MTB and Inclusion


PLEASE know, I’m not speaking specifically about ECMTB. Most of the time, I personally feel very included - BUT a huge part of that is just how I’m hard wired as an individual and the fact I’m on the mtn bike board. I’m not trolling for specific ride invites (though, I’m eager to get better so @brightwhite I’m gonna take you up on your offer). Tuesdays I usually ride with my dogs so my lack of showing up isn’t because I don’t feel invited, but because I’ve got other commitments to my family/competitive training.

I think there is a place for women’s specific rides, but I don’t think that’s helpful in solving the issues the sport has with inclusion. It plays a bit as “you girls go do your womens thing over there while we ride the real stuff”.

It’s not that women are not interested in riding with dudes, we’re not interested in feeling judged if our skills are not as developed and we’re not interested in feeling like we’re holding everyone up. Little things like how you talk about a trail makes a difference. If I’m stoked for hitting a bunch of lines I’ve not hit before and “you” casually mention that the trail is boring you’ve shut down a barrier to me feeling like I’m included.

Women face a lot of barriers to sport that men don’t. You don’t need to solve them all, just make the world of mountain biking a little better for the women in your life already. That alone will recruit more women to the sport.

I think the more trail development that focuses on beginners will bring more women to mountain biking. There is a huge jump from riding rail trails or the Shubie canal to tackling lines at fight. Being able to confidently, successfully move from one trail level to another is going to help. But delegitimizing how someone enjoys their mountain bike because it’s different from the riding style you enjoy the most is a barrier to them being interested in joining “you” where you’re at.

I’m not going to crap on the shop that was douche to Matt, it was a bad employee and I highly doubt the entire store or the owner. Same way I’m not walking away from the sport because one dude was an ass last week.


Yes, to all that.

I see people struggling with where they fit in the pack every week. Guys and gals. For all the ride’s I’ve been on I still get the feeling that I’m in someones way or slowing them down. Especially, when they are crashing down behind me. It’s usually mental though.

It’s a good point that not all women want to be on the women’s only ride. It’s good to have those rides but also it’s essential for us to be open to all as well.

There is a gap in trails with easier skill levels in HRM for progression of new riders and kids. Fortunately, this need is echo’ed by trail funding sponsors (thanks!), bike shops and ride organizers as well.

I can see an extra need for women to want group rides and a forum to connect for casual rides just for feeling safe in the woods.


I had a family one time looking to find a bike for their disabled child. They thought a recumbent might be a good idea. I thought otherwise (based on balance issues etc) but didn’t discourage them. He test rode a recumbent. They ended up buying a trike at another shop. Sales clerks are cycling enthusiasts and sales persons, not trained occupational therapists, try to keep that in mind.

edit: oh crap, did I really say ‘occupational therapists’?!? not what I meant but hopefully you get the idea, there’s a reason shop guy makes x dollars and so and so at the IWK makes y.


With respect @tossedsalad, when we were purchasing Matt’s bike we explained specific criteria that we prescribed by the individuals who were teaching him to ride. Professionals, who teach individuals with disabilities to ride bikes as a profession. The individual ignored the list of criteria we went with and treated Matt like he couldn’t hear. This sales person was a bigot who thought they knew best on a subject they are ill informed on. You might want to let advocates and individuals with different abilities speak for themselves.

You don’t know me at all so I’m gonna give you a little grace. I’m not new to trails or etiquette when I’m out. I’m not stopping strangers for help and interrupting their rides or trying to tag along. I’m not suggesting you bring beginners in tow on every ride. I had a conversation with an acquaintance off the trail about riding and that was the attitude that prevailed. For what it’s worth, I get that struggle as someone who does advocate & promote for under represented sports while training at a national level for competition. It’s a hard balance.

But the fact that you only know a few female riders who you’d feel are technically good but that this is “total bullshit” proves that we do have a big issue.


Bunch of reasonable dudes: “Hey, we’re having a chat about how we can do better being inclusive, we should ask a woman”
Woman: “Hey guys, it’s not always awesome, there’s some work to do”
Dude: Let me pick apart the woman’s every experience and tell her why she’s wrong.

For those following along, straight up case study on how not to be inclusive going on right here…


Apologies Sarah, based on the limited info you provided initially, I didn’t have a whole lot to go on. Your followup sheds more light on the negative experience you and your family had.

The mtb community isn’t very big here, so when I say I know of a ‘few’ technically good riders, I pretty much mean it and can count them off, maxing out at maybe 10 or so (that I know of personally). Its not like mtb is really big any more, so having that many is actually pretty good compared to the 90’s. Really, there’s probably more, but I’m not real in the scene very much nowadays so I probably shouldn’t be saying anything that specific.

Also, I consider myself a pretty good judge of technical ability when it comes to mtb, pretty sure about that.


I like being an ambassador for the sport. Always have, it’s one of the best things about mountain biking–the willingness of others to help get people into it. I’ve seen it again and again. I get that not every group can accommodate a new rider all the time, but I’m sure it could have been handled a little better. If you’re not willing to help, then maybe you know someone who is? I’ve seen that kind of attitude before and it’s bullshit. It doesn’t matter how good a judge any of us are of riding skill. If someone’s a jerk to a new rider, it’s going to have an impact on their perception of the sport.


In retrospect, I can understand how my comments are not conducive to a rational discussion of the topic at hand. Apologies in advance.


True, I’ve honestly never seen it and I’ve been on rides where buddy busts out a 15mm box wrench to repair a flat. Must be a new thing.


I honestly shouldn’t drink beers after super hot rides.


Just a suggestion which might help with general inclusion on group rides, almost 10 years ago now I used to go in the Bikes Plus group rides at Spider Lake.
They would often split the group into a ‘ride’ group (folks who just want to give’r) and a ‘skills’ group which would take more stops where the experienced riders would point out lines, give demonstrations and allow people a chance to try a tricky section a few times before moving on. I thought this was awesome and they were getting 20 or more people out per week (more than half going to the skills group) and always new riders just getting started.

Or maybe just have one ride a month be a skills ride which caters to newer riders.

Might take some of the ‘I don’t want to hold up the group’ pressure off.


Interesting idea, @emat… none of our ride leads are qualified coaches (which leads to liability in my mind) but I like the idea.

We could do a sessioning night maybe.


Good point I didn’t think of the liability issue.
I was just thinking experienced riders who know the trails giving people pointers and letting people try out tricky sections with no pressure to keep up with a group that just wants to ride.


Are you intentionally trying to be obtuse? What an incredibly sexist thing to say.


We describe the rides as:

It is every rider’s responsibility to know their own abilities, make smart decisions and ride safely. As a community ride we will ensure you are not left behind and as a group we know we are safer when we have others with us.

We are explicitly making sure people know the ride leads are not there as a coach or guide. We are just organizing the ride.


That’s a cool idea.


By the way, Alan Miner will pretty much take anyone around Grey Mountain at pretty much anytime. He built or helped build a big chunk of those trails. Now Grey is not exactly the most beginner friendly trail system, but there’s certainly enough jeep trail and beginner/intermediate level trails to keep people entertained. And he will certainly do what you are suggesting to give everyone a shot (or two) at a section.

I think he is often out there with a beginner group Mondays and Wednesdays, but good to double check first


I just want to point out as a newish rider, just shy of a year, I went on a group ride and still had a blast. Seems to be a good mix of skill levels represented. I guess as a male I really have no way to know how a female member would feel, nor do I have a right to speak on how to make it more inclusive in respect to gender. But I will say that the group rides seem like great environment, and knew I wouldn’t be left behind, as a slower, less advanced rider.


Not a fan of hyperbole?

Seriously, when you read articles about bringing women into the sport, when they’re not written by women, the main goal is all about getting a significant other on a bike. That in itself is a great thing, I love riding with my husband. But if we’re talking gender inclusivity for the sport to be inclusive it’s got to go beyond riding dates with a significant other.


Hyperbole? You made it sound like every guy asking a woman to go for a ride is a sexual predator. Way to make assumptions.