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Ridebiker p/b Sho­Air Women

Ridebiker p/b Sho­Air Women

Interview by Sammi Runnels

Photos courtesy of Ridebiker

 

The Ridebiker team is sponsoring seven women for the 2016 season making them one of the largest Pro women's mountain bike teams in the world. The team is made up of a lot of bold face names that you may know from watching cyclocross and fixed gear crits. And while they may be known these days more for their podiums, everyone was a beginner once. The ladies of Ridebiker shared a little about how they got started, what inspires them, and what their goals are for this season.

Taking a page from pro motocross, the team uses the privateer format. This team model sponsors athletes with gear and a salary, but also allows them to build individual sponsors. This makes each athlete unique, with bikes from Rocky Mountain to Felt. being able to visually identify each athlete makes it easy to cheer and follow along in races and photos.

The team hit women's mountain biking with a bang this year.  Larissa Connors won her first UCI race at Fontana and has gone on to podium several times in the past few weeks. We look forward to see what the rest of the season holds!

Sammi Runnels

Sammi Runnels

Sammi Runnels


What inspired you to start riding and racing MTB?  

When I started cycling and racing I started with road cycling. I started missing being in the woods surrounded by nature. So I bought a mountain bike and have since fallen in love with dirt riding.

What do you think can be done to get more women into mountain biking?


I believe working with the young girls is the best way to grow women's cycling. This year I’ll be working with two children's programs. Boneshakers Project is an after school program that works to get more kids on bikes and running. Texas Cyclocross Project is a kids racing team. It’s so rad working with little girls stoked to ride bikes.

What are you 2016 cycling goals?

My goals for 2016 is to figure out where I stand in the Pro field. This will be my first year doing US Cup races.
I really just want to assess where I am and just learn and grow as much as I can. I'm really stoked to be able to learn from all the other ladies on my team.

Larissa Connors

Larissa Connors

Larissa Connors

What inspired you to start riding and racing MTB?
My little sister and I used to ride these hybrid/rigid bikes up the rockiest trail we could find in the state park behind our house growing up. Our goal was to make it to the top without putting a foot down. That was long before I started racing bikes, but the ability to set a goal and work hard to achieve it, that's what inspired me to ride then and still inspires me today.

How has mountain biking change your perspective on cycling? On life?

Mountain biking has taught me in a huge way that if you think you can do something, you can. I am constantly reminded through the bike that believing in myself can be the most powerful tool, and I think that is a lesson most of us need to be reminded of on a regular basis.

What do you think can be done to get more women into mountain biking?

Marketing the sport towards women is huge to me. I have had so many conversations with industry folk who say that marketing to women isn't worth their time becasue X, Y and Z, and that's always felt like a slap in the face to me. So if the industry (as it seems to finally be doing) would stop treating it like dude's bikes are more important, I think more women would pick up a bike and try it out. Design rad women's bikes, spec them out with XX1, treat your women's products like the best and lightest and fastest. Women will eat it up!

What do you wish you knew about MTB before you started? Any advice for beginners?

I wouldn't change my mountain biking story for anything. I like that I came into it not knowing what I was doing, that I crashed my brains out over and over until I figured out how to unclip/how to roll over a rock and how to corner. The progression is such a beautiful thing, so I would tell beginners to enjoy the process. You'll see improvement very quickly in the beginning, enjoy that, and be proud of yourself. Never apologize for holding people up, for having to walk over a rock garden... that's the learning process we ALL went through. You'll be riding that gnar stuff one day, and you'll look back at your first ride and smile.

What are you 2016 cycling goals?

Well to put it all out there and be vulnerable and whatnot, I would give my left leg to be on the Olympic short list and to compete in Rio. I get all itchy and anxious talking about it because the self doubt is strong in me sometimes, but that is my big, shoot for the moon, what motivates me each day when I wake up goal. Along with that I want to compete in Worlds, stand on as many US Cup podiums as possible, and to inspire others to race their bikes.

Emily Schaldach

Emily Schaldach

Emily Schaldach

What inspired you to start riding and racing MTB?
­In middle school my best friend joined DEVO, the local Junior Development team. I have always been incredibly competitive with her, and therefore, I had to join as well. This was the start of eight years of racing and competing with my best friends in Durango, surrounded by trails, mountains, sunshine, and happiness.

How has mountain biking change your perspective on cycling? On life?

­The cycling community is the people whom I love, respect, and want to spend all extra minutes surrounded by. In the most cliche way, my heart feels full when I am out on the trails shredding around with fellow cyclists.

What do you think can be done to get more women into mountain biking?

I think there is a negative stigma for women in cycling. I find myself apologizing for being slower than the men I am with, or even other women. If we can embrace the power and lung capacity we have at this time, today, and thank others for waiting, instead of apologizing, mountain biking would be more appealing. Chasing people is the best way to improve and embracing the fact that people will go faster than you makes the daunting ride drastically more attainable.

What are you 2016 cycling goals?

On an individual level I want to learn how I race best and stay in tune to training and racing to make the most of the time I put into cycling. On an interpersonal level, I want to encourage people everywhere to get outside and start pedaling. In the community, I am working with Durango DEVO to start a scholarship program to help kids in the community ride with DEVO regardless of the program cost. On a global level, I have partnered with World Bicycle Relief to raise money to build 100 bikes in sub­Saharan Africa for children, doctors, and entrepreneurs. It's going to be busy and so so epic! I'm more and more excited everyday.

Amy Beisel

Amy Beisel

Amy Beisel

What inspired you to start riding and racing MTB?


My brother and Hartman Rocks in Gunnison.  Kalan, an elite mtb racer as well, was always  telling me how fun mtb'ing is. Because if his constant excitement and crazy stories about mountain biking, I finally bought a bike in 2009 and I started racing that same year.

How has mountain biking change your perspective on cycling? On life?


Mountain biking translates in so many ways, on and off the bike. I am a more confident person today and I give a lot of credit of this happening from riding my bike.

 

What do you think can be done to get more women into mountain biking?

One of the top 3 reasons why women don't ride is because they do not want anything to happen if they are alone on the trail. Afraid of something happening.Having women feel prepared to hit the trail is essential, I think, to growing our sport.

 

What do you wish you knew about MTB before you started? Any advice for beginners?

Have fun!! Just enjoy it. Mountain biking never gets easier (always something new to learn on the bike) we just start going faster. Stop and enjoy the views!!

What are you 2016 cycling goals?

I will be racing all US Pro Cup races. Goal is to be top 10 overall in the series. US MTB National championships is always a high priority ­ Goal is for a top 5!! Plus some amazing local races ­ Go Pro Games and the Original Growler just to name a few.

Mikaela Kofman

Mikaela Kofman

Mikaela Kofman

What inspired you to start riding and racing MTB?


I grew up as a downhill ski racer and would occasionally use MTB as a form of cross training in the summer months. When it came time to go to University and being my undergraduate degree I had to make the decision whether to continue to ski or focus on academia. It was at this point in
my life that I realized that biking was a sport that you could do anywhere, right from your front door and it certainly didn’t require flying across the continent to search for the best snowy conditions. Naturally the more I rode, the more I fell in love with mountain biking and the bike became my relief during the stress of school...the rest is history!

How has mountain biking change your perspective on cycling? On life?

I always say that mountain biking is “the great equalizer;” no matter who you are, where you come from and what life experiences you’ve had. I have come to learn that the moment most individuals hop on a bike, they transform into the same type of person; they are searching for a sense of freedom on the trails and to leave the chaos of life behind.

What do you think can be done to get more women into mountain biking?

Cycling is a very male dominated sport. There is little information in the media about women’s cycling; especially mountain biking. The disconnect between women and the mountain bike has created a stigma that mountain biking is “too radical” for females. I believe that in order to get more women involved in mountain biking you need to start at the grass roots level. Involving young girls could help feed the system in hopes of creating a generation that grows with the sport. Additionally, learning mountain bike skills from a young age, will build confidence on the trails and help mitigate the fears associated with the extreme factor.

What do you wish you knew about MTB before you started? Any advice for beginners?

Mountain biking is an addiction, once you start you will never stop!
A great day in the saddle requires a good chamois and some chamois butter.

What are you 2016 cycling goals?

In 2016 I will be racing both for a new team and bike company; Ride Biker Alliance and Liv. My goal is to represent, promote and attain results on behalf of both parties on the domestic and international circuits. I hope to qualify for the Canadian World Championship team as well as contribute to the Canadian team point count for the upcoming Rio Olympics in August.

Ellen Noble

Ellen Noble

Ellen Noble


What inspired you to start riding and racing MTB?


I started racing MTB when I was 5 because my parents both rode and raced MTB. I’ve always thought my parents we’re the coolest people ever, so naturally I wanted to do what they did — especially when I was younger. I started going on the adult rides with them when I was ~7, and have been enjoying the ride every since!

How has mountain biking change your perspective on cycling? On life?


MTB was my first true love in the sport of cycling. So, whenever I start to lose perspective and begin to question whyI’m doing it, I think back to the pure joy I get riding trails and adventuring around. Mountain biking has served as reminder of why I started riding in the first place: to have fun! In life, mountain biking and cycling in general has given me more than I can really articulate. I really feel that it’s shaped me as a person. MTB specifically has taught perseverance, goal­ setting, work ethic, and so much more. I really can’t image my life without cycling and what it’s taught me.

What do you think can be done to get more women into mountain biking?

I think the best thing we can do is continue to work hard for equality in the sport. I know that there is the argument that women’s racing is smaller, so we can’t offer equality. That said, someone needs to make the first move, and I strongly believe in the saying “if you build it, they will come.” So, if promoters of races (big and small) make the women’s races “equal” to the mens, I hope more women will feel welcomed in the sport and the sport will grow.

What do you wish you knew about MTB before you started? Any advice for beginners?

The best advice I can give to beginners is to remember why you love it. When it’s cold and rainy and you don’t want to go train, or your race didn’t go as planned, it can be easy to get discouraged. That’s why it’s important to remember what got you into the sport to begin with, because it makes the bad days a lot easier!

What are you 2016 cycling goals?

I’m really focusing on development in 2016! I want to push myself as hard as I can technically, and race events that will challenge me to race cyclocross better. I’m excited to be riding for RideBiker this season, and hope to do events for them that will grow the sport, and help increase women’s mtb involvement in New England especially.

Erin Alder

Erin Alder

Erin Alder

What inspired you to start riding and racing MTB?

I was inspired to ride and race in college, because of the people I met in the sport. I've made some lifelong friends because of cycling. Living in Nevada City and Downieville has inspired my mountain bike racing. The mountains called to my lioness spirit...

How has mountain biking change your perspective on cycling? On life?

In general, the sport has made me grow. The
people that I have worked with and who I am currently working with, have been a big part of my growth. I see the place I live (more) because of a bike.

What do you think can be done to get more women into mountain biking?

Bike shops need to take the lead and have weekly group rides set up for women, that are beginner/ intermediate friendly.

What do you wish you knew about MTB before you started? Any advice for beginners?

I would say take a skills clinic... Some clinics are taught by women, and some are taught by men. One full day, or one full weekend of instruction can accelerate your riding capabilities so quickly, without having to learn things the hard way.

What are you 2016 cycling goals?

A couple top 10's at the US Cups, and to have breakthrough podium results this season at races with long, sustained climbing and descending.Mostly... to have fun!! 

Women's Specific Design for Team USA

Women's Specific Design for Team USA

Rapha x Herman Miller Cap Collaboration: 2016 Tour of California

Rapha x Herman Miller Cap Collaboration: 2016 Tour of California

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