Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Women Involved: Kellie Weinert

I'm a 19 yr old student studying a sports and exercise science degree, who loves to go out riding, socially and in competition. Just having fun all around!

I Study at uni, work 3 jobs (barista, swim instructor and receptionist for an osteopath). I also train to keep improving fitness for cycling competition and general health.
I’m involved with helping the young children/some with disabilities learn to swim/gain confidence in water. 

I also help young girls get into sport of mtb, encouraging when they are at different races (it's only 2 years since I've started!) and hopefully once my coaching course is complete I can do that on a more professional level!

I love riding on anything with wheels! Grew up on motocross and now primarily focus on downhill, love gravity Enduro and the odd bit if cross country racing (enjoy riding it a regular social level.)

You are involved with DHaRCO- how did that happen and why are they a great company to be part of?
I became involved with DHaRO through a photo shoot on the northern beaches for their new range. Mandy and Mathieu are great people, are always at races, and are involved with all of the NSW/ACT races. The clothing is amazing! I have had a few big crashes in their gear and there haven’t been any tears or even scuff marks on them. The colour range is great as well, there is something for everyone. Also having a female specific range, allows us girls to look fashionable on and off the trail.

As a younger woman, what are some of the challenges you've faced since you started competing? How have you grown?
Since beginning I have struggled with gaining confidence and believing in my own abilities on the bike. Through constant pushing and challenging myself I have been able to understand where my limits are and how best to extend them. Also riding with people that are faster than me has enabled me to become faster myself as I'm always trying to keep up!

Do you have any tips or suggestions for women who want to compete, but never have? (could be for a local race, etc.)
Starting in local club races is always a great start! Everyone in the racing scene is of  great character and throughout my experiences anyone and everyone is always willing to give a helping hand in any aspect of the sport. 
Club races are lots of fun and even the state races are great! 
If you can, maybe find someone to go along with, you'll have a great time working it out together and you'll know at least open person there! 

Most of all have fun while you’re doing it; if you're not having fun then you aren't doing it right!

What has been the most inspirational moment for you with aiding young women with mountain biking?
There isn't any particular moment that stands out. It's the pure joy I feel when I have helped someone overcome a fear or a problem that they were having, be it on or off the bike is all I need to know I am helping to make a difference. Seeing everyday people throw a leg over the bike and knowing I can help them is very inspirational, more often than not those that I help always teach me something new!

What do you feel is a common concern with young women and mountain biking?
The typical stereotype "it’s a male sport."
Speaking from experience I was apprehensive because it’s mainly men that ride, but coming from a motocross background I realized it couldn't be that different. Many girls would feel apprehensive for the same reasons and they some care about what the boys think of them and so they won’t try it in case they embarrass themselves.

Why is it important for you to be a positive role model in the mtb industry?
I think it’s important to be a positive role model because it needs to be put on the map. Not many people know about Downhill or MTB and if there are new faces constantly being positive role models, more people will hopefully take notice!
Being a female role model is also important to get more girls into the sport; hopefully they think "Well if she can do it, why can’t I?"

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
In the next five years I will hopefully be finished uni and would love to combine my degree with my New MTB level one coaching accreditation and offer new and existing riders coaching. Also provide treatment for the injuries/niggles/pains they may have, whether they be related to MTB or not.
For myself and racing I would love to travel overseas to compete in the Whistler crank works and race a world cup (hopefully cups) overseas. 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Mainly the thought that it's all competitive, they feel that to be there they need to be fast, I know I felt that way... Also coming back to the male dominated side of things, I think most women would feel intimidated, and think it is too hard for them. But another rider took me under their wing and taught me it's about having fun and enjoying every moment, ultimately that's what I hope I can show other females interested in beginning mountain biking. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
We need more female orientated and focused rides, whether it be ride days, training sessions, skills camps or even a female only race. There are many around already such as women on wheels or the new she rides program, but we need more to really our females and mtb on the Map.

Do you feel there are changes that could be made to the professional side of racing/riding that would be beneficial for women?
Males tend to be the primary focus of cycling, whether it be road, track or mountain biking, women are the minority and thus many feel intimidated in the competitive racing environment. It's a long shot but a female only development team would be amazing and I feel would do wonders for women in any sport, not only mountain biking. There are so many girls out there that ride a bike just as good, if not better than their male counterparts and those women need to be given greater recognition in their sporting endeavors. 
You could argue that men have more opportunities, it reaches the pinnacle of their sport through greater funding, and a female orientated grassroots or development team/program would be taking a step forward for all women and girls in mountain biking.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
We need more females to be confident in a male dominated sport. Seeing people want to begin riding is great. I can take my mum for example. She never really knew how to ride a bike properly and with the rest if the family riding began riding a roadie. After 6 months she rode to Queensland!! (Of which she talked me into doing next year)... She also completed a mountain biking program and is more confident that she ever has been! She is going to try and conquer the Thredbo flow trail in the near future! 

Seeing so many women, just like mum, taking part in the mountain biking program and seeing how much fun they had inspires me to be able to provide an environment for women just like them to begin riding! The reward would be seeing them having fun and learning so many different skills :)

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