Monday, January 16, 2017

Women Involved Series: Meagan Broughton

Smiles all around at Joyride 150’s annual Women’s Weekend!
Sacred Rides is a proud sponsor of it and I’m the lucky lady
who gets to give out a trip to one lucky winner!
I’m seen here with my BFF and
Women’s Weekend coach, Charlotte Batty.
Hey there, well, my full name is Alice-Meagan Broughton, but you can just call me Meg. I’m lucky enough to call Collingwood, Ontario, Canada home, boasting some of the provinces most technical singletrack, longest downhill runs, and picturesque country roads.

By day, I’m the Operations Director with Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures, ranked "Best Mountain Bike Tour Company on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure.
By night, you’ll find me out shredding our local trails (like at our Tuesday Night Race Series), planning an event (like the Blue Mountain DH Women’s Weekend), or creating something delicious to fuel my body (like these mouthwatering dishes).

One thing for sure, I’m constantly striving to create, build and foster a community dedicated to learning, progressing and conquering new skills on the trails, in the gym, or in the kitchen!

Tell us about your #bikelife and how that has influenced your life/career?
My biking adventures started as a kid, riding a purple cruiser with a banana seat and white tassels flowing out of the handlebars. I ripped around the neighborhood, off curbs and through every puddle I could find. Come to think of it, I remember closing my eyes if I was about to run into something or someone (instead of avoiding the obstacle) and my older neighbor getting mad at me for my lack of skill and knowledge. I’ll show her!

As a teenager, my interest for adventure sport grew strong, although I had no real influence, mentor or teacher, stunting my progression until my 20’s. Similar to many women I know – for better or for worse – a boyfriend introduced me to the sport of mountain biking. I soon realized mountain biking was so much more than a sport: it’s a community, a reason to travel, a lifestyle.
I moved on to coaching, getting coached (there is so much to learn!), racing for fun, and now, I have the opportunity to explore the world by mountain bike with my work: Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Alive (and probably scared!).

If you had nervousness at all, what did you do or think to overcome it?
For me, nervousness or fear is derived from the unknown. By getting coached, light is shed by demonstration, explanation and practice. I’ve always been a huge fan of skill development, and still to this day, seek instruction.

I feel blessed to have Blue Mountain 
in my backyard, offering a super fun 
Tuesday Night RaceSeries. 
I’m seen here racing to a 3rd place finish! 
Photo Courtesy of: Jason Petznick
Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional
level?
My first mountain biking crash to note was descending a switch back. I was still very new to mountain biking (on true mountain biking trails), and the idea of maneuvering myself and my bike around a tight turn was totally new to me. With the fear mentioned above gushing through my veins, I focused on the drop off a couple of feet away from the trailside, instead of where I wanted to go. And, as we all know, you go where you look. I am now blessed with a foot long scar on my left thigh.

What did you do to heal and overcome?
Oddly, I think what really helped me was moving from a 26’er to a 29’er. I sought advice from coach friends of mine for any suggestions on the transition from a 26’er to a 29’er. The one piece of common advice that repeated from all who I asked was “just take it wide”. And “wider than you think is necessary”. So I did, and success prevailed. Still to this day, every single switchback I ride, I secretly say to myself “just take it wide and look where you’re going”.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Everything was challenging. Really.
I would say the one skill that moved me up from the beginner level was simply standing up. Get your butt out of the saddle! With mountain biking, you need to be ready, and you are nowhere near ready if your are sitting.
Here are a few key elements of the “ready” position:
head - hovering over your top tube
shoulders - low
elbows - flexed and angled as an extension of your handlebars
hands - pointer finger hovering over your brakes
hips - centered over your bike
knees - flexed and ready to absorb obstacles
feet - level pedals while coasting or descending

What do you love about riding your bike?
The answer to this has changed over time, but I’d say today, it’s all about spending quality time in the great outdoors with even greater people.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
BIKE #1: Trek Remedy 9
I demo’d a Trek Remedy in Moab, and totally fell in love. It was on my wish list for a while and I  finally made it happen. I’m. In. Love. This is the first dual suspension bike I have owned, and I was a little worried it would slow me down while climbing (not my strong suit). Much to my surprise, the  Trek Remedy 9 is a climbing machine! And descending? Oh. My. It just floats down the most  technical of descents. Once I played around with the rebound, it airs as smooth as my DH bike!
BIKE #2: Santa Cruz V10
Well, this purchase was when I was still riding a carbon, 29’er hardtail (a Trek Superfly which I truly adored for other reasons). Need I say more?

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Cycling in general, possibly the financial commitment. Mountain Biking, possibly the idea that it is “hardcore”.

Tell us about Sacred Rides and how you originally became involved with the company?
I was originally hired to research, design and launch a line of women’s mountain bike adventures  around the world. After gathering insight from over 2000 mountain biking women world wide, we now offer a full line of multi-day Women’s Rides in  British Columbia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Ontario and Utah. It was an incredibly satisfying project to work on. And now, seeing the fruits of my labour pour in through women riders creating their own memories of adventure that are sure to last a lifetime.

Tell us about your job with Sacred Rides and what it entails:
Since the launch of the line of Women’s Rides, my focus is now dedicated to the operations of
the company. I work closely with our Ride Directors in each destination to ensure all aspects of our Rides are getting equal attention. I specifically focus on overseeing the quality of the riding, guiding,
meals, and accommodations. The latest project I completed was developing an intensive Online  Training Program, in efforts to align our global team. This way, any trip you take with Sacred Rides, regardless if you’re in Patagonia or Slovenia, you can expect the same high standards in every aspect.
My goal for 2017 is to increase our overall Ride rating to 8.6 out of 9, and I am confident I can
make it happen!
I long to develop my DH riding skills, and assume other women must too.
If you build it, they will come.
So I did just that with the help of Blue Mountain Bike Park.
I’m seen here (far right with the blue and orange Trek Remedy)
at our 2nd annual Blue Mountain Women’s Weekend where
I lead the beginner group.
Photo Courtesy of: Jason Petznick
What do you enjoy the most working with a company like Sacred Rides?
I’d have to say the forward thinking approach to business and company culture Sacred Rides founder, Mike Brcic has created. Our team works remotely (a.k.a. from home...the coffee shop...or Sedona, where I’ll be in February!), we have flexible schedules (did someone say pow day?!), and every Tuesday afternoon from May 1st to October 1st is dedicated to riding.

What do you enjoy the most about creating biking adventures for others?
Well, all of it really!
What I’ve been enjoying the most over the past 6 months, and where I feel as though I’ve really impacted the overall enjoyment of our Riders, is diving into understanding what Riders (really) want out of a mountain bike adventure, and then figuring out ways to deliver it. After every Ride we operate, we have our Riders submit an End of Ride Survey. I review every single piece of feedback we receive with a fine tooth comb. Any trends in feedback then dictate the necessary changes required to make the trip even better. Gathering hard data is key in understanding what Riders want, as opposed to going on a hunch, or what I may want. For example, our Riders are more inclined to opt for a lighter, trail side picnic lunch over a sit-down, relaxed warm meal (to allow for more riding of course!).

Who should consider going on a trip with Sacred Rides?
Any Rider looking for a trip so memorable, it’ll be reminisced when old and grey. A trip so touching, it changes your outlook on life. We strive to deliver a “Trip of a Lifetime” each and every time.

How could a Sacred Rides trip be beneficial?
A Sacred Rides trip is beneficial for those who want:
to be challenged.
to connect with other people, places and cultures.
to be thrilled with spine-tingling moments of joy and awe.
to be moved with soul-stirring locations and experiences.

What do you love most about being involved in the cycling industry?
The people. The culture. The lifestyle. The constant room for improvement.

Why do you feel it is vital for women to be involved with the cycling industry?
Wowza, that’s a big question that could be taken in so many directions. Women bring a different perspective. A perspective created through our own personal experiences as women, and women in cycling.

From a recreational perspective, it’s vital for more women to be involved in cycling in efforts to
provide role models for our children, an outlet for our girlfriends, and an excuse to just get outside and breath.

From a competitive perspective, it’s vital for more women to be involved in efforts to demonstrate a thoughtful approach to the sport, one based on grace and finesse (something I’m still working on!).
From a business perspective, it’s vital for more women to be involved for similar reasons as in
competition. A thoughtful approach to business challenges, one based on grace and finesse, can be more effective than brute force and fearlessness (hmm...also still working on this!). In the end, involving more women in the cycling industry allows us all to build, foster and grow this incredible and diverse community we call cycling.

Any suggestions for those who want to make a larger impact in the cycling industry? What do you feel are good steps for one to take?
Volunteer. Check in with your local cycling club, trail organization or local shop to see what events they have coming up that require passionate volunteers.
Become an Ambassador. There are many opportunities just waiting for you to apply. Companies seek out passionate individuals who are ready to spread the word about their brand through events, social media and PR.
Coach/Guide/Instruct. Female leaders in the cycling industry are still very few and far between, and are becoming more and more sought after.
Check out these courses to get certified:
PMBIA: http://www.pmbia.org/
ZEP: http://www.zeptechniques.com/
IMBA: https://www.imba.com/icp

What do you feel could change locally/industry-wide to encourage more women to become involved with riding and/or the industry?
We need more women in a position to step up to the plate, to do so. Many of the events I have been involved in creating, was due to my own desire to take part. When searching for cycling skill development events or courses (for adults who are not necessarily competitive), I’ve come up short, giving me the opportunity to make one happen. If you see an opportunity being missed, grab it. Make it happen. We need you!
I was part of a “guinea pig trip” to Costa Rica to test out our
Pura Vida Yoga and Mountain Bike Adventure.
I was sent to scope out the riding, accommodations and overall flow of the trip.
I’m seen here waving at a giddy group of
school children in Dos Rios, Costa Rica.
Photo Courtesy of: Martina Halik

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
The memory of just getting into the sport and not knowing how to progress, or really even where
to start or how to start.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I put pots, pans and big utensils in the dishwasher and do not rinse anything before doing so!
Gasp! I’m such a rebel.

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