Teresa (TE): I first got into it in the early 90s. Friends of mine mountain biked and it seemed like fun so another friend and I borrowed her parents’ mountain bikes and went for a spin. We came back covered in mud and grinning from ear to ear! It took a few years before I actually got a mountain bike of my own, but that one ride had me hooked.
SD: That’s how it went for me too: one ride and I was hooked! How did you progress? Did you take clinics, follow friends mostly, or join a club?
TE: I progressed by following friends. There weren’t many clubs around when I started. My local club was founded in 2001, long after I had moved to Vancouver, and the Muddbunnies were just starting up when I left Vancouver to return to the island in 2007. Skills sessions were friends showing you new tricks and trying to explain the mechanics behind them (not everyone is meant to be a teacher…). I didn’t take a formal lesson until 2010 and that was a dirt jump clinic at Whistler.
TE: I wanted to hear more stories from women. The larger sites would have a token article here and there but were adamant that there wasn’t a market for women’s stories. I knew I wasn’t alone in believing there wasn’t so I began mtb4her.com. In 2014, I decided to expand to a magazine format to focus more on editorial while keeping the website more orientated towards blog type articles, events listings, and video.
SD: How does the content for women differ than the content we see on larger sites? What do women like to see and read about?
TE: The most popular stories on MTB4HER are personal experiences. MTB4HER readers aren’t as drawn to the famous riders and racers; they like to read about people they can relate to. The bigger sites tend to focus on the pro riders since guys seem to idolize pros. They also have more features on big stunts and big air. We found our niche in showing the softer side of the sport and focusing on the experience of being out there on your bike. Not to say that you won’t find articles on pros on MTB4HER or personal stories on the larger sites, just that we select stories based on what we believe will be well received by our audiences.
SD: Since you’ve started mountain biking, how have thing changed for women in the sport? What do you think the future will look like for female riders? Is this what it should look like?
TE: When I started mountain biking, women got a ton of publicity. We all knew who the pros were from downhillers Missy Giove and Marla Streb to cross-country racers like Alison Sydor and Juli Furtado. Then there was a period when you barely heard about the women at all. It’s on the upswing again but initially it felt like women were an afterthought when sales of bikes started lagging. There were failed marketing attempts by several brands and token articles in publications but no one seemed to really embrace us again until the last couple of years. It’s very encouraging to see equal prize purses at several events and even locally we’re seeing more women racing again. Hopefully, women will be on equal footing in the near future. There are some awesome women on the pro circuit that I would love to see be able to make a career out of it.
TE: I usually mountain bike in Cumberland, BC. I have to admit that I typically ride solo due to the hours that I work so I’m not as involved locally. Our local club, the United Riders of Cumberland (UROC), has a great women’s ride on Wednesday nights that sees upwards of 50 women so there’s already a strong contingent of women who ride here. I never really felt the need to encourage women here to take the sport up; most of the women I know have naturally gravitated towards it.
SD: I’ve heard lots of good things about Cumberland and hope to check it out this summer. What trails are a must-do in that area?
TE: There are so many new trails here that I have to admit that I haven’t had a chance to ride them all, yet. However, my favourite classic trails include Blue Collar, Thirsty Beaver (upper and lower), Teapot, That Dam Trail, Kitty Litter, Space Nugger, Trent Canyon, Race Rocks… I honestly don’t think we really have any bad trails here, but I might be biased.
SD: That’s awesome! What’s the best place to find out about biking events on the island or learn about its different riding areas?
TE: The go-to site for trail maps is http://cvmtb.com (they have maps for every area on the Island) and the events are mostly held through the Island Cup Series. We don’t really have one site that does it all.
SD: One final question, Teresa… What’s your most memorable bike ride?
TE: Oh man… There have been so many! But I guess the most memorable one is when I first moved back to Vancouver Island after living in Vancouver for several years. The ride started off with a big climb and a bit of a hike-a-bike. A couple of my friends were on DH bikes while I was on my hardtail Kona; it was my only bike at the time. I was expecting the ride to be like the others we had done, on trails similar to Bridle Path and Fisherman’s in the Lower Seymour area – which is what I mainly rode when I lived in Vancouver. It wasn’t long into the ride that I knew my 90 mm of travel was NOT going to cut it. I think I spent most of the ride falling into the salal on the side of the trail, laughing the entire time. I had a blast! And ended up buying a full-suspension bike with 140 mm of travel the following week…
A big thanks to Teresa!! And be sure to check out MTB4HER! The latest issue was full of great articles and even features our own Jaclyn with tips on racing.