Words by CJ Selig, Five Ten
For me, International Women’s Day exists to bring attention to the women who work daily to improve parity and to celebrate the accomplishments of women and men dedicated to this goal. There’s always room for improvement (I would love to see more women at downhill races), but today I want to celebrate. I reached out to several women’s camps we support to examine their motivation and impact.
Everyone can find their own way to enjoy mountain biking. From the adrenaline of competition to the tranquility of the great outdoors our sport benefits anyone who wishes to see the world and be active.
It takes a concentrated effort to turn a day of mountain biking into a lifetime spent in the dirt with your favorite set of wheels. Traditionally this transformation happened less often for women, but today many begin this journey with a skills clinic.
A skills clinic can improve your ability on a bike. This sounds obvious, but constant improvement is key to spending years revisiting your local trails or dreaming up holidays that include your bike. Candace Shadley of the Trek Dirt Series knows the importance of pressing women to improve their riding.
Photo by Stephanie Nitsch
Any coach or teacher will confirm the challenge inherent in guiding others. Tina Bek and Tina Lang have teamed up to run the Tinas’ Backyard Trail Jam to tackle this challenge. Tina Lang summed this up into the classic ‘aha-effect.’
Even women who have ridden bikes for years can feel as if they are at a stalemate; their passion for the sport isn’t growing and their bike community remains the same size as when they first started. This is the situation Lindsey Richter of Ladies Allride found herself in when she tried a skills clinic for the first time. She started following the professional race scene in 2002, but felt it wasn’t speaking to her.
When women have a place to build their skills and a community to support them, our numbers grow. Camp directors have seen the power of this support system firsthand, and dedicated themselves to the hard work it takes to pay it forward.
Photo by Mason Photography
These women have worked tirelessly, through highs and lows, good times and awful climbs to make a positive difference to our sport and to the lives of women and their efforts have absolutely paid off. This passion helps everyone, and Tina Bek feels proud of the work she is doing.
This International Women’s Day I want to thank everyone who works hard to move this sport forward. I am in awe of the professional athletes who not only inspire the next generation of women but also find ways of giving these girls a helping hand. I am grateful for the women and men who have dedicated their time to designing, engineering and producing an impressive range of bicycles and bike products meant exclusively for the female market.
Finally, I am inspired by the tireless women who have taken the time to organize! Today, junior development teams, group rides, festivals, retreats and skills clinics all thrive and spread the enthusiasm and love of getting outside and riding. I believe mountain biking is thriving, the number of female bike-lovers is growing, and I hope everyone involved has someone reach out and thank them today!Written By CJ Selig: a Five Ten office grunt who lives to race downhill and is forever wishing there were more women to race against.