Women in Mountain Biking

Robert Frost is great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you really need to travel on the path most traveled. Otherwise you’re kind of a jerk. And you might get killed. Or otherwise harmed.

You may remember from my old poem that I love bikes. Trek basically owns my soul at this point. They earned it. Yes—you will be seeing Trek gear reviews in the future, after this week’s installment of Women in Climbing…don’t even worry.

In mountain biking, you really need to stay on the trails. It’s better for your bike and the planet, not to mention it’s just safer for you as a human. Thus I have spent a lot of time on bike trails. For hours every week I pedal up and down rocky hills in the forest, constantly reminding myself that the burn is a good thing and that I probably won’t die and I have a helmet so at least the brain should make it out okay but my oh my that’s a big drop. Despite my countless hours out on the trails, and non-brushes with death because you know I walk my bike through the scary parts, there’s something I have yet to see: significant female representation on the trails.

I’ve been on trails in cities, suburbs, and the middle of nowhere. Nevertheless, perhaps my observations are inconsistent with the rest of the world. Assuming my observations are correct, I have yet to figure out why there is this disparity (unlike my findings in Women in Gyms), but I’m going to address my best guesses in the hopes that more people get to enjoy the fear and fun of mountain biking.

  1. Safety: There’s always an associated risk when people spend time in the forest alone (or even with others, for that matter). You have to know your local parks to assess for yourself where you’ll feel safe. However, to make you feel more secure, here are some tips to start:
    • Carry your phone with you. If you run into trouble, you can call for help. You can also share your location with a friend while you’re out.
    • Keep your bike in good condition and don’t bike a distance you couldn’t walk (unless you feel safe in that area). When your bike is happy, you won’t have to stop mid-trail. If you get a flat tire, you won’t have to rely on a stranger to help you out if you can walk back out of the park. However, in my experience, I have found other bikers, like climbers, to be very friendly and happy to stop their biking to make sure you’re safe and your bike is okay.
    • Know your park and start small. Doing some research beforehand is good not only for respecting the land, but also to help you feel comfortable with the area. MTB Project is a must, and starting with shorter trails helps you get the hang of things quickly.
    • Bike during the day and make sure you have light at all times. Daylight is helpful for seeing, but it is also when other bikers are out, and is generally accepted as safer. In case you get caught out during sunrise/sunset, make sure you have  little LEDs on the front and back of your bike so you can see and others can see you.
  2. Comfort:
    • Bike seats aren’t as uncomfortable as they may seem. Some may take a little time to get used to, but if you give it time, it really is no problem at all. Additionally, while you may not have the balance to fully stand up on your bike when you are cycling over difficult terrain, you can simply engage your legs and hover, lifting yourself perhaps a quarter of an inch. I promise it works!
    • Biking feels better on the joints than running. As you guys know, I’ve played numerous sports, most of which have caused me physical pain at one time or another. It’s hard to find fun cardio that you can do at any age/mobility/physical shape. Learn how to use your gears properly and you will probably find that the only other non-stationary cardio that could be better for your joints is swimming!
    • Bike at your own pace. Even on tight single-track, there’s no pressure to be biking like a world champion. It’s totally cool to let people pass you on the trail and to walk your bike through parts for which you are not ready.
  3. Expense:
    • Free, public parks are your friends! You can usually find trails that don’t require entrance fees. If you do encounter a park that does require an entrance fee, I still recommend doing your research beforehand so that it’s not a surprise when you get there.
    • Bikes can be expensive. I can’t lie; getting a nice bike will cost a bit. However, even a cheap bike can get a lot done. If you still want a nice bike, buying a used nice bike will usually work out well. It might need a little help here and there, but it will likely still perform as intended. Lastly, you can try to get older models; of course the newer models are really cool, but really the older ones are often worth it for the price difference, as you usually won’t lose many features and the bike is still new.
    • Storing bikes can be tricky. I like to keep my bike inside to keep it safe from theft and the elements, but of course you need space for that. Additionally, having a bike hitch can be pricey (especially if you don’t install it yourself). You can get around this by popping off a wheel or two, folding down the back seats in your car, and laying the bike in the back on its side. This does mean that you really couldn’t bring more than one friend with you, but it does save you some money and the trouble of taking a hitch on and off your car and storing that somewhere as well.

Mountain biking is one of the most freeing and “user-friendly” sports out there. The animals, trees, and fresh breeze are all there waiting for you. Now you just have to take the most traveled trail to them.

High-Clip (Co-writer)

Notes:

  1. This is entirely based off of my experience, so please fill in the gaps by commenting below!
  2. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or contact us by email or DMs.
  3. Be safe out there and enjoy the freedom the trails offer!
  4. This podcast guest and his wife are INCREDIBLE mountain bikers…take a listen!

34 Replies to “Women in Mountain Biking”

  1. I like ya take on the disparity in the mountain bike 🚴 field because I too did a survey of women driving 🚗 in the Bronx and I will say that 40/45% of drivers are women! Hopefully y’all women will join you in the trails. Good luck 🍀🙏♒️🐕😷😎🎅👌🏿

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I got a mountain bike after I injured my knee (1992) and my doc said, “No hiking for 3 months.” It wasn’t that fancy a bike. I didn’t have fancy bike money. It was a Nishiki that didn’t have shocks at all but I had more fun on that thing. Great trails all around and a couple of friends with whom I loved to ride. The ONLY downside to the bike was that I couldn’t really take the dogs along. Later I got a Trek that I loved, and later an REI brand that fit well (I’m short) and it was nice to ride. Right now I have a Diamondback which I’ve never yet taken on a trail. I think I have it as a symbol of something. I can’t lift my leg over it to get on which is a pain (ha ha) so I have to lay it down and step over it and pull it up. OH well. It is absolutely true that a bike is easier on the joints than running and I wish I’d ridden a little more back in my running days. Mountain biking is a fantastic, thrilling sport.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am the 8th son of nine kids and the oldest is a daughter along with two more girls. My sisters mean the world 🌎 to me so I love ❤️ really enjoy strong 💪 women types!😜👿🇩🇴😎🕺🐕🙏♒️🐕🎅🕎😷🍀❤️🇮🇳🇵🇰🇧🇩🌺

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think it depends a bit on where you are. There is definitely a disparity, but thankfully, it’s changing! In Whistler, BC, I’d say representation is almost equal, with nearly just as many women riding (and properly shredding) as men, but we’re in a bit of a mecca/bubble for mountain biking. I love how my kids (6 and 7) don’t even seem to notice gender in these sports anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so awesome! I’m very glad to hear that. I have visited Whistler once…it is an incredible spot and if any place were to have equal representation with killer women bikers, I totally believe it would be Whistler! Do you have any favorite spots?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. omg, so many. Can I even post all of them on here? lmk know next time you’re in town! Always happy to show people new spots to ride!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Here in SW Colorado I see as many women on the trails as men, solo and in groups. I quit single-track for a decade, but started again after the arthritis became an issue (one new knee so far – a hip on the, hopefully far, horizon). The key thing was getting a new bike. I just didn’t feel as safe with older tech. Now I have 29” wheels, drop seat, 1×12 gearing, and disc brakes. It makes a huge difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My wife and I have actually made the same comment in our hometown of London (in Southern Ontario). 8 out of 10 bikes that we see on the trails here are ridden by men. We even had a women’s mtb group in the area, but I can no longer find any evidence of them online.

    As to why specifically, I don’t have any solid theories. Perhaps it is marketing related? I know I’m a bit of a gear head, and love the technical side of it. Is that aspect preventing others from entering the sport?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is really interesting. Hmm..I think you could be right..mechanics can be an obstacle or fear for many people, even if it is just a stereotype. Thank you for your perspective!

      Like

  7. Just got settled in the new house. I now have my climbing gear (yea!!) And my bike. We checked out a bunch of trails hiking and i can’t wait to try them. I have noticed that there seem to be more men than women biking on the trails. Will have to investigate this more. Tons of great trails around here, come check them out!!

    Liked by 2 people

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