This article will serve as a collection of stories and resources related to making mountain biking a more inclusive and welcoming sport.
There’s no need to post statistics about mountain biker demographics to demonstrate that the sport is overwhelmingly populated by white men. At any trailhead, bike shop, race, or industry event, the vast majority of people in attendance are from similar social groups, and often enjoy similar privileges. I recently attended a press camp where there were about ten other mountain bike journalists, and every last one of us was a white dude in his 30s. My peers were all lovely humans in their own unique ways but by no means were we a diverse crew.
Broadening the diversity of our trail population has the potential to get more people stoked on the sport, and bring new ideas to the fore that are rooted in different peoples’ lived experiences, while refreshing outdated ones. Furthermore, it would add a broader wealth of skill sets to work with challenges in our sport, such as trail access, trail signage and planning, urban trail development, and better product and clothing design for everyone. For more on the positive benefits of diversity, check out this article from Scientific America, or this piece published in the Harvard Business Review.
Common themes on how to diversify a group of people often circle around representation and inclusivity/integration. In order to have our interests piqued, and start to look into doing new things on our own accord, we want to see that there are other people like us participating and that those people are welcomed by the community. Apart from economic barriers, this is a huge piece of the diversifying puzzle. What can we do to share our love of mountain biking with a broader range of folks?
For concrete examples of inclusivity, ask a female-identified shred friend how she feels when she walks into a bike shop full of cool dudes to pick up some brake pads on her way to the mountains for the weekend. There is a good chance she doesn’t feel listened to, respected, or represented by the staff.
What steps could be taken to encourage and foster a more diverse mountain bike population? How do we get more people of color, younger riders, older riders, more women, more people from the LGBTQ+ community, more people with unique physical abilities, more military veterans, and generally EVERYONE in on the amazing joy that is mountain biking? Below is an ever-growing collection of articles about people and organizations working to answer these questions.
Groups supporting and encouraging women
- Check out this podcast where Leah and Jeff discuss ways to get more women involved in mountain biking.
- Here is another podcast chat about women’s mountain bikes.
- Top ten women’s mountain bike skills camps to attend.
- Here is an interview with Women’s Slopestyle Tour coordinator Stephanie Nychka.
- The Hopetch Women’s Enduro brings gravity fun to the UK.
- Roam Bike Fest Sedona brings ladies together under the warm Arizona sunshine.
- BikHer MTB community in northern Italy throws parties in the alps for all of the shreddy ladies.
- Sturdy Dirty Enduro is a highly competitive and equally party-driven women’s only series.
- Women are learning cool new skills across the US with Ladies AllRide.
- Here is Singletracks co-founder Leah Barber’s account of Roam Bike Fest East.
- News on IMBA’s Uprising women’s summit.
- Guided MTB tours in Nepal is led by local women.
- Dig In is IMBA’s women’s MTB blog.
Groups supporting and encouraging youth
- The coaches at Little Bellas are mentoring and empowering girls and young women on mountain bikes.
- Here is some info on IMBA’s “Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day” events.
- Benefits of youth mountain biking programs.
- Singletracks National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) archives, with loads of info on the organization.
- Check out this MTB summer camp for kids with learning diverse challenges.
- Why mountain biking is good for kids.
Groups and people working toward additional inclusivity
- Pro DH racer, Kate Weatherly, is a role model and advocate for transgender riders and athletes in any sport.
- Wounded Warrior Project hosts rides for wounded US military veterans.
Folks working to make mountain biking more accessible and affordable
- Spinlister allows you to rent out your bike when you’re not using it.
- This library in Maine checks out mountain bikes like books.
Let us know about any groups we’ve missed, and share your ideas for spreading the stoke further!