Shared below is a a great facebook post written by Lora Curtis from Stratford, Ontario. It's a great story about women in mountain biking and how riding with other women helps to gain confidence and improve your overall riding experiences!
Julie Duval met Lora during a bike trip in Whitehorse last summer. Together, they talked about their experiences leading women's groups and shared ideas on how to get more women involved, especially those new to mountain biking.
This is Lora's story of learning to ride trails...
On my mountain bike I am powerful and free, it grounds and centers me. My bike has the ability to bring me to the present moment in a way that nothing else can. Mountain biking has taught me to believe in myself and my abilities, to face my fears and overcome them, and that I am stronger than I could have ever imagined.
For all that I have gained from mountain biking, I am always conscious of the fact that there are relatively few women out on the trails. I hope to inspire more to come out and try this sport and see how it can empower them.
Why don't more women ride mountain bikes? Of the women that do get into mountain biking, about 80% are introduced to it by a male; a spouse, boyfriend or friend. From my experience, and several others I've heard recounted, this may not always be an ideal situation (want a laugh, check out this video by pro rider Darcy Turrenne titled "A Couples Ride"https://vimeo.com/67465768 or this checklist for men teaching their significant other to ride http://mtb4her.com/so-you-wanna-teach-your-girlfriend-or-w…/)
My own first experience with mountain biking was an epic fail. It was in my early 20's and I was dating a guy that had started riding trails. He was excited to have me try and I know his intentions were good, but I did not feel 'encouraged' to become a stronger, faster rider by being left behind, breathless and uncertain of what I was doing, as he rode off out of sight. I went home feeling frustrated, and it took many years (nine to be exact) to scrape together enough confidence to try again.
My second attempt was with a group in which several couples were in involved. There were about four girls that came out regularly, and we were all new to the sport. This time, the guys tried to give us good advice but would also just stand back and let us grow in our own way. Although on occasion, even they had to be reminded that yelling "pedal hard, pick your line" from the top of a tough, steep climb was not considered 'encouraging' by anyone without a Y chromosome.
Learning to ride with the girls, there was no sense of competition. We walked over features and pushed our bike up, and at times even down, steep sections of the trail. We would stand at obstacles and talk about how we 'thought' you would ride it. Some would try and share either what they felt went right, or wrong, and others would just watch and keep trying to work it out in their own minds. In our own way and in our own time, we all progressed.
As I gained strength and confidence, I became completely hooked on this sport. Riding the trails did wonders for my inner child! I think many women can identify with feeling overly responsible for things (at least this certainly described myself) and my mountain bike reminds me how important it is to play and have fun. When I put my helmet on my head, all the other hats that I wear are cast aside: I find so much freedom in that.
Even now, with over a dozen years in the saddle, my goal on each ride is to keep it fun; always remembering the way that I rode with the girls when I was first learning, as it was during that time that I discovered so much about myself and the things I am capable of. I hope that you will come out and see what mountain biking may hold for you, and if I tell you that you ride like a girl; know that it is my deepest compliment.
[For ladies finding themselves in Stratford, Ontario during their summer travels..] Ladies group trail rides will begin on Saturday May 9, and will run each Saturday, beginning at 9:30 am (plan on 2-3 hours) from the parking lot just inside the main gate at Wildwood Conservation Area. Riders of any level are welcome but the rides will be especially geared towards those that have not yet tried trail riding. We will start with a slow pace and shorter distance and will work our way up to riding the 25km Lake Trail.
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