Guest Blog: More Girls on Bikes
About the Author: Emily Knight is a 15-yr old mountain biker from Boulder, Colorado. She enjoys going on adventures in the mountains with her bike and friends; she also races enduro, but mostly just for fun!
According to a 2012 Pinkbike post, only 25% percent of mountain bikers are female. One quarter, that’s it. But the truth is, that number is growing slowly but surely. When I went to Valmont Bikepark in Boulder, I saw so many girls riding fast, having fun, and as a result, smiling. There it is, the future, zooming by wearing dresses and riding pink bikes, and it looks bright (literally and figuratively). 25% is not a lot, but watching those girls, talking to them, and talking to their parents- most of whom love mountain biking as well- made me realize that the women’s mountain bike scene is in good hands.
The sport is centered around men. Let’s face it: big bike companies are run by dudes, big pro athlete contracts are written and signed by dudes, and bikes are generally built and designed for men. And sure, there are some teams and companies run by women like Juliana Bikes, and companies with a women’s line, LIV from Giant, and that is awesome. We need more girls riding, racing, and balancing the sport. Think if participation increased to 40-50%, it would increase the potential of the sport so much. More jobs, more mountain bike economic muscle, and more people loving bikes. Who doesn’t want those things?
Last year, I was the only girl in the U21 Women’s category for Big Mountain Enduro, which meant that I didn’t have any competition. No competition was kind of nice, but it made me kind of sad to stand there on the podium realizing that I hadn’t actually earned that medal, I just rode my bike. We need girls so that other girls have competition; so we can push ourselves, and so we can grow the sisterhood of shred, racing style.
So, how do we fix this problem? Well, the Beti Bike Bash is a race put on by women, for only women. There are different categories, but no men are allowed to race. They have everything from the smallest girls to the pros, and everything in between. This race is put on by Yeti Beti, a program from Yeti Cycles that creates female specific bikes and clothing. Yeti Beti is also the main sponsor for the Vida MTB Women’s clinics. These clinics are for women and girls of all ages looking to progress on their bikes.
Awesome right? A few of my friends that I’ve met racing created a hashtag called #ladyshred. This hashtag is now being used by women everywhere, not just for biking. If you look on Instagram, there are 5,604 posts, all with that hashtag. Many bike parks are also creating Women’s Nights or Days, where only girls are allowed on the mountain. Kat Sweet runs a program called Sweetlines, based in Washington: an all girls mountain bike camps and even a team, which Kat calls the Sisterhood of Shred. We’re seeing a slow transformation, but it’s progress and it’s about damn time.
I wanted to end by saying thank you. Thank you to all the women who have helped progress this sport, who are working so hard to create a fun, happy, supportive environment for all these little lady shredders. These girls will likely become the next pros, and even more importantly, they’ll grow the community, the sisterhood of shred, and introduce the next generation of women riders to the sport. Shred on, ladies.