Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Women Involved Series: Meg (Valliant) Pattillo (Sisterhood Of Shred)

Photo Credit: Sisterhood of Shred Film
Meg Pattillo
Check out Sisterhood of Shred on Instagram and Facebook
You can follow Meg on Twitter  
Meg has worked with SF Bike Expo for the last 7 years (this year it's Nov. 22-email is Meg@ridesfo.com and she helps organize events. Meg also coaches with Sweetlines.

Check out Meg's long time sponsor: RideSFO- " I wouldn't be as involved with the cycling community with out them!"

You are creating a documentary called The Sisterhood of Shred-tell us about it.
The Sisterhood of Shred is a full length Documentary about women riders that jump their bikes. Women who push their personal limits, motivate each other and support each other. Hosting their own events has created a place where women can build skills while gaining confidence and friendship. Our goal is not only to see the women at the events, but to also see what they take from these events and how they apply it to their daily lives; how they view women in the sport, and how they build a community when they are so far apart from each other. 

We have covered 3 of 4 events, done lots of interviews and are currently filming segments of our highlighted riders in their home environments. For more information, links to our social media pages and our blog, check out The Sisterhood of Shred. To donate to the film check out our Kickstarter

What inspired you to come up with this documentary and why is the focus on women who mountain bike?
When Kat Sweet told me about getting a Tattoo to represent the community that supports her, The Sisterhood of Shred, I started thinking about the impact riding & sports communities have made and continue to make on my life. So I decided to film the tattoo sessions. This sprouted the idea for the film.

I am constantly inspired by the women who are breaking traditional molds and stepping out onto the trail. This is a part of the Cycling industry that is still in the shadows. I want to bring it to light, to show the growth as well as show people outside of cycling that we are more than just bikes! We are women from around the world, from all walks of life; Coaches, mothers, artists, ironworkers, business women, etc. We have similarities to other communities however ours is one that many women are unaware of.

To you, what is special about the mountain biking and other forms that are male-dominated? (Freeride, BMX, etc.) Why is it important for women to see that they can take on these forms of riding?
It's about the freedom and the fun you can have on your bike. You get out of it what you want to put into it. I learn constantly when I ride and I love that I can ride with friends or alone; with any age group and every time is different. And yes I do like to show off my bruises and scars, I earned each one of them.

I never used to think about things being male dominated: whether riding Bmx, working as a bike mechanic, or in the motion picture industry; to me it was normal to be the only girl. 

Now I see more women than ever out riding. Women see other women having fun and riding; they want to join in. It gives them strength and confidence to go out to try new things that they never thought was possible on and off the bike. It provides positive role models for young women showing them that they can be who they want to be and there are no limits because of their gender. 

What does it mean for you to be a woman who mountain bikes?
For me, being a rider means showing others, including my children, that you don't have to fit the mold. I sure as heck don't. I love being who I am. Be you; go out, enjoy life, risk a little and share it with people.  

Why do you feel women feel so leery or apprehensive about taking on the off-road scene?
I don't feel that women are as leery of the off road scene as they used to be. More women are riding bikes in general so that helps all types of riding.

I think there are many factors that contribute to the apprehensiveness: Some view it as more dangerous than the road. Others had bad experiences on their first rides; even how they were raised can affect how they feel about it.

The way MTB is marketed and covered in media I feel has a lot to do with it as well, although it is slowly changing.  

What do you feel would help encourage women to be inspired to ride off-road?
Increased numbers, the more of us who ride, the more women will see it and the more likely they will be open to riding. The Road, Cyclocross and XC markets are really taking off right now for women, and that will move into other styles of mountain biking as long as we continue to increase our numbers. 
Better marketing and coverage throughout the industry. Companies willing to support us and our events. Bike parks built with progression in mind not as an afterthought. 

One cool thing that is happening is that we are working hard to promote our own. Ladies are starting magazines, forums, blogs, hosting events and hitting the parks, all of this will encourage women to get out and ride. 
Photo Credit: Sisterhood Of Shred Film
Lisa Mason wall ride demo at Sugar Showdown, Seattle

How long have you been riding?
I started riding Bmx in '84 at age 5. Doing small flat landing jumps. I was 20 when I got my first MTB. 2 years later I began racing 4x, dual slalom and DH. A few years ago I decided to focus on jumping, which has always been my favorite part of riding. 

You coach mountain biking-what do you love about being able to help others master the dirt?
I love the smiles of accomplishment! As well as when students share their progress after the lessons. Knowing I helped people achieve their goals. It doesn't matter if it's a small skill or a big jump. The feeling that comes with helping others learn a sport that I am passionate about is super rewarding.

Have you ever had a biff? Was it hard to overcome? How did you heal on the mental/emotional level?
I have had many biffs from riding: a dislocated thumb, torn meniscus, broken tibia, sprained ankles, tennis elbow, and many more. I have even more injuries from my competitive fast pitch days. The biggest one was actually from skateboarding and it still affects me today.

It was a broken Tib / fib and a separation of the ankle joint. The hardest part to overcome wasn't the two surgeries, 8 screws, plate or the pain but the mental blocks that I still struggle with. I broke it dropping in on a 5-6' quarter. 13 yrs later I continue to have a fear of drops, steeps and coping. Sometimes I just panic.

Not sure why this injury was the one that affected me the most. I let it eat at me too long and have since learned how to mentally get past the fear faster. I have been able to build my confidence to new highs the last few years thanks to some super supportive and understanding people. This year I have done some of the biggest drops and jumps I've ever done.

The funniest part of it all... if I hadn't broken my ankle all those years ago I would have never purchased my first mountain bike.  

What do you want people to know about off-road biking and why they should try it?
I want people to know that off road riding can be rewarding in so many ways, mentally and physically. It can challenge you if you want it to or can just be an easy peaceful ride. If you don't try it you won't know what you're missing. And you don't need the fanciest bike at the start.

As with any type of activity, it’s not for everyone, however I highly suggest everyone to try it and more than once. Go with a good coach or a patient friend; just avoid the friend who sends you down a trail you're not ready for. Don't forget, there is more than one style of mountain biking; find what's right for you.

What would you like to see happen for women in the off-road scene? What needs to happen?
Equality. Although women are making leaps and bounds, the industry has yet to fully accept women, especially in the freeride front. It's hard to get support and sponsors for ladies events, get equal pay for pros, and get media or to get a ladies class without having to ask them to add one.

Progression. The more we progress the more attention we will get from the industry and outside sources. Numbers alone will not get is to where our sport deserves to be. Women's professional traditional sports, snowboarding and surfing are great examples. Also for us jumpers we need to check out the amazing progression the ladies Bmx scene has going on right now; the Bmx industry is taking notice. I am so pumped about what I am seeing from the ladies right now.

We need to continue to spread the word about bikes. Be a part of cycling communities. Find each other and go ride! Keep supporting each other and pushing our limits. We can do amazing things if we work hard together. 
Photo Credit: Sisterhood Of Shred
Corey Coffey boostin' during the lady train at Sugar Showdown at Burlington bike park

With the documentary, what has been the most inspiring moment for you so far?
There are too many to count! I've gotten an overwhelming response to the doc. Great interviews, mid trail nods, emails, letters and phone calls. One that comes to mind is when our Instagram got tagged on a video from a kid who wanted me to see her one hander.  

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