|I've seen a lot of women getting involved in the sport through their friends in a no-pressure social situation. I think women-only social events and ride days are a great way to get girls out riding their bikes and having fun with their friends at the same time. I believe that women already want to get out there and try, but it can be intimidating and there is sometimes the feeling that it's a man's sport, which translates into 'you have to be strong and fearless to do it'. I think showing women that there are dedicated people out there wanting to encourage and help them shows that it's possible.|
Women do things differently, so I think that getting girls to ride together with girls that don't, encourages new riders to get into the sport because no one is looking at those women new to riding and thinking they can't do it. I believe it's on the right track and it's come a long way so far. Women need to know that they are wanted in this sport.
|I feel like there needs to be women-specific teams at a higher level in mountain biking. In mountain biking, or at least gravity, the brands and the industry in general just take women because they want the points or because they look pretty, not because they believe they are equally awesome! Like the Luna or the Liv Giant teams in XC, there needs to be a women-specific structure - and a marketing of those ambassadors - from the brands in downhill. We're all ready to try to represent a sponsor as good as we can, maybe more than male athletes because we know it's a privilege for us ladies to have the support. It is just a matter of time until one company has the guts to throw a big female-only team together. However, I think the solution is in the hands of the industry and not the UCI. Making a rule obligating teams to include a female rider wouldn't be beneficial.|
We see that the ladies on the World Cup circuit are made less and less important year after year. For example, our training is mainly in the early morning when photographers who have worked late into the night are still recovering so there are barely any shots of women riders other than those with the top three number boards. Having better coverage of ladies would show to other women that there's bunch of us riders other than those in the top three who take the same risks on the mountain and also do quite well.
Every racer is a character and it should be promoted better, like Eddy and Wyn Master do for the boys, why couldn't a good but not necessarily top female rider also get attention for her character? A good example is Casey Brown. She did some stuff differently with her sponsors and got some good feedback from the fans. If only the best riders would rider their bikes, the sport would die instantly. I fear that this is what is going to happen to the Women's category in downhill if we don't fight back.
I am pleased with what Liv Giant and Juliana are trying to do to get more women into mountain biking. It's nice to see events like the Liv Giant Women's Only A-Line event, and that should be done all over the world. But for that you need icons, you need people that attract the female audience in order to make them participate. Every country needs a national champion, and in South America some of my fellow World Cup racers are superstars! Why doesn't this happen in other continents? I think the supportive structure like Caroline Buchanan has over in BMX is excellent. Take two or three talented riders and create a 'next generation' team. In mountain biking there is a lack of racing opportunities for younger participants and even less for ladies.
|In terms of practical things that could help encourage more female riders, I'd like to see reduced rates for women at coaching clinics, and more entry-level style events like the Enduro Lite races they've had in Italy. I'd like to see bike parks and resorts offering women-specific times for certain trails too. I'm really impressed by what Rachel Atherton is doing with sponsoring the Junior's category at the British Downhill Series this year, it's pretty awesome. For our part, this year we're introducing equal prize money on the podium for women competing at Crankworx, and they'll be equal prize money for the King and Queen of Crankworx at the end of the World Tour.|
|Women are more into mountain biking as a leisure activity then as a competitive activity. Women want to have fun riding, so they go out with their friends and they don't have to compete with each other. The industry has already done a lot in the past ten years, and became more confident in developing bikes and clothing for female riders, but there is still a lot to do. The industry acknowledges the existence of a growing women's market and takes note of their specific needs and expectations. Now they have another problem which is to really find out their needs and not only assume what they are. The bike industry is a very male dominated industry, in marketing as well as in product developing. The industry needs more women as product managers and also in marketing. If that happens then I could say that industry is really trying to understand the market.|
There already exists some women's events and camps, which is a good way to motivate more women to ride, but now we need again to work stronger on the products. The female biker is not just one type of mountain biker, there are so many different types - all mountain, enduro, tour, downhill, bike park - and the media is putting more women in their magazines and on their front covers. The bike scene as a whole is realising that there is more than just one type of female biker. By taking the female biker serious, the market will equalise their approach a bit more. They are developing groups of female bikers and also female biking teams.
There are some female riders or personalities really pushing the market and challenging the bike companies and their product development. When I started to make female biking a subject almost 15 years ago I was pretty alone in the European market. I was very inspired by Candace Shadley who already organised women camps in Canada and Jacquie Phelan, who was the first to emancipate mountain biking for women. I think we all are on a good way and I am very excited in what direction the female biking will develop.
|For us Brits, 2014 was a really successful year for women in particular on the international race circuit, and in 2015 we need to do more to capitalise on this success with taking credible action to encourage more women to ride and hopefully race. One example of this is what Rachel Atherton is doing to sponsor the Junior category at the British Downhill Series.|
As an organisation, we'll also be working to promote women racers front and centre by our having them on our marketing material. That's front page of our Facebook as well as the cover stars on our posters for each round. We hope this will help to encourage more women into the sport because if they see there are women participating - in what is traditionally seen as a male sport - they may consider giving it a go too, and that sort of groundswell is something to be encouraged. We'll also be recognising women's equal status on the podium by giving women equal prize money to men this year.
As for teams themselves, teams like Madison-Saracen took a gamble with giving Manon Carpenter a spot, raising her through the ranks of her peers and onto the World Cup circuit. The gamble paid off and her success has meant the team as a whole has had its ranking boosted. There needs to be encouragement from the UCI to help Elite teams see the value of nurturing and fostering young talented female riders, especially at an early age. Finally, the media has a big role to play. How many people can name the 2014 Junior Female World Champ? It's not because they're not good enough, they're the future of the sport, but they don't get the coverage they deserve and that needs to change.
|Just go out there and make it happen! I love to share my passion with other women around the globe and get them hooked on biking just as much as me. It's not always about going fast... it's mostly about enjoying what you're doing and doing it with other people that share the same passion.|
|When it comes to attracting more women to the sport on a leisure level, I think the key is providing more access to skills clinics, So many women, myself included, started riding just by following a friend down the trail and just holding on for dear life. By breaking down the skills and providing step-by-step instruction we make not only a feature more approachable and less intimidating, but the sport as a whole. The clinic movement is growing and I always tell any new mountain biker to participate in one.|
On a professional level, I support equal prize money and do what I can in my professional capacity to make that happen. The argument that women's fields are less competitive and thus don't deserve equal prize money, doesn't hold water, because it cost a women just as much to get to a race and to maintain her bike.
I feel the growth of the clinic movement is instrumental to growing the sport as well as the breadth of quality mountain bike products from XC to gravity available to women. I see both of those areas growing and more and more companies behind both efforts.
|We are doing a number of initiatives to promote and encourage women to participate in MTB. We sponsor several world class women's instruction programs - The TREK Dirt Series, Lindsey Voreis Liv Ladies AllRide Program, Leigh Donovan's Ichoosebikes and The Rebecca Rusch SRAM Gold Rusch Tour.|
Last year we started along with QBP the Women's Scolarship Program to UBI - United Bicycle Institute and sent two women. This year several more sponsors joined in the program and we sent 10 women. We had over 800 applicants.
SRAM includes women in our advertising both print and online, our sales materials, tradeshow booth graphics etc. I think half of the images at our Interbike booth this year were women. In terms of product, we make components that are adjustable, therefore offering choices that are suitable for women.
|I know there are more and more women riding bikes and it's great to see that. It's always harder for the women to take a space in a team becuase it's a guy's sport. We just have to show everyone that we can ride with style and as fast as they do, and also bring different things to the sport. We just need to enjoy riding and keep our peace. The best thing we could hope for in terms of this year is to see more women riders and for us already in the sport, to encourage them.|
|First of all, we have to admit that the number of women in the mountain biking community has increased a lot in the past years. Yet, we are still a minority and there are a couple of things that need improvement or change to continue going. For me, the first word that comes into my mind is acknowledgement. For mountain biking as a leisure activity, it means that people from the industry acknowledge the existence of a growing women's market and take note of their specific needs and expectations. It's not only about the design. Bike brands should be able to offer as fun, amazing and high-performance products as they do for men. For mountain biking as a professional capacity, it means for example more women in leading industry positions. Nevertheless, I think that the scene is on the right track, with growing female media presence and growing women specific offer not only in products but also in events and camps.|
The landscape is already in an evolution process and stereotypes are slowly disappearing and we can now find women shredding on magazines covers. The education has evolved too and there are always more mountain biking women guides bringing the sport not only to other women but to men too; this is another step towards 'MTB-equality'.
We can also spot more high-end products for women on the market, especially bikes, which means that the industry is listening to this segment. Finally, there is a real emancipation of female mountain bikers, not only riding with their boyfriend, husband or brother any more but getting together to achieve some really cool things. There are a lot of amazing, inspiring women out there, so with people and stakeholders giving them the opportunity to express themselves and inspire other women, it will for sure happen.
|It's all about breaking down intimidation boundaries and providing MTB riding opportunities in a safe, organized, and fun atmosphere. At Specialized we understand the importance of providing the tools for women to feel confident when getting into the sport. There are also a number of women who are leading this from the top at the professional level such as Anneke Beerten, Lea Davison, and Kate Courtney, part of our job is to make sure we also build the bikes and equipment to support the discerning female rider and help them get to the top step of the podium. As with any sport or hobby, it's extremely valuable to start as a kid and it's extremely exciting to see the growing number of high school mountain bike teams through out the country and even more powerful the number of girls on each team. Although the sport of mountain biking has been around for quite awhile it's fairly new on the "mainstream" side and I believe the more we do as an industry to educate and familiarize the world with the sport and variety of riding opportunities mountain biking provides the more it will continue to grow. At Specialized it's always fun to take new ladies out for their first mountain bike ride, get them setup with the bike, work on handling, braking, and just having fun while out on the trail. There's something contagious about mountain bike riding with a bunch of ladies, you laugh, you push each other and support each other to try new things and over come fears, and then you stop and take a group photo for instagram of course!|
At Specialized we are very excited for the upcoming year and our continued expansion of our women's MTB product line for both the beginner as well as the accomplished discerning rider. Our goal is to provide the optimum bikes and equipment for each rider's desired experience and we are really onto some exciting things this year!
|One thing I see helping are more women's specific events and organised rides as they seem to be the best way to get lots of women out riding together, having fun and exploring. From my own experience, the first time my mum went out for a ride without myself or my dad was recently on a local organised women's ride, and women's nights at our local skatepark - although not quite MTB - have been a great way to get women riding together and encouraging each other in a fun, friendly environment. Again, my mum even had a go!|
Sometimes being the only girl out amongst a load of guys can be intimidating. I love it when I have other girls to ride with, especially if we are of a similar level so we can encourage/bully each other into trying a new jump or section and try to keep up!
I think everything going on with women's mountain biking at the moment is really encouraging already. With women's specific bike ranges, clothing, events and awards, the industry is getting behind us. There's so much going on. It's great to hear that female entries to the British Downhill Series have doubled this year and I think Rachel Atherton sponsoring and supporting the Junior Women's category is an awesome idea. So hopefully we will see plenty of youngsters signing up!
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