May 15, 2009 Features & Images » Feature Story

Riding with the Goddess 

Women are mountain biking’s fastest growing demographic


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"We looked at what was going on in mountain biking and said, 'What can we do to give more women the confidence to get out on the trails and get huge amounts of enjoyment out of the sport?'" said founder Candace Shadley. "I think we're one of a number of great initiatives - product development, trail development, club development and other instructional programs as well. I think that women in mountain biking are in a really good place, and I feel lucky that we get to be a part of that."

The popularity of women in riding has grown with the camp. The first season hosted three camps with one hundred participants. Now in their ninth season, the Dirt Series have pedaled through more than 45,000 participants.

"When I look at how our business has grown, how the sport has grown, and specifically how the women's demographic within our sport has grown, I definitely smile," Shadley said.

Both numbers and skill sets are growing. So much so, Shadley expanded the advanced programming component of the Dirt Series this year. Whistler camps are offered May 30-31, June 27-28 and July 25-26 with a co-ed camp Sept. 12-13.

"We've always had rock solid step by step progressions for beginner and intermediate skills and recently we've concentrated on developing a similar approach for more advanced ones," she said. "Mountain bike skills in general are improving in leaps and bounds."

Men are from Mars and Women from Venus, not only in love, but on their bikes as well.

"I always laugh, every camp I have one woman come up to me and say, 'Don't tell anybody but I get so nervous.' Everyone gets nervous," Lefroy said. "The camps are very successful in the fact that we break down the skills in such a way that women are able to understand it a lot more. We tell them the who, what, where, when, why and what if. Women want to know this stuff. Men are a bit more about seeing and imitating. Women like an explanation."

Sharpened skills lead to a smoother more enjoyable ride, which leads to more trail time, which sometimes leads to a race for the finish line.

The Goddesses of Action

Making a living in the sport of mountain biking is challenging no matter who you are. Downhiller, cross-country rider. Racer, freerider. Male, female.

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