As the word spreads about just how awesome mountain biking is, more and more women are taking to their bikes, and we couldn’t be happier! Chances are if you’re reading this, you already know how great it is, but just in case you’ve got a pal who is resistant to your pleas to join you out on the trail, here are 5 of our top reasons why more women should MTB.
Shout them from the rooftops - let’s tell the world!
1. The community is awesome
Ask anyone who rides and they will unanimously agree that there is nothing that can compare quite like the community found in MTB. It is without-a-doubt one of the most friendly and supportive communities within the wider arena of sports. Unlike many sports where you’re in it to win it, and your fellow partakers are your rivals, everyone here is your friend. Of course, race day is still race day, but it’s a race like no other – full of camaraderie, smiles and banter. It’s infectious. The reason the MTB community is so darn good is that everyone who is a part of it knows so, and they want you to become a part of it as well!
Group rides are plenty, be it within your own social circle or wider community, there’s always a chance to up-level your skills with like-minded ladies (and gents) in a non-competitive atmosphere, and this can be a great place to start. If you’re reading this and considering trying mountain biking for the first time, check out your local bike groups via Facebook and fire off a message or two. Group admins will be only too glad to give you some advice and pointers of where to begin, you’ll be part of the family in no time.
Even if you’re the type of person who prefers your own company, you’ll still receive plenty of friendly greetings when out and about with well-meaning people stopping to ask, “everything alright?” or “have you got everything you need?” if you happen to be pulled up off-trail. This is a sport where no one gets left behind.
2. You’ll develop more confidence
Perhaps one of the most surprising things about mountain biking is how it’s effects spill over into your daily life – and just how quickly that happens. You cannot spend the weekend being a badass, cruising over rock gardens and roots, conquering your doubts and your fears, and then skulk into the office on a Monday with your eyes locked on the floor hoping not to be noticed. Hell no, Sista! Watch as you glide into the building, head high, pop your coffee on your desk and enter the boss’ office to ask for that pay rise you’re well overdue.
If someone had told me three years ago, I would be the owner of a mountain bike clothing brand for women; I would have laughed. Yet, here we are. Fierce itself was borne out of this very same confidence! Mountain biking taught me that I am capable of far more than I ever realised, and I hope that it will do the very same for you. This is just one of the reasons that we must encourage others to give it a go, spread the word, invite and include others at every opportunity.
3. It’s incredible for your mental health
Yes – and it’s been proven by science.
No, I’m not just talking about the run-of-the-mill endorphin release that you get from exercise, although, that certainly has its place. I’m talking about the ability to access the mystical “flow state” that you’ve no doubt heard of. Perhaps you’ve already experienced it? Chances are if you’ve been riding more than a few weeks, you have.
Mountain biking is meditation in motion and, if you are someone who always struggled to sit still long enough for the standard, cross-legged “Om” variety, this is a game-changer. You cannot, I repeat, cannot stay in your head when atop your bike. Not unless you consider dirt an essential part of your diet at least!
Part of the reason MTB is so good for the mind is the opportunity it affords to get closer to nature. The benefits of time spent outdoors in nature for mental health are well-studied and far-reaching and, as anyone who suffers from mental health problems will attest, MTB is one of the best coping strategies you can get.
A 2018 study published in Frontiers of Psychology Journal found that “one in three participants (n=1484) stated that they experience mental health problems, with women being disproportionately affected”. All the more reason to extend an invite to a girlfriend and show them the basics, we can all benefit from increased mental well-being, no matter our baseline.
4. You can choose your own adventure.
Mention mountain biking to someone unfamiliar with the sport, and you can guarantee they will conjure up images of testosterone-laden dudes, 10-feet up in the air, fist-pumping in celebration of their latest landing. And who could blame them?! It is certainly the aspect of the sport most well documented in industry media. In fact, a 2010 study conducted by IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) found that 60.6% of 436 females surveyed believed that the perception of MTB as “hard-core” deterred many women from trying it.
Yes, mountain biking is classed as an “extreme” or “action” sport. However, there are many facets – Cross-country, Cyclocross, All-mountain, Downhill, Freeride, Enduro and dirt jump – but not all of these have to be the adrenaline-inducing, extreme-danger variety. Within each one of these types of MTB, there are levels. The level you decide to participate at is entirely up to you; it’s only as extreme as you want it to be! In order to enjoy the sport, it is essential you listen to yourself, ride at a level you are comfortable with and in a discipline you enjoy. Downhill is not for everyone; for some, it is the only option.
If you are new to the sport, consider doing a bit of research on the types of MTB to see which one suits you. You can always try others in future as your riding progresses, they aren’t going anywhere! In fact, more subsets are evolving yearly. Perhaps e-bike racing will be your jam. One thing is for sure though - you won’t know until you give it a go!
5. You will inspire more women to take it up.
Whilst mountain biking is still considered by many as a male-dominated sport, slowly but surely, more and more women are taking to the trails. Although it has been suggested that numbers of women riders are higher than the official statistics estimate (12-20%) until the numbers read a little more equally, we are unlikely to see women in MTB getting the recognition they deserve.
Media coverage is often skewed towards the male contingent but then, if that is where the majority of its participants reside, are they at fault? You see the issue. More women are needed in the sport to command more gender-equal media coverage which will, in turn, lead to greater awareness and women’s participation in MTB.
Compared to other sports, there are still relatively few females in high-ranking positions within the industry and, sadly, it is rare to find a woman working as a mechanic in a bike shop.
The 2010 IMBA study found that 56% of women surveyed said that being invited to ride by a woman would encourage more women into MTB and so our mission is clear. Invite, include, educate and encourage. Friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances - any and all age ranges! There is nothing more heart-warming than seeing a mother and daughter, or family unit, out on the trails together. As women ourselves, we know the “intimidation factor” that being outside our comfort zone can elicit. Still, we can all play our part in being an inspiration to the future generations of badass females, while up-levelling our own inherently badass nature ourselves.
After all, we are Fierce for a reason. 😉
What about you? What is it that you love most about mountain biking? Do you have a reason that deserves mention? Drop us a comment below! We love hearing your thoughts.