Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Women Involved Series: AJ Sura

Meet AJ! She was born and raised in the Detroit area, venturing to Southern California after college to pursue big opportunities.
Not of the athletic sort, AJ fell in love with the canyons and went on her first trail mile in 1996. Falling in love with running, she found the desire to explore grew. On her runs she would see bikes ride by and finally curiosity got to her- “where were they going?!” 
In 2007 she purchased her first mountain bike and the rest is history!

Check out G2 Bike and GIRLS RIDE 2 on: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

You own a business: G2 Bike. What inspired you to get involved with the cycling industry?
I met my boyfriend 3 ½ years ago on a blind MTB date; he spotted me on STRAVA!  He sent me a message asking me to go on a ride, so we met up and rode MTB’s together. After dating for some time and shared a mutual love and passion for cycling, we decided to open G2 Bike in November 1st 2012.  I wanted to make a difference, to DO everything different and right in the industry. Bring in my own unique perspective as a consumer to the business, not follow the typical path and be cookie cutter, also to treat customers how I would want to be treated.

Tell us about G2 and the type of rider you draw in; what is your specialty?
G2 Bike is a small yet growing business! We are actually relocating to a bigger space January 1st 2015 as we have outgrown our 1,000 sq foot space in just two short years. We have a small shop mentality with big ideas. I think of us like David and Goliath; we are small but we are mighty! Our service is out in the open; you can watch your bike being repaired, ask questions etc. Everything we sell at G2 we ride, use, wear or consume. We have to love it and believe it

WE think outside the box with the successful G2 Hill repeats, Girls Ride 2 MTB groups, our G2 Crew CX team, G2 Spin sessions, classes, clinics, coaching and local teams we support. We also offer Bite Me Kitchen as a food service and Altitude training for our clients. Our clients are MTB’ers, Tri-athletes, roadies and CX’ers. Our aim is to also position ourselves as a women oriented/focused shop by carrying women specific products. I’d have to say during CX season we are the “go to shop”. 

What is the best part about being hands on in the bike world?
Customer feedback. The comments, high-fives, and compliments you get are all the motivation you need to know you’re doing it right! The energy! It’s the stories from all the athletes telling you the race they are leaving for or the one they just came from, and the adventures of the first timers who tried something new.

Have there been challenges you've faced because you are a woman in a male-dominated industry?
This is a whole new post, so I’ll keep it short!  Being in the corporate world is really no different; doesn’t matter if I am wearing my suit during the day or a t-shirt at night, it’s a male dominated world.  I don’t let it bother me and I use it to my advantage. If you don’t tell them who you are, you’ll get a lot more information! HA! I love to have male customers talk to me and then at the end I put my hand out to shake theirs and I say “nice to have met you, I am AJ the owner”.  The look of sheer shock or “terror” is hilarious! I let the results speak for themselves, and so far G2 Bike is making a huge splash! So men beware, this girl is making her way! I think men respect me because I demand it. 

Tell us about Girls Ride 2 and what the group is all about!
The Girls Ride 2 Women’s program was developed by women, for women, who believe in building community through a passion for cycling. Our rides, clinics, and events are designed to build confidence on and off the bike; to empower women to set and achieve their personal goals. We ride all over the Southern California area.

Why is it important to have a group that women can join to learn mtb basics?
The common theme among women is they want to learn to ride but they went on ONE ride with their husband or boyfriend and the story always ends the same, “never again.” Women feel uncomfortable riding with men, or they just want the comradery of other women; to form friendships and bonds. It provides a safe warm friendly atmosphere to ask questions and make mistakes without feeling embarrassed. 

What has been the greatest thing about having a woman's group associated with G2 Bike?
It has made us more aware of the needs in the market place we now stock a full selection of women specific MTB/Road bikes, saddles, clothing and chamois cream. We do women specific clinics for everything from flat tires to basic care for your bike. We are a better versed, more prepared shop for women specific needs. 

Why is it important for a local shop to open doors to women and welcome them in?
It’s a market many forget about and if the industry as a whole wants to sell more bikes and get more people pedaling, they need to pay attention to what the females are saying. I think it will help grow local events and the race scene, which severely lacks women. Women want to be empowered and in return they will empower you.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
FEAR
! Intimidation of it being a “men in baggy shorts” sport. The first time they rode, most likely their “male companion” had a really nice bike. He probably has been riding for a long time and took them down an awful trail that scared them or they got hurt on. Because of that they have a fear. It’s about learning the basics, gaining confidence, and kicking arse! 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Creating positivity amongst the women and finding a balance in groups. You can have a women’s specific bike, the right gear, the right instruction, but you have to be riding with the right people to make it all click. I think finding more like minded women that you “click with” really helps. It’s really up to “us” women in my opinion, to be leaders and cheerleaders to other women. 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Telling my story and how pedaling has changed my life! How it made me more confident, bold, successful. It’s great for getting rid of stress, making friends, and building a family and network through cycling. Lastly the messages I receive weekly of the inspiring stories women share with me that they got through riding with the Girls Ride 2 group or something they saw cycling related I did.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I was named after a race horse!


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