Welcome to Dig In, the IMBA Women's Blog!
What are we up to and why take the time to do this? There are 21 women on IMBA's staff, making up about one-third of the organization. We realized—after noticing a lack of resources and discussions geared toward women mountain bikers—that those of us who have dedicated our play and work lives to the experience of mountain biking just might have something to offer.
Mountain biking as a woman is not a singular experience, and with Dig In we seek to be a resource, a community, and a springboard. We want to figure out how to get more women interested in mountain biking. Riding is a way to connect with nature, escape a desk job, breathe fresh air, go on an adventure, explore a new place, get the heart rate up, strengthen one’s self mentally and physically, be challenged, get rad, have fun, express individualism, feel a sense of freedom and hang out with friends or enjoy a peaceful moment alone.
So why are only 12% of IMBA's members female? Why do we feel like we never see other ladies on the trail? Why can't we entice our girlfriends to go ride with us? The answer is complicated, but the process of naming this blog gave me a glimpse into the varied, complex and broad world of the mountain biking tribe.
There are 13 women based out of IMBA HQ in Boulder, CO. We all have the shared experience of absolutely loving to ride mountain bikes, but it took weeks of arguing, joking and mulling over what the name of this blog should be to arrive at an idea. Our struggle to find common ground highlighted the variety of perspectives women have about their cycling experiences and the ways they approach the adventure.
We liked "Dig In" for its multiple connotations. It implies grit, determination and gumption. It can be taken literally when thinking of volunteer trail work or a post-ride double-cheeseburger with bacon. You can think of digging in as what you do when you’re about to roar through a technical section on a trail, or what your kids are doing when they’re first learning to ride and have to constantly get up from falls.
"Dig In" was originally inspired by Lean In, a book (and now a website) by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, both "focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do."(Click here to watch Sheryl’s 2010 Ted Talk that inspired the book.) That's not a bad tagline for this blog, either.
IMBA's female staffers and the hundreds of mountain biking women, industry women and IMBA chapter leaders in our personal and professional circles will have a hand in shaping this blog by telling their stories, offering their perspectives and responding to your thoughts. We hope you’ll participate, as well. "Stories are the proof of life," I was once told, and through the stories of women who ride, perhaps we can break down the oft-perceived barriers to attempting and enjoying the trail experience. We hope that women who say they "don't see themselves as a mountain biker" based on current media or personal abilities can brush that off and feel confident in joining us in the simple, universal love of the ride.
However you ride, wherever you ride and whenever you ride, we hope you’ll ride with us. Frequency, skill, speed or equipment aren't the things that make you a mountain biker. Passion—love for the knobby-tire ride—makes you a mountain biker. Whether you’re a professional racer on a $10,000 carbon wunder-bike or a once-a-month rider on a $200 Target Huffy, it makes no difference; you’re one of us.
In upcoming posts, you’ll be introduced to all 21 women who work for IMBA in some capacity, from our beloved customer service representatives who answer the phones and mail membership shirts, to IMBA’s Advocacy Manager, Mapping Specialist, and Pacific Northwest Region Director. We are just regular people who happen to have cool jobs. Interspersed will be our stories, from personal experiences to what female participation looks like from inside the mountain bike industry. And soon, hopefully, we’ll be reading some of your stories!
We hope you’ll "dig in" to this blog, and we hope it will make you laugh, think and—above all—want to go ride.
—katherine [dot] fuller [at] imba [dot] com (Katherine Fuller) | IMBA Communications Specialist