Snapshot: A View of Women's Mountain Biking From the Industry

Oct 19, 2016
by Lauren Jenkins  
The industry has gone through rapid changes in the past few years as far as women's mountain biking is concerned. As one of the fastest-growing groups in the sport, more and more women are picking up a bike for the first time and getting out on the trails. The number of women working in the industry is increasing too, be it as a mountain guide, an athlete, coach, mechanic, or another role. Despite having more events, clothing, coverage and greater numbers, things are moving slowly, but they are changing. Here, a number of women working in the mountain bike industry, brought together for International Women's Mountain Bike Week in St.Moritz, discuss the changes they've seen, and what they'd like to see in the future.

St.Moritz Portraits
Sara Jarrell, Colorado USA - Engineer at SRAM

Tell me a little about yourself.

I work as an engineering technician for SRAM in the Colorado Springs, Colorado, office. I have been in the industry working as a mechanic for 14 years. I started as a shop mechanic and worked my way up to service manager while simultaneously taking on contract work with race teams and with Giant Bicycle. Eventually, that led to being the head mechanic for the US Paracycling team through the Games in 2012 and now to my job at SRAM.

I have been riding a bike in one way or another for the majority of my life and more seriously for 20 or so years. When I really got interested in cycling and racing the role model I looked up to was Missy Giove. Anything I could do to fly down the mountain like her I was willing to try, which as you can imagine resulted in some bad crashes. One thing for sure is that young girls today certainly have way more role models in the industry across varied disciplines. I did not have a role model as far as a female mechanic in the industry to look up to, and presently female mechanics are few and far between. Hopefully that will change as the industry becomes more inclusive.

From your perspective how have things changed for women in mountain biking since you started riding?

Support from industry companies in the form of sponsorships has definitely become more plentiful and in some cases as good as what is offered to the men (although that is still rare). Prize money for races has become better, however not equal with that of the men's side. Really what I am saying is it is getting better but we still have a ways to go.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?

In Colorado the women's mountain biking scene is fairly healthy. We have a women's mountain biking club locally that encourages all levels of cyclists to get out on a bike and also helps get women into racing if they are interested. In the States, there is also a freeride/dirt jump scene for women that is known as the Sisterhood of Shred. I have definitely grown as a cyclist as a result of having programs like these at my disposal. There are also several women's-specific mountain biking programs that I coach for: Liv Ladies AllRide Tour, I Choose Bikes with Leigh Donovan, and The SRAM Gold Rusch Tour with Rebecca Rusch. All of the listed programs do an immense amount for women in the US looking to learn to ride a mountain bike or brush up on their skills.

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and to work in the industry?

I think to get more women working in the cycling industry there are still some challenges to face. I think that seeing a push coming from the industry leaders to seek out qualified women to work in the industry would be a good place to start. These same companies also need to take a look at their structures, environments, and benefits to make sure they are able to attract not just women but the best-qualified applicants, period. Things like this take time; for instance, Burton Snowboard company, a women-friendly business, made a concerted effort over the past 10 years to make that achievement. SRAM has initiated a Women's Leadership Committee this year that is focused on recruiting, retaining, and developing more women at SRAM. I am the vice chair of that committee and am super excited at the possibilities it brings to SRAM.

What changes would you like to see in the next few years?

I definitely think that things are moving in a positive direction for sure, we just have to keep the wheels turning that way. Because media is always a powerful tool in helping progress initiatives like this I think it is important that we keep spotlighting efforts to improve the industry for women as pointedly and effectively as possible. We as an industry, including the media, also need to pay special attention to the way that we portray women in the industry: strong and not objectified preferably.

St.Moritz Portraits
Emily Horridge, Mountain Bike Guide from UK/France.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I'm an ex-downhill racer, I got into mountain bikes around 14 (but remember trying to do wheelies on my shopper bike at age eight), so I've been riding for 22 years now. I raced downhill at national and world level, and definitely did not like pedalling uphill. Fell into guiding in Morzine in 2007, and that's kinda where life took me. I've been a British qualified guide since 2007, and updated my qualifications in May this year so now I'm a British Cycling Level 3 leader as well, plus French qualified as of June this year. Based in Bourg Saint Maurice/Les Arcs, I have guided here for a few years, and guided Trans Provence in 2013. In winter I am an airport transfer driver, summer is now just guiding on a freelance basis. I also like riding uphill nowadays!

From your perspective how have things changed for women in mountain biking since you started riding?

From a competition point of view, I think women now command a pretty strong position. When I started racing there was no denying we were all a bit slow and uninteresting to watch. Nowadays there aren't actually that many men in the mountain bike general public who are as fast as the top girls, but I'm not sure that was true in the early 2000s. Probably this is from women pushing themselves more and more and realizing that being a girl shouldn't hold you back. There are definitely more girls coming out to the Alps on holidays, and they're not just wobbling around after their boyfriends, they can actually ride and love it - it's their sport/hobby, not something they do because their partner does it.

15 years ago, I kinda scorned any 'women's specific' stuff you could get; I couldn't really see what the difference was. Nowadays, I am much more actively seeking out women's riding clothing - because it's actually nice to wear and be seen in, and there's a decent choice. That's been a big change. The availability of women's saddles from lots of different manufacturers is good too - but that may have always been the case. I didn't need a girl's seat for DH, so I've only been looking at that kind of thing in the last few years. The existence of women's specific bike brands like Liv or Juliana is a pretty strong testament to the growing women's market as well. In the old days, I think maybe Trek did a women's specific design, but I can't think of any others. The best thing right now, in my opinion, is all the women's rides, and the fact that so many people attend them. They're such a great way to gain inspiration from other female riders and make new friends to shred with.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?

Bearing in mind our relatively small population, we have a really good women's scene. I can quickly think of ten girls who ride during the summer. Some are only here in summer, some don't get out as much as they used to, but still the fact there are ten of us in a relatively small area is pretty cool. I bet there are more up in Tignes/Val d'Isere too, who I don't know yet. We had an impromptu women's riding morning a few weeks ago which was brilliant. I want to try and turn that into a regular thing next summer as it really was good fun getting everyone out together. There's also a women's day in Tignes that has taken place for the last two years running.

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and to work in the industry?

In the past few years, I think this has really come on in leaps and bounds. I imagine as a person thinking they'd like to try mountain biking for the first time that the existence of women's rides/days is hugely encouraging and maybe even reassuring as women so often worry about being at the back/holding people up/getting in the way etc... I think it's important to publicize and then cover these events as best as possible too, so that anyone with their head under a rock (that's me, quite a lot of the time) will notice and hopefully decide to go and get involved too.

With regards to industry work, again if it could be brought to the attention of the general mountain biking public that there ARE women in the industry, and that they can help to shape the future of women's mountain biking, I think that's the way to go. When we met Mallory (Burda) the other day, I was really impressed that Smith had a female brand manager - but should I be impressed? I mean, shouldn't it just be totally normal that a woman can hold a key role in any extreme sports brand? I'd really like to see a series of interviews with female industry folk (e.g, brand managers, mechanics, team managers, designers, those kind of people), how they ended up where they are now, and what they'd say to anyone dreaming about working in the industry. I think that'd be really good in showing women that they can do bike-related jobs too.

What changes would you like to see in the next few years?

This I feel ill-equipped to answer (remember the head under a rock comment above!). Personally, I do feel like things are moving in the right direction. I'm not sure whether sponsorship will ever match that of the boys, but on a percentage basis if there are 40 girls and 200 boys, and the top 25% are (reasonably) well looked after, then it's probably not disproportionate. The only trouble is that it's probably only the top 12.5% of female downhill racers who are looked after, so it does need addressing. I also suppose sponsorship is changing - people get sponsored for being personalities, not just for race results, and some girls (in any extreme sport) seem to get sponsored for having pretty faces (This really pisses me off!) or posting bikini pictures all the time - literally in no way related to their sport or their sponsors' products. What would be really cool would be if there were sponsors prepared to back individuals for example one-off trips, so you could have an amazing idea and actually obtain the funding to do it, and have the media coverage support - so the sponsor sends people to record the trip as well. Maybe that does already exist, but it is kind of limited to people that the sponsor has already decided to sponsor because they're a personality already or have a pretty face.

Again, I feel like kit options and media representation are gradually moving in the right direction too, so we just need to keep on trying to fuel the demand, so that publishers and editors are keen to increase the amount of female participation in their features or videos for example.

Caro Gehrig
Caro Gehrig, EWS racer for Ibis Cycles.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I'm Carolin Gehrig, 29-years-old and I live in the mountain town, Flims, in the heart of the Swiss Alps. I started riding mountain bikes with my twin sister about 10 years ago. Since the beginning of the Enduro World Series four years ago we've ridden professionally on a global stage. In addition to racing we try to give something back to all the girls riding bikes and sharing our passion through our Twins Women's Bike Camps we offer in Flims.

From your perspective how have things changed for women in mountain biking since you started riding?

When I started riding bikes there were barely any 'women's specific' things in mountain biking, except maybe a pink version of a men's bike jersey. This changed drastically over the years. The number of girls riding bikes is growing and growing and it's great to see that there are more and more women's events popping up. Girls just have a different approach to learning something new and this is the only way to strengthen that.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?

In Switzerland I'd say we have quite a big riding community and the girls try to connect with each other a lot to organize fun weekend trips together or just their weekday evening ride. Bike clothes for girls are extremely popular; for example, our clothing sponsor Zimtstern sells a lot more girls bike stuff than men's stuff. Girls just like to ride in stylish gear and that's awesome!

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and to work in the industry?

More women's specific events, races and maybe create a wider platform that is built for girls needs and interests. I doubt there are a lot of girls reading the tech articles on Pinkbike but they would probably be more interested in having their own community within Pinkbike where it's all about girls' stuff.

What changes would you like to see in the next few years?

I feel like the support for girls is pretty big, it's maybe easier to get sponsored in the beginning on a low key level, but when it comes to professional cycling and making a career of riding bikes it's not as easy as a lot of people think. In the end there are actually only very few girls out there that can really make a living of riding bikes and I'd love to see that change. This would allow a lot of girls step their riding up and progress women's cycling into the right direction. The media is giving girls a lot more attention these days and I think that it's important for young girls to see role models they can look up to and inspire them in riding and in life generally.

St.Moritz Portraits
Laura Breitenmoser, Mountain Bike Guide - Switzerland.

Tell me a little about yourself.

My name is Laura Breitenmoser. I'm a 32-year-old Swiss and I live in the Engadin Valley in Pontresina. I grew up in the mountains of Graubünden and used to do mountain biking since I was a child with my parents. Earlier I was a cross-country biker but that has changed in the last few years quite rapidly. I studied Business Administration with a Master in Sports Management. Before that I started to work for Pontresina Sports for six years. We are leading the Swiss Ski school in Pontresina as well as a sports shop, the Cross-Country and Bike Center in Pontresina. The first three years I worked in the administration and just helped out in the shop. During this time we managed the bike school 'Engadin Bike Tours; and offered bike guiding. First I just organized the bike guides and then I started to guide tours by myself. Because I liked the job as a bike guide I decided to start my education from Swiss Cycling to become a certificated Swiss Cycling Bike Guide in 2013. These years were also the time when my riding style changed to a trail/enduro biker. In the summer of 2014 we reorganised our sport shop and I took over the shop management. We are one of the biggest bike rental stations in the Engadin. Around the same time our bike school got closed and the new bike school 'Engadin Bike School' was launched. Since then I've been working as a part-time guide for that bike school. In the winter I work for Pontresina Sports as head of administration and shop management and as well as cross-country instructor.

From your perspective how have things changed for women in mountain biking since you started riding?

In the last five years the bikes and the bike industry changed a lot. I started to do trail biking with a 120mm full suspension then switched to a 26''/150mm trail bike and now I'm riding a 27.5''/160mm enduro bike. Like my bike I improved my riding with the bike. I went through the experience myself of seeing how the bike impacts your riding skills. Women often have older bikes while the men have the newest bikes. This has changed as women have become more confident about their ability, riding skills and the equipment they are using.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?

I was one of the only women riding together with the men and learned a lot while riding with them. But not all women feel comfortable riding with good riders. Because I did not have a lot of good female riders around me I went riding with the men or alone. That changed a lot in the last few years. A lot of my female friends started to ride and improved a lot. I think women became more confident in the last few years about their ability as well as planning trips and trying something new. I think the industry is moving to the right direction, but they have to take care that they not doing too much 'female marketing.' Sometimes there is for me a bit too much focus on the females, we are just riders like the men!

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and to work in the industry?

I organized the International Women's Mountain Bike Week together with the Engadin St. Moritz Tourist Destination and was responsible for the program. It was a big challenge for me to bring everything together in five days! I wanted to show the group the variety of trails we have as well as involve the participants into the program and share experiences and knowledge. It was a great week for me and the feedback I got was just amazing. I will thank anybody attending and organizing that week and I am really looking forward to the next event. That week showed me how many female riders all over the world are involved in the bike industry, and to bring them together and share experiences and skills was what we intended to achieve with the event. It was a success, in my opinion, and I think we should do it again next year on a larger scale.

St.Moritz Portraits
Annie Soderberg, Sports Psychologist.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I live in Örebro, Sweden, and work in sports psychology. I coach and instruct riding skills at mountain bike camps and clinics, where I'm also involved in the event planning. In the race season I sometimes travel with the Swedish National Team in XC (as a leader) and I write for the Swedish magazine 'Bicycling'. When it comes to my own biking I've been riding since I was nine years old. That is when I started doing XC in my local club, following in my older brothers' footsteps. At that point (199Cool we were four girls that came to the training on a Monday and Thursday. Today the club has one group of women that are around thirty people and a group of twelve or more younger girls. Today I compete in enduro and downhill, where the group of women is still small, but growing every year.

From your perspective how have things changed for women in mountain biking since you started riding?

When I started riding I don't think there was any women's specific gear (or at least barely any). Since I started riding as a child my first year in the woods was on my school bike with a tank top and a pair of chamois that were too big, oblivious to the fact there might be rules on how to dress and what to ride. I did learn quite quickly that the frame of the bike was supposed to be a 'boy's frame' and so I got my first real mountain bike. I used to inherit my brother's clothes when he outgrew them, sometimes I got my own new things such as gloves and footwear. Nothing was women's specific. But I do remember my first women's specific bike shorts (chamois). I was happy that they were made for me, a girl. What I wasn't very happy about was the 'hot pants' length that made me look nude under the jersey. I wore them, but I didn't like them. The chamois was small like a panty liner and not very helpful at all.

Today kits, events, the number of athletes, media exposure... well just about everything, is different. In Sweden, mountain biking is at a point where running was in the 90's. It's exploding. Much thanks to CykelVasan and other events for amateurs. Women are biking in women's specific groups. Big groups. Thirty percent (by the look of it) are women in the training with the local club. There are clothes for women that somehow has survived the otherwise fine development in women's cycling still fluctuating among us. I'm talking about flowers and pink on poorly fitted garments. Still short in the sleeves, still short in the legs, still slim fit even when they are supposed to be baggy and casual. Some brands have taken leaps forward and do think about how a mountain biker wants to feel and look. Thank you for that! Women are shredders too.

When women's specific bikes first came it felt a bit like a mockery. The geometry was about the same. Components were less good. You got less of a bike for approximately the same amount of money. It took me many years to consider trying a women's specific bike. Last year I had two. One for the road and one for mountain biking. There are now some actual changes is geometry and yes, the bikes are different. The question is now more what type of rider you are. If you do have longer legs or a longer upper body. The bikes might as well be used by men with similar riding styles or body types. The rider's personal choice of bike will come down to many different factors such as looks and experience.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?
Since mountain biking has become a more popular and accepted sport, people have a better understanding of what it actually is. In Sweden elite and master women have their own start group in marathons and get to start ahead of the men. That means that the women will have an audience just like the men and that they can fight for victory in a fairer way. No wheel sucking on the men and no interfering in an eventual sprint. The first year of having Swedish Enduro National Championships (this year) the setup was the same. Ladies first.

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and to work in the industry?

Continue to showcase women that work in the industry today, encourage female coaches in bike clubs and let the media coverage display women's mountain biking. Show when girls are racing, doing well or trying to reach their goals. Show women that are not racing at all but enjoying good times on the bike. Don't 'help' women by always fixing their flats, help them by teaching them to do it themselves.

What changes would you like to see in the next few years?

The industry is moving in the right direction. Early on there weren't a lot of voices speaking up (or they weren't heard) about what women actually want when it comes to clothes, bikes and such. Now there are loads of opinions and voices coming through, and I believe that the more 'clever' brands have taken a lot of that into consideration when they now develop things for women. Definitely thumbs up for that! The more we ask about women in mountain biking the more the media will show us. If we continue to show interest the media representation will continue to rise. Women in mountain biking want nice things too. Sponsoring athletes and good ambassadors for the sport that can showcase good products is important. It shows that the industry believes in the women and their interests.

St.Moritz Portraits
Tammy Donahugh, Instructor Certification Program Manager at IMBA.

Tell me a little about yourself.

Based in Colorado USA, worked in the MTB industry about 15 years, riding 23 years, coaching for nine years. Currently working at IMBA as the Instructor Certification Program Manager. I love riding all types of bikes – trail, DH, DJ, BMX, etc... I also have experience designing and building bike parks and have created my own backyard jump lines at two different homes.

From your perspective how have things changed for women in mountain biking since you started riding?

Well, I started racing in the late 90’s which I would call the mountain bike racing 'heyday'. There was quite a bit of money getting paid out to the athletes, but of course never equal pay. Lately equal pay has been adopted at more and more local and national series’, which is good to see. On the non-competitor perspective I definitely see more women on better bikes with proper gear at the lift-served bike parks. Women’s clinics and camps are also on the rise in the US with options in most every region for ladies-only instruction. I did expect the level of female riders to be much higher by now in the area of dirt jump and slopestyle. Those genres seem to still be very male dominated without much opportunity for girls to learn, progress or compete. Currently I know of only one female slopestyle event in the USA.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?

It seems the popularity of enduro racing has helped to increase the number of women who are racing on 'downhill' or bike park trails, therefore riding and racing on intermediate to advanced technical terrain. Colorado not only provides an opportunity for all types of riding, we also have a regional enduro series and a few local women’s clinics. Some of the local lifts served parks also offer discounts to women on specific days/evenings.

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and to work in the industry?

I think the ladies clinics and camps are great for getting more women riding and should offer training/suggestions on how to set-up your own bike and maintain it. The women’s STU (SRAM Technical University) in 2015 was an awesome idea and event. It would be great to see more companies offer something similar where technical information is shared so that women who are in a position to make decisions are making informed decisions.

What changes would you like to see in the next few years?

I think the industry is moving in the right direction but slowly. I do see more women in the magazines, in ads and in video edits these days. Having more women’s apparel lines; especially in the DH and freeride areas would be great, but I understand that the participation for women in those genres is the lowest out of them all.

St.Moritz Portraits
Anita Gehrig, EWS racer for Ibis Cycles.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I am an Enduro World Series racer for the Ibis Cycles Enduro Team. Together with my twin sister I travel the world racing my bike. I am fortunate to live in Flims, Switzerland, where we have a very cool trail network and a great MTB community. A few years ago we started the 'Twins Women's Bike Camps' in Flims, with the main goal to give girl riders a place to connect to other mountain biking girls as well as increasing their confidence riding bikes. It's been a huge success so far and I am super stoked to give something back.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?

When I started mountain biking nine years ago there were very few specific women's products; in the past few years, this has changed a lot. There is a wide range of specific products available now. I'm am glad the 'pink it and shrink it' approach to developing women's products did not last for too long. At home we have more and more girls picking up mountain biking, which is so great to see. When my sister and I started there were very few girls riding in our hometown, but that has changed. The girls have an insane skill level and they are just as obsessed with it as Caro and me.

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and work in the industry?

I think there is a change already now. The more women that take key roles in the industry, the more will follow. The same goes with riding, more and more are getting started and encourage others to follow.

What changes would you like to see in the next few years?

I wish the support from the industry for women's racing would be a bit more. So many absolute badass racers are struggling to get a factory deal, especially in DH. The top five get great support but then it decreases drastically. People say the level is low, but how can someone catch up to the likes of Rachel Atherton and Tracey Hannah juggling a full-time job and a World Cup racing career? It's in the industry's hands to step it up and give those dedicated and talented women a chance to shine.

St.Moritz Portraits
Daniela Michel, Swiss Mountain Bike Guide.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I am Daniela Michel, I'm 35-years-old, based in Lenk, Bernese Alps. I am a Shoprider for Sputnik Bikeshop Zweisimmen-Lenk, a Swiss cycling MTB guide at Trailstar MTB guiding in Lenk (skills training, guided tours, women’s bike camp, women’s rides…) and a Specialized women's ambassador. As a physiotherapist and teacher, I find it a perfect combination for being a mountain bike instructor. I also participate in some enduro races all over Europe. I have been riding mountain bikes now for five years and love to explore the mountains with the bike and having good times with my friends.

From your perspective how have things changed for women in mountain biking since you started riding?

In the past few years I've seen more women ride bikes, more special events for women, more and more women riding enduro and all mountain bikes. Five years ago I couldn't find any loose fit women shorts in the local bike stores.

What’s the women’s mountain bike scene like where you live?
It’s more marathon and cross country around here. In my valley there are not many women riders, in my village (2,400 people) around 30 women ride, but mostly old-schoolers, there is no existing bike scene. There is only some support from the local bike shop, a regional development program does not exist.

What do you think we could be doing to further encourage more women to ride and to work in the industry?

Currently the industry is very male dominated and the men's needs are much more weighted, but the more women that can influence or work in the industry the more women will start and enjoy mountain biking. Men should hire more women! It would be good to have equal equipment for men and women, especially the high-end products. I'd also like to see more acceptance in the industry for women.

What changes would you like to see in the next few years?

Some brands do a lot of advertising with women, but on the other hand, the range of products is very small. This is something I do not understand and some change is needed. It sucks that men do not take women's bike skills seriously, but there are so many women who keep up with the boys. Women are not just good looking bike chicks, they have some serious skills.

MENTIONS: @SramMedia / @Specialized / @SaskiaD

Posted In:
Industry News


  • 117 23
 I am pro women in MTB, pro women's progression and think it's awesome more women are getting into the sport of MTB and doing their thing. That being said, I'm, sure I will get down voted for this but....

Quote from Anita Gehrig above regarding DH:

""The top five get great support but then it decreases drastically. People say the level is low, but how can someone catch up to the likes of Rachel Atherton and Tracey Hannah juggling a full-time job and a World Cup racing career? It's in the industry's hands to step it up and give those dedicated and talented women a chance to shine.""

She is way off base here. "it's in the industry's hands...." . Well no, no it's not. It's up to the female talent to go after it and get to a level of a)performance and/or b) marketability to where a sponsor sees a benefit for them to sponsor said female racers. No male racer has been 'given' a full ride or large sponsorship without first showing the results or coverage needed to make that worth the sponsors $$. Many times that involves racing the weekends and working during the week. Working their way up thru local, national and possibly the WC level. Yes a full ride helps a racer become even better once certain things are taken care of. Since Anita target DH here, lets look at female DH. Aside from the top 4-5 racers (and Rachel being miles ahead of them) the competition is embarrassingly lacking. There are easily 20 men who could win a WC DH race at any point during a weekend and the times show it. The females have a minute group of competitive women and the rest of the field look amateurish comparatively.

It may sound brash or harsh, but it isn't worth a company's resources to sponsor a 12th place DH female racer currently. When the female competition is a tight as the male and the female consumer segment/purchasing levels reach the same level as the males, then sponsorship money may begin to equal out.

ok...neg prop away
  • 16 12
 Yes but the MTB has traditionally been "a men's sport". Men have the industry marketing to them from the get go, all their riding buddies are male, and the structure of the sport is set up to allow them to go fast if they have the skill. For women it has been historically difficult to get into, even at a grassroots level, because it did not seem inviting. So when you have had historically few women enter the sport, few will get the opportunity to rise to the top. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a greater percentage of women that race compared to men, it's just that the men's pool is so big that of course there will be lots of talent in there. The women's pool needs to become larger at the bottom introductory, beginner, grassroots level, and that's up to the industry and the greater cycling community to allow it to happen.
  • 9 5
 @xTwoSnakesx: I agree, there haven't historically been a large pool of women racers. And things do start at the grassroots level. I've been at the grassroots level of racing as a racer and helping put on an events since the early 90's. What I have a problem with is Anita basically saying it's all up to the industry. Just as much responsibility is on the women to get out and compete or help develop grassroots racing at a local level which has very low level of 'industry' influence. Females need to get out there and 'do it'. After all that, they actually are growing in numbers at both a recreational level and a racing level. I live in Colorado and there is a marked increase in women's riding, racing all around here. I see it in other states as well.

My point is that Anita was looking specifically at the highest level of WC DH racing and blaming the sponsors for lack of investment. As you said, it has to start at the lower grassroots level and grow organically from there. The men scene has went through that growth and now the sponsor level is there. The women must go thru the same growth phases. Maybe on a bit of accelerated scale or not the exact path, but similar. If females grow their side of the sport and create the demand for products and racers, the sponsorship will follow
  • 17 3
 @xTwoSnakesx: I always preface this with "Let's remove gender as a variable" as that's ideally what we want to do here. Why does Lebron James earn more than Danny Hart? It's unfair from one viewpoint, as both are at the top of their field. Basketball has traditionally been a more mainstream sport. Greater participation, greater exposure, greater marketing etc etc. It wasn't always like that. The amateurs gradually improved to where they sold enough stuff via sponsorship to become pros. Enough people watched it and wanted to play it. It didn't and can't happen overnight. The same will happen for women in MTB if the market exists. It just takes time and perseverance. The same time and perseverance the men's field had to display since before you could earn enough money to call it a profession.
  • 3 1
 I agree @bman33 there is more competition for men and more opporutinity. But is there also equal opportunity for women to be competitive? I like this dialogue. I think most of it boils down to growing pains and it is sort of a catch 22. the WC DH gets plenty of exposure though and I bet more companies would be happy to sponsor more women if they were full on battling the top contenders. How do they get to that level without that support though? that can be tricky. I think you are both right in essence and I think we all want a similar thing. More intense competition on the WC DH womens circuit and all other disciplines with a more level playing field to make it even more interesting.
  • 21 4
 @bman33: How about someone like Miranda Miller who can podium at the WC level, but doesn't get enough support to even attend every race? The biggest push to be able to race at the elite level, is to compete at the elite level, but travelling the world is hard.

Think about it this way, it might even be more fiscally prudent to support a female racer. With a shallow field it must be much easier to help an outlier get onto a podium and provide some spotlight for their sponsors than it is to get a top 5, or even top 20 televised run in the men's field.
  • 4 0
 @xTwoSnakesx: low hanging fruit for sure.
  • 15 2
 @xTwoSnakesx: If I were a bike brand owner and a real world numbers enthusiast, I'd ask how many of my bikes Miranda is going to sell right now by me footing the bill. The same question I'd ask of any male racer wanting support.
  • 7 1
 Why would you expect negative props for this? You've hit the nail on the head! Well said bman33!!
  • 10 2
 @xTwoSnakesx: Several males are in that spot as well. There will always be people "just about there". IF a sponsor , big or small, sees value there, they will do it. Nothing against Miranda, but at this point the women's WC DH is not producing enough demand on the female side of things to make it worth it. Maybe she can focus on Crankworx like Jill Kitner does. Maybe she starts making some female specific video edits and begins to get a following that way , in essence building her brand. Remy Mettailer does very similar with his Whistler edits.
  • 3 0
 @BCDragon: thanks
  • 3 4
 @bman33: Yeah but no one is bemoaning the lack of male talent at the pinnacle of the sport.
  • 9 1
 @bman33: IMO, the women need to go for sponsorship outside the mtb industry. There are many companies and brands that are looking to attach themselves to young female role models for younger women/girls. You can see this cultural demand throughout Western pop culture (ie movies like Hunger Games). The market is there, but it is much bigger than just the mountain bike industry.
  • 5 1
 @xTwoSnakesx: because there is a good deal of talent at that level. It took years for that to happen as well. In the early 90's only a handful of male racers were at that pinnacle of WC DH. The males went thru the growth, the females must do the same. AND, they are growing the sport in many ways. I mention this in one of my earlier comments. The pinnacle is just that , the top. That will be the last area that reflects growth once the females come up thru the ranks and their market grows.
  • 3 0
 @rrolly: That is a great idea not only for women, but for the industry as as whole. In the grand scheme of things the bike industry itself is small and MTB in particular is a small piece of that.
  • 16 2
 I don't think that WC DH or even EWS is the right direction for getting women on bikes or creating careers. The ambassadorial roles seem far more likely to get get women on bikes, and therefore sell bikes. There is no 'Liv' world cup downhiller but, internationally and locally, I see Liv groups out and about and they are packed. That is the way to sell bikes. The Liv brand is, financially, VERY successful (kudos to that CFO!!) and they didn't need DH or EWS to do it. Return on investment!
  • 3 0
 @iamamodel: Great point. The Liv brand is going well and definitely doing a great job promoting women in MTB in many areas. Their path is a great one. My ramblings really targeted the specific sport of DH because of Anita's comments in the article.
  • 3 6
 Injury is the only thing that keeps a racer down. Not lack of what not.
  • 6 1
 @bman33: traveled around to pro-grt's and nationals this summer and what I saw was top 15 pro men that had to qualify against 80+ men to make the show and were a couple of seconds off the winners pace buying their own bikes and parts where atop 15 pro women didn't need to qualify and were upwards of a minute off the pace of the winner were fully sponsored!
  • 2 0
 @iamamodel: Yes. Look at how many women are involved in events like Tough Mudder, vs other individual race events. Women seem to gravitate toward a cooperative model.
  • 1 0
 @MX298: bit of a conundrum there indeed. Validates a bit of a point, there are so many man at a competitive level that the sponsorship money is tapped out for men....

but also, hate to say it, the Pro GRT is only a stepping stone to the WC DH. There may be a few internationally known names at a Pro GRT race here and there. However, the men consistently in the top 15 on the WC level are cared for to a degree. Lets not kid ourselves here, this isn't the NFL. There isn't crazy 6 figures or more for the top 20 like in other sports unless outside money is brought in. Also, I am sure there is a girl or two with bikes and kit, but many are probably getting 'bro deals' and a few free jerseys at the Pro GRT level with the exception of maybe Jill Kitner. Pretty sure no female is making real money at the Pro GRT level. How many of those women are on the WC Circuit?
  • 5 3
 @thestigmk1: I think there's an unchecked assumption here that female DH racers only "sell" bikes to other females...
  • 4 1
 Well said it's not the industry's responsibility to dictate what spectators want to see either. Can the bitching about unequal prize money but put to bed already?
  • 4 3
 @bman33: "Nothing against Miranda, but at this point the women's WC DH is not producing enough demand on the female side of things to make it worth it."

Who says Miranda's racing only sells product to other females? That's a bold, and almost certainly inaccurate, assumption.
  • 10 1
 @kriscourtney: Inaccurate? Maybe, maybe not. However, how many males (nothing against females) do you know buy gear, bikes, etc. based on what a female racer uses? Call me wrong if you want. But I can guarantee any sponsor or marketer when they consider giving out sponsorships to female racers are almost exclusively looking at prospective female consumers when making those decisions.
  • 11 3
 I know a few girls who would call whats happening here "Mansplaining". I can't stand that made up word, but probably not as much as they hate being mansplained to...
  • 2 0
 @TomShark: Like my original post says, I am sure I will get down voted. I am ok with that. I think women in the sport is awesome at any level. However, until sponsors see a sales and/or coverage in WC DH specifically (as Anita's original statement says) from women increase and there is an increase in DH bike & related gears sales to women, there will be no increase in women sponsorship plain an simple.
  • 3 1
 @kriscourtney: I didn't say anything about who she was selling them to. You assumed that.
  • 7 1
 @iamamodel: I'll pile on the kudos to Liv for creating a bike made for women. They didn't just pink up the men's version of the Giant line. If the industry wants more women on bikes, they have to create real options for those of us under 5'4". We aren't all built like pros, and the bikes should reflect that. Women like Lindsey Vories rep'ing the brand thru Ladies AllRide is huge, too.
  • 4 2
 I don't think you're pro anything
  • 10 2
 @bman33: Did you ever think about the fact that there are a lot of women racers who, in their group of peers, are highly respected and who often know more about industry trends etc. or who ride the pants off their male counterparts? Women are often a lot more approachable and willing to take time to chat.
Moreover, what about those same women who coach both sexes and reach a variety of potential customers for the brands they ride for?
  • 4 1
 @jaimehi: You are assuming that I am discounting women's achievement, knowledge, and commitment to the sport. You are incorrect and at no point in any of my comments on this thread have I discounted any of that. I don't see the relevance of your point with regards to the purpose of women sponsorship or Anita's comment I quoted from this article directly.

I never said females don't influence any male buyers. My statement regarding marketers/sponsors and females does not eliminate your point. I quote from me above: " female racers are ALMOST exclusively looking at prospective female consumers when making those decisions." The key word here is "almost". Sure it happens at times and as you point out, some women coach both sexes. However, like it or not, a sponsor looks at a female athlete primarily to influence other female consumers. Many marketing execs and/or brand managers with much more qualifications than I have will tell you the same.

Again, down vote all you want....I know my opinions here are unpopular.
  • 9 3
 You are wrong. The truth is: women are the reason, not the industry. Yes, I'm a bit oldschool and I believe that female and males are different, however before neg prop me think about it: what is the point for industry in investing money in female DH racers, if majority of ladies simply do not care about cycling and even if they like cycling (like my wife), they do not give a f.* about racing and pinkbike? It is all based on advertisement after all, and if there is no demand - there is no offer. Or did I make it wrong? If you thing I'm wrong, look at volleyball or badminton - crowd are identical both at men/women games, and that is because somehow, girls do like those sports.
  • 3 0
 @bman33: Sorry I was commenting on your other statement in response to @kriscourtney about sales.

"Inaccurate? Maybe, maybe not. However, how many males (nothing against females) do you know buy gear, bikes, etc. based on what a female racer uses? Call me wrong if you want. But I can guarantee any sponsor or marketer when they consider giving out sponsorships to female racers are almost exclusively looking at prospective female consumers when making those decisions."

Everyone is obviously entitled to their own opinion...even if it gets ????????

I think it's great to have the dialogue going on this subject and interesting to read some of the feelings out there.
  • 1 1
 @jaimehi: Right on...the last sentence in that statement has the 'almost' part. Yes, we all have our opinions and being bikes and on Pinkbike, we are all passionate to a degree. I didn't eliminate a female influence on certain aspects of cycling to males. However, I don't believe their is enough to warrant potential sponsors to look at a female athlete as a possible influence on their male customers. Coaches, as you point out, can cross gender barriers. My friend's wife can smoke me when it comes to XC around the hills of Colorado for example. However, there aren't many coaches other than major league sports like the NFL or MLS who get sponsorship.

Dialogue is def the key to most issue. I am sure most industry peeps read thru the comments on Pinkbike and other sites to get temperature checks on the industry.
  • 5 2
 @thestigmk1: I meant within the industry. And, as @bman33's comments demonstrate, amongst observers/fans as well.

My point is that that assumption is not backed up by any data. It's just one of the unconscious biases that keeps female racers down.
  • 2 3
 @kriscourtney and to back up @thestigmk1 : I would be willing to be a great deal that there are marketing and sales numbers to back up a majority of what I have said with regard to female racers and their influence on consumer products in the DH racing category. A reminder, none of my statements above say females shouldn't race or shouldn't receive sponsorship. They are only comment on their influence on the consumer market in a specific category.
  • 7 4
 @bman33: "But I can guarantee any sponsor or marketer when they consider giving out sponsorships to female racers are almost exclusively looking at prospective female consumers when making those decisions."

Yes, that's absolutely true. And that's precisely the unchecked assumption I'm talking about. Your assumption (and their assumption) that: "I don't believe their (sic) is enough to warrant potential sponsors to look at a female athlete as a possible influence on their male customers" is not substantiated.

To answer your question: "how many males (nothing against females) do you know buy gear, bikes, etc. based on what a female racer uses?" Lots. Anecdotally, I can specifically think of plenty of men and juniors who have bought the same bike, helmet, knee pads, pedals, goggles and shock as me (after chatting with me), and I don't have 1/100th the exposure or results as Miranda. I can only assume that she sells a crap load more than I do.

To @jaimehi 's point, particularly amongst our peers, groms and "average" male riders, many female racers are actually highly respected, in large part because we do ride the pants off 80% of the dudes in the park on any given day. Groms in particular (who have a lot of purchasing years ahead of them, and perhaps fewer gender biases) don't care that we're girls: they want the same gear as us because they think it'll help them be able to hit Crabapple (or nail that rock garden with speed) too.
  • 4 3
 @kriscourtney: "not subtantiaed"....all I can say is prove me wrong. I don't have specific sales/marketing stats, but I bet Trek, Specialized, Giant, just to name the big players have mountains of data proving me correct. As I mentioned a few times on this thread, I understand my opinion will not be a popular one. I'm ok with that.

You say you have lots of influence on men/juniors...fantastic. You are an exception and I congratulate you. However, you are not the norm. Is what it is. I don't know a single male buying clothing options based on a female racer's kit. And they shouldn't. A major sponsor looks at influence/exposure on a greater scale than most are willing to admit. IF sponsors see there is a 500% increase in females purchasing a DH frame in the last two seasons, guess what, they will look to the likes of a Rachel or another female with good exposure and/or results and ramp up their sponsorship targeting at a female audience.

DH particularly is a male heavy sport. Therefore males are marketed to predominantly. As female participation, field depth, and exposure grow, so will the sponsorship money. But not until then. Doesn't work that way.
  • 4 2
 @bman33: "I don't know a single male buying clothing options based on a female racer's kit." Jill Kintner has influenced just a few male Downhill racers!
  • 2 3
 @MX298:Great if you and/or people you know have. Jill is also one of the few females in the DH/Gravity scene getting coverage and results. She is sponsored accordingly. That still doesn't speak for me, my friends and guys I see at races around my area. Everyone can make points about exceptions here and there. However, IF a sponsor shows up at Sea Otter or Whistler and sees half the guys wearing/riding the same thing female racer X is wearing/riding, she will be compensated accordingly by someone.

Again, my opinion is just that, an opinion. It may not be popular and I am fine with that. However, all the snark and small examples stated here have no affect on the reality of the market as a whole. Back to what Anita Gehrig says in this article and the industry's fault. Not it's not. When female racers (specifically in Anita's example World Cup DH) get the amount of coverage, results and market demand, the sponsorship will flow accordingly.
  • 3 0
 @bman33: I do agree with (most) everything you stated, I seen it. Jill is one of a kind in North America. Oh and my son is riding with her and Bryn as we type Smile
  • 4 1
 @MX298: No doubt...Jill is super rad and kills it out there. She is a perfect example of professionalism male or female. The more Jill's out there, the more the female market will grow and sponsorship will follow. I love the trails up in the Bellingham area BTW. Rode several of them two years ago while headed up to Whistler with the local friends.

Side note: I wish she was back competing in WC DH again. Love to see more USA female riders.
  • 5 3
 @bman33: I think you're attributing a level of professionalism to this industry that simply doesn't exist... Trek, Specialized and Giant do not have "mountains of data" proving you correct. From what I can tell, their marketing decisions are based on the same biases and assumptions you're espousing.

If we go beyond biases and assumptions and actually try to look at the facts, here's what I've been able to determine:

"Considering the huge amounts involved, you would imagine sponsors of athletes and events have clear answers when asked about their return on investment (ROI). You would be wrong. Industry research reveals that about one-third to one-half of US companies don’t have a system in place to measure sponsorship ROI comprehensively."


"Within their results they found gender variances in responses. Women displayed a preference for female endorsers while men perceived the different genders similarly, showing acceptability/favorability for all athlete endorsers. Klaus and Bailey (200Cool found the ad featuring Mia Hamm was evaluated more positively than the ad containing Landon Donovan, concluding that female athlete endorsers were having prominent effects on male consumers."

Sooo... looks like the marketing studies that have been done actually support my anecdotal experiences. I don't think I'm an exception at all. Aside from our kit (which is typically gender-specific), I think many "pro" women influence male riders on their choice of gear (and the studies confirm this).

Tough admitting our biases, hmm?
  • 3 4
 @kriscourtney: First point: "Women displayed a preference for female endorsers..." ---that is from your article, providing evidence of my thoughts. I don't deny there might be a small amount of crossover influence. However, I think you are over estimating female influence on male gear purchases. So no, I don't have 'tough' time admitting my bias. I am being realistic.

Second point: If you think Trek, Specialized and Giant don't have numbers on gender specific equipment/gear they sell, you have no clue about any of those companies. I worked in the industry for years and they have stats from all their major shops and retailers. The SKU numbers themselves are gender specific where applicable. Don't believe me, go look at their respective websites and/or catalogs and see for yourself. The first article you reference is targeting potential and current World Cup Soccer sponsors. Who did they pole, what companies? Even in your quote "one third to one half.." that means the other two thirds and other half DO have sponsorship metrics. Back to WC DH specifically since that is how this started, If I am wrong why does Rachel have female specific camps, Fox Hunt etc. target towards women riders specifically? Why does Giant have the Liv brand? Why does Santa Cruz support the Juliana brands? etc etc.

Glad we are talking about this, but you are overestimating female influence in the male market on Pinkbike and similar audiences.
  • 5 2
 @bman33: your last sentence is part of the problem and the whole time you've been commenting, you've never offered a solution.

Like I said before. it is a catch 22. more exposure, more followers, more compensation, more exposure.

The WC is going backwards in regards to exposure for women. Why? I don't think anyone on this website besides the UCI actually knows. It's all speculation. Pick a reason, it's not helping and counter productive.

The industry needs to look for ways to change it to benefit more athletes to reach that next step and break the downward spiral.
  • 4 1
 liking winnie the pooh - i find this to be a "both is right" kinda situation - or to put it differently, you are somewhat discussing a hen and the egg issue here, where i find the answer to be "simultaneously", not either or.

As you point bman33, riders - male and female alike - need to sell a product - themselves - that ultimately will sell the product of their sponsor(s). Such is the commercial conditions of the sport.

However, i also think the support for the females are a bit lacking. I do not push for large salaries for riders that are not competitive, but I for one think that UCI should mandate that the top tier teams should have as a mandatory requirement to support both junior and senior riders of both sexes. With support here i mean support in terms of gear, training, logistics (getting to and from venues, support at the venue) and service on the hill - not salary. I find it positively pathetic that some of the big brand teams does not even have a single female rider on their DH rooster, while other teams have several. Giving up and coming riders of both sexes the support needed to focus on improving, not on everything else, should prove very beneficial in the long run. No, it will not help Loic one bit to ride with a woman that seeds in 10th spot. But, it sure as hell would benefit her over the course of a season. Rachel is doing an admirable job at the BDS', but the initiative should be broader and lead by the industry itself.

and, to end with the cliche argument; it is not like guys hate having girls around when mountain biking, even if they are a bit slower at times. So why not encourage more to get to the level where we want them to be by giving them the support they need to get there relatively speaking faster? When i dj i am only concerned with getting girls to dance, because lo and behold, the guys will follow - while the same is not always the case the other way around. If the same is true in mtb the best way to get more people to ride is to get more girls to ride, both because fewer do and because it attracts new men to the sport.

happy trails to all.
  • 3 2
 @makripper: My first comment on this thread offers a solution:

" It's up to the female talent to go after it and get to a level of a)performance and/or b) marketability to where a sponsor sees a benefit for them to sponsor said female racers."

I am talking specifically about racing sponsorship and Anita Gehrig's comments from the article. The women's field is not as exciting/deep as men specifically in WC DH. That isn't speculation, it's fact. Rachel is amazing and crushes her nearest competitors. The other 2-4 competitive women are close together usually. But after them, it drops off at an almost comical rate.

The industry can encourage more females and they already are. In NO way have I discouraged females from participated in MTB racing or at the recreational. I applaud it and several of my comments reflect that. But for Anita to say the industry needs to give more racers in specific category more money where it isn't deserved is illogical. I agree it is a bit of a catch 22, but Anita opened the door and I commented on it.
  • 3 3
 @klinkekule: IF the UCI makes 'equality' mandatory, watch many sponsors fall away. Even without the salary commitments, all those other components you mention require resources and indeed money. Forcing something that is not in high enough demand will only reduce the number of teams at the WC level. WC racing is expensive enough as it is. The support you mention to lesser type riders is supposed to and is to a degree happen at the grassroots level. It should be voluntary and not mandated. I as a sponsor would find it insulting that the UCI mandate who and what I can spend my sponsorship dollar on.

As I stated in one of my earlier comments, yes, a full ride helps riders focus on racing alone and that in turn makes them better. However, the male market has grown from grassroots to where it is and the female market is started to grow as well. Bureaucratic mandates will do more harm to the industry and WC DH racing specifically than good.
  • 4 1
 @bman33: The fact that female consumers are more swayed by female athletes is not evidence of your thoughts. Your thoughts, to summarize, are that female athletes are not an effective marketing tool for male consumers. You'll notice that the very next sentence directly contradicts your assumption. The author of the academic article concludes that male consumers "perceived the different genders similarly, showing acceptability/favorability for all athlete endorsers." No, the author didn't say that there "might be a small amount of crossover influence" as you would like to believe. Specifically, the research showed that the gender of the athlete didn't matter when it came to the ad's influence on male consumers.

I'm not sure why you find your own completely unsubstantiated "hunch" (when you have admitted that you "don't have specific sales/marketing stats") to be more persuasive/credible than the academics who have actually conducted studies on these things?

Finally, nobody suggested that the big bike brands don't have numbers on gender-specific equipment they sell. Of course they do. To stick to the point, what you were trying to argue was that these big bike brands have "mountains of data" on whether or not sponsoring a female athlete has any effect on male purchasing behaviour.
  • 3 2
 @kriscourtney: The author conducted his study on a sporting event outside of our very specific market of WC DH racing. As far as my 'mountains of data' comment, my apologies I didn't use very specific terminology. My intend was that those three have a substantial amount of data on buying trends and effectiveness of their sponsorship. Do I have a look into their books? No. However, neither did the author of your quoted article. My bet is he didn't talk to Trek, Specialized or Giant. Stats 101: you can make a poll, survey, etc .say what ever you want. It all depends on how, what, who you ask.

As far as your 'hunch' comment. Call it what you want. However, I can poll 100 of my riding friends and I will be willing to wager 99 of them will say female riders have zero affect on their gear/bike purchases. Those are very specific targets in the very specific audience we are talking about her. I didn't say the author specifically said "might be a small amount of crossover influence". You are pushing for a dig there. Again, the 'academics" you quote probably didn't even look at any bicycle related company during their research.

I am talking WC DH specifically here. If you think my assumptions are wrong, please feel free to contact Trek, Specialized, Giant, Y/T etc. to go an sponsor any female rider in a major way who's name isn't Rachel, Tracey, Miriam , etc. etc. Or feel free to drop a couple hundred thousand $$ on a 12th place female racer.

I understand as a female you are frustrated with heavy male influence and/or presence in our sport and the lack of female participation. However, IF it didn't matter who was riding what, there in fact would be more females in ads in our specific industry.
  • 6 0
 @xTwoSnakesx: Exactly. Which is why I directly support companies and brands who do send women to these events and support them. Like Trek, Transition Bikes.
  • 2 1
 @bman33: I agree. A good comparison is Womens hockey.
  • 5 2
 @bman33: Sorry bud - the studies by different authors, at different points in time, using different methodology, and examining a wide array of sports all come to the same conclusion: male consumers are equally swayed in their purchasing decisions by athlete endorsers, regardless the sex of the athlete (providing the female athletes are actually posed/presented/marketed as athletes):

Your conclusion that if the sex of the athlete didn't matter, then we would see more females in ads/sponsorship positions in the DH world assumes the DH industry actually makes rational decisions based on verifiable facts (such as the academic literature on this subject) and not the same biases and assumptions you're espousing. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Males are still much more heavily sponsored in virtually all sports, including the range of sports specifically covered in the above studies. The research is out there. But the industry hasn't yet followed suit. Therefore, it's quite likely you're being overly optimistic assuming such unbiased rational decision-making.

As this lengthy back-and-forth has demonstrated, getting people to actually examine their unconscious biases is REALLY, REALLY hard.
  • 2 1

LINK ONE: Celebrity endorsements ---. I don't care if Madona, Tom Cruise, Chelsea Handler, Peyton Manning or Serena Williams sells me soap, car insurance or cell phones (specifically state in the study link #3). Not much other than saying they looked at celebrities.

LINK TWO : Exact same link as link one --no change there.

LINK THREE: this one goes into more depth, kudos for your google search on that one. Let's get into some depth here. First Serena is mentioned here again as well as Kobe Bryant:

" The most frequently mentioned male athlete was Kobe Bryant and the most frequently mentioned female athlete was Serena Williams; both were included in the final instrument."

Again, I don't care who sells me car insurance, soap, pizza or credit cards (Samuel Jackson or Jennifer Garner). This research mentions several times "endorsements." If I was looking for Basketball gear, I might care what Kobe has to say or what he uses. However, when I purchase a piece of sports equipment or kit that I am personally USING at an expert level, I (and many of my cohorts) look to riders who will use this equipment at the same level or higher than us and under similar circumstances (body weight, trail conditions, etc. etc.). -OR- I look to my experience or my friends who ride at my male riders. I have several female friend riders, but I don't look to them for equipment advice. Nothing against them, we just use our stuff differently. Not to say I could beat Rachel Atherton down a mountain..I am 42 years old and haven't raced semi-pro in years. Also she is flat out crazy fast no matter the gender.

Additional notes from the survey:

""Utilizing the university survey center, the instrument was sent to all currently enrolled full-time undergraduate students through the university’s email system. Students that agreed to participate in the study ....... The survey items were presented in a 7-point Likert Scale format"" --basically a "do you agree or disagree?" format. Here is a set of the question answers the study presented.

TOPIC EXPERTISE: I will give you and the author credit there, if the athlete (not celeb) doesn't have the expertise in MTB, I will not place any weight on what they ride.


“When I viewed this advertisement I …”

1. felt the endorser was trustworthy.
2. found the endorser to be believable.
3. saw the endorser as sincere.
4. believed their opinion was reliable.
5. believed the endorser was being honest.
6. viewed their opinion as dependable.

I fully am aware the celebrities are getting paid for the Tide detergent commercial...I trust that is the truth.


“When I viewed this advertisement I …”

1. saw the endorser as attractive.
2. perceived them to be charismatic.
3. considered the endorser to be good looking.
4. found the endorser to be charismatic.
5. thought the endorser had superior athletic ability.
6. admired their physical make-up.
7. saw them as being beautiful.

I don't care what Steve Peat, Aaron Gwin or Ratboy look like. Do they use the product in similar or greater situations than I would?

The additional topics include likability and familiarity ...well we are all human and can't help but be swayed by both of those. There are exceptions. For example many don't seem to "like" Brian Lopes. However, I in particular road several of the components he raced back in the day and emulated his set up...because he won!

Here is a direct quote from this research contradicting a bit of what you say and to a degree partially validating mine:

""Gender had a significant affect for participants evaluating Serena Williams’
endorser effectiveness but was not significant when evaluating Kobe Bryant. Overall
female evaluations of Serena Williams were more favorable than evaluations from males.
This finding supports research that has shown female consumers had stronger
associations with products endorsed by female athletes than males had to products
endorsed by male athletes (Veltri & Long, 1998; Rubel, 1995).""

So yes, you are 100% correct. If I am buying Tide for my laundry, car insurance (Nationwide in the US with Peyton Manning) , or a cell phone....I guess whom ever celebrity or athlete doesn't matter. But if I am buying bicycle gear and equipment I use under very similar circumstances as WC DH racers or MTB racers do , I will look to males and not females primarily. ****Repeat my caveat: I think more women in MTB is awesome and encourage growth in racing and riding at ALL levels for women****
  • 5 0
 @bman33: I'm assuming you 1) didn't understand the first study, 2) didn't have a library card that would have enabled you to download and read the second study, and 3) had trouble remembering and focusing on the point of discussion when reading the third study (being: effect of athlete endorser sex on purchasing decisions of male and female consumers).

I'll just leave this right here...
  • 1 2

No digital library card again, my apologies for the miscommunication. Didn't realized I needed to download additional software to see your point. For the study #3 I was on point with the direction of that specific study. That said, that one still didn't study the specific MTB category all this started from.

My focus was 100% on point with regards to the sex of the endorser on purchasing decisions. Let me clear it up for you a bit more. IF I ( and almost all of my male riding friends) am looking to purchase to purchase MTB equipment, specifically DH style equipment mentioned in my original statement(s), I/we look to other male riders or pros for the influence. Now if you want to call that "bias", fine. Go ride ahead and perch on your ivory tower. I would call that is "common sense". Why would I look for a piece of sports equipment endorser/athlete who would not use it in a similar way than me? If you are looking for a seat for your XC/Trail bike would you look for a male or female perspective? Males usually have a different hip structure than females. Therefore your use patterns would be different than mine on that piece of equipment. For all I know you can smoke me in an XC remember this is not about who is faster/better. Is that bias or common sense?

I understand from a psychological perspective the term "common sense" is considered very uneducated or pedestrian. I work in I.T.. However , I do have a marketing undergraduate degree. Don't use if very much anymore, but I do understand the concepts as well as study metrics and results analysis.

So again, if you want to tell my what my or my friend's rationale for making decisions are in this very narrow and specific area are by quoting loosely similar 'academic' studies, fine. You are right, we are all wrong. I will hit you up next summer when I head up to Squamish/Whistler area and you can school me additionally over a few beers. I guess I should always look to a 115 lb/53kg female bike rider when I am in need of new riding equipment even though I am 170lb/77kg.
  • 2 2
 Side note on the Confirmation bias definition: I do know what it is, went over the topic in a marketing class or two. I don't deny it exists. Many decisions are influenced by it from both gender's perspective. It just doesn't fit in the very narrow topic area of our discussion about males looking to other males when purchasing specific sports equipment they will use in a different manner (for the most part, not always) or degree than females will.
  • 4 0
 @bman33: "Common sense" would dictate that, aside from the gender-specific items you've conveniently drawn attention to (kit, and saddle), you and your buddies would want product advice from anyone who is better/faster/more skilled/more knowledgeable than you, regardless of gender.

I'm not sure what the heck you're doing with your bike, pedals, suspension, gloves, helmet, goggles, brakes, rims or tires, but I would suggest that if your "use patterns" more closely mirrored those of a pro DH racer (male or female), it would likely improve your riding. Alternatively, I'm not sure what the heck you think us pro women are doing with our gear such that our "use patterns" are different.

Would I recommend you be on a different size bike than the average pro female, and have your suspension and cockpit set up differently? Of course. I'm 5'2". You probably aren't.

That said, to sarcastically suggest that the sex and weight of pro female DH racers disqualifies them from having the knowledge and experience to be able to advise you on how certain tires perform under different track conditions, the effect of the different amounts of float of different pedals and how that will affect your cornering ability, or how those knee pads are going to hold up when you crash at 65km/h on a World Cup track, well... at least your biases are getting more transparent now.
  • 2 1
 Most of mine and my friends' bike are set up at pro level or close enough living here in Colorado with the bike parks and a trip or two to Whistler each year. I raced the circuit for years at the semi-pro level, now I race masters series and a few days above weekend warrior. As far as snark and sarcasm....they both have a prominent role in my vocabulary. (both positive and negative reception at times)

That said win I concede. Keyboard warrior attacks are draining and I am heading out to ride. You at least are detailed commenter with decent LexisNexis and/or Google search skills.

Rubber side down
  • 1 0
 is it really so different for them men... lets talk about time difference from the fastest as a function of sponsorship, 1-10 seconds, big deal... 20-40 seconds, not so much
  • 4 7
 @bman33: I applaud you for hanging in to that debate as long as you did. What started out a a perfectly logical (and correct) comment turned in to what I can only imagine morphed into a huge waste of time trying to argue an unnecessary defense. Unfortunately your opponent sounds like an ardent feminist who will argue black is white regardless of the practical truth. Of course male products are marketed for males and female products for females. No amount of hyperlinks to barely related academic thought excersizes will change that simple fact. Some people really need to get their head out of their a**** and take a look around at the actual problems in the world instead of fashioning arguments to issues that don't exist...

Enjoy that ride man, you earned it...
  • 2 2
 @TheDoctoRR: thanks! Ha! Her debate techniques are attorney like.
  • 4 2
 @bman33: " @TheDoctoRR: thanks! Ha! Her debate techniques are attorney like."

I'll give you an up-props for that. Full-time lawyer and part-time World Cup DH racer from Squamish, B.C.!

And ya, you can be sure I'll slavishly stick to what's relevant to the issue being discussed (because you better be damned sure your arguments and evidence are relevant when they're about to be dissected in the courtroom). I understand, however, this was likely not your usual Pinkbike experience, where arguments tend more often to degenerate into tangents and ad hominems.
  • 2 1
I will not allow myself to sink to his level...
I will not allow myself to sink to his level...
I will not allow myself to sink to his level.

Phew. Okay. Now then, just to reiterate: No one argued against your statement that: "Of course male products are marketed for males and female products for females."

@bman33's argument was: "I don't believe their (sic) is enough to warrant potential sponsors to look at a female athlete as a possible influence on their male customers"

The vast majority of products we use in DH are gender-neutral. I do not ride a female-specific Giant Glory with female-specific Danny Hart bars, female-specific Codes, female-specific Magic Mary's, a female-specific Cane Creek Double Barrel, and female-specific Crank Bros. Mallets. I also don't wear female-specific 7protection knee pads or a female-specific 100% Aircraft helmet.

The studies linked to were directly relevant to bman33's assumption re. whether or not the gender of the sponsored athlete matters when it comes to measuring the impact on a male consumer's purchasing decisions.
  • 1 1
 @kriscourtney: That does explain a good bit. I knew there was a LexisNexis flavor throughout the thread. Kudos on your lawsuit career. I look forward to seeing you compete with Rachel, Tracey, Miriam and Tahnee

As I have learned that I cannot use 'common sense' phrase instead I must use 'bias'. I would like to point out that many of my riding cohorts are biased. Per your comment, I didn't "assume" ( "..bman33's assumption") . I am 100% positive of it, no assumption. We are biased in that we do not look to female athletes (again I encourage them and think they are great) when it comes to purchasing DH or gravity influenced equipment under most circumstances.
  • 3 1
 @bman33 @kriscourtney I respect your background obviously and respect that you two have kept this civil and on target. What I would say though is when quoting sociological/consumer studies as evidence (I am training to be an ortho surgeon and am currently doing a phd) that they rank exceptionally low and often fall below the curve of what is accepted as a genuine evidence base. Many studies in psychology, sociology and consumer marketing samples by extension demonstrate no repeatable data, and as such are not held as evidence.

I would close my input on this discussion though by saying I hope the market expands to the point where those who want and deserve the opportunities are afforded it regardless of gender. Just as it didn't happen overnight for men's downhill in the early 90s, it won't happen overnight for women either.
  • 2 2
 @thestigmk1: Sorry, I'm not sure I understand what point you're trying to make? You're saying these peer-reviewed published academic studies:
"rank exceptionally low" by what measure? on what scale? ranked by whom?
"often fall below the curve of what is accepted as a genuine evidence base" what curve? accepted by whom? as a genuine evidence base for what purposes?
and "are not held as evidence" by whom? and for what purposes?

I think many academics in psychology, sociology and marketing might take exception to your complete dismissal of their fields of work, hmm?

As someone who has been through the peer-review and publication process, I can assure you that these processes are designed to ensure that biases are eliminated, the variables are controlled, and alternate conclusions addressed. That's not to say that different journals don't have different standards - of course they do.

However, as far as the acceptability of such studies to inform decision-making, I can also assure you that of course such studies are accepted as part of the evidence base that informs our politicians making decisions on major issues of public policy, our judges when making decisions on someone's guilt or innocence, and our business leaders when making investment decisions.

Sometimes studies will not be available that are PRECISELY on point. In those cases, we draw on the best evidence we have. Of course, in this case, a study that looked precisely at the DH market would be more persuasive than studies that looked at other sports. But such a study hasn't been done. That doesn't mean there is NO evidence to inform our decision though and we just accept some random joe's uninformed hunch instead.

I was faced with a similar problem many years ago in one of my first jobs post-law school. I was tasked with advising several members of our federal government and the opposition parties whether there was any evidence that would suggest what the economic and structural outcomes would be of eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board (a wildly controversial political issue at the time). There were no data-based studies available, as it was entirely too speculative. That didn't end the matter, however. Although not directly relating to the Canadian Wheat Board, we were able to look at what had happened in other jurisdictions when they had eliminated similar agricultural marketing boards for other products. So we looked at the evidence on the Australian milk marketing boards, and the New Zealand apple and pear marketing boards, etc. We noted the similarities and differences, any caveats, etc. And that formed a pretty good basis for speculating on what might happen in Canada under various scenarios.

Using the best available evidence is better than using no evidence at all (and I can assure you that most of the UCI DH teams are using the "no evidence at all" approach right now). That's not necessarily to blame them - the vestiges of a patriarchal society are still all around us, and sometimes it take some time before someone says: "oh hey, does the way we're doing things really make sense?"
  • 2 1
 You are forgetting the most important part of all of this. The consumer. trends are actually impossible to predict. Why do things go viral? because they do. Why does one TLD kit sell better than the other? yeah. good luck. You can guess and study all you want to but it's not a code to be cracked. Vehicles are easier, smartphone trends are easier but still not possible to get 100% or even 90% right.

I had a conversation with a shop owner a couple years ago and was being shown the next model year colour ways. There was a couple that I thought were terrible and would never sell. Guess what. those were the most popular bikes that year!

for lots of companies, even high profiles ones, (looking at you google) the marketing dept. literally throws crap at walls to see what sticks. Then they grow the ideas and concepts, betas etc. if it gains any traction and has merit.

if some market genius could accurately predict what the trends would be 2 years ahead of time, they would be bringing in boatloads of money and everyone would own their products (if they got the price/value curves right) Nike was lucky a few times haha

If you know of anyone who's 100% right all the time with trends, give me their email address because I need stock advice lol
  • 26 5
 I'm all for women being involved in the bike scene and I also only read a small part of the article. However I think that some off the points are off. Eg. "I think that seeing a push coming from the industry leaders to seek out qualified women to work in the industry would be a good place to start." Why should employers seek out women? They should be seeking the best candidate regardless of gender. If a women wants the job she should prove herself better than the other candidates, not just getting a job because of her gender.
Women in the industry is great but it shouldn't come at a disadvantage to male who has worked hard to attain there skill set and qualifications.
  • 3 7
flag jaame (Oct 19, 2016 at 16:07) (Below Threshold)
 It's totally sexist
  • 7 3
 @patrick-marsh: "Seeking best possible candidate". I'll give you an example of human rationale in making best possible choices: Clinton and Trump. That's the best that the greatest country in the world came up with in the end. Not only people are often incapable of making rational choice, regardless of the volume of information available to them. Some scientists argue that even an artificial general intelligence may be incapable of making "best possible" choices, as just as humans it will have to face contradicting factual information, purely false information that it will have a hard time veryfying, unclear orders and own lazyness. So what you describe is a utopia. In engineering, design or construction work, woman will always be perceived as a less attractive employee, and there is little rationality behind that. Men are lazy f*ckers simplifying everything and use women to sort their sht out. At my work, the miscommunication between men and women is frequent and conflict avoidance driven compromise is often the case in making design solutions. So if the office is run by a dude, he will rather have dudes around. Out of pure unwillingness to argue with someone having different thinking process. And it's good that women speak up in that subject.
  • 2 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Dre signed Eminem, white people were 'allowed' to like rap music. Market doubled.
  • 2 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I'm a draughtsman/BIM Manager in an architecture office. I'm a dude, my boss is a dude, we have VERY different thinking processes and it often leads to tension - every single project... There's also many times where important details aren't communicated to me by my boss till late in the process if at all. Basically, everything you've said in the bottom half of your comment applies to me if you insert "TomShark" in place of "women"

Sex is not necessarily the issue here, differently wired brains and hierarchy are just as likely.
  • 1 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Oct 20, 2016 at 14:24) (Below Threshold)
 @TomShark: I can't work with women when it comes to arranging sht in Revit. I just can't... there is a dude who's way of work I dislike greatly too. But we fixed our differences in a matter of two clashes. The women though... their inability to take risk, to try new things, instead focusing on trying to find a one best way to do something and stick to it... sorry no... once you set off on a course to find a way how "you ought to do sht in Revit" you are done, the program got you by your balls and will now make you dance like a puppet, doing stupid sht that will make ArchiCAD users laugh at you. I said it loud and clear a few times: on one occasion you are the project manager and on another I am. There is too little time to solve differences in mind. The leader takes decisions and their consequences. It rarely worked with girls at the office I work at... works always with guys. We are rather clear about our territories.

When it comes to interior design, be my guest, women are the best at it, by a huge margin.
  • 1 0
 @AyJayDoubleyou: Country rap I never thought I'd see this day.
  • 1 2
 @properp: country rap? That sounds like a black man going to a southern state. It just can't end well...
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: yet it is happining
  • 1 0
 @properp: yes and in a way if you clash the two, it goes well for country and really bad for rap...
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Not an "inability." Women, in general, TEND to approach things differently. There are many exceptions. This goes the other way too. Both my sons, by nature, are risk averse in most situations. I see this just as much as I see women able to take risks. There are, however, cultural filters where those women that embrace risk more easily are encouraged/discouraged to act out on this. Maybe look at the difference in Aussie girls vs Indian girls to see how this is borne out in some cases.

Women best at interior design? Uh, no. There may be far more numbers of women in interior "decorating" than men, likely because of the low income ceiling (no pun intended) at the entry and mid levels, but interior "design" requires architectural training, at least in Canada. This has been male dominated for a long time.
  • 1 1
 @rrolly: I don't see almost any dude at my work that could keep up with the interior design work. Each project is small and you work with 5 or more projects simultaneously. You can have 3 different clients per week. This is a level of multi-tasking that would crack our best project manager within half of a year. Guy was doing pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, large office buildings, large housing, but that's piece of a cake. You work with 4-5 consultants from the clients side, and manage 2-4 Cad monkeys at the office. At final stages you have to deal with material suppliers and contractor, so this can get messy, but still, in large construction process there is little irrational decisions, little saying: we don't do that because I don't like it. It's like a battle ship. But interior design? some clients are fkd up, feelings are almost always involved, no definite preconditions, everything floats in the goo of indecision and because we can or because we like it that way. Budgets are tight and clients rarely appreciate the time you spent. In large construction people know how much things take. I need this and that detail, when can you deliver it? in 1 day. I need a design for the foyer - eeeee... uuummm... - sir why can't you just make some ideas while you are watching TV at home or doing loundry, and then we can meet and discuss them? Sir only chosing furniture from catalogue can take 5 days - no, can't be. Don't you have some program that does it for you by magic?

So yea, i have a huge respect for interior designers, contrary to the landscape people...

your design decisions are based
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Interesting that you can have so much respect for interior designers, but still choose to call your technicians cad monkeys... Further proof that maybe this is a heirarchy issue, not a sex issue...
  • 2 0
 @TomShark: you are looking too deep. I respect sht I cannot do but have still a slight idea about. I am rather good problem finder and solver with projects in general and a Revit guy. That sht is easy peasy for me. Hence CAD Monkey me. I do the toilet schedules sometimes... but I'd rather do that than a fkng "mood board".
  • 3 0
 Leaving equity arguments aside for a second... - If you were a major company in the MTB industry, you'd look for opportunities to grow the pie, rather than fight over a share of the existing pie. There's only so much sales growth you'll get out of pitting your 160mm enduro bike against all the other 160mm enduro bikes, and getting someone to switch brands requires real effort on your part (and perhaps a screwup on the part of their current supplier).

Attracting consumers into the sport, however, allows you to get them loyal to your brand from the get go. So if you were a purely self-interested major MTB company exec looking at a particular market, say the US, or Europe - where will you find a ready pool of new participants? Youngsters come to mind - nothing like attracting lots of young people to the sport to grow the pool of riders (and consumers). But youngsters' purchasing power is linked to their parents. Women, on the other hand, have long been under-represented in MTB participation - but they've got their own purchasing power, just like men.

So if whatever "the industry" has done so far to attract women into the sport (and hence to their brands) hasn't worked so well (as evidenced by lower participation numbers), you'd think the industry would try some other things. Such as sponsoring women's events and clinics, sponsoring women coaches, producing and marketing women's gear, and perhaps sponsoring marquee women in competition. And perhaps you might think that hiring people who have experience in those areas (women's outreach, women's gear, women's events and clinics and such) to take important positions in those companies might be advantageous, as they might have some special insight into how to achieve all those goals.

Employers might therefore think that women, due to their involvement in the side of the sport they want to grow and tap into are "the best candidate" for the job - not necessarily because they're women, but because they're the ones that have the relevant experience for the big growth opportunity. And if you look at how Liv, for example, are staffing their brand, that's exactly what they're doing - and hey, look at that, they're selling a bunch of stuff to a bunch of people who previously were not part of the sport.
  • 26 3
 My gf is learning to ride and her progression rate is insane. so stoked
  • 18 3
 So I guess AmBatt wasn't invited back for her opinion....... Great article, theres been a large increase in female ridership locally, which is awesome.
  • 6 1
 I couldn't agree more. It seems like it's near half and half at the whistler bike park lately and it's awesome to see! Just lets keep moving in a positive direction.
  • 7 4
 I think AmBatt was too good at ruffling feathers.
  • 3 4
 EmBatt and AmBatt debate would be interesting...
  • 13 4
 @BDKR: More like people don't want to hear poorly worded temper tantrums
  • 6 2
 @WAKIdesigns: it wouldnt happen because Emily is a professional.
  • 6 7
 Ambatt has more to say than the entirety of this article in my opinion. There's not much substance here, too pc. Read some skate blogs, its all the stuff ambatt says. Mtb doesn't support alternative views as we are white, middle class l, wealthy males by and large.
  • 6 0
 SO EDGY. I'll check your tumblr blog later.
  • 2 0
 @BDKR: yup. made for some head scratching moments at times (like when she got into it with Stacy telling the guy in a wheelchair that he 'gave up'... that was embarrassing to even read). good intentions none the less. (still laughing at 'alternate views' comment above considering who we are. Maybe the wrong thread to interject that into...... lmao, this scene is so diverse in opinions and people and it's only growing, maybe not in NZ).
  • 4 1
 @russthedog: with all due respect, What The big meaty F, do men have to say in that topic anyways... Ambatt is radiating stuff all over the net and good on her. I replied to her lately in NSMB and I regret it, because the truth is I like what she does but I have absolutely nothing to say to her. Let her spread that aggressive care. It passes through me like a neutrino and reacting on it either in positive or negative way just frustrates me. I am happy that some wankers get enraged by it. They deserve it.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Fair points

@atrokz that made me laugh
  • 2 0
 @russthedog: Glad I did! PS BDKR is black... hehe.
  • 13 0
 I thought I'd just make a point that this article was in no way intended to be feminist, anything to do with sexism or for women to demand more pay or any of the things suggested in some of the comments. In actual fact, all it was intended to be was an article highlighting how women who work in the industry have seen things evolve in their own areas, how things have changed and their personal experiences, a view of women's mtb from different parts of the world. That being said I'm glad to see such discussions and people getting involved!
  • 6 1
 It's an interesting article and a worthwhile debate.
  • 1 0
 @Bartimaeus: agreed. It's educational
  • 11 2
 "These same companies also need to take a look at their structures, environments, and benefits to make sure they are able to attract not just women but the best-qualified applicants, period." ==== This. The most qualified person gets the job, regardless of gender. It should be a non-issue.
  • 7 1
 "When women's specific bikes first came it felt a bit like a mockery. The geometry was about the same. Components were less good. You got less of a bike for approximately the same amount of money."

Way to call them out, Annie!
  • 8 1
 Funny that Juliana is mentioned when their frames are just shrink it and pink it. Liv, on the other hand, have frames designed for women.
  • 2 1
 @iamamodel: Juliana is a joke. My wife was looking for a new 160mm bike last year and she went to look at Juliana bikes and came away with a major sour taste in her mouth toward the entire Santa Cruz brand.

Honestly, I know they're nice bikes. But the price points are ludicrous at least in Canada. She ended up getting a Spartan RR for $6800 as an end-of-season sale ($700 off). The comparable Nomad was listed at $10300. Juliana is the same way but only comes up to the Bronson when it comes to capability.
  • 5 0
 @iamamodel: I think it's more about women's focused brands. Which provide an outlet for women/girls to actually go to a bike brand's website and see girls doing rad shit on their bikes.
I don't even know how you could make a "women's specific" bike considering all women come in different shapes and sizes...just like men. Maybe the saddle is different or the tune on the suspension (or in some cases the industry feels women want shittier build kits)...but
bikes should be made to fit the rider regardless of gender.
  • 9 2
 8 women interviewed, and only 1 item of pink clothing being worn. What does that tell you about what women actually want to wear, compared to what we see the main brands trying to sell them at bike shows?
  • 5 0
 It tells me 8 is still a pretty small sample size so it's pretty inconclusive anecdotal evidence. That said, you're probably right. I think most of the guys stuff is pretty ugly too
  • 6 1
 Just get more people on bikes. Woman feel inspired if they see more woman in the industry and that means more woman getting into the sport = more riders = more acceptance = good times for all
  • 9 1
 Missy Giove, role model?
  • 14 3
 One massive, glaring f*ck up aside, you could do a lot worse than Missy. Fast, motivated, charity campaigner, supporter of a bunch of junior athletes (out of her own pocket), well and truly 'out' in an era when being gay and an athlete could equate to career suicide (something that still seems to apply 20 years later, sadly).
The drug smuggling conviction is pretty awful as things go, but also an opportunity to explore what exactly do pro athletes do once their career is over. Hers is a pretty extreme example but it seems a lot of ex athletes end up on the rocks.
  • 9 2
 You mean an aggressive, successful, fast rider with great skills and heaps of fans? Sounds like a good role model for riding/racing to me. When I saw a photo of her railing a corner I realised she was carving like skiing and not 'turning', it changed the way I rode forever.

That her life took a bit of a downturn says more about the industry than it does her - no support post-injury and post-racing. What's a girl gonna do to earn a buck or two?
  • 1 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: Ahhh, you type faster than me!!
  • 1 0
 @iamamodel: Watching her almost bite it last year at world champs made me miss the old NORBA days.
  • 8 2
 so what - she got done for a bit of pot - says more about the "war" on abstract nouns than anything else
  • 8 10
 @Murbahman: it's illegal for a reason. It turns normal people into blithering idiots.
  • 2 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: Is being gay and an athlete even an issue anymore? Whenever I see someone on TV mentioning they are gay in front of a live audience there is almost always applause. I don't understand how this would be an issue in mountain biking. If it is, can you give me an example of how this would be the case?
  • 2 2
 @jaame: yes - certainly got the textile barons frothing in the 30's - just sayin' - In , 1937, Du Pont filed its patent on Nylon, a synthetic fiber that took over many of the textile and cordage markets that would have gone to hemp. More than half the American cars on the road were built by GM, which guaranteed Du Pont a captive market for paints, varnishes, plastics, and rubber, all which could have been made from hemp. Furthermore, all GM cars would subsequently be designed to use tetra-ethyl leaded fuel exclusively, which contained additives that Du Pont manufactured. All competition from hemp had been outlawed.
  • 5 1
 @jaame: Would you prefer to be around a bunch of guys pissed at newts or around guys stoned out of their mind? I know which group is less likely to smash the place up and try and punch peoples face in.

BTW, I neither drink nor do drugs [insert angel emoticon here]
  • 9 7
 @iamamodel: I don't drink much either, but I cannot stand stoners, especially when they think they are in some way enlightened. Plus it is a dead set motivation killer.

Pissed c*nts are undesirable too, that is true. I think weed is worse than alcohol at making idiots though. Alcohol doesn't make idiots, but it does allow idiots to be more idiotic. Weed actually makes normal blokes into idiots.
  • 3 3
 @jaame: the bard of all things mind numbing - wait till you get your jaw busted by an alcohol fuelled fool.
  • 4 1
 @jaame have you ever Tried weed?
Or are you just repeating what you have learned? Sure the whole 'enlightened stoner' thing is pretty annoying/funny but it's a heck of a lot less addictive and destructive then alcohol, which also used to be illegal, as did being a homosexual, or voting if you didn't have a dick...

  • 2 1
 @jaame: moron.
  • 1 0
 @rrolly: It's still an issue in Alabama.
  • 2 0
 @DJ-24: I'm sure there are areas, but I'd love examples of "how" this is happening. Like, "my friend is gay and can't get work in at her LBS because the dudes there dismiss her because of her orientation, etc"

I don't understand how my comment could have been downvoted (not that it really matters, but it is interesting). It was not a pro or anti gay comment. Simply a question.
  • 4 1
 We need to encourage more young girls to ride bikes (we need more doing sport in general). I run a school MTB club for 8-14 and we occasionally get a couple of girls come along: more usually it's 15-20 boys. When biking stops being seen as 'a boy thing' then I think we'll be on a path to success. I don't yet have an answer for this.

But I do see more women riding bike these days which is great. Even better I see people tapping into this enthusiasm, Our local 'Southern Enduro' series teamed up with a local coach to start women's specific sessions and I think they managed to triple their race entry. Being a newbie in a competitive field of 8-10 women (including an EWS racer) is really intimidating, but being one of 25+ gives you a chance to have some fun and gain some confidence. So for me It's all about grass roots and 'critical mass'.

We have some awesome women role models, especially here in the UK, and you often see them encouraging and mentoring new riders. What we need is to expand the pool of talent they are working with - the few really talented riders will grow the professional sport, and hopefully everyone else will have a great time on their bikes.
  • 3 0
 My favourite quote is from Annie the sports psychologist, I paraphrase "don't help girls fix flats all the time".
I learned a lot riding with fast women, didn't have a lot of guy friends (at least ones that rode); felt really comfortable in a particular women's MTB network. Best thing about it was I saw women planning their own rides, events, teaching each other new skills, talking tech, etc. Really made me push my boundaries

I got married and moved to a new country and noticed that I got lazy. My husband was doing stuff for me I could have done myself. Part of it was nice and sharing the load. But I knew I needed to do my own fixes, pay attention to my bike just to maintain the skill.

Where I ride now there are so few women and i think culturally we still fall into stereotypes more than where I first started learning. The community here does go out of their way to get women more women on bikes in general. But I see people becoming reliant on things being organized for them. In my former group it actually had a ripple efffect, teaching "how to fish, rather than giving them a fish". This is key. Where I ride now it's once a month and important for the women on my rides to take on the leadership roles on trails, share skills etc.
  • 2 1
 I've lived in CO for 8 years and I've never personally met a girl that mountain bikes. Granted I dont go to any sort of events or meetups, but even still i think I've seen less than 10 female mountain bikers ever on the trail even. Though, granted again, I am lucky to know the low traffic trails and i never see more than 1-2 people per day out there. It would be really nice to see more girls take to the sport more readily, like skiing/snowboarding, almost every girl does that here.
  • 4 0
 Not sure where in Co, but in Utah I see lots and lots of women. I see them by themselves and in groups, not riding with the guys. We have mostly fairly easy terrain, Ill often see groups of 5 or 6 women on DH bikes riding real terrain. Both my daughters ride in local clubs and there are at least as many girls as boys in those groups. The future looks good for them around here.
  • 2 1
 You must be a total hermit. There are more every year.
  • 2 0
 Where do you live and ride man? I too live in CO, I am blown away by the amount of women you see on the trails here. It is awesome. My wife rides with a group of women, all moms, they love it. this summer in Crested Butte our group of guys could not get over how many women were there riding, camping and having fun. One day a big pickup truck pulled up, with 6 pretty nice bikes across the rear gate, and 6 women got it. We all took notice.
  • 1 0
 @meltboro - probably stop going to the BEATS - they're usually just for "guys"
  • 5 4
 In my opinion, what needs to change for the most part is the mindset of most females for starters. Times are definitely changing with more girls/females getting involved in all kinds of activities that were normally reserved for boys/men. However, the reality is the majority of girls/females are not interested in a sport where DIRT, BLOOD and quite possibly BROKEN bones are on the agenda. I have a 24 year old daughter that rides and has several female friends she rides with. She loves it but I also have a wife that has no desire to do anything that involved messing up her hair or breaking a nail. I have (2) friends who have wives that are ultra-healthy type who tried mountain biking. Once crash later and they were done, never to ride again.

Like meltboro mentioned above, I rarely see female riders own the trails. I ride in SoCal at least 2-3 times a week and see less than (5) female riders a month. I'm sure they make up less than 1% of the riders I see which is pretty sad considering they make up more than 50% of the population. I travel 3-4 times a year to ride all over the West and still rarely see many female riders. By far, I see the most on the Western Slope of Colorado over anyplace else....Durango/Cortez & Fruita come to mind as hot spots.

As far as getting more women involved, I think a few of the women mentioned it but I'd also say to have more free clinics (or reasonably priced camps/clinics) available to whet the appetite of women to get them hooked and involved. Maybe I'm in the minority but I don't think Rachel Atherton winning the DH World Cup is a huge selling feature. Most mountain bikers in general (not counting Pinkbike user), much less women riders don't know who Rachel is or even care about DH results. I watch every DH race and what bike brand wins a DH race and ZERO bearing on what bike I ride or shop for.
  • 4 0
 Unreal. On the North Shore in the Vancouver area, I rarely ride without seeing a girl on the trails or at the trailheads of the more popular trails. And up at Whistler there are women riders all over the place.
  • 3 0
 Maybe it's just the culture in SoCal? I'm in Vermont and recently attended a women's group ride where the cars overflowed the parking lot and the cops showed up to make the dozen cars parked on the road leave. I'd say 25% of people I see on the local trails are women. At races, it's probably more like 10% or less.

You may have a point that women are more risk-averse on average than men, but I think a lot of that may be due to, cultural inertia of traditional gender roles. In previous generations, parents were less likely to give their young daughters mountain bikes for their birthdays than their sons. The son learns to ride, take risks, and crash somewhat safely while he's still young enough to bounce and doesn't have to go to work in the morning; the daughter gets a Barbie dream house and forgets about bikes until her boyfriend brings her mountain biking 20 years later--she's clueless, she crashes, it's horrible. Few or none of her friends ride either, so she has little encouragement to keep trying.

This is reckless conjecture of course but I'm speaking somewhat from my own experience--learning to ride a dirt bike as a grown woman was singularly frustrating. I only stuck it out because I had faith that it might someday be as enjoyable as riding a mountain bike, which I've been doing (slowly and halfassedly) since childhood.
  • 2 0
 @ryetoast: Maybe so and I mentioned, times are changing as more and more girls are being exposed to sports & activities that "society" once reserved only for boys. I guess I was lucky because my daughter has never liked pink and was never into the Barbie scene. I'm an adrenaline junky myself so my daughter has been rock/cliff jumping since she was two years old, skiing or snowboarding since age 4 and has always played the rougher team sports. We had dirt bikes for 8-9 years and now she even jumps out of planes.

All that being said, and I see it on the street I live on here in SoCal, there's also a large group of society have gone overboard in protecting their kids (of both sexes). Kids not allowed to be independent at all. There's just so much fear out there.
  • 1 0
 @k2rider1964: Yeah, I bet the overprotectiveness plague is nation-wide at this point. And we wonder why we have this obesity epidemic when everyone thinks going out and having fun will kill you...
  • 3 0
 @rrolly: Same here out East. We come close to a 40/60 female/male ratio in the various XC networks north Montreal, in the Laurentide. The growing MSS Bike Park in that region also have a similar male-female ratio than Whis (25% ish ?)

Also, Highland Bike Park in New Hampshire, the "mini whistler of the East", is quite popular with female riders.
At opening weekend this year it took my girlfriend 30 seconds to make a lot a new female friends; while I rode alone like a reject most of the weekend.

Burke, VT, ("Kingdom Trails") has close to a 50-50 ratio. Tons of family with their kids.

All to say that the popularity of MTB amongst women may vary greatly from one region to another. I think in the North East MTB is increasingly popular, regardless of gender.
  • 5 2
 I don't know many guy's who get free stuff so they can pose scantily clad with their pretty face next to it on their instagram account, just sayin.
  • 1 0
 To be at the top ,it's work hard ,it's no easy for any gender ,but you have to have one thing the most important one and that is passion ,you have to really enjoy it,not fall into that category of it's cool now. And in the women side all the "top"girls are pushing themselves harder as the men's field,it's not easy ,no it is not,just look at all the crashes they suffer,and guess what they are back again even stronger,so no it is not a gender thing it is a person thing.
  • 1 0
 commenting on the gap in the results for female riders in DH; from my POV, females get faster, develop more handling skills & more finesse from riding with males on training sessions.
whether they start in their pre-teen years or after that. i've seen females literally eclipse dudes
after a few years of showing up for sessions with males.
  • 2 1
 I would like to see more cool riding edits from women.
There are shit loads of awesome edits from dudes like Chris Akrigg etc, and they get me stoked to ride and spend money on bits that they're using.

I think the more rad edits we see of women, the more girls will want to get out there and be rad like the ones they see in those videos.
I'm not saying only the industry needs to do this, although those that sponsor women could certainly step up to the plate. I think however it is more down to the individual, the unknown bad ass female rider to showcase what they do, make some waves and inspire others to do the same.

I am sure that given time, the level of riding will increase drastically among women and riding styles and techniques may become more unique to mens. I am sure the audience is out there waiting.

Case in point: Casey Brown.

Edit: THIS is what I'm talking about!
  • 1 0
 I'm been totally stoked to see more edits of woman riders coming out. The recent Britney White edit (I think it's still on the front page) is killer too!

There's some talk in one of the threads here about how Rachel Atherton's dominance and Casey Brown's style aren't actually going to get more women on bikes, and I agree to the extent that you probably have to ride already to even have heard of them. But maybe it will encourage more female riders to take it to the next level or sign up for a race. For me at least, watching pro women getting rad makes me want to push my own boundaries in a way that watching, say, the bro-fest at Rampage doesn't. (No hate on Rampage or disrespect to the athletes--that level of send just isn't relatable if you're as slow as I am.)
  • 1 0
 Maybe I am too old and not progressive, maybe I am too conservative but I have never allocated women in MTB... Well actually I don't allocate women in any kind of life occupation: 1. at work - I work as an engineer and there are a lot of female engineers I contact with, some of them are good and professional engineers, some not, just like men, 2. at sports, 3. well actually in any kind of life occupation. Except in bed, please don't get me wrong but it is not a vulgar or trivial joke or something it is just the fact that I am not a gay... Also lately there was the situation where I needed a help of police and guess who came to help me? Policewoman! So please tell me what the f*ck this article is about and why do we still divide people in categories which are formal and actually don't exist? So what the hell is women MTB? I know only one type of MTB independently of gender, skin color, or wheel sizeWink
  • 1 0
 These conversations are very interesting to a women of " a certain age"! We should all just ride with whom and whatevever group we choose. When I started riding, I never saw any female riders, and now their are many, at 59 years old, I just purchased a new Yeti Beti and am trying to improve all the time! Just get out ride have fun and ride into your 80's,
  • 6 6
 As a male rider who has been riding for over ten years and a organizer of a large mountain bike group on I find that most females riders are intimidated to ride with males. I recently had a female rider branch off of my group and form a all female group. And she has almost three hundred members but less than one percent join group rides on a regular basis for whatever reason or not. In a global economy and a society that is constantly seeking gender neutrality and equality I find it ironic how females want to be noticed more but want special rules to apply to them and always feel they are not getting the attention they deserve. There is no one stopping females from joining the sport or buying products in fact I see more manufactures designing bikes for females and clothing. As the old saying goes you can lead a horse to water but........... There is a reason why females don't play in the NFL and female professional sports do not get the audience like professional dominated male sports do. I haven't seen a Red Bull competition yet with females doing giant jumps and double back flips or dominating the sport. I am so tired of gender equality being shoved down my throat. Society needs to realize we will never be equal that some of us humans both male and female are born with an imbalance of testosterone or estrogen just look at a DNA chart. On an interesting note when Tiger woods became famous America was building new golf course left and right and when he fell due to injury and personal problems American was closing down a golf course every 48 hours. He took golf from being an all white dominated rich person sport to everyone could play it, but it was short lived. The industry is just going to have to realize that not everyone wants to ride mountain bikes its not for the weak at heart. Its nasty out there coach, that's why girls don't play the sport
  • 6 2
 Dude. Women-only riding groups exist because male riders are (on average) physically stronger, more experienced, and less supportive of new/slow riders. Of course many women are intimidated to ride with men, especially beginners. Women aren't competing in Rampage and Hardline because the jumps are too big for any woman currently competing in any mountain bike discipline to land. However, just because no woman is ever going to be the fastest or strongest rider in the world, doesn't mean the sport will never be popular with women. You'll never be the fastest rider in the world either, and yet here you are...
  • 2 3
 @ryetoast: U miss the top portion of the post there are groups like mine and others that offer beginners a chance to engage themselves in the sport. And my post has nothing to do with the fastest it has to do with how we as a society are trying to constantly change nature and biology. The sport itself is growing I see it everyday and I do see more females getting into the sport. Now as far as the professional side of the house, sponsorship and so on if there is no value in it then you will probable not see it grow ESPN has tons of sporting events they film that never are seen due to the fact that no company wants to sponsor it so it stays on the shelve. What I hear from women riders is they hate riding with men due to the fact that they are intimidated. All numbers and statistics are misconstrued and don't represent true numbers. Again in a world of gender equality I still see humans hanging out in the same group they are most comfortable with. There is a reason why in animal shelters cats don't stay in the same cages as dogs and small dogs are not put in cages with certain aggressive large dogs.
  • 4 1

The "male gaze", along with the males tendency to act up for women when they are present are also very important points to address. We also should not forget that females are not males and perceive the world and in this case how and why they mountain bike differently then males sometimes. We (males) are all assuming that our view on how and why "we" mountain bike is THE norm and it is up to females to conform to our interpretation of what is right as far as mountain biking norms are concerned. Women groups, for women by women, NOT in relation to men but as a separate thing all together is very important to Mountain biking.

Women need their own space because we men are mostly creeps and it is hard and uncomfortable to navigate male spaces. Need proof? Look at anything in our society, (including walking down the street) that was male centric (Most things) and how hard it is for women to navigate those spaces.
  • 2 2
 @werkinit: Yep because men view sex 24/7 on a 120 inch big screen and women view it on a 27" monitor yep nature hard to change since we were put on this world to procreate. The industry is only going to change if the the demand is there.
  • 1 0
 I don't agree with all your points... But the only truth for me is your sentence "There is no one stopping females from joining the sport or buying products in fact". So I don't divide people on men and women in any kind of life occupations but I also think that the rules should be same for everyone. I don't understand the term women MTB for me there is only one kind of MTB independently of gender, skin color, nationality and so on.
  • 2 0
 @ryetoast: I also intimidated to ride with pro riders because I am amateur and it would not be correct from my side to ride the same trails the pro ride. But I don't demand any special attitude or group for me. I just ride where I can and with people of my level. If I were woman I would consider dividing MTB on women and men as offensive.
  • 2 0
 They look like they're having a great time
  • 16 17
 Ah, the classic double standard of feminism. "Treat us as equals with equal pay and equal sponsors! Except we're not as fast and there's not as many of us!"
  • 4 3
 I don't think you can extrapolate that thought to the whole feminist movement. I do agree there is too much focus on this subject though. People at large want to see people ripping bikes and whoever is faster will be the center of attention man or woman. Currently, it's still male dominated and yet that's somehow discriminatory (to some people). I wish there was more focus on having rather than being the best, it would put 90% of these gender based whine fests to rest.
  • 2 1
 Yaaaay Annie!!!
  • 1 1
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