Celebrating International Women's Day

Celebrating International Women's Day

March 05, 2021

This year for International Women’s Day, we reached out to members of our staff, athletes, ambassadors, and partners, asking them about their inspirations, how they first got into mountain biking, and if they had any advice for young women who want to learn to ride but don't know where to start. From Rocky Mountain’s General Manager, to our elite athletes, to our community representatives, these women were excited to share some of their experiences and talk about how being involved with mountain biking has positively impacted their lives.

What inspires you to ride your mountain bike?

 

"I was snowboarding with friends at the local ski hill in Bromont and we made friends with another crew of riders. They turned out to be mountain bike riders during summertime and when the seasons turned we all rented downhill mountain bikes and gave it a go. We all got hooked and still ride mountain bikes to this day. I just got really hooked on keeping up and hopped on the race circus right away. 14 years later and not much has changed!"

- Vaea Verbeeck, Rocky Mountain Athlete

“Wow... so many things. It's one of the only sports where I can put my brain on pause and focus on the present moment... and of course, the trail in front of me! Just being in nature, away from the daily stress always makes me feel good.”

- Katy Bond, Rocky Mountain General Manager

"My best friend and my boyfriend! They both wanted me to challenge myself in a new sport and take me out on the road a bit!"

- Marilyn Charbonneau, Rocky Mountain Sales and Marketing Coordinator

"To me, riding my mountain bike equals fun. From jumping A-line in the Whistler Bike Park to the nerves of competing, I just have fun when I’m riding!"

- Cameron Bragg, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

 
"Riding my bike is my favorite activity in the world, it’s my passion. It gets me in a state of mind where I can disconnect from anything. The connection with nature and people is always a great form of inspiration as well. I get inspired when I see more and more people on bikes (especially girls). I have been riding my bike for over 25 years now and it’s awesome to see how much the sport has changed over the years. It was very male-dominated back in the days and now we can see more and more women riding bikes. I also get inspired when I have the chance to share my passion for biking with other people. I also like to ride with old friends who have been riding and racing with me for so many years, it always reminds me of the good times and challenges me a lot trying to follow them!"

- Andreanne Pichette, Rocky Mountain Human Resources Manager

“The fleeting moments that are captured on the trails; a laugh when your buddy overshoots the heck out of a jump, or when you just lose traction and both wheels start drifting but you hold it, a sense of freedom that comes as your navigating a rocky chute. Being on my bike is being fully absorbed in the moment, in the task at hand, and that’s why I can never get enough of it.”

- Andréane Lanthier Nadeau, Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team Athlete

“Riding my bike creates all the conditions that feed my soul: challenge, adventure, mountains, sometimes terror, and community. Mountain biking has it all.”

- Sophie Ostroski, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“I love going fast – fast uphill and downhill and I am really fast with my bike! I also like biking with my friends – it’s so much fun.”

- Sophie Mueller (4-years old), Rocky Mountain rider

“Mountain biking is a fun way for me to explore, engage in my community, and redefine what’s possible. It has taught me to embrace the present, grow from the past, visualize success and chase it down. I especially appreciate all the colorful humans I’ve met along the way that have shared the journey and elevated the sport.”

- Susan Clifford, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“Adventures in beautiful locations. There is nothing more centering and joyous than riding a bike with friends in remote locations. Fresh air. I love the feeling of wind on my cheeks and fresh air in my lungs. Problem solving and progression. There is always more to learn on a bike. Progression feels amazing. Learning how to fail/retry and trust yourself is hard but mountain biking helps you do that.”

- Katrina Engelsted, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

"I'm inspired to ride my bike because it allows this surge of freedom to take place. I can truly be in the moment as you climb (sometimes in the pain cave), take on the trail as you descend, explore trails I've never ridden, or even take a jaunt on my favorite well-known path. When I step onto my bike it makes the same joy I felt as a child come to life. I can accept new challenges, try new obstacles, escape from a hard day and make it better with a ride, and connect with friends and family all while on two wheels! Riding has just inspired my life in ways I had no idea when I took up riding, and I wouldn't trade that for anything! And now in my life I get to coach helping others to feel inspired to ride."

- Bernadette Merriman, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

"A rush of adrenaline, being outside, and I just need to move every day and get out otherwise I'm antsy."

- Audrey Duval, Owner of Shred Sisters

"I love being completely immersed in nature, just my bike and me. It's the perfect mix of fresh air, adrenaline, adventure and the best part is sharing it all with good friends."

- Julia Hofmann, Rocky Mountain Athlete

It feeds my soul, it allows me to gain new perspectives and clarity. It's ridiculously fun and constantly challenges me to push myself past what I think I am capable of. I am also continually inspired to help others navigate barriers, both physical and mental with lessons provided from the mountain bike and trail. It's never boring and the learning is endless.

-Kelli Sherbinin, Co-Owner of Endless Biking

How did you first get into mountain biking?

I started with a Fusion 30 in Burke as my first ride! My 4th ride was on the NorthShore with my Rocky Mountain colleagues! What an experience.

- Marilyn Charbonneau, Rocky Mountain Sales and Marketing Coordinator

“I started with cross country rides in the summer kids programs (DFX) in Whistler, then moved into riding the bike park. I started riding the small jump runs and progressed each season – jumps are fun, they are definitely my favorite.”

- Cameron Bragg, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

I first began mountain biking a little later in life as a way to cross-train for alpine ski racing. I didn't know much about it, but I had heard that Moab was the place to go - so I booked a ticket, rented a bike, and have never looked back. I continued riding each summer as a means of cross training, but my passion for the sport really took off more recently when I found a group of badass ladies to ride with. They pushed me beyond anything I ever thought possible and have made this journey so rewarding. When I look back on the few years that bridged being finished with my ski racing career, and not knowing where to go next, mountain biking really helped me continue to fuel the fire inside of me that competitive sports have always delivered - biking has helped me transition through some challenging life changes."

- Anna Sullivan, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“At a young age (around 5), my older brother and sister would be mountain biking in a local club. I would be so inspired to watch them ride and race! At the time, you would have to be 10 years old to be able to race official races. I was so excited when my time came to be part of the club and finally be able to race. We would travel all around the province of QC to go camping on the weekends and race bikes. Amazing memories.”

- Andreanne Pichette, Rocky Mountain Human Resources Manager

“I was 8 years old and it was probably like April 2002 when I had finished my first winter in the local cross-country skiing club. The coach, René, turned out to also be the head coach for the local mountain biking club. He asked me if I was doing anything in the summer ¬- I wasn’t. That’s how I got into biking. This club was amazing, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday we would meet and ride with so many members, and I was lucky to grow up in an environment with coaches and models that showed me what was possible! [When I was 8 years old, my cross-country skiing coach, René, got me into the local mountain bike club.] Since I was too young to be insured by the mountain bike club’s insurance my Mom had to come with me to every training night. Seriously, what a superhero. It took me about a year to drop her on every ride, and so I did - without mercy like kids do. Sorry, mom! I think my Mom put me into sports after my family lost my Dad, it was a great outlet for me and I do think it saved me from pretty dark times as a kid. It was like an arena where I could just let go and battle all my feelings. The framework of sports really helped me with the progress through my grief.”

- Andréane Lanthier Nadeau, Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team Athlete

“It's a family tradition.”

- Sophie Ostroski, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“I started with 20 years, being at university in Innsbruck, Austria. Two girlfriends of mine went regularly and I started tagging along. First on my little brother’s old hardtail but I upgraded quickly to my own full suspension bike, and mountain biking has been one of the biggest influences on my life ever since: it led me to my job with Rocky Mountain 10 years ago, bikes are literally in my wedding pics, I met some of my closest friends through biking and it’s our main family activity!“

- Anja Mueller, Rocky Mountain Marketing Operations Manager

“I moved to Denver, CO and knew it was a sport I could get into. My thighs were made for bikes. I then proceeded to date men that rode bikes.”

- Katrina Engelsted, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“I used to ride on the road a lot. Then in 1999, I got hit by a cab while cycling to work in Montreal, QC. I was very lucky as I was not seriously injured, but the bike was a total loss, I decided to buy a mountain bike with the money I received from the insurance... a Rocky Mountain Vertex... no joke! That same year, I moved to Chicoutimi, QC to go to university and that's when I discovered the world of mountain biking and a community of enthusiasts! It's already been 22 years (ouch!) that I've been riding my mountain bike and I am still as passionate as ever!”

- Katy Bond, Rocky Mountain General Manager

“I’ve been fortunate to have had a bike for as long as I can remember. The bicycle has always been a symbol of freedom for me. An avid outdoor enthusiast, I had the privilege of riding my first real mountain bike, on loan from a friend, as the sport was on the rise in the mid-’90s. The community and camaraderie were like nothing I had experienced in other sports.”

- Susan Clifford, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

"I came to mountain biking through a good friend. He gave me his downhill bike and said "you're so crazy, try this, you'll love it". A week later I bought my first mountain bike."

- Julia Hofmann, Rocky Mountain Athlete

"I move out west and was road biking back east, I work at a bike store in Canmore back in 2008 and the boys kept telling me that here we mountain bike I started a few months after and was completely hooked!"

- Audrey Duval, Owner of Shred Sisters

"A few girlfriends in Nelson offered to lend me their dad's bike and from that day forward, I was hooked! It made me feel like a kid on the best amusement ride ever!"

- Kelly Serbinin, Co-Owner of Endless Biking

Do you have any advice for young women who are interested in mountain biking but don't know how to start?

“Believe in yourself, in your skills and just enjoy it all! Mountain biking is such a cool sport, so just give it a go!”

- Marilyn Charbonneau, Rocky Mountain Sales and Marketing Coordinator

“Please do not compare yourself to others, trust your limits. I would recommend you take a class to learn the basics of mountain biking. And most importantly: HAVE FUN!”

- Andreanne Pichette, Rocky Mountain Human Resources Manager

“Riding with friends is so much fun and a great way to start – if you choose friends who have riding experience it’s a great way to learn. Also, bike parks are not intimidating as you think! They help you progress really quickly.”

- Cameron Bragg, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“Look for clubs, group rides, local groups that ride, women’s clinic, guiding clinics, there are so many out there! Put yourself out there even if it feels a bit scary or uncomfortable at first. The world of biking is filled with passionate folks, like myself, who are keen to share the love of riding! Find them! Commit to a couple weeks and see where it takes you. Bike demos and rentals are available around BC. I think that being part of something, my development club, was an essential part in my discovery of biking that made me passionate about it.”

- Andréane Lanthier Nadeau, Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team Athlete

“Discover what kind of riding you like and invest in the right bike. Start with rides within your ability, get comfortable and grow your skills. Then find moments to get out of your comfort zone! Honor your own journey of progress.”

- Sophie Ostroski, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“Find a community-based organization that offers trail workdays, group rides, and events. Making friends to ride with and seeing first-hand the impact mountain biking has on your community can be really enlightening and provide a deeper appreciation for the sport. If you have taken the plunge and bought a bike or have regular access to a bike, treat yourself to skills coaching with a certified instructor that help you with a safe progression!”

- Susan Clifford, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“Seek out some women’s groups! Learning to ride is much less intimidating when you have some ladies to ride with. Mountain biking has such a strong community because you go through an initiation period when you cry almost every ride, ding up your shins, and realize that you were never as fit as you thought you were. But it’s all worth it! Most people who learn how to ride as adult have to go through those struggles and pains. It’ll get easier and less anxiety-provoking. Just give yourself time and patience. Also, measure your sit bones and make sure you have a saddle that fits well. And always check your tire pressure. Having consistent tire pressure helps greatly in trusting your tires.”

- Katrina Engelsted, Rocky Mountain Ambassador

“Just go for it, and don't be nervous! You can rent a mountain bike to get started and if you are lucky enough to know a girlfriend who's interested, ask her to come along! I don't want to sound too feminist on International Women's Day, but women don't necessarily learn the same as men, and a ride with your friends or a coach is the best way to make your first experience safe and fun! If you feel more comfortable in a women's only environment, look for a women’s riding club - there are so many out there! It’s a great way to learn and meet passionate people, and ...who knows, you might make friends for life! I learned a bit the hard way in a group mostly composed of guys, but one of the girls in the gang, Josée Vincent, really gave me the best tips! If there's a mountain bike club in your area and they offer beginner rides, it can also be a great way to learn and meet passionate people, who ...who knows, might be your next best friends.

- Katy Bond, Rocky Mountain General Manager

"Rent a bike, take a lesson! This will provide you with the foundation to know how to navigate the bike with the terrain and help you make calculated choices, which will increase the enjoyment factor and keep you coming back for more.

Endless Biking offers a 'Try Mountain Biking program' which includes a bike, a basic lesson with a professional instructor and a guided experience through various pathways/ trails to allow a chance to experience what it is and feels like it before making the investment...

Careful! You might like it. :)"

- Kelli Sherbinin, Co-Owner of Endless Biking

"Take a course, join a group, learn the basics, and meet other gals that do it!"

- Audrey Duval, Owner of Shred Sisters

"Go to a good bike store near you and tell them your wish, they usually know someone who knows someone or knows how and where you can try a mountain bike. Here in Germany, a mountain bike club is always a good way to get to like-minded people."

- Julia Hoffman, Rocky Mountain Athlete

“Just accept the invite! If someone asks you to go on a bike ride, just say yes! Even if you are concerned that you are “no good enough to keep up” or “not skilled enough to ride all the features”. Chances are - If you’re being asked to come on that ride, people want you there. It’s all about community and having fun!! And just for reference: faster people can wait and nobody forces you to ride features you don’t feel comfortable riding. So, just get out there! Enjoy the ride, smile, and have fun!”

- Elli Petersilie, Rocky Mountain Marketing Coordinator

The women we work with are driven, passionate, and unbelievably inspiring. We’re lucky to have them representing our brand and to have them out there helping to make the mountain biking community a more positive and inclusive place.