Friday, September 4, 2015

Women Involved: Kim Godfrey

I race pro downhill mountain bikes and am constantly reading, training, and doing whatever I can to improve my skills as an athlete. Lucky for me, I love that shit. I’m also a graphic designer in the outdoor industry, which feeds my creative side.

Instagram: Kgodfrey52
Twitter: @KimGodfrey52

When did you first start riding a bike?
When I was about five my parents got me a little pink bike with the classic banana seat, basket, handlebar tassels, and training wheels. Once those wheels came off I can still remember my dad helping me learn to ride and turn around at the end of the block. I was deathly afraid of having to turn around and balance without those training wheels!

I first got on the path to mountain biking when I was 25 and did my first offroad triathlon. The bike course was on a trail that wound through trees, was sandy and narrow at times, it was so exhilarating – I didn’t realize bikes could race on trails like this! The next year I signed up for the Xterra triathlon at Keystone, CO and learned what real trails were. I did the sport course and simply finishing was a victory. I had zero skill and kept bashing my pedals on rocks because I didn’t know to keep level pedals. At that race they had a sit-down with the pros (Melanie McQuaid, Josiah Middaugh, and Candy Angle) where the amateurs could ask questions. I didn’t understand half of the bike jargon that was being tossed around, but the passion and depth of knowledge these pros had for bikes is what drew me in. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  After that, every weekend was another ride and I registered for another race.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Training and racing is what makes me feel the most like myself, so I’ve made it a big part of my life. I also LOVE speed. In a car I’ll get a ticket if I go too fast, at a ski resort they’ll pull my pass, but on a bike no one ever tells me to slow down, they actually get out of my way!

Besides mountain biking, are there other styles of cycling you enjoy? (road/paved, gravel, commute, etc.)
I’ve tried nearly every bicycle discipline, and the gravity kinds are my favorite. After trying to become a strong climber while racing triathlons and XC for six years, it was clear that pedaling uphill wasn’t for me. Besides downhill, dual slalom is my next favorite. It’s fast, requires skill, and is so competitive and fun. I also love a ride on a good cruiser bike. Even though I fumble with the coaster brakes every time, once I get going I can’t help but ring the bell and smile.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Exhausted! Always trying to keep up, I was really inefficient with zero skill. I walked a lot of rocks, and had to stop all the time on climbs before I made it to the top.
 
Photo Credit: Fredrik Marmsater
If you have nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I have a process I always use if I’m nervous about riding something for the first time. I’ll look at the feature, walk it, watch someone else ride it, roll up to it, and if I feel I can do it, then go back up one more time to hit it. Before hitting the feature that first time I’ll stop to settle my racing heart, set my intentions, exhale one big breath and then go for it. Hesitation is what makes most of us crash, so it’s key to find that courage to accept that this is what you’re going to ride.

Do you use clipless pedals? Why or why not and do you have tips/suggestions for people who are on the fence either way?
I started clipless from the beginning, but I missed out of how to properly feel and ride a bike. If I had to do it over again, I would begin on flats. It teaches you how to ride smooth in ways that clipless can’t. Ten years later I’m just now learning to ride flats.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
I struggled with anything and everything technical, particularly climbing up ledges (I still do). Coaching and good friends helped me immensely. Most skills on the bike are not intuitive and need to be learned.

Have you had any biffs (accidents) that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Oh yes, I’ve had numerous “biffs” over the years, but breaking my collarbone was the worst. I had just started learning to dirt jump and made great progress. We went back the second day to the same jumps and I was cocky, ready to show off my new skill. I didn’t warm up and just went for it. I cased the gap and slammed down on my shoulder. I balled my eyes out as my friend drove me home. Yes my collarbone hurt, and I’m pretty sure he did every bump on the road, but I was emotionally wrecked. All the training I did over the winter, all the training I had planned for the next couple months…gone. It was 9 weeks until I was back on my DH.

I was eager to get my strength back and did everything I could to stay active until I was back on the bike. So there were slow boring hikes and spins on the trainer. I go to an indoor rock climbing gym (I love their weight room), and people must have laughed when they saw me walk in there to train with my arm in a sling. Once I was back on the bike I was super timid and it took me a while to get back up to speed. But little by little I got there. It’s all about baby steps.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I get to go fast.
Sweet redemption at the Mammoth Pro GRT with 2nd place
Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Downhill: Canfield Brothers Jedi. It’s a race bike that’s designed for speed.
Dual slalom/dirt jumper: Black Market Killswitch. Its a full suspension jump bike that’s playful and great on a dual slalom track. I made it into Sea Otter’s dual slalom pro finals on that baby!
Trail: Specialized Enduro. My first gravity bike and is super capable. I even raced a bunch of my 12 hour downhill races on this bike and did quite well!
XC: Specialized Epic Marathon. It was my xc race bike, and now when my mom visits she loves to ride it. It’s pink. I was nicknamed PBK (Pink Bike Kim)
Road: Fuji Roubaix. It lives on the trainer. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Alpinestars: Their body armor and clothing is comfortable and has amazing quality. The shorts and pants fit better than any other brand. But of course – it’s Italian!
Optic Nerve: Stylish sunglasses and goggles, they’re local in Colorado.
Onza tires and Novatec wheels: I’m still amazed with how well these two brands set up tubeless. It’s such a perfect fit that I can setup my wheels with just a floor pump, no fancy tricks needed.
HT pedals: The flat pedals feel super sticky, and I’m testing a new clipless prototype; it’s low profile, has enough traction if I’m not clipped in, and feels secure. I can’t wait until I can get a production set with color!
Marzocchi Suspension: I’m running the 380 fork and Moto C2R shock and they feel amazing. Their suspension super adjustable with many dials, but could be daunting if you don’t know how to tune suspension.
Canfield Brothers: Bike frames. These brothers have been freeriding and racing at a high level for a long time, they know how to build a great bike frame.
Renthal handlebars: High quality materials with a solid feel.
And keep your eyes open for Umbo helmets. It’s a new helmet designed to prevent concussions in ways that other helmets can’t. I admire the devotion and research this company is doing, they’re going to help a lot of people.
Photo Credit: Fredrik Marmsater
What inspired you to become a mountain bike coach?
Someone else believing in me. I’ve never considered myself the teaching/coaching type, but Sarah Rawley had asked me if I wanted to guest coach for a clinic. It was that moment of her believing in me that sparked my interest in coaching. Now I look forward to every opportunity I have to help someone learn more about bikes!

What inspired you to become involved with VIDA MTB?
Vida is such an encouraging environment for women, and it’s all so positive. I was stoked when they needed me as a coach.

Why do you feel new (or seasoned) riders should look into mountain bike clinics like VIDA MTB? 
Mtb is all about skill. If you want to progress, there’s always some skill we can learn or improve.

What has been one of your most inspiring moments since being involved with VIDA MTB?
Watching my girls go through drills and eventually see it click. They get so excited about learning new things, it’s contagious.

With coaching, what is one of the most common situations you've had to deal with when it comes to new mtb riders?
They get far back on the bike, becoming out of balance when they approach something scary, which just makes things even scarier. I like to put a lot of emphasis on good riding position so they’re better prepared to ride challenging features.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
The fear of falling and getting hurt? The fear that they aren’t skilled enough? It’s a male dominated sport, but the women that ride prove that we too can shred and get those shit-eating grins!
 
What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Better media coverage of women’s competition, whether it’s racing or slopestyle. Most of the media we see is men, which leads people to believe these sports are for them. The idea of “if she can do it” is very powerful, we need to see more women out there in order to inspire the rest.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I want them to discover how much fun and freedom a bike has to offer.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I was the first runner-up for the junior national water polo team.

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