5 Mountain Biking Tips for Girls (and everyone else).

Mountain biking is amazing and don’t let this rainy weather fool you. There is plenty of good riding to be had before we hang up our mountain bikes. If you are new to mountain biking it’s going to get hard before it gets easier. And then once it gets easier, it’s going to get harder again. For all of us, it’s a humbling sport. Some days you are a rock star and some days you crash on the rocks. Either way, there’s nothing quite like it. Here are a few tips (reminders) to keep you sunny side up.

  • Don’t show off
    These are the words that my husband sends me out the door with when I go out to ride with friends. What he’s trying to say (I think) is “Don’t do anything stupid.” Basically I remind myself of these words of wisdom when contemplating taking something at a higher speed or doing a bigger drop then I have business doing.
  • 9 Out of 10 times it’s the pilot not the plane
    Okay, so the one time it’s the plane is for the people who are already so rad on the bike that they could ride a big wheel and still out climb and out descend me. But for all the other times, I really believe it. Get a good enough bike or a nice bike but don’t get caught up in having the best, the brightest or the lightest. At the end of the day you have to ride the bike and sometimes putting in the time and the work can improve your skills more than a shiny new bike.
  • Crashing often doesn’t mean you have bigger…..ovaries
    I used to think I was pretty tough because I crashed a lot. I liken it to thinking I was a great driver when I was 15. Practice, hard work and training may not make you perfect but it will make you a better rider. And now when I go over or crash really hard it’s because I’ve forgotten the fundamentals or I just got too big for my undies. And sometimes I just pick the wrong line.

    Author, Cheri Felix
  • Treat your bike like you want to be treated
    Who doesn’t like to be washed and lubed weekly? I know I do. Your bike needs to be washed and checked over (for loose wheels, bent derailleurs, stretched cables, etc.) weekly. Some might say after every ride but I’d bet that person doesn’t have dishes to do, kids to feed and a dog to walk. Your bike works better when it’s maintained. Trust me on this. I used to think a dirty bike was a sign of coolness. That was silly and lazy. This summer the bike mechanic said “Wow. That’s a clean drive train.” A proud moment for me.
  • Know when to hold em and when to fold em.
    Kenny Rogers knew what he was talking about. I’m talking about knowing when to let it ride and when to walk your bike. Knowing how to leave your ego at the trailhead. Knowing when you are out of your element. It can be hard to walk something you’ve done before or to take a tight switchback slower than you are used to. But it can save you a co-pay if you listen to your gut. A few weeks ago I was in Park City riding some pretty fun downhill and just wasn’t “feelin’ it”. The bike didn’t quite fit me, the tires were too small for my taste and well…I just didn’t have the confidence. So I walked something that I’ve replicated at the Valmont Bike Park. Like I said; know when to hold em.

Now, get out and ride before it snows!

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17 Comments

Girls? Really?? You must be talking about juniors.

I am shocked and disappointed to read a woman cyclist so blatantly referring to other women cyclists as "girls". Ew. We're grown women -- most of us with careers and children. I know that the whole girls thing is a hard habit to break. When I raced professionally on the road we all were prone to falling into that trap in casual conversation. But in writing? And seriously, if we expect to be respected as adult professionals in the sport, we need to start referring to ourselves as adults. There is a long history of calling women girls and it is a history no self-respecting woman would want to propagate. Infantilizing us has always been one of the ways that some have avoided giving us the respect (and money) we deserve. In a cycling world still riddled with inequities (don't even get me started on the mandatory shorter UCI cross races, the vast prize money discrepancies and the inadequate media coverage -- 303cycling excepted of course) we need to start by at least demanding to be treated as equal adults. And that means calling ourselves what we are: WOMEN.

Actually, I think this is an

Actually, I think this is an issue worth being cognizant of. How many "men" would write a story about the "boys" that they race with? We have other words to describe them in a more casual manner - guys, dudes, etc. But would you really refer to the "boys" racing in the 35+, 45+ or 55+ category? Unlikely. A woman friend of mine often refers to other women as "gals." I know it sounds a little bit down-on-the-farm but I far prefer being called a gal than a girl. Would you refer to your mother or grandmother as girls?

If it was a man writing about

If it was a man writing about 'girls' or 'little ladies' or whatever, then sure, be upset.

Getting upset about a woman referring to herself (let's not forget that) and other women cyclists as 'girls' makes me think you may be one of those who takes offense too easily.

It was public.

She published an article (and aside from the "girls" part, a great one), so my response was public. My intention was to generate conversation about an issue that has far-reaching implications. So far, only two people have addressed the actual issue.

Wordage

I loved the article by Cheri Felix. I do like to use women rather than girls when talking about female adults. To me personally, girls sounds like youngsters or teenagers. But honestly I do not think I would have given it much thought until it was brought to my attention. Cheers!

Yea Cheri!! I can only add -

Yea Cheri!! I can only add - don't underestimate your abilities on the bike! Yes, it's easy to get in over your head, show off, and crash too much, but challenging yourself is awesome too. Lots of us ladies have a tendency to throw in the towel before we give the bigger drop, tougher trail, or harder line a try. Ride smart, but if you're ready for the next level, play your edge a bit. Just one of the things I've learned riding with the "boys." :)

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