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Riding Together: Learning Amongst Women with Juliana

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 By: Katie Lasak | September 19, 2023

Women Belong in Mountain Biking.

Mountain biking is for everyone, but can feel scary, intimidating, and sometimes impossible for those who don't know where to start. Women, trans, and non-binary people in particular face an uphill battle in an industry dominated by men in decision making roles. We tend to doubt our abilities and capability on the trails and can find it difficult to find people willing to teach us. Plus, bikes are expensive. Historically, women have been excluded from the highest levels of freeride competition. With limited options for progression, this got evo can we create an inclusive, safe environment for women-identifying riders to learn and grow, while having the best time on their bikes? So, the first annual evo, Juliana bikes, and Momentum MTB Retreat was born.  

Created to provide an inclusive space for women to develop their skills and meet fellow women-identifying riders, this trip included lots of riding, yoga, discussions, and even a little bit of karaoke. All abilities were welcome, and there were no such thing as stupid questions. Juliana Athletes Alex Pavon and Evelyn Dong helped lead the charge, showing that progression is something to be proud of, and that together, women in biking are powerful and capable at all levels. 

Riding Out

Starting with sunrise yoga with the Wasatch watching over, riders stretched out their muscles, warming with the rising sun. 

Then it was time to dive headfirst into a weekend filled with bikes In Park City, focused on challenging and developing riders' ability. With a 5:1 coaching ratio, each rider got specific, personalized coaching on the adjustments and improvement points. By women, for women. Learning from people that look like us has long been proven an effective means of absorbing knowledge and growing skills, and it showed. 

The first day riding was all about getting comfortable on the bike and ensuring each rider understood body positioning, bike handling techniques, and the mechanics of their demos. The Momentum coaches made a point to ensure everyone was familiar with their bike before heading out on the trails. Eventually, the groups broke off. Some practiced technique on flowy trails, others went to learn drops and jumps. But they all came back together at the end of the day, stoked by what they learned and the progress that had been made. Everyone tried something scary and proved to themselves they’re more capable than they thought. 

The second day put everything that had been learned on the first day into practice and action. Riders set out with their coaches on the trails around Park City on a sunny day, where the leaves were just starting to change colors.  

At the beginning there was fear, apprehension, and doubt. People were asked to try things they might not have considered before, to adjust their bodies in new ways, and to leap over mental hurdles. But there were also magical things at play. Things that could only come through in a safe environment. Confidence seeped into each person. Skills were realized. Smiles were plastered on faces. Connections and trust were forged between riders. The mountain bike trails within Park City became an oasis of growth for these women as they experienced what it was like to learn in a community of likeminded individuals. 

Athlete Influence

After a long day of riding, Pro riders gathered around the fire at Campus Salt Lake to discuss what it’s like to be a woman in a sport designed for men. Alex Pavon and Evelyn Dong gave riders a window into their experience as professional women mountain bikers, speaking to their own growth as riders, and highlighting some of their favorite trails. They spoke to who their role models were when they were just starting out, mental tips during a ride such as how to continue a ride after a fall, and looking to the future of women in biking. 

These discussions allowed participants the unique opportunity to hear that even athletes have experienced similar doubts and struggles, and gain insight into any questions, doubts, or experiences they were curious about.

Building Community

Women coaching women in a safe, inclusive environment is an incredible thing to witness, and even more incredible to experience. Everyone was hungry to learn and ready to support each other on every berm, drop, and jump. When women talk about their riding journeys, the number of common experiences is telling. Most of us have doubted ourselves and underestimated our abilities. We often don’t feel like we’re enough. Some of us constantly feel the tug of justifying our ability level to others. (how many of us immediately default to “well I'm pretty slow” when someone asks to ride?) Most of us began our mountain biking journey with men, because that is who was willing to take us. We’ve all had lessons that all sounded the same but were unhelpful. Many of us have heard phrases such as “It’s not that bad,” “All you have to do is keep your weight back,” and a crowd favorite, "Just send it.” As women, we've all had shared experiences, and we’ve all felt alone in these experiences. For many who participated, being taught by someone who looked like them offered a safe space to ask questions without judgment. It provided an atmosphere to try scary things, and to admit that they were scary. For some, it was a place to meet fellow women riders. For others, it was a weekend to make and exceed goals. There was a palpable feeling of togetherness running through the group, of an openness to ask and share, and of support for every woman. 

Not just as women, but as humans, we are all seeking connection, and that’s what this weekend provided. It’s empowering when we can realize that we’re not alone in the apprehensions or self-doubt we place on ourselves. The future is bright for this sport, and we must make a point to provide opportunities to help more women get on bikes, feel comfortable to learn, and feel confident in our abilities. That is the power of simply riding together. We realize that in reality...

We're all doing something incredible, simply by showing up.


If you’re interested in participating in something similar, follow evo’s social channels, or check out evoTrip for upcoming clinics, experiences, and opportunities to ride together.


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