Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Women Involved Series: Charlotte Batty

Often referred to as 'Minii Batty', I grew up riding bikes around our small town, cattle farm chasing after my three older siblings. These carefree childish rides evolved into a lifetime of competitive mountain biking for all of us. After 8 years of competing across North America and Europe at an international level, mountain biking is no longer a sport I am apart of, rather it has become my lifestyle. Upon hanging up the racing bikes, I discovered a passion for chasing the trails and sharing my knowledge and experience with other like-minded people on how to have more fun on their bikes.

In the last couple years this has become more narrowed on being an advocate for women's mountain biking with the support of my own business - Minii Adventures, Trek (Trek Women's Advocate Program), Sombrio Cartel (Sombrio Crew), and Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association (PMBIA).



Instagram: @minii_adventures
Facebook: Minii Adventures

Biking has always been part of your life, for those who may have come into cycling later in life, tell us how biking has influenced you throughout the years-
Biking has literally become my lifestyle. My life revolves around my bike - my work, hobby, exercise and social life all have some link to it. It has taught me a lot of things, including, camaraderie, determination, hard work, and also brought to my life a chance to be active, and have friendship and community.

What was it like to grow up with siblings who were/are competitive mountain bikers? Did you feel like it was a struggle to find your niche or was it easy to do your own thing?
I really enjoyed sharing my racing passion with my three older siblings, but it always lingered in the back of my mind what my niche was. While I never really had direct competition (i.e. racing in the same age category) as my siblings, I always had these predetermined bench-markers as to what my siblings had accomplished. In some areas, I would feel like I had worked hard and it paid off, and others, I felt like I was way behind in comparison. It was when I finally moved away from the competitive side, and after 6 months off the bike, I landed a group-ride-leader role - and I knew then that I had found my niche.

You used to participate in competitive mountain biking events, what would you say you learned from that experience?
What hard work and determination is! It is not easy being a competitive endurance athlete, and it forced you to dig deep both physically and mentally, a lot. This is something that has helped me grow into a strong independent woman today. It also taught me about camaraderie and good sportsmanship - great things to bring with you in everyday life.

What was the motivating decision to stop riding competitively and why has that been a good choice for you?
*see second question’s answer*
I absolutely love riding my mountain bike - but one day I just had the thought that I could still ride my mountain bike and not have to train and race and it would be okay. It felt like I had just grown out of racing and it was time to find my own identity in the sport (after years of chasing after my older siblings in their footsteps). I am now a Level 2 Professional Mountain Bike Instructor (PMBIA) and am making a living as an instructor and guide, and having just as much, if not more, fun on my bike.

A lot of folks encourage others to participate in events, could you give us your two cents as to why you can still be an advocate for mountain biking, but not "race"-
*see first question’s answer*
There are so many other paths to ride down on a bike - it’s literally a pick your own adventure. Find a great group of people that you like to hang out with, get out on the bike and let the magic happen from there. For me - it’s a lifestyle, career, hobby, exercise and social life.

If you can, take us back to one of your first mountain bike rides. What did you love about it? What did you learn? What inspired you to keep at it?
Wow, we are going back a long time here. It was a XC Canada Cup in Canmore, Alberta, I think I was 15 (so U16 category). I remember I had worked so hard that season. My training had me feeling invincible on my bike. That year the course at the Nordic Centre was old school - long climb, short descent, short climb, long descent, which was the style of riding that I felt the most confident with - remaining consistent. I just remember leaving that start line and lingering at the back of the group, and then just ramping up the pace and holding it for what felt like ever. The feeling of zipping past every rider before reaching the top and not being totally gassed was exhilarating. Having the patience to make my race plan come to life, and trust what I had done in preparation for the race claimed me first place that day.
Clips or flats? What do you enjoy and why?
I literally learned how to mountain bike/ride on clipless, so I will always be more comfortable on them than flats. I just feel so much more connected and ‘one with the bike’, and my climbing is way more consistent. I have come to appreciate flats though, for having more precision in your technique (not relying on being clipped in) and they are a lot more forgiving in jumping and wheelie’ing when things go bad. They are also great for beginner mountain bike riders to learn on.

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
There were a few things I found difficult about being a competitive mountain biker, but the hardest part was diet. I was a bit heavier than your average teenage female and so it always felt like I was in a battle with myself to eat fewer calories and try to lose those couple extra pounds. I guess I have my raging sweet tooth to thank for that. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I moved past this constant fight until I gave up competing altogether. I still to this day struggle with my body image, but I have learned to embrace what healthy looks like and what curves are. Women need to stop comparing themselves to others. You are uniquely you.

Another is getting out of my own head with difficult features - I always look at a new feature before sending it in (never blindly), and sometimes stopping to look at it too long can you make your brain start to wander about the consequences. I just have to remind myself that I am capable of doing this and to just get after it. And if I fail, then I pick myself up, figure out what I did wrong and try to learn from that for next time.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Techy rock gardens! When you’re just a tiny little rider, it was often hard to be able to drive enough momentum to get through some really rough sections and they pushed you around a lot. The biggest thing that helped me was remembering ‘Eyes on the prize’...keep your eyes looking where you want your bike to go, and in those cases, my exit of the feature or further down the trail from that. Your eyes are your most powerful tool to help you be a successful rider in any discipline.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Air time! I love it and it’s dangerously addicting, but I only started letting my wheels leave the ground in the last two seasons. My biggest barrier has been getting comfortable letting the brakes go and hitting big features with a lot of speed. I usually catch myself braking when I should be trying to build speed instead. The best way I have learned to overcome this is to follow a trusted/experienced wheel into a feature - this sets the pace for the minimum speed I need to safely clean a jump or drop feature. And I have some really awesome friends that love helping me on this.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love a lot of things about riding my bike - this is tough to narrow down! But, I would have to say the best thing about it is the feeling of smoothly and freely rolling through features - whether it is bermed corners, jumps or techy rock gardens, I just love having something to accomplish, and then aiming to ride it as smooth as possible - in some instances this feels like butter and its exhilarating.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Well, I live in an area that has a variety of technical and rough XC and DH riding, so I have one bike that does it all (a trail/all mountain/enduro bike). I am currently on a 2016 Trek Remedy 8 WSD, and have a 2018 Trek Remedy 9.8 WSD ready to go for next season. These enduro bikes (and dropper posts) will blow your mind with that they are capable of both descending and climbing, and are a load of fun!

Tell us about your business, Minii Adventures and what it's all about!
Gather, Motivate, Ride - this is what my I have built my business around. There is a huge lag still in the industry of getting more women, kids, and people in general on mountain bikes in all disciplines. Bringing my eight years of racing experience, NCCP and PMBIA instructing certifications to the table, I thought - what can I do to help share this amazing sport with others?! And it has grown from there. I offer group sessions (‘Clinics’), private instruction sessions, and open group rides for all levels of abilities for both cross-country and downhill mountain biking.

What inspired you to become PMBIA certified? Since your certification, what has been your most rewarding moment with coaching?
I came into the instructing industry with a lot of experience and knew that my passion for teaching would keep me on that path, but I wanted to make sure I had the best tools to teach those skills to other riders. I had been debating between a couple different certifying bodies, (after completing some NCCP courses in the past) when I decided to take up a part-time instructing job at our local bike park, Blue Mountain (Collingwood, Ontario). They require PMBIA certificate which made the decision for me. And it’s one that I am so glad I made. I am now a certified PMBIA Level 2 (Air) instructor and am working on bettering my riding so I can get my Level 3 (the highest offered). My favourite teaching moment was a woman I had in a downhill lesson recently. She was new to trail riding this summer and had the audacious goal of wanting to ride a drop. In less than an hour and a few tries later, I had her clearing a 3-foot drop. Her excitement over that accomplishment was so rewarding.
What was your motivation for becoming a women's mountain biking advocate?
That there are not enough of us - It makes me wonder how my life would have been shaped if I had approached the sport differently (rather than the competitive angle) at a younger age, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Mountain biking is such a positive experience and offers so many benefits beyond just exercise, that it’s something everyone should have an opportunity to try and decide for themselves if it’s right for them.

You were recently accepted to come on board as a Trek Women's Advocate, what about this opportunity excites you and why do you feel advocate programs like this is a good thing?
It makes me pumped to see the bike brand that I value so much, stepping in to provide support with the same aspirations and goals that I have. These programs are great because they create avenues to get more women out trying biking of any discipline in a no-pressure atmosphere. Which is a win-win for everyone.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Men! Haha I don’t mean this harshly, but so many women that I have worked with, have been taken for their ‘first ride’ with a boyfriend, spouse, partner, etc and been dragged onto trail that was way above their ability or confidence level - and this makes them want to run away from the mountain bike immediately.

Another big hurdle, is when a woman doesn’t have someone close enough to confide in and can guide her with things such as what bike to purchase, where to ride, chamois hygiene (no underwear!), or having people to ride with in general. So they shy away from it all together - which is where these women-advocate programs, such as the Trek Women Advocates, comes in.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
Accessibility - see my second point in the question above.

Another big hurdle, is when a woman doesn’t have someone close enough to confide in and can guide her with things such as what bike to purchase, where to ride, chamois hygiene (no underwear!), or having people to ride with in general. So they shy away from it all together - which is where these women-advocate programs, such as the Trek Women Advocates, comes in.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
By creating the opportunity for like-minded women to find mountain biking - an opportunity that I never had, nor existed when I was growing up in the sport.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
Growing up, my nickname was always Mini Batty - hence the name Minii Adventures!

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