Hannah Report: My Passion and Women in Sport

Apr 3, 2015
by Tracey Hannah  
Hanna report logo


With my passion for women in sport I decided to dedicate this one to all the ladies out there.

She looked into the mirror and was disappointed by what she saw, her confidence was at an all time low and she felt ugly and insignificant. Who told her she was ugly? Who told her she was insignificant? Who told her that she couldn’t? Why encourage girls to ride? When I see the struggles that young girls go through trying to live up to the modern standard of what a woman should be it makes me sad. Riding sets you free and gives you confidence and a sense of adventure.

Tracey Hannah checks the grip on the roots about half way down.

There's more to life than worrying if you're skinny enough, beautiful enough or good enough. I know that deep down inside most girls lies a heart for adventure that is shut out by what we "should" do or who we "should" be. When you spend your time trying to live up to unrealistic expectations, sport is completely out of the question, and thoughts arise like "I don’t want to get dirty, sweaty, and I don’t want to look like a tom­boy," or simply, "I don’t want to be ugly."

It's scary to ride a bike, to come into a sport that is considered extreme and male dominated. Tapping into an industry that is run off testosterone is extremely hard. The benefits of getting out on a bike far outweigh never having the courage to try. Working up the bravery it takes to pedal for the first time is one of the many challenges that will change your life. Building confidence to get out and ride those trails that once seemed impossible and ridiculous is no easy task. Once you overcome the fear that was holding you back you will find a freedom that comes with getting better and better. Being fit and healthy at the gym is great but combine adventure with that and it will change your lifestyle.

Can t complain about a long day on the hill shooting photos when there are views like this.

The shell is cracking and the industry is realizing that encouraging women to ride is of the utmost importance. Girls at the top level in this sport have learned how to push themselves, to overcome fear and exceed expectations that once labelled us incompetent. It's surprising what we can do when we see someone else can do it. It's even more unbelievable when we realize we’ve been capable all along. When I’m on my bike I never consider what I look like or who I wished I was, and I don’t lack self confidence. I let it go and for but a moment I can be myself. I roll through dusty turns with nothing to prove, I don’t have to be fast, or slow, when I’m riding, there is no one in the world that I have to be -­ I’m living in the moment, I’m being me!!

Tracy Hannah looking very committed and eager to get on the podium.

One day I just decided I’d had enough of fear, I wanted to do this and I wanted to be confident. I believe that we can all get to the point of full confidence, where we finally realize that we are who we are, so let's start working on being the best that we can be. You don’t have to be the fastest in the world or the most skilled, but you must be your best no matter what level that is. If all you can do is ride around a lake on a dirt track, ­as long as you do it the best you can then that's good enough. Push your own limits and never try to be someone else.

Thanks to my mental coach John for teaching me so much about life and allowing me to share what I’ve learned with you guys and my dad for knowing the answer to most of my questions and giving me wise advice. Thank you guys for reading my blogs and supporting me in my racing.

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105 Comments

  • + 115
 If any girls are worrying about being ugly, just know that riding automatically bumps you up at least 3 points
  • + 23
 Though you probably didn't mean it that way, your statement only adds to girls' insecurities. What is "ugly" anyway?
  • + 61
 Honey boo boo's mom.
  • + 5
 Yo' Mom rides a bike
  • + 3
 No, but yours does. Big Grin
  • - 7
flag dars51 (Apr 3, 2015 at 23:29) (Below Threshold)
 does anyone know how old is tracey? she looks 22-25 for me
  • + 4
 A full face helmet helps take looks out of the whole picture doesn't it. Not a girl but when i put my lid on i want to be/feel/act/sound (etc.) as ugly as possible. A completely apish brute. It might actually be a liability in DH to be too good looking. Who knows.
  • + 7
 Whether or not this adds to womens insecurities, if I have to choose between talking to a woman in moto trousers, or a woman in a pretty outfit, I'll choose moto trousers every time. Doesn't matter what she looks like, I know I will more than likely like her for who she is. The girl in the pretty outfit I may like, I may not...
  • + 5
 Thanks @trailblitz, it's comments like that that really help the cause. You are a winner! sarcasm>>.
  • + 1
 That's just dumb Gabriel... liking the same sport as you may very well be the ONLY thing you get along with her about. People are people regardless of what rhey look like or what they wear.
  • + 9
 This isn't the first time something I said with good intentions was interpreted negatively Frown I guess I'm just bad with words
  • + 6
 Its not dumb at all. If I see two people, and one of them looks more like they are into what I'm into, of course I'll gravitate towards that person. I'll assume rightly or wrongly, that I will find that person more interesting. This is true whether they are men or women, but if they are a woman I am more likely to find her attractive if she's wearing the same style of clothing as me. Call that shallow, but tell me you don't base any of your decisions about how attractive you find someone on their clothing and I'll call you a liar.

Dh gear is a far less subtle clue than a pair of board shorts for example, because no one just walks round in dh pajamas cos it looks cool. I can assume almost 100% accurately that someone in bright orange dh gear will probably enjoy bombing down a hill on a bike. Not only that but they will probably also like surfing, climbing, swimming, driving, and whatever other source of thrills they happen across. That describes pretty well a woman I'd like to at least hang out with. If on the other hand, her face is bright orange, her hair is perfect and she looks like she thought for at bit too long about matching her shoes to her belt to her bag to her hair thing, I'll probably not be quite as keen to introduce myself. It could be that if I did she would turn out to be the love of my life, but all I'm saying is that you make certain assumptions about a person as soon as you see them, its impossible not to.

So in short, I agree with trailblitz that however attractive i find a woman, I'll find her more attractive if she wears dh gear. Sorry if that offends people, but I don't really understand why it would.
  • + 1
 Although, looking back, thats not what trailblitz actually said. oops. Still true tho...
  • + 4
 Let's cut the BS. Girls that ride are awesome and Tracey is an amazing rider. Always will be. Period.
  • + 0
 you got the right idea Gabriel
  • + 5
 The irony of this comment thread is that everyone is talking about how girls look and what attracts us to other people. Im pretty sure tracey is saying all those things dont matter when you are on your bike but it getting the confidence to not care that is hard.
Not helped by is talking about attraction.
I dont think you ever hear any of us talking about how amazing minnar/ratboy/gwin/gee look. But how often do we hear how hot hannah/carpenter/atherton are?
  • + 2
 I get what you are saying randybadger, and I did actually think about that just before I hit post comment. Why, in the comments section of an article about how mountainbiking frees you from all the concerns of normal life, am I talking about the clothes women wear. But then I hit the submit button, because it struck me that I am sick and tired of being told (almost always on the internet, almost never in real life) that talking about what makes a woman attractive to me, or a man attractive to a woman is some sort of taboo subject. In the article Tracy mentions many times that attractiveness is a concern. That she doesn't want to look like a "tomboy" or get sweaty and muddy. The fact is, I don't know many guys who think mountainbiking makes a woman less attractive. Almost the polar opposite is true. It is all the bs spouted in media that makes people think in negative ways about what men and women should and shouldn't do. Never in real life have I heard it said that the image a woman should aspire to is that of a barbie doll. I was going to say never in real life have I heard it said that a man MUST have ripped abs to be hot, but sadly I have. Only by a few women with bright orange faces and perfect hair tho. They probably thought Gee Atherton was "well fit"

Men like to get off with women, women like to get off with men. Sometimes men like to get off with men and women with women. Whatever your preference, it is undeniable that we all think about it a lot. A point Tracy seems to agree with in her article. Pretending this isnt true is not the way to a happy, equal society. It is normal, and should be spoken about like it is normal. So I see no problem with, in response to "Some women worry that mountainbiking will make them seem less attractive" saying "most guys think mountainbiking makes a woman more attractive"
  • + 1
 I think what you are saying is bang on Gabriel. I personally very rarely consider how attractive I am or how I appear to other people.
Am I typical of men? I don't know.
Is it typical of women? I don't know that either.
Looks aside I generally approve of and admire women in extreme sport because so few seem to shine through (yes I am aware that is changing)
  • + 4
 Having platonic girlfriends, we talk frequently about life and yes some females do care about appearances and attractiveness very much. In fact I've heard of extreme judgments between females due to it. Is it part of our primal instincts? Yes (attraction=sex=reproduction) we can't make that go away. Have modern expectations warped this instinct? Yes, by forcing a set "beauty" standard which is b.s. as everyone has a right to choose that independently and naturally. Is it right? No, strength and beauty come in many varieties and preconceived notions need to be broken. Does an article like this point us in the right direction? Yes! Bottom line Tracey was just trying to show perspective through the eyes of modern women and what they're up against so we all could relate. I could easily describe what makes a female attractive to me but that's not the point of the article. The point is to build the courage, break out of the mold, and do whatever makes you happy regardless of what the world is trying to shoehorn you into.
  • + 1
 Any girls care to comment?
  • + 6
 Okay, me (i'm a girl, if the nickname didn't give that away).

My take-out from this article: Rise above the concerns like how you look or what others think, put in the effort to learn who you are and work hard at being the best version of yourself that you can be. I agree with this, and I think most women who engage in sport - mountain biking or otherwise - subscribe to this belief, consciously or subconsciously.

I'm not sure if other females have commented in this particular thread yet, but if few have, I'm not surprised. Most of us, if we're already here on pinkbike, want to move past talking or caring about how we look or even if mountain biking is the right thing for girls to do.

If you're a dude and want to support girls getting into the sport or just... Rising above societal conventions, please just stop engaging in this chatter about looks. Good or misguided intentions, it's just bringing attention back to an aspect that actually, really, has nothing to do with the sport and really shouldn't have anything to do with it either. Whether you intended it or not, it brings girls' consciousness back to the very thing they're trying to transcend - outward appearances.

Now can we get back to how awesome it is that Tracey Hannah is an amazing rider with a heart to share her experience and nurture racers?
  • + 3
 Point taken... Still think it is bad that the whole topic is so taboo these days that it seems to have come full circle and become a cultural obession.

It seems to me that it is drummed into us so hard that sex as a whole is not to be talked about, that it has started to come out of people in strange ways:
Boys (mostly) drawing penises EVERYWHERE (check the back of ANY dirty van/car if you don't believe me) and girls (mostly) shouting about objectification of women, if a man so much as glances in their general direction, or says something along the lines of "I think its great that girls are into the same sport as me"

Yes sometimes it IS a case of mysoginy or at least misguided good will, but often it is just interpreted that way because we are so hyper aware of the topic/taboo. If you look at the tree, you will hit it, as they say...

Anyway, enough about all that bollocks....
Mountainbiking is awesome!

One of my favorite things about it, is its ability to focus the mind. If I find myself having time to think "is my MOT due?" or "what am I going to have for dinner?" or "do I feel attractive today?" then I'm clearly not riding fast enough.

Nothing distracts you from these normal daily worries better than a rapidly approaching tree. Big Grin
  • + 4
 @sugaranddirt and @gabriel-mission9 I think you both have great points and this is an open forum of perspectives and not an argument which is awesome. I agree that outward appearances shouldn't have anything to do with the sport but the issue is real and apparent if a WC level athlete is providing this encouragement to her peers. I also agree that treating such issues as taboo is detrimental to solving them.
If the topics aren't discussed and the flaws exposed to the masses, people will be blind and move along with no information to disband the issue. The issue needs to be discredited through discussions like this and perspectives distributed to the majority because unfortunately some are followers/sheep which makes the distribution of awareness even more important. We can't ignore and turn away as the issue will fester and rise up again. Maybe I have too much faith in humanity but humans have overcome some huge issues, some in progress still, and some needing to be started, but it takes a lot of us getting on the same page together to make it work.
  • + 46
 The world of Mountain biking is slowly changing. My daughter rides with the Mud Bunnies. My wife and her girl friends are regulars on the local single track. To a degreee MTB is like any other endeavor. It doesn't really matter how good or fast you are. What matters is that you are out enjoying the activity and the benefits it provides. Ride to please and entertain yourself. Don't waste any time or energy worrying about what others think about your riding. Enjoy the edventure.
  • + 3
 Nice! I have a friend who rides in that group.
  • - 7
flag RedBurn (Apr 4, 2015 at 13:20) (Below Threshold)
 your wife has girlfriends ?
  • + 24
 My girlfriend loves riding I'm a dh guy and she's cross country so I bought an xc bike just to ride with her
  • + 55
 Aawww. Just be careful dh+xc=ENDURO
  • + 11
 Yikes never thought of that haha
  • + 17
 He looked into the mirror and was disappointed by what he saw, his confidence was at an all time low and he felt useless and insignificant. Who told him he was useless? Who told him he was insignificant? Who told him that he couldn’t?
There's more to life than worrying if you're rich enough, muscley enough, tall enough, funny enough, powerful enough or smart enough. I know that deep down inside most boys lies a heart for provision and protection that is shut out by....

...feminism. Girls don't need protecting anymore, they don't need providing for. Communities and 'castles' don't need protecting anymore. There is a lot of pressure and confusion for young lads, in a world that technically doesn't need them to become 'men'. (I specifically changed ugly to useless to emphasize that whilst women are beaten down by expectations that are there to make them feel ugly, men have the same battle with forces that make them feel useless.) We all get our insecurities used against us on many levels, modern advertising is an easy example, it's just that it's been identified that, shock horror, men and women are different. But, we are humans, and it's been identified that when we are scared we can be manipulated. It's just that different shit scares men and women. For now.
  • + 8
 There's a lot of truth in your statement.
But I do think pressure on young girls is higher, and girls tend to be more insecure...(they normally do think a lot more about stuff than the average guy does)
And while feminism is often pictured questionable in the media, ranging from men hating to the picture of a neoliberal career woman, it's not the reason for this.
It's simply the search for a solution for half the problem that is sexism.
Because nowadays it just doesn't work anymore to tell someone, boy or girl, to be like this or that...
I don't want to start the internet hype about her on PB, but Emma Watson's UN speech on that issue simply is brilliant.
  • + 1
 iron john by robert bly is worth checking out if you really feel that way
  • + 3
 Jzpv.. I urge you to check out some of the oppositional commentary about that speech. The heforshe campaign is a rebranded offshoot of an old UNwomen feminist group. And it's sponsored by two mega banks who frankly epitomize inequality, amongst other things. It's advertising essentially. Follow the money trail. Accepting who is paying for something usually leads to 'Cui bono?'.. 'to whose benefit'? Don't be quick to presume that's it's to benefit people on the whole, or women. Especially considering the two sponsors recent track record. Their interests are not in our best interests, the recent global financial 'situations' (affectionate and pc term for crimes) have surely told people that. Don't presume that all advertising is selling you a tangible product. There is no ROI on a product here. But there are huuuugge financial backers. So... Cui bono?
  • + 15
 more women please!!!! women are chargers, and belong in this industry!! everyone belongs on a bike!!!!
  • + 12
 Thanks Tracey great article. As a father of a daughter your article really hit a chord with me as I am amazed how young women are judged; 'not pretty', 'too pretty', 'why are you wearing that', 'this group not that group', 'why are you friends with them', etc etc..... I am glad my daughter has mountain biking (a long with other things) where she can get in the zone and just enjoy herself.
  • + 2
 as I read this, I learned that a lot of the fears and insecurities are about judgement
why judge anyone for what he/she looks like or preferences he/she has?
it's AWFUL
we're all bikers looking for having a good time outdoors with friends (female/male)
  • + 11
 Always believe you can conquer your fears and goals, ladies! Adapt to any situation with genuine passion and others will see you shine! We are all equal and supporting each other in such an amazing sport like this can send out such inspiring vibes that can make us all connected!
  • + 1
 Well said!
  • + 13
 It works both ways. I'm not a very attractive guy but feel beautiful when I'm wearing my full face.
  • + 3
 get mounted... both ways... full face... guy feeling beautiful... so many jokes, not enough time. You ARE beautiful man.
  • + 2
 just wear your helmet 24/7. ugliness= fixed
  • + 10
 Hannah bo banna fee fie fo fanna. Hannah. I really need to grow up.
  • + 16
 Our sport is not for grown-ups my friend.
  • + 6
 "getting old is mandatory, growing up is optional" (can't remember who said that)
  • + 5
 A male friend of mine sent this to me. It started out a little rough (for me). I thought, "oh no," not another blog focusing on our looks. I was wrong. You nailed the feelings I get when on my bike Had goose bumps, thanks. Great choice for the pics as well. They are bad ass.
  • + 2
 @jessilu I agree with you that the first 3 sentences of the first paragraph read a little funny. At first glance it could be misinterpreted as "Feel insecure? Ride a bike and it will make it better." That happens to be the farthest thing from the truth and I see Tracey was simply adding insight into some of the emotional battles females encounter to set the table for the great sentences to follow. I was reading this to my girlfriend and didn't want that same misinterpretation to show up especially being read by the male who encourages us to ride together, and leveraging female insecurities is not the answer to getting females on bikes. By the end of the article though nothing but positive encouragement was achieved which is awesome as she is just getting started. I also like that Tracey thanks the males that support her showing men can be positive support. Maybe the saying should go "Behind every great woman stands a supportive man."? Females can do it on their own most definitely but us males can be a pivotal influence in this movement for more female riders as well.
  • + 3
 The fact that YOU think anything chase said in there was "stunningly sexist" goes to show how low the bar has dropped and how hypersensitive the whole movement is. Constantly needing to be patted on the head and needing reassurance from everyone around IS whats sexist. Just get the f*ck out there and do the thing. Male or female. How long can a dead horse be beaten? Not long enough,i guess.
  • + 3
 Thanks Tracey for reminding us what is important in life and how to achieve happiness:
"I'm being me." Great line and great advice for riding and life.

I enjoyed the article, keep on being you. The world is a better place because of you.
  • + 5
 "i'm being me" is easy to say, may sound like inspiring and transcendental but is a state that is hard to actually get into, and it's not permanent. It is a muscle that needs to first grow and then be trained and nourished. I salute everyone getting there Big Grin
  • + 2
 Tracey, you are a hero to many. Most of all an inspiration. Your words have highlighted one of the most important things and that is to be you and be your best. When you do that no one can take it from you. Both men and women can take from that message. Ride hard and have fun this year, all of Cairns is riding with you and Mick. Smile
  • + 1
 That is so true and nicely put.
Girls!!! We are intelligent men and still half animals. Typical model figure is terrible and pushes us/men away as thin must not be healthy.
Something so thin must be sick you know. Curvy is sexy girls and generally free yourself and smile.
What is sexy really? Your butt? Your breasts? NO!!! Self confidence is sexy!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 4
 What about the naturally skinny girls reading this? You just said they look unwell and unattractive. Personally I prefer thinner girls.
  • - 8
flag Zziplex (Apr 4, 2015 at 9:26) (Below Threshold)
 Nice tits are sexy and i quite like a retro hairy growler, you can't beat looking out over a damp mott to see the results of your hard work. Suppose it's a bit like how trail builders must feel after completing a section of free flowing single-track.
  • + 1
 Really loved this - its so true in every way and in every aspect of life :-) "You don’t have to be the fastest in the world or the most skilled, but you must be your best no matter what level that is. If all you can do is ride around a lake on a dirt track, ­as long as you do it the best you can then that's good enough. Push your own limits and never try to be someone else."

I love that the shell is cracking! Im so lucky to be an ambassador for the local bike shop, which gives me a lot of opportunities to test new bikes and equipment. Its really nice to get supported and I do my best to give back and make even more women ride bikes. Nothing beats the feeling you have after a nice ride!!

Feel free to follow my page on facebook -> www.facebook.com/cyklista.dk
  • + 1
 Not sure you have to be the best you can be, that's just adding pressure to something that's meant to be enjoyable for most people. Just ride your bike, fast, slow, for fun or for business. Don't ride it for someone else, ride it for you.
  • + 1
 I enjoyed this article, but my only criticism would be Tracey's mention of the industry shell cracking...truth is, for Gravity and even XC, the industry wages and support 20 years ago (mid 90s) was FAR BETTER than now. Stars of the sport then (Anne, Giove, Stiefl, Donovan etc) were making 300k and up, were in all of their brands advertising, had longer autograph lines at events, etc. So, I salute Tracey and all the ladies still trying to make it, it's not easy.
  • + 5
 Hell yeah, Tracey. Great write up, and thanks for the reminder. Smile
  • + 3
 Tried getting my ex gf into the sport, but i forgot Step 8 of "how to be a mountain biker"... Hence "ex"
  • + 4
 Tracey Hannah: you write so well!
  • + 2
 Tracey, you are seriously one of the best writers in bicycling. I hope to see your work in print mags and book form some day.
  • - 1
 Why let what others 'think' about you let influence what you actually do? I like women with nice tits, do i think any less of them as a person if they don't have nice tits? Of course not. But please don't take away my right to like girls with nice tits, just like how they might like skinny blokes with pseudo beards or abs etc It's just personal taste and doesn't reflect badly on the individual. You can't beat a good rack, yet I'm sure others will disagree and that's their perogative if that's how they're going to live. Each to their own, my own is nice cans, if they can ride, all the better, if they can ride better than me, all the better again, if they've got sh1t hot tits, can ride, drink real ale and eat pork pies, then they're not far off perfect are they. I'm far far from good, let alone perfect, but doesn't mean i can't strive for finding all of the aforementioned. Peace out.
  • + 0
 Amazes me how people take riding a bike so serious. It's my bike(s)+n and I'll ride how, wherever and whenever I want. Tits or no tits, fadgehole or cock, do the same.
  • + 0
 Can riding boost your confidence to takle the worlds problems. ?Yes. Riding a bit out of your comfort zone gives you courage.
  • + 1
 Spot on and I always enjoying reading your blogs! Pushing oneself to try new things and seeing the reward is all worth it!
  • + 1
 Always look forward to tracey's posts
  • - 1
 Girls need to tell others they can ride. I've heard a lot of furrowed eyebrows and they can't from a lot of closed minded individuals lately.
  • + 1
 i love you tracy! oops i mean er..
  • + 1
 This is Brilliant. Onya Trace!
  • + 1
 (...)"you must be your best no matter what level that is"(...)

amen
  • - 1
 Nice sensorship Richard. Very disappointing, I would expect more from you. This is becoming like Bikerumor.
  • + 0
 Nevermind. Didn't see the sort feature which eliminated most of the thread the way it was selected.
  • + 0
 I read "My Passion FOR Women in Sport" and opened immediatelly
  • - 1
 major bitch fest with many comments erased. Including my rather positive comment. Too bad oppinions are censored .
  • + 1
 you know there's a below threshold section right? Your comment is still there
  • + 1
 The comment erased: When I ride on Fromme mtn. North Shore I see about 25% of riders are woman smiling and confident. That comment was erased. why?
  • + 1
 "im glad i dont ride where you ride. On the North shore climbing up Fromme. About 25% of the riders are female. They all look happy and confident."

It's still there mate, it's at +3
  • + 0
 equal paydays at crankworx
  • + 1
 Love this!
  • + 0
 Yeah,you told me.
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