The world of professional surfing will finally see equal payouts for women and men who compete in the sport starting in 2019, and those shredders couldn’t be more stoked. Female athletes deserve the same level of representation, respect, and support as the men in their chosen endeavors, and by the force of their own hard efforts, they are getting it. Women in a wide variety of sports are building communities to support one another, and there are new events specifically aimed at getting more women involved in the fun.
It’s no secret that in the dirt world women are taking to the trails in droves. Organizations like Liv’s Ladies Allride, the Sturdy Dirty Enduro series, Little Bellas, Elle Riders, and many others are creating a space for women to come together and grow their shreddy stoke while creating a stalwart community.
In northern Italy, BikHer is one such community, building and bolstering a bro-free environment of fun. I recently caught up with some of the women who are working to grow that community, and they were happy to share their stories.
When and how did you go about starting BikHer? Who else was involved in getting things going?
BikHer was born almost 3 years ago, in October 2016. It started with some pretty messy ideas, that became stronger and stronger after our first event in Caldirola Bike Park. That was our beginning. Dani and Gaia are BikHer staff from the early days, and a couple of other girls have helped us for some time. The nice thing is that we receive free help from several girls that love the project. You can consider us as a duo, and though there have been ups and downs, we have now more than 3,300 followers on our social media accounts. For us this is really motivating!!
How is the organization run? Do you promote and organize all on your own?
We manage the project in all 360 degrees! Dani takes care of the enduro / all mountain scene, and everything connected with our layout, from the flyers to the graphic design.
Gaia is the DH-addicted member, taking care of the events at the bike parks and she organizes gravity classes with the best schools in Italy.
We always get our main sponsor Fox involved to be part of the project, since we get a lot of help from the crew, and particularly from our mechanic, suspension guru Tyrone.
Is there a manifesto or vision-statement that encompasses what you all aim to do with the group?
“Be Strong, Be Girly, Be BikHer” could sum up well what we want to communicate with our project. Girls should consider outdoor activities as something positive, and as a good time to meet new friends and share experiences and fun! It’s all about being independent and strong but being a girl at the same time. Why do so many people think that girls “can not do it”?
MTB is special: it teaches you your limits and to fight against them, as you do in everyday life.
Which companies and organizations support BikHer?
We can say that Fox suspensions adopted 2 girls! Two years ago Mr. Tyrone Dines (we should say thanks to him daily) decided to involve BikHer in the Fox Ambassadors program, and we received the best help and the best and latest products to ride, and we helped them to test with many tunes from the Fox Factory Tune program.
We are also supported by EtheN, who offers a great product designed for BikHer, and we have some personal sponsors such as MadisonClothing, Urge, and Double3 Clothing.
What are some of the gatherings/events you have set up in the past?
In 3 years we have organized a lot of events and meetings with a lot of girls coming from northern and central Italy. We are always thinking of new spots to ride and we mix the riding styles, from bike-park to pumptrack sessions to all-mountain tours in wild valleys. We also love to meet for the Finale Ligure 24H race in June. The race is a lot of fun and always a big effort too, but the point of BikHer is more to ride it and have fun together! In 2018 we had 3 strong teams of 4 riders each.
Do you have any favorite annual events that you look forward to?
Apart from Finale Ligure 24H, every year we organize different events and we would like to push girls to ride more, to move, to discover new trail, new bike park, a new way of riding a bicycle, to open their mind, to enjoy completely this beautiful sport, and to travel with the bike. To find their own and special way to live the bike. This is a real ladies’ way of doing things!
What are some of the ways the BikHer community supports newer female riders?
As we said before, by showing all the possible riding modes to the Girls, and by organizing some riding classes with the best schools and teachers and guides. Downhill Academy, for example, organizes classes only for women and we promote these events suggesting the new female riders to take part. But It’s also very important to share our own skills with the girls that have less experience. For this reason, our events are always a mix of fun and learning.
In addition to large women’s group rides, what are some skills or fitness courses you focus on?
We suggest to ride and ride again. If the weather of the season doesn’t allow you to take your bike and go out, we recommend practicing some good Yoga to train the Core or some specific training in the gym. In the spring we worked with a personal trainer in Turin to help learn the proper steps for training. It’s so important to maintain a good balance while riding.
What are some things you personally get out of working with BikHer?
I think we can say we have less time for us, our races, our friends sometimes… but it’s so satisfying being a reference point for the women’s gravity world in Italy!
How do you feel about the future of the women’s mountain bike sport in Italy?
MTB is increasing and the women are too! There are more girls involved in races, more girls that contact us to join our events, and a lot of brands that are producing women-specific products! It’s such an honor to be here and be so active in this specific moment. We think in a way we really started this. There was no women’s group when we started here in Italy, and since then we have organized roughly an event per month.
What direction would you like to see BikHer go in the future? What would you like to add or change about events, or about the organization as a whole?
We would like to bring our experience to the next level: we would like to represent a focal point for a lot of girls and to organize events around Europe, in countries where there are more girls interested in riding. We have a lot of new ideas for next year. The most important thing for us is to have fun while organizing events and feeling the girls’ enthusiasm. Don’t forget that BikHer is made from passion, that will last forever!
How can women who visit Italy find out more about events?
We have an official Facebook page where we post inspirational articles and all our future events. FOLLOW US! We are going to create an Instagram page soon.
If you are a gravity-loving lady planning a vacation near the Alps, you will want to check the BikHer Facebook calendar for events before you book your flight. Dani and Gaia have a wealth of knowledge about all things mountain bike in Italy, and they will be the folks to contact if you need help deciding where to go or what to bring for riding in and around the northern and central peninsula.
In addition to running BikHer, both Gaia and Dani also race gravity events, work full-time jobs as a gas vendor and an architect, respectively, and maintain packed social calendars. You can follow their race efforts through their individual social media accounts.
Is there an organization in your area working to get more people off the couch and on the trail? Tell us about it in the comments below.