When I was 12 years old, I lined up for my first mountain bike race. It was an all women’s mountain bike weekend; I didn’t really know the difference between a “women’s only” weekend versus a co-ed experience. Whatever. It got me to line up for my first race with no prior knowledge of what to expect, except that I wanted to shred my red, rigid, Schwinn. Maybe it made my dad a little more comfortable knowing there was a rad group of women around to support me. Needless to say, I was hooked. 18 years later I am dropping out of one of Blackcomb’s Helicopters with Specialized and World Champion Miranda Miller on top of Rainbow Mountain. Now, the progression of my riding has been due to a number of variables. One of those is that I was never told that I couldn’t do it. Everyone around me told me I could hit that drop or climb that mountain. I was lucky for that, because I know it’s not always the case.
Growing up racing over 10 years ago, I didn’t have access to women’s clinics, activations, and other things until I was well into university. I relied on many guys around me to show me how to descend through a rock garden, or help me learn how to do some mini dirt jumps in the woods, or even how to be a mechanic. Without that, I would not be the rider I am today. For women in mountain biking now, the industry continues to explore different ways to introduce women to the sport and make them feel welcome. But what about the women who are already here? For example, I attended a skills clinic a few months ago to try and work on some more advanced skills (things like mandatory drops or jumps), and it wasn’t until the last hour of the day that the girls I was with realized I wasn’t one of their coaches.
We continue to see women’s activations pop up year-after-year; many being different skills clinics with varying levels of coaches. Crankworx showed a number of women's clinics from beginner's skills, to bike maintenance, to more advanced skills work. Specialized wanted to do something different.
Anne Brillet, head of Specialized's Women's Global Marketing teamed up with colleague Colin Belisle who handles Mountain Bike Marketing to organize the Specialized Crankworx Women's Heli Biking with Miranda Miller Sweepstakes. “We believe in breaking down the barriers of the sport for women," Anne stated. "Often, activities for women are targeting entry-level riders and can focus a lot on learning to ride. As much as skills clinics are super crucial to welcome new women and improve existing talent, we wanted to organise something for those riders who are already kicking ass. So, when Colin [Belisle] came to me and said 'we need to organise something for Crankworx for women, but it’s got to be epic. How about a heli drop?', I thought that throwing a group of women off a helicopter for the ride of their lives would be awsome. Let’s make it happen! Oh, and how about we throw a World Champion in the mix."
The sweepstakes drew 10 winners to take part in the heli drop with Miranda Miller. Check out their experiences below.
Read more about the Specialized Crankworx Women's Heli Biking with Miranda Miller Sweepstakes here.