When the idea for International Women’s Mountain Biking Day came out of our inaugural Women’s UPRISING event, we were thrilled…but a little nervous. With the chosen date just a month away, we worried about getting the word out quickly enough. Turns out, we just needed to put it out there. Mountain bikers across the country have grabbed onto #womensmtbday, made it their own, and it’s been incredible to watch the groundswell of support to celebrate women on trails. Groups all over the country are planning rides, races and events are incorporating the celebration into their occasion, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper even issued a proclamation for the day.
Along with all the excitement and grassroots action, we’ve heard two questions several times:
Some folks are asking, “Why do women need a day?"
And others, “As a guy, what can I do to support this?”
We all know there aren’t as many women in the sport as there are men. From the intimidating nature of mountain biking, to the over-the-top gnar and huckfest often portrayed by media, to the "significant other ride gone wrong" (we’ve all been there), to a simple lack of exposure, there are many reasons to point to for why we don’t see as many women riding.
However, if you’re involved in your mountain bike community, you know there are so many phenomenal women out there, and they are vital leaders for your trails and your local ridership. Mountain biking has a vibrant and positive culture of women who are passionate about mountain biking and are eager to share their knowledge, experience and stoke with ladies who are new to the sport or who just want to meet and ride with more like-minded women.
Any sport, community, and advocacy effort will be stronger with more diverse participation. #womensmtbday is one of many ways we can better elevate and highlight this participation, to help make mountain biking more welcoming and more inclusive for more riders of all kinds.
Now, as guys, how can we support #womensmtbday? It’s important to listen, and observe. There is a special kind of empowerment that happens when women ride together. How could I possibly know this, you ask? Because I listen. I’ve been around women who are over-the-moon about the killer, women-only rides they have organized or been a part of. It’s this type of environment where so many women feel more encouraged to try a new feature, to session a tough spot, and to make a breakthrough they might not have had otherwise. Plus, I’m married to an amazing woman who has been riding trails for more than 30 years, and I’ll regularly get shunned so she can go ride with just the girls.
Ask a lady in your life, what makes these rides so special? How are they different? Listen, and observe. Then try to replicate that environment on a ride sometime. Maybe even start tomorrow. #womensmtbday is not intended to be women-only; simply women-first. So take your wife or your daughter out for a ride. Or if your local ladies are hitting the trails, consider having margaritas waiting at the trailhead when they’re done. Just another idea the IMBA ladies have planted in my head…
Please don’t misunderstand me, there are tons of strong women out there that rip and can ride circles around me and the guys. There’s a time and place for so many styles of group rides, from Wednesday Night Worlds to a casual day with the family. Some days, celebrating women’s strength in a women-first environment is the ride that’s most important. That’s what #womensmtbday is all about.
For more ideas on how to participate, take a look at our women’s resource page.
Thanks to Outside TV, Teton Gravity Research, Bicycling, Gear Junkie, Dirt Rag, Singletracks and athletes and mountain biking organizations all over the world for helping us share the love and spread the word to make #womensmtbday such a success.