Friday, August 21, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Brandy Wirtz

I'm a single mom of one daughter, daredevil diva, rock star aerial Chain artist, expressing the world through motion and with strength and flexibility. I was born and raised in San Diego and I lived in Montréal, Quebec for 4 years on and off while training Aerial and doing performances. My almost 5 year old daughter and I now live in Escondido.

I’ve always been the quiet type to watch and listen. Arts, dance and movement trough 3 dimensional space was where I was most comfortable. My parents put me into sports immediately as they saw that I thrived on it. Gymnastics was my first love and then soccer for over a decade. I was coached by the same coach as Greg Luganis for diving. I went back into gymnastics as an adult. I was always an extremely competitive person.

This brought me to the circus life where I found my true passion, my POP (purpose on planet).

I created a unique act on chains in the air that has evolved and metamorphosised over the years in many different forms. My life has been filled with feeling and the essence of being in the moment. I practice compassion and empathy for every creature every day. I'm a Vegan Athlete.

When did you first start riding a bike?
I first started riding a bike at a young age around 4 years old.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
My family was a huge influence in me riding bikes. I tried Veledrome at Morley Field.  We did 50 and 100 mile rides as I hit my teens. One was Tecate~Ensenada in Mexico. Then my Grandparents took me on a coastal ride where we rode a certain amount of miles per day stopping for lunches and our hotel stays.  My Grandfather John was an avid road biker, and was always helping less fortunate acquire bikes.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
My favorite style bike race event would be Downhill, Dual Slalom a very close second, BMX racing 3rd. I love the exhilaration of gravity pulling me down the hill letting my bike take me where it has flow, massive ruts, and technical rock sections, jump lines and railing berms. I want to be a rad free rider throwing crazy tricks in the very near future. But I need a coach. To me Freeride, Slope Style is the closest thing to flying and I already do that in the circus arts, so why not on a bike?

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
The first time I rode a mountain bike it was a bit intimidating and scary.

If you have nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
If I happen to feel nervous while I'm practicing or racing mountain bikes I will jump around and shake off extra energy, push-ups, do some dynamic stretches, and visualize attacking the trail taking precise lines and clearing everything...seeing myself hit that finish line with 150%  :)

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I use Clipless for downhill and every other bike racing I do. The best saying is "Clip in to win". For me the easiest was doing XC rides on long flat lands to get used to clipping in and out. Then I added in technical XC features, then downhill. If I ever feel a new place may be too sketchy I bring my flats as a backup plan. But I feel way more secure with clips. It's 1 less thing I have to think about so I can charge the mountain.

Have you had any biffs or situations that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I have definitely gone flying. Hurt shoulder, scrapes and bars to the stomach. Over the bars, and my specialty...gear shifter raking my thighs. Ouch! All of these heal, just some bruises, scrub gravel from the wounds, apply Tagederm and go again. 

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
When I first started, if I got going too fast, I’d be in the bushes right quick. Also, I would look at the big rock and say "Don't hit the rock" and then hit it. I'm maneuvering much better now. I only look ahead at the line I want to hit. 

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky?
Uphill technical rock gardens, very steep technical, rock waterfalls, and I am starting to clear open doubles. Clearing 27.5 tabletops is easy, take the middle out and it messes with your head. I have learned to follow a person at the speed needed to land it safely and commit!  

What do you love about DH vs. other styles of mtb?
The speed you get flying down the mountains, and having gravity with you. It is the closest thing to flying when you hit jump lines. I'm such a huge adrenaline junkie. Faster, gnarly features with tons of berms, singles, step-downs, and step-ups the better. I love to leave the ground and get air.

What has been one of your most favorite DH experiences?
Clearing the newer jump line at snow summit, I screamed for joy as I was "braaping." Also, getting down the entire Fontana Expert/Pro course the last time I was there. I raced Sport, but worked on growing skills. I'm hopefully moving up a class soon.

What do you love about riding your bike (in general)?
It makes me feel like I'm in the most present state out of anything I do next to doing my Aerial Acrobatics.  

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have an older Airborne Taka. It has a DVO Emerald with 8 inch travel, and the DVO Jade for the rear shock. I call it "The Beast" the frame alone is 40lbs. I can still push that sucker around. I love it, but it is time for an upgrade. I would love the new 2015 or 2016 Airborne Pathogen in Neon Yellow. It is my dream and goal to one day soon be on the Airborne team, a girl can wish. I also have a Santa Cruz Solo or 5010. it is smooth as butter, 650B great trail bike for all around everything, and a great climbing bike. I have a 20' Cult BMX freestyle bike, a Fuji Cyclocross bike, and a 23 year old Cannondale road bike. I love all my bikes. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love my One Industries Misfits kits. The Spy Optics Klutch Goggles. But I really love to bomb down the hills in Catsuits Meoooow! I'm know as Catwoman or Kitty because I wear Lycra-Spandex Zentai Catsuits fully covered in tiger striping or spots.   

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
That fact that you can really get hurt. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Nothing... It is what it is. There are now meet-ups, and girls go out on girl rides together more often. Also, riding with the guys helps to push the ladies to get faster, which is who I ride with. 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Learning from the Groms, following those fast tiny shredders down the hill. They inspire me and wow me every time. 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I've traveled the world for 16 years with my Aerial Chain act I created and have done many forms of Aerial throughout the years. You may have seen me grace the stages with Motley Crue during the "Carnival of Sins" tour from 2005-06

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