Video: Ripping Trails & Reflecting on Community with Robin Vieira & Sarah "Eddie" Edwards

Sep 16, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  

Oregon rippers Sarah "Eddie" Edwards and Robin Vieira share their love of biking, the many ways the sport has helped them grow, and the ways the hope to see the sport grow in their riding film "Shred & Flow."


Tell me about yourself?

Robin Vieira: I'm a 20-something year old woman with a full-time job living in Bend, Oregon with my partner, Ren, and our dog, Sky. I first rode a mountain bike in college with my dad and fell in love with the fast-moving adventure in the trees. After making the decision to not pursue a career in soccer post-college, I fell even harder in love with riding bikes. It seemed to fill a gap in my life I didn't know existed. I'm one of the many women who rode with the guys every day to learn the sport. It was brutal at times, but the highs were crazy high and the lows were what they were. I also became a yoga teacher, and this, coupled with my degree in Neuroscience/Exercise Science satisfied my fascination for finding "flow," which I found in myself on the trails. It's important, I think, to recognize that dedication to riding bikes takes time. I find peace in solo time spent in the saddle, whether it's on flowy single-track, technical rock gardens, or a loooonnngggg type 2 gravel ride.

Sarah Edwards: I’m 27 years old and honestly, fairly new to the bike scene. I grew up in Bend, Oregon, and was privy to tons of outdoor experiences at a young age but stuck with team sports. It wasn’t until college when I first discovered road cycling and quickly fell in love with the freedom and community it offered. My love affair with road cycling evolved into an obsession with the entire industry, from suffering on the bike to talking components, and Tour de France results. After returning home from a season of guiding cycling trips two years ago, I decided on a whim it was time to buy a mountain bike, because I was tired of riding my roads alone. I attribute my growth as a rider to the crew in Bend that took me under their wing and made mountain biking a safe, goofy, weird place for me. I remember being terrified of going downhill and looked forward to the climbs where I knew my fitness could shine. Which is funny to look back on now because, while I don’t hate climbing, I absolutely live for the downhill sections of a trail. Mountain biking has quickly become my favorite thing in the world and my most healthy mental state. I always say, I ride my road bike or gravel bike when I want to think about something and I ride my mountain bike when I want to think about nothing.


What was the inspiration behind this film project?

RV: This film was intended to celebrate women and their place in the bike community. Being a female rider is just about as complex or simple as you want to make it. It's easy to get hung up on being hyper competitive with others, and it's also easy to say screw it and just pretend you don't care in order to fit in with the bro-brah culture inherent to the mountain bike world. It's also hard. For me, it's not hard in a way of trying to keep up or pedal hard enough- it's hard to just be your own damn self on your bike, and celebrate what that feels like. The truth is, bikes enable a sense of confidence that women already have. When we let them, bikes somehow force us to be open and be our true selves. However, in a society with a dark history of oppression, women are constantly living between acting a certain way and being themselves- this comes out on the bike. When women ride true to their style, to who they are, it's a beautiful, freeing, uplifting thing. This film was inspired by women riding, without limits.

SE: For me, the goal of this film was to show how mountain biking doesn’t need to be so serious and singular. It’s easy to get caught up in certain gear, expensive bikes, strava segments and the “bro” culture of riding. But that so greatly excludes women and totally forgets that it’s all about getting out and getting weird. Riding bikes is the best place to be whoever you want to be, to laugh, cry, make weird voices, sing songs and goof around. I think the more we can vocalize that in the industry, the better off we will all be. I love racing and chasing QOMs as much as the next person, but I think at the core bicycle riding is the ultimate safe space to play and let your inner child out.I hope this film shows that.


What have you observed about how women engage with the bike community?

RV: For the sake of this question, I'll generalize, but I think women often find themselves on either end of a very large spectrum of engagement with the bike community. On one end, we have women pushing the boundary of acceptance and going above and beyond to create a very women-centric and women-powered bike community. Lots of pride, and lots of trying to put men in their "place"– a result of years of men putting women in their "place." You'll hear them say, "it's only fair... they've done this to us, right?" Ehhh wrong. On the other end, we have women trying to fit into the bro-brah culture that men have created. Make note I LOVE parts of the bro brah culture and probably find myself leaning toward this side of the spectrum. But there’s a difference between trying to blend in and copy what the guys are doing and having your own style. What both ends of this spectrum have in common are the need to survive in exclusive clubs– it's almost like women have found two extreme ways to carve out space for themselves and exist in the mountain bike community. But there is a third area which is rare, but gaining traction. I strive to exist in this area, but it's challenging. Recognizing your unique strengths and challenges, taking pride in those, and lifting other women up by recognizing theirs. Being competitive with other women, with the purpose of getting them to ride their best, and getting yourself to ride your best. Eddie and I know we are different riders and that's a beautiful thing. We value those differences and use them to grow.

SE: As a female, the bike industry is hard to break into. It’s intimidatingly male-dominated creates a feeling that women don’t belong. I’ve worked in the bike industry for the last six years and I still get mansplained, talked down to, and judged with a larger magnifying glass than comparable men. While there are so many amazing men that I’ve learned from, there is something different about riding with women, especially when you are just starting out. Women supporting women is one of the most valuable aspects of the mountain bike world and it has been so cool to see the explosion of women's clinics, riding groups, camps, and teams popping up in the last couple years. I’d love to see these venues for women and girls to grow and offer a safe space to ask questions, grow confidence, and have fun.


What was your goal with creating this film?

RV: My goal in creating this film was simple: to make a film that celebrated women riding bikes and to inspire women to honor their gifts and growth areas, I, personally, wanted to show up being my truest self- rip the downhills, get some small little playful jumps in, pedal mindfully over techy sections, and laugh really hard at Eddie being Eddie. Also just have a rowdy good time in the woods.

SE: My hope with creating this film is that it encourages women and girls to be silly, be weird, be wild, ride faster than the dudes, not be embarrassed to fail and be whoever the hell you are. The bike is the ultimate tool for exploring the furthest corners of your mind and body. Enjoy the ride.


What did you learn through the process of working on this project?

RV: Gosh. I learned about my riding style. What I love to do and what I don't. I realized how grateful I am for all the gals and guys who've shown me how to ride a bike. I remembered how much my bike has taught me while not riding, such as positive self-talk, strength and courage, to breath, and to be myself. Bikes bring out the best and the worst in us. They strip us down and show us the good, the bad, and the ugly of ourselves and others. It's soooo not about having the faciest bike or gear. It's about appreciating where you are at and where you are going. I confirmed I love to ride fast, and love riding with Eddie.

SE: I learned that joy is contagious. We had a lot of really early mornings and late nights while filming but the joy of riding emanated from the group and that energy was all that we needed. This shoot reiterated how much I love riding my bike and being outside with friends. It asked hard questions like how do I make this more accessible to more women? How can I be a better role model for the women and girls in the community? Am I doing enough? To be honest, I had a minor identity crisis when making this film because I was forced to question my worth as a rider and a bike community member. At the start of filming, I felt like an imposter. I’m not a professional athlete, I’m not some crazy epic rider who has a Youtube channel, I’m not deeply involved as a coach in Bend. Through conversations with the crew, I realized that very few men would think these things when when making a mountain bike film and that this is actually exactly what young girls and women need to be seeing. While we all love a sick professional rider edit, I think the more average, normal women we show getting out and getting rad, the better.


Is there anything else you think we should know?

RV: It's important for us, as women, to not feel this immense pressure to "keep up with the dudes." As a woman who can keep up with some dudes and not with others, I've learned, that's great, but that's not what it's about. As soon as we, as women, embrace creating our own, inclusive culture that doesn't keep anyone out, including men, the more mountain biking as a sport and way of life will grow.

SE: Is this when I ask someone to sponsor me? I’m breaking components, wheels, and ripping through tires like a crazy person these days. Anyone out there?


Robin and Sarah would like to thank BFGoodrich for the collaboration on this project. Their thoughts are below.

RV: BFG has been super rad to work on this project with! They've been nothing but supportive, patient, and stoked on (most) of our ideas. I'm grateful they've given Eddie and I a platform to let our voices be heard, and a microphone to speak to hopefully many folks looking to find their place in the industry. And driving the new trail terrain tire has been a dream; we got a set for both my truck and Subaru and it’s worked really well on both. They take me from the road to gravel to trail effortlessly.

SE: Honestly, an awesome experience. Everyone on their team that I've had contact with has been super kind, knowledgeable, and patient with someone like me who doesn't know a ton about off-road tires. They were really supportive throughout the filmmaking process and fully committed to making a film about women on bikes. I love to see big companies like BFG giving women a platform like this and am thankful to have been part of the process! Oh, and the new Trail Terrain tires crushed all the technical, rutted out, dirt roads we threw at them during filming, which made our lives a lot easier



Q&A with the producer, Andy Cochrane:

Tell me about yourself.

Andy Cochrane: I’m a close friend of Robin and Sarah and an avid rider myself– gravel, roads, mountain bikes, you name it. It’s hard for me to step on any bike and not feel like a kid at the homemade pump track a few blocks from my childhood house. It’s pure freedom and I’m always trying to find ways to get more people to ride. More than that, bikes are a tool to tap into a deeper sense of who you are.


What was the inspiration behind this film project?

AC: It started with some candid conversations between the three of us last fall. We were bikepacking in Utah and those long days in the saddle gave you ample time to riff on ideas. I love riding with both of them and feel like I’m always learning. We started putting together the formula for this film soon after that. Collectively, we all agree that bikes are the perfect tool to tap into a better understanding of yourself. Robs and Eddie are wildly different, which was a key. We wanted to play their personalities off each other and show that there isn’t one template for what women have to be in mountain biking.


What was your goal with creating this film?

AC: Honestly, just to give them two of them a platform. My role was to put together a budget, plan the riding locations, build the right production team, and then shut up and listen. I wanted to pass the mic and see what would happen. I have a ton of trust in Robs and Eddie– they’re both incredibly smart and talented– as well as trust in our Director, DP, sound, and editor. I wanted to just be along for the ride and share, as honestly as possible, their perspectives and lived experiences as women mountain bikers.



What did you learn through the process of working on this project?

AC: Women are competent, capable, strong, and unique. Let’s all stop putting them in a box.




4 Comments

  • 3 0
 200% behind this. Replace the Play it Safe mantra hammered into girls / women with just, Play. On your own terms.
Thanks for this awesome vid, so much light and infectious energy.
  • 2 0
 Hell yeah Eddie & Robin! Great vid & way to rip it up with the groms!
  • 3 0
 Bend.Such a place.
  • 1 0
 This was so awesome. Thank you Eddie, Robin and Andy!

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