simmons and the boys that looked cool and worked better on film. It was nice to be able to wear B.C. ride clothing that didn't make us look like Supercross moto bros.Geoff Gulevich - Pro Rider
I first met Ingrid when I was 12 years old, at the Indoor North Shore Bike Show at BC Place. I knew her brand, Roach, as all of my idols wore it. Beyond that, we were strangers. I had cased a drop and ripped the seam of my cargo shorts and underwear. My ass was exposed and I was only looking for the quickest way to escape my embarrassment. Ingrid waved me over to her booth, went through her 50%-off inventory and found a pair of shorts to give me. To her, it may have only been a piece of clothing that she couldn't sell fast enough. To me, it was an escape from the most embarrassing moment of my life so far.
After that, for the past 19 years, whenever we ran into one another, we would share a laugh over that memory, have a hug and be on our ways. Ingrid was a saint to me and I am deeply saddened to say goodbye. I will always have a place in my heart for you and will never forget what you did for me. I'll miss you, Ingrid.
Johnny Smoke - OG Rider & Bike Guide
Kerri Holmes - Friend
Ingrid was amazing. I admired her ideas and her ingenuity. Roach hosted a bike series in the lower mainland at a small ski hill east of Vancouver, and this photo (right) was taken at the final event in 1993. She made stuff that bikers needed, gear that was tough and suited the gnarly ride, whether that was on a trail or competing with cars on city streets.
I've been rocking the Roach for over 25 years. I don't even remember the first time I saw it, but I probably thought that a stem and top tube pad were stupid the first time I saw one. Bike stuff was always expensive. Then again... nuts. I think I found a way to afford the pads pretty quickly and graduated to body armour with no delay. I seem to remember that there were a lot of alternatives popping up to the Roach stuff, but it always seemed to have issues with fit and durability.
Roach gear wasn't perfect, but it worked... every day. That and Ingrid was always there when you needed her to be. She literally would give you the clothes off her back.
I even managed to get a set of the pants on the cover of Mountain Biking (right, they're a little hard to see, I'm in front there) when we put down a 1st descent in the Tantalus Range. And I'm still wearing those pants, too. 23 years of heli biking, and ROACH was there from the beginning.
One time, she was playing around with the idea of a jacket that you could zip the sleeves off of. I happened to be at her shop at the time, and she just passed it over to me. "Let me know if this works," she said.
I lost the sleeves years ago, but I still have the vest, and I was wearing it at Retallack when I heard that she was ill and not doing well. I'd say that it works pretty good; 20 years of riding with a garment is alright.
Johnny Smoke. Photos by Derek Frankowski.
It's always a shame when someone passes away at a young age. But Ingrid has left a rich and lasting legacy. All the adventures we've had wearing her gear were so amazing, and there's more to come. And all the stuff being made by companies like RaceFace, Chromag, Chrome, Sombrio, and many others all owe a huge debt to this woman who dared to innovate.
Thanks for everything Ingrid.