Ingrid Doerr: A Tribute

Oct 11, 2018
by Mike Levy  
Ingrid circa 1993. Photo courtesy Kerri Holmes.

INGRID DOERR
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.
Founder of Roach Clothing and good soul. RIP Sept 21 2018

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.
—ML





Back in the Saddle - Vanderham LeClerc Watson and Justin Lansing
Back in the Saddle - Vanderham, LeClerc, Watson, and Justin Lansing. Photo by Sterling Lorence.

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.

Wade Simmons on Roach clothing in Mexico Kranked 4 2001
Wade Simmons on Roach clothing in Mexico, Kranked 4, 2001. Photo by Sterling Lorence.
Eric VanDrimmelen North Shore 2003
Eric VanDrimmelen, North Shore, 2003. Photo by Sterling Lorence.


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.

bigquotesMy ass was exposed and I was only looking for the quickest way to escape my embarrassment.Geoff Gulevich

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.
Geoff Gulevich rocking some old Roach gear.

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.


Images with Roach Clothing. Photos by Ian Hylands.
Barb Haley wearing Roach Gear in Williams Lake, 2001. Photos by Ian Hylands.

Johnny Smoke - OG Rider & Bike Guide

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 amp Roach Clothing on the cover of Mountain Biking. Photo by Ian Hylands.

Johnny Smoke wearing Roach Clothing. Photos by Derek Frankowski.
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.


Sterling Lorence photo.
Darren Berrecloth in Utah Kranked 4 2002
Darren Berrecloth in Utah, Kranked 4, 2002. Sterling Lorence photo.



25 Comments

  • + 26
 I had a bunch of her gear, the jacket, pads, and Swade shorts... I wore those shorts until there was literally nothing left. Had an incident with a dead zipper on the jacket and sent it back and she took care of it immediately, and patched a cigarette hole left from someone who tossed it on the jacket when it was on the ground somewhere. Amazing product by someone that always showed love for the industry. As the article says.... that gear influenced ALL the current riding apparel....we would be in short tight baggies or just lycra if it wasn't for Roach!
  • + 24
 Ingrid was an amazing human being and has left an awesome legacy with her big heart, smile and Roach gear. I got my first shorts, pants, jerseys, vest, jacket and armour from her in 1995 and the pieces I still have are still in unbelievable condition. Can't kill a Roach! Will miss her and never, ever forget her. Love you Ingrid!!! I, too, will do some drops to flat for you. RIP sister!!
  • + 17
 It's good to see the words from "veterans" (that's what they call us these days right?). It's hard to put it into perspective when biking in Vancouver, Squampton and Whistler are so mainstream. Back then we were kind of - well - weird. I remember when we first started the NSMBA and looked for help for tools and food for the first ever trail days back in 1997 we called Ingrid and she gave us cash. Not just product but cash.

She was always looking not just to do the right thing but to go above and beyond. I'll do some drops to flat for you Ingrid.
  • + 12
 Working at a bike shop in the late 90s one day a week living at my parents house. The other 6 days were spent on my rocky mountain pipeline. Big tires, grip shift, vbrakes, roach pants and jacket and the secret pocket in my roach top tube pad to hold.......well roaches. It was a life style that changed my life forever. Thank-you Ingrid for being a part of that. Rip that single track in the sky.
  • + 9
 Still rockin' Roach stem and top tube pads on my '01 Stiffee. "Can't kill a Roach!"
  • + 7
 I had some stem pads over the years and some shorts. Great stuff! I loved the "breakaway" velcro crotch flap in the shorts. What an era! RIP Ingrid.
  • + 5
 Ingrid is truly a mountain bike legend, who deserves to go into the Hall of Fame as soon as possible. Back in a time when nothing, and I mean nothing, was reliable when it came to bikes, parts, accessories and clothing, she produced the only reliable mountain bike related items available. I raced a lot in the 80's and 90's, and she came through for me countless times when I was a broke racer just looking for a little help. Take a minute to think about all the other commenters here taking about their Roach gear that is still going strong. I doubt there is any other manufacturer of MTB clothing with that kind of durability. If everyone in the industry had her passion for quality, imagine where we'd all be today. I can't say enough about her as a person, she was always great to run into. She will be missed.
  • + 4
 got my first pair of her indie shorts at the Hornby Island bike fest/race. then in 2000 i misplaced the shorts! i found 'em last year...so yeah, I'll be rockin' those shorts for years. simple bomber non-stretchy nylon with the codpiece placket!
  • + 5
 I have one of those Roach zip-off sleeve jackets. It's coming out this weekend. Previously I have saved it for my first ride on a new bike (I'm superstitious like that).
  • + 3
 I still wear my original Indy shorts sometimes and the only thing missing is a few stitches here and there, no rips or tears - amazing. Whenever I bust them out and put on my 20 year old Roach vest, the soundtrack to Ride to the Hills fills my head and I feel invinceable and pumped to ride! Roach clothing was such a huge part of so many good memories of riding for me and my friends. Thanks Ingrid, you've left such a cool legacy in this world and you'll be missed.
  • + 2
 Still have my fabric arms and legs. Sold my brown trousers on eBay 15? years age but only because I bought the wrong size and I could not stand to see them unused. I have a set of plastic legs with the embossed Roach which magically said Race Face when the following years stuff came out. Not sure if Ingrid or RF designed them but they still set action on super gnar days. It’s always better to buy local stuff with a soul because it’s art you can enjoy and pass on rather than cheap overseas factory sh1t. Vote with your dollar. So sorry Ingrid caught the westbound - Ride In Perpetuity! #ROACH
  • + 2
 I have the same vest that Gully is wearing in that shot as well as the zip off sleeves that go with it. 20+ years later, original zippers and still going strong. Not only was she a beauty but she made some seriously tough gear. Thanks Ingrid. You will be missed.
  • + 3
 In the beginning it was a small family. She shaped our mountain bike identity thru her creations and her loving giving personality. We are her she is us. Will never turn this this page. Thanks Ingrid! thanks PB
  • + 2
 Met up for a drink with Ingrid four years ago and that night she made a custom ROACH vest with the same material as the original ones, but brand new. Pretty stoked to have it, gonna use it lots this winter. Was cool to have a drink with her almost twenty years after I first met her at a race at Burnt Bridge which I won, and she gave me a stem pad as congratulations.....Wonderful lady.
  • + 1
 I still remember the day I got my first pair of Roach full knee / shin pads. All my favourite riders were wearing them. I can remember dropping onto my knees in my parents driveway to "test them out". They survived the growing pains of a young rider on the North Shore trying to build his confidence. Many fond memories of Roach!
  • + 1
 Back in 2000 the Roach waterproof jacket was marketed - by one of the MTB magazines of that era - as one of the best rain jackets one could buy. So I did. I had to wait a bit as they sewed this for me. They were pretty small by that time I guess. I think I even provided them with my measurements (or it's just my imagination?) After 15yrs or so, I still have it, like new condition. I do not ride too much in the rain, why should I with 320+ days of sunshine in Athens per year!
RIP Ingrid.
  • + 5
 My Roach pads saved my untalented ass a few times! Rest in peace Ingrid.
  • + 5
 Still have some Roach elbows! Saved me for sure. Thank you Ingrid RIP!
  • + 1
 Me too. I rock them on my moto - the full fore-arm protection is awesome for deflecting branches. They must be close to 20 years old.
  • + 1
 I first met Ingrid in 1992. Was looking for trials pads so I could retire my backcatcher's knee/shin pads. At that time, her shop was just off Granville Island. This was before there was a regular product lineup other than frame pads. It was the glory days of custom order, you'd just go down there and tell her exactly what you wanted. 5 days later it would be waiting for you. The knee/shin pads are long dead, but I still have a stem nard guard from those days. It didn't even have a logo on it. I don't think she had a logo at that time.

RIP Ingrid. Thanks for everything.
  • + 4
 Yellow Roach stem pad saved my nuts a few times..Thanks Ingrid RIP
  • + 2
 Hey Race Face, since you own the Roach brand i think you should come out with a commemorative Roach item....that would be sweet!
  • + 0
 What happened to her ?
  • - 1
 MTB bikes.
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