My Biggest Jump—5 Women Committed to Advancing The MTB Community

February 14, 2022

Anyone else battle an inner dialogue while riding?

“Lean left, lean right. Oh, boy! That’s a big drop! Can I do it? Agh, I don’t know!”

Oftentimes, the difference between bailing and being able to “send it” is a matter of convincing that voice inside your head: “Yes I can.”

Big life decisions are not so different from the choices you make in the saddle. Whether you’re white-knuckling the bars while rolling into your first 6-inch rock drop or deciding on your next career move, you are fully capable of landing your biggest jump (even if it takes a few bruises to get there). We talked with five female riders in Oregon who made the jump to turn their mountain bike passions into careers and expand the mountain biking community for women in the process. The path wasn’t always straight but leaning into the big jumps is like turning fear into joy—it’s all about your mindset.

We hope their stories inspire you to lean back, loosen up on the brakes, keep your eyes trained on the middle distance and visualize success. In life and on the bike, the ride is always more rewarding when you make the jump.

Ashley Davidson, Program Director at Pine Mountain Sports. Photo: 29NRTH

Ashley Davidson | The Community Connector

Women’s MTB Program Director at Pine Mountain’s Sports, a retail bike shop in Bend, Oregon that focuses on community partnerships and ambassador programs that give back to both the cycling community and the local community at large; age 32.

“Your Why:” I love to build connections within the community. I am all about creating an approachable and comfortable space for riders (especially women) to grow confidence in their biking and bike knowledge.

How did you make the jump to get into the role you are in today?

Jumping into this role took some courage. I have been working towards earning a teaching degree while retaining my current role working in the retail shop. To take on the director role meant leaning into courage and the support I have at Pine and in the community.

Did you encounter any struggles along the way and if so, how did you overcome them?

A struggle that has affected many of us, of course, is the pandemic. I know our Central Oregon community of riders has grown while our program has had to pump the brakes. Reconnecting with our community safely and reaching those who are looking for their female biking community is a top priority. We are eager to support those who have been riding with us for years and those who are unfamiliar with the program too.

Kirin Stryker, Co-owner of Cog Wild Bicycle Tours. Photos: 29NRTH

Kirin Stryker | A Family Woman

Co-owner of family-run business, Cog Wild Bicycle Tours, that provides daily guided mountain bike rides, mountain bike skills instruction and shuttles to the popular trailheads around Bend and Oakridge, Oregon; age 47.

“Your Why”: I believe time outside is essential. I can help people access the outdoors so they too can experience the multitude of benefits of time spent outside.

How did you make the jump to get into the role you are in today?

Making the jump to full time work at Cog Wild was a serious decision. It was really difficult to leave the security and benefits of job. There was financial uncertainty and the fear of failure by putting all our “eggs in one basket.” Throughout my career transition this mantra came up: I am the support I need for my family. That support was hard to give when all my energy went . Now, less than two years later, I know that putting my skill and experience to work for our business was the best decision for my family.

Did you encounter any struggles along the way and if so, how did you overcome them?

I guess the struggle came in when I began working full time for Cog. I had worked part time and during the summers while I was teaching but then resigned my school job and came over full time in 2020 just as the pandemic hit. At the beginning of the pandemic we laid off 100% of the staff and slowly hired folks back on. We lost some good employees and now we’re working hard to keep the rest and to recruit high quality outdoors people.

The capacity of our business is dependent on available guides, coaches and drivers. Like many other tourism companies, we’ve had to adjust our pay structures to keep staff. My former principal was a fantastic leader so now I ask myself what she would do and I follow her lead. This year, we introduced a new pay structure where we pay more to folks who make themselves available/ prioritize Cog over their other jobs. We have also added a matching Simple IRA program for staff who work 60 days or more (2+ days a week through the prime season). We’re actively showing our appreciation with cash “bonuses” mid way through the season and at the holidays. In addition we host fun bonding activities like river floats on hot summer days or a weekend of shuttles in Oakridge. We’re gearing up for our best year ever (again).

Struggle is part and parcel of life! Both the good times and the bad times will pass.

Lindsey Richter | The Stoke Broker

Founder and Director of Inspiration at Ladies AllRide Mountain Bike Skills Camps, an organization that offers professional, energizing and inspirational mountain bike skills camps for all skill levels and anyone 18 and older who identifies as a woman; age 47.

“Your Why:”: My life has personally been transformed by the power of mountain biking. The symmetry between bikes and life has been a catalyst for growth and change in my life. I am passionate about helping others experience this as well. I aim to inspire women to face fears, believe in themselves and get RAD on their mountain bikes!

How did you make the jump to get into the role you are in today?

I traveled across the country from 2002-2013 with my ex-husband who was a pro downhill racer/freerider. I managed his career and helped create The AllRide Tour that involved promoting mountain biking, racing and running a youth race team. During this time, I noticed a distinct void in the participation of women in the sport. I realized that many females were introduced to the sport by an experienced rider who didn’t know what to say to help them feel safe or comfortable as a beginner rider. This often resulted in frightening experiences. Additionally, marketing campaigns portrayed mountain biking as an “extreme” sport instead of inviting and fun. I realized there was a need for a series of events that invited women into the sport in a welcoming, non-intimidating way.

In 2010 I started a “movement” called Ladies AllRide. I produced encouraging videos, became certified to teach and toured as many places as I could. In 2014, Liv cycling and SRAM loved my idea to start a series of events to invite women into the sport in a safe and non-competitive way. The official Ladies AllRide Mountain Bike Skills Camps was born.

Did you encounter any struggles along the way and if so, how did you overcome them?

When I first decided I wanted to run events focused on coaching, the bike industry wasn’t interested in speaking directly to women. For years I would bring my ideas to speak to women to sponsorship meetings, but most sponsors were only interested in helping our AllRide Tour at race events. I didn’t give up and kept meeting with as many companies as I could and it finally worked. Our business cannot survive without industry partners. With the industry’s support, we are able to keep our prices approachable to riders and our wheels rolling forward around the country.

expanding the mountain biking community for women

Julia Sparks | “Not Your Typical Bike Mechanic”

Owner and mechanic at Chariot Bike, a bike shop focused on custom builds, repairs and teaching repair classes; age 34.

“Your Why“: I love this shop because I get to work one on one with customers and get their bikes ready for whatever ride they have planned. Community is important and I believe riding bikes is a great way to get outside and enjoy life. The shop allows me to do that directly with the community.

How did you make the jump to get into the role you are in today?

It happened in July of 2020—the time was just right. I always have my best friend and husband to encourage any wild idea I have and the important question of “What do you want to be doing in ten years?” came up. I usually answered, “Do something involving the community and share my joy and knowledge about bikes.” Which to me meant owning a bike shop.

Did you encounter any struggles along the way and if so, how did you overcome them?

I’m pretty lucky with how I got into the bike world and being a bike mechanic. I had little struggles but nothing I couldn’t overcome. Being a female bike mechanic, I always felt like I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes. With that thought, I pushed myself harder and held myself to a very high standard. I had to build trust before some customers let me work on their bikes (this challenge wasn’t my favorite). But as time went on, people learned to trust me rather than judge me. I’m not the typical bike mechanic.

Emmy Andrews, Executive Director of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance. Photos: 29NRTH

Emmy Andrews | The Trail Builder

Executive Director of Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to develop, protect, and enhance the Central Oregon mountain biking experience through trail stewardship, advocacy, collaboration, and education; age 46.

“Your Why:” I am 110% passionate about COTA and implementing our mission.

How did you make the jump to get into the role you are in today?

I was on COTA’s Board of Directors from 2016-2020. When COTA started discussing whether to hire staff, I knew I wanted to apply and recused myself from the process so the process could be fair to all. Luckily the Board chose me as the Executive Director, and it’s been full speed ahead ever since.

Did you encounter any struggles along the way and if so, how did you overcome them?

Personally, I have always felt welcomed into the trail stewardship community, even back when I first got involved and knew nothing. COTA is a motley crew, and we accept each other for who we are, warts and all, which may sound cheesy but it’s true.

None of these stories would have been possible without each of these women realizing the potential of community, and self-belief. May these examples be an inspiration for you, to leap into the unknown and know that with a little help from the people in your corner you too are capable of landing your biggest jump.

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