Lady shredding in a male dominated sport: Talking through the challenges

As a lady shredder I recognize that there are difficulties in the mountain bike world for women. I wanted to take a moment to point out some challenges and offer some tips to try to help.

Confidence

Hoping on a mountain bike can be very intimidating to people of any gender, but can be especially intimidating to under represented groups in the mountain biking world. Questions like, “What if I can’t keep up?” and “What if I’m bad at it?” easily come to mind for new riders who don’t have unlimited amounts self confidence. Even the most confident people can feel self conscious at first. No one wants to be bad, even if they are new.

My tip for new lady riders finding themselves feeling a bit more self conscious than they prefer: remember that everyone was there once. We all had to learn to ride a bike, just like we had to learn to walk. Some people do it later and some earlier. If the people you are riding with can’t respect that you’re learning, then maybe you should find some new riding buddies. Also, don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism. It’s not suppose to hurt your feelings, it’s suppose to aid in your success on the bike.

Another tip I have is to take it easy on yourself. You took the leap to get on a bike. You dared to be a rad chick. You pulled on your helmet, tied up your shoes, and got ready to grind. This is something that a lot of girls would not even think they were capable of. That is something to be proud of.

Finding other ladies to ride with

Since we are an under represented crew in the mountain biking world (up and coming, but still under represented), sometimes it is hard to find other women who love riding as much as you. This has been one of my biggest challenges for the two years I’ve been riding. I have had a hard time getting away from the bro culture and finding ladies that also want to grind. Sure non-drop group rides have other ladies, but I was missing out on finding girls that I could train with. Girls to push my limits with.

My advice for finding other killer riders is to go to races. I met some of my best riding friends because we were always pushing each other during races. By the end of the season this year we were competing with each other, but also we were each others biggest support crews. Another way to find more gals to saddle up with is to expand the range of ages you ride with. Many of the women who have been riding for years (and are maybe a bit older) are screamin’ fast, and they have a lot that they can teach you about technique. You may find that some were even pros back in their prime.

madi and moriah.PNG
My wonderful bike friends and I after finishing our XC MTB season at the USAC National Championships. We pushed and supported each other all season, and now we will always be friends.  

The “you’re good for a girl comment”-

My advice to you for this is to reply “no I’m good. period.” You shouldn’t be afraid to call people out for discounting your accomplishments as a female rider.

Sometimes I feel guilty about people talking up my race results. They say, “you won! that’s amazing” and to myself I think, well there was only 4 girls… What I say to these thoughts is, “yes there were only four girls – only four girls who showed up, and only four girls were bold enough to try to race. You beat the other girls in the race, but you also beat every girl that didn’t show up. You need to give yourself the credit” This doesn’t necessarily need to be said out loud, and I don’t want it to come across as arrogant or cocky, but it is something that you can recognize and be proud of.

Advertisements

One thought on “Lady shredding in a male dominated sport: Talking through the challenges

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s