Monday, June 17, 2019

Men Involved: Ken Barker

"I ride bikes, crack jokes, develop trails, love my kids; work to make my community a better place."

Ken Barker has been building and riding trails for decades and as a result, gained vast experiential knowledge. His travels have taken him, along with friends and family, to first-rate trails across North America, deepening his belief that quality trails are a conduit for outdoor appreciation and building community.

Ken has a passion for the exceptional trail experience and understands the value this can bring to communities everywhere.

Ken’s professional experiences outside of trail development have been predominantly in the field of education, where innovation and collaboration are a must. During his 18 year tenure as an educator, Ken has led teams of teachers in designing and executing student-centered educational programming.

As a trail builder, Ken Barker has an unwavering commitment to quality and sustainability, noting that, “Building mountain bike trails is an art form. Trail concepts and design best practices are based in science, with new techniques continually evolving; however, the final result is truly a work of art. This merging of science and creativity contributes to unique and exciting trail experiences. I strongly believe these sorts of trails should be within striking distance of every home.

"My biz BYT is a trail development firm... design, education, assessment, construction, maintenance, etc. all things trails!"

Tell us about your introduction to #bikelife, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
I'm sure most everyone you interview says something to effect of "I've been riding bikes my whole life!" and I pretty much have been, but as I think about it... for me it's the general positivity of the activity and lifestyle: it's fun, it's healthy, it can provide challenge - exercise - escape - etc. and many friendships have come of playing around on these silly contraptions. Simply put, I love riding bikes, always have, and likely always will.

Have you always known that biking would somehow be incorporated into your work?
I've always tried to use a bicycle when feasible for "regular life" stuff like commuting to work, grocery getting, traipsing my children around, etc. This has led to me continuously advocating in favor of community improvements for cyclists of all types, pedestrians as well. I've started mt. biking clubs in schools as an educator, and in communities as a rider / advocate. And now: trail development as a profession.

How did you get started with trail building?
Like many kids, I was digging in the dirt in order to have more fun on my bike, somewhere between Star Wars and The Goonies movie releases. Upon ditching my automobile for an MTB in the early 90s I began to cut paths in wooded areas, feeling that I could do better than the deer when it comes to flying through natural environments. Eventually, this led to advocating for trails and working with land management agencies to bring "legal" singletrack to various properties.

When did you decide to create Backyard Trails LLC.?
I’d been thinking about starting a trail development firm for many years, but it wasn't until 2017 that I went all in and launched the official business.

What inspired the name of your company?
My belief is that the most important trail in the world is the one you ride most often... i.e. your hometown (backyard) trail(s) #LocalSingletrack #HometownTrails #BackyardTrails and now IMBA's #MoreTrailsCloseToHome

What has been the most challenging trail you've constructed?
Nearly all of the time I'm building trails it is for others, and those trails are often in the novice to intermediate range. It's exciting when I get the opportunity to build something challenging. There's some fairly tough stuff in my own backyard, however, on public property I was recently able to design and build a local trail named The Miscreant; I think people would call it challenging. It's a good thing when riders of all skill levels have access to trails that challenge them, it's rewarding to be a part of that growth / progression.

It should seem logical, but what do you do as a trail builder? How do you build trails right?
It begins with intentional design / planning... to meet the needs of trail users of today and the future, the intent: trail experiences that satisfy a variety of what people are seeking; or may not even realize they’re seeking. Practices that keep the trails sustainable are a given, the part that leverages my expertise is creating trails that satisfy the wide variety of what trail users are looking for.
As a rider, where is your favorite trail located? (You can have more than one favorite!)
Omigosh, that is a tough one! Holy Cross Trail - Grand Jct. ColoRADo is one of the first to come to mind. The variety of amazing trail experiences in British Columbia is so vast there is simply no way to choose one… Samurai Pizza Cat at the Whistler Bike Park, Full Nelson in Squamish, the list goes on and on. A zone that really surprised, and inspired me, is Whitehorse & Carcross in the Yukon, very remote yet amazing trails. I also enjoy how creative and fun many bike park trails have become… Little Switzerland in Wisconsin has all sorts of fun lines, on a little Midwest bump in the landscape, I love it! I have also been visiting Arkansas for years, and to see the steady evolution to explosion of trails occurring there is mind-blowing.

As a builder, where is your favorite trail located?
The way the feeling of flow is eeked out of minimal elevation in the upper Midwest will make anyone smile. I find it amazing trails of that quality can exist in such harsh environments, it is inspiring to me as a builder and rider. They get after it up there, do yourself a favor and check it out: Marquette, Houghton, Copper Harbor all in Michigan; Bayfield, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota are a few of the places you can find what I’m referring to.

How do you work with mountain bike chapters/communities?
It depends where they are with their trail development needs: planning / designing new trails or reroutes, rehabilitating old or damaged trails, consultation and or training for trails advocacy / construction / maintenance / etc. And my favorite… actually building trails.

What has been the most interesting thing you've learned since making trail building your job?
The “sales cycle” can take years! Operating a small business has its own set of challenges and rewards. Overall I feel lucky to engage in my passion as a means to make a living.

If you could build a trail anywhere, where would you go?
Right here. I love bringing surprisingly fun and high-quality trail experiences to places people may perceive as not having the potential. Trail systems of any size accessible for more people to enjoy… shouldn’t be an afterthought, they should be amazing as those are the most important trails in the world.

Why do you love riding? 
Many reasons, but what really speaks to me is the feeling of getting lost in the moment, losing yourself in a way that is engaging on many levels; an almost hypnotic immersion into the experience of navigating your bicycle through a natural space.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more folks to be involved?
Dream big for your local trail(s), but keep it realistic and do what you can. Think about singletrack trails as you would any other community amenity (ball fields, playgrounds, etc.) and advocate for them as such. You don’t necessarily need to volunteer every weekend, donate huge amounts of resources, and turn your life upside down to make it happen. It is amazing what can be accomplished by groups of people working together, when they engage with the right partners, think in and outside of the box, it can make a big and positive difference in communities.

What inspires you to encourage people to ride?
The positivity and well being it brings to peoples' lives... exercise, challenge, joy, camaraderie, escape; all the above!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I wore the Singlespeed USA belt for a year.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Women Involved Series: Kristi Mohn

In the bike world, I am part of the Dirty Kanza crew - I've been involved in many aspects of the race for the past 12 years, and I love it!
I am a co-owner of a Coldwell Banker Real Estate office here in Emporia, am proud momma to Sydney and Mason - 21-year-old twins, and I'm married to the stunning and talented Tim Mohn, better known as TFM (Tim F#$king Mohn) :) .
I started riding bikes probably 17 years ago - mostly to spend time with TFM. He needed to find something to do to get in shape. I had been a runner; he hated that when he tried it and so took up cycling.

Soon I was joining him for long-ish rides that were dates....Our babysitter said to me one time - "You are the only person that when you call and ask if I can babysit at 6, I have to ask a.m. or p.m." :)

TFM was one of the initial 34 riders in the first DK in 2006, and that really cemented our love in cycling. I saw an opportunity to get involved and make our hometown a better place to live with DK as the vehicle for that change.

I am pretty passionate about getting women out there on the gravel - our #200women200miles campaign has been super successful, and fun! I also love pushing myself hard on the bike as well. I've ridden LandRun, Gravel Worlds, Rebecca's Private Idaho, and did complete the 200 miles of the DK last year. I've also ridden the Ho Chi Minh trail with Rebecca Rusch on her first MTB LAO trip in 2016. She's become a close personal friend and is really a big inspiration and support system for me. I've met SO. MANY. AMAZING women thru biking, I can't even begin to imagine my life without them in it.

I hope to continue to get more women on bikes and in the industry, and I hope to continue racing different events each year - meeting new folks, greeting old friends, and riding my bike in super cool places!

Tell us about your introduction to #bikelife, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
My introduction to #bikelife....my husband was looking for some sort of exercise that he actually enjoyed. I was an avid runner at the time, and while he tried that, he didn't enjoy it, at all! I suggested he try cycling, and after a few tries and a new-to-him bike, he liked it. I soon joined. Our twins were young at the time and this was a way we could go on our "dates." Hire a babysitter and go for a ride!
What do you love most about being able to share cycling with your husband?
It's a great way for us to connect and have conversations that are uninterrupted. It also takes us to some great places and we've met some of our best friends through cycling.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Descending with confidence was a challenge. Practice helped! I love climbing but wasn't a big fan of the other side of the hill :) Rebecca Rusch gave me some pretty great tips, the biggest of which was to get down in my drops - I never knew. If you are uncomfortable with some aspect of cycling, say it out loud - most likely someone else has experienced that same thing and can help with solutions.

For folks who are nervous about giving gravel and/or endurance riding a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
A great support network is awesome! Finding that thru a local shop, or even looking on FB to see if there is a cycling group in your area, those are great resources. Don't be shy about it - generally speaking, we are a very friendly group that wants to see new cyclists succeed!

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?
HA! YES! The beginning of Day 2 of an 8-day MTB trip in Lao, I was descending some steps and went over the handlebars. Though the landing was soft, I broke my wrist. I spent the 7 days ahead riding with a broken wrist (luckily it wasn't a bad break). There was no way I wasn't riding - I was halfway around the world. I think that very fact just provided the reason to push through the pain and look for ways to adapt.

Once I got back, I resorted to trainer rides while the wrist healed, then used a Lauf fork for a while to take the edge off the gravel.

I'm fairly stubborn, so it's got to be something big to keep me down for a long time.

What do you love about riding your bike?
All of it. Seriously. I like the training, inside and outside. I like gear and shopping for it. I like learning about taking care of the machine (new found interest). I like how strong and capable it makes me feel. And I love long point to point rides with friends that end at a great restaurant or new location.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Really? This may get embarrassing -

I have a titanium Salsa Warbird (trusty steed), a salsa bear grease (kept in Ketchum ID for winter fat biking), a Niner RLT RDO (for super speed and comfort), and a Specialized S-Works Epic (newest to the fleet for my newest goal - mastering mountain biking). I also own the back half of a Salsa PowderKeg. There's a pretty crappy Trek road bike hanging on the wall that I need to sell, but motivation. And I have a converted steel frame Fuji road bike that is now a single speed that needs some time spent on it!

That's not terrible when you consider how much I love riding, right?

You are part of the Dirty Kanza team, tell us about the magic that is Dirty Kanza-
I don't really know if I have words to explain the Kanza...I do know this- Kanza has changed the community I live in and love. Emporia is a different town then it was 10 years ago. I also know it impacts people's lives, including mine. I'm grateful nearly every day for this little bike race.

A couple of years ago, DK started an initiative to increase women participants by creating the #200women200miles campaign. What was the inspiration behind it?
Giving women the courage, space, and opportunity to try something outside their comfort zone. It's done so much more...

What has been the most inspiring part of having so many women show interest in participating in an event that they might otherwise be intimidated by?
Last year when I actually was able to ride in the event (the rest of the DK crew stepped up to cover my jobs and a few key friends and volunteers filled in for me), I found myself in a paceline that was 6 or 7 women strong...and exactly that, all women. After a bit, it really hit me where I was riding, and tears filled my eyes. I have never been in an event where that had happened. We were calling each other by the states we were from, which was pretty cool too!

Why do you feel women should commit to participating in at least one cycling event?
It's important for us to take the time for ourselves. It makes us better at all the other things we do. With the inaugural 2018 Women's Camp, I said: "put yourself first without putting others last." I think that sums up a lot about one of our biggest downfalls as women - we don't make enough time to make sure we are being our best selves. So whether it's a cycling event or some other event, sign up! It's good for your heart and soul.

For folks new to events, do you have any tips or suggestions that might help them feel more confident?
Find training partners, watch the numerous videos available, ask questions, find a great LBS to work with!

What has been your favorite event to participate in?
MTBLAO changed my life. No doubt. But all of the events I've done have really come out of relationships from Dirty Kanza...

Tell us about your experience riding the Ho Chi Mihn trail with Rebecca Rusch-
Rebecca has become a close friend over the years. She's a solid human - both on and off the bike. When the invitation came to ride the first MTBLAO trip, I jumped at it, even though I really didn't ride mountain bikes at the time. Riding in Laos was so unique. Beautiful scenery, kind people, great cyclist to share the trail with, all set against some of the biggest destruction I've ever seen and will ever see in my life. It is the most heavily bombed country in the world.

It's an experience that is difficult to put into words. I remember a day in particular where Don Duvall, our moto guide, stopped to show us an aerial of the trail we were riding on. I'd been riding along thinking about all of the random ponds we were riding by - turns out, they weren't actually ponds. When Don showed us the view from above, you could see all of these for what they were - craters left from all the bomb we dropped on this country 40 years ago. It was sickening. As we rode on, we descended thru a small village on the way to our day's destination. I was thinking about that war, and about my father who didn't have to serve overseas, and my son, who is the age to be drafted. I was super conflicted, and out to the side of the road, villagers had gathered and were smiling and waving and cheering us on. It was surreal. I'm sure I'm not doing this justice, but nonetheless, the Ho Chi Mihn trip was life-changing, and continues to inspire and change me, and give me direction.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
I think largely we get in our own way. Cycling is also a pretty expensive sport to get into, and often we don't feel great about making that investment in ourselves.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I feel we just need to keep asking women to be involved - and when they do, we need to welcome them and support them.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I'm not really sure - I guess I just want them to find what I have found. Plus I love having more ladies to ride with!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I have a birthmark shaped like pac man on my left thigh?
I live 1/2 a mile from my brother and his family and from my parents?
I went to school to be a high school Spanish teacher?
I married Lawrence KS most eligible bachelor?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What You Learn At A Trail Workday

In this post, I'm going to write about my recent experience participating in a DHPT: Decorah Human Powered Trails workday.

We met up on a Wednesday in Van Peenen Park to work on a handful of spots on a couple of the trails. I'll admit, I was nervous because I've never been at a trail workday yet and I certainly didn't want to be in the way.  I didn't participate in trail workdays in the past due to my arm and shoulder issues. They're still there, but I have a much better handle on them and figured I should be good to go with volunteering.

So here is what I learned with participating in my first trail workday.

#1. Anyone can help! If you don't know how to do dirt work or run a chainsaw, there will be something you can help with. You can pick up sticks, you can be a helpful hand with grabbing tools for other folks, you can help carry stuff, etc.

#2. If you are interested in learning some of the easier aspects of dirt work, simply say so and you'll get help learning! I watched Travis use the tamper to pound dirt down and it looked easy, so I asked if I could try it and the rest is history. It was super simple, tiring, but easy to do- and it's helpful! When I wasn't tamping, I was using a rake to break up dirt clumps to allow for tamping to happen. Something so simple as breaking up dirt clumps is helpful for dirt work.

#3. If you enjoy using the dirt trails, you should find time to join a workday at least one time.
Why? It makes you appreciate the work that has been done that allows YOU to enjoy the trails. It's eye-opening. Also, there is something to be said about taking some ownership and volunteering time to help something you love. After the work was done, you see the improvements, and you can't wait for the weather to cooperate so you can ride it!

#4. Trail work can be done by and appreciated by everyone. If you run, bike, or hike- you will reap the benefit of trail work. Regardless of how you enjoy the trails, you are part of a community of folks who enjoy outdoor recreation. Volunteering time at a workday allows you to connect with like-minded folks, and you just might make new friends!

#5. Kids can help at a workday, too! It's a great way of introducing them to respecting the trails and understanding the work that goes into creating them. It's a great time to educate trail use etiquette as well.

We were able to accomplish a good amount of trail work within a couple of hours, even if it made me tired! It's really neat to see a group of folks get together, and as the work progresses, see the stoke everyone has over how it looks and how they can't wait to ride it. 

DHPT: Decorah Human Powered Trails will announce their workdays on Facebook and through email. If you would like to be involved, you can send an email to josie@decorahbicycles.com and get added to the DHPT mailing list!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Women Involved Series: Tricia Davis

I am a Canadian physical therapist, wife, athlete, coach, writer, organizer, trail advocate and doggie-Mom.

I live in Brevard but have spent the past 20+ years searching for the perfect place to live. We are pretty close here. Although, no place is perfect. We have been lucky enough to live in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, British Columbia, Arizona, and Washington. (I may have forgotten some.)

My husband, Chad and I started Crankjoy.com to provide great, inspirational information on mountain bike products, destinations, and events. We hope to get people out of their backyard to explore new places and meet new people while living the passion that we do - mountain biking.

The coaching company I co-founded (killercoach.com) is a way for me to help people reach their athletic goals while staying healthy and preventing injury- a nice niche for a physical therapist. I am also quite active with Pisgah Area SORBA - our local IMBA chapter and serve on the Board of Directors to try to get people involved and stay informed about changes in our regions trails, access, and social groups. I am not a superhero but I do aspire to take over the world with my mission: inspire, connect and encourage people to experience this short life to the fullest- with a dirty little grin.


Tell us about your introduction to mountain biking, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
I first started riding mountain bikes when I was 18- one of my first rides was a small local race. I was dating a road cyclist during high school and he thought mountain biking was silly, so that made me want to do it even more. I thought it was way more fun than riding road. I just loved the dirt, mud and literally being immersed in nature.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
All of the skills challenged me. Just staying on the bike was a challenge. Being young and recovering from crashes was easy, not so much these days! I always enjoyed riding behind faster and more skilled riders. There just weren't the skills clinics that are available today. If those existed back then I would have for sure started there.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I think everyone has their nemesis trail or feature that really psyches them out. Mine is for sure off camber slick rock and roots. Knowing that everyone, even the most skilled rider has difficulties with some aspect of riding makes me feel better about my own riding. If I get to a section and have to put a foot down or walk it, I try to get a little further each time to progress, but puckering up before the section comes along usually doesn't help. I try to just let it come and see what happens.

Clips or flats? What do you use when and why?
I am old-school so ride clips usually, but I have been trying to do some skills session and some winter riding here in Pisgah in flats. Learning to track stand and wheelie is way better with flats. I think they are both good and both have their place, but generally, I am more comfortable being attached to my bike.

For folks who are nervous about giving mountain biking a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
Just get out there and try it. Go with a friend and learn how to do it right. Have someone start you out on an appropriate trail for your level of skill and make it safe. Most people learning to ski or play tennis would pay for a lesson, so why not for a sport like mountain biking. It just makes sense to me. Keep in mind that the videos people see on Red Bull is about 0.05% of all mountain biking. You don't have to shred and do backflips to be a mountain biker. You just have to enjoy nature and adventure.

What was the inspiration behind starting Crankjoy?
We (my husband Chad and I) wanted to provide information that would inspire people to get out and enjoy traveling to new places with their mountain bikes like we do. Writing for Crankjoy has led us to some pretty amazing places and has allowed us to meet some really inspirational people. Highlighting these experiences is a great way for people to see how they can connect with their mountain bike community in a more intimate way. The ladies tab is a spot for women to learn about products, experiences and events that are cool.

What has been the best thing you've done or experienced since creating content for Crankjoy?
For sure it has been meeting a ton of people in and out of the bike industry who are passionate about riding. Mountain bikers are an interesting and eclectic bunch of people. Expanding our connections across the country and Canada has 100% been the best thing to come from Crankjoy.

What event(s) have been your favorite to attend and why?
I am a sucker for the ladies Roam Events- especially the inaugural Ladies mountain bike festival in Sedona! It was a magical event and gathering, and Ash and Andi with Roam Events just get it. They do an awesome job of making everyone feel included and truly care about each participants experience. The Brevard Roam Fest is pretty cool too, and it is right down the street from me!

You co-founded killercoach.com, tell us what inspired you to get involved with coaching?
Racing triathlons back in the 90's made me get into coaching. I wanted to do an Ironman and once I started researching how to train, I was hooked. Watching my husband train as a pro mountain biker was also an inspiration. I thought it was a nice compliment to my daily work as a physical therapist, dealing with injured and sick people every day. It was nice to have that perspective working with healthy and super driven athletes. It is a valuable combination now to be a coach and a physical therapist, I think it really offers my clients a well-rounded perspective. I also still love triathlon, especially the off-road variety.

What has been your favorite coaching moment so far?
Working with my killercoach co-founder Melissa Ross. She is much younger than I am in chronological age, but so wise. I love having her as a coworker and good friend to help my professional as well as personal growth. She is always there for me and I can always count on her for solid advice. She is one of the kindest people I know and has an amazing way of considering everyone's perspective.

You are on the board of directors for SORBA, tell us what you do on the board and how folks can be involved-
I am lucky enough to do all of the Social Media and Community Engagement for Pisgah Area SORBA. I got involved at a time when folks were not that organized and the membership was just not growing. We are now organized and going in the right direction. The past leadership did a great job of organizing grant funding (for a 5 year total of $528,000!) from the government and maintaining a relationship with the forest service. This is a lot of money, but not near enough to get the trails to a place where they are sustainable. These grants also require matching funds and volunteer hours to execute. Now we need to mobilize the "people" who are loving the Pisgah Trails and area, to help build and maintain sustainable trails for years to come. I'm excited to help and if you love the trails here too you can donate to the trails directly via Pisgah Area SORBA's Paypal account.

Why do you feel it's important for women to be involved with their local mtb trail group?
I don't just think women need to be involved with their local MTB trail group, I think everyone who benefits from the trails needs to be involved. If you ride, hike, run, operate a business in the towns that derive business from mountain bikers or just think trails are important to your community (and let's face it who doesn't) then you should participate in some way! Donate, volunteer your time and help promote your local clubs. Women are underrepresented in the mountain biking community, although that trend is changing and I feel we as a user group have plenty to offer. Being a trail advocate has many forms, from digging in the dirt, organizing grants, soliciting donations, promoting club events, helping keep the books, manning a booth at a local fair; there is something for everyone to use their personal talents doing. It takes a village.

What do you love most about being involved in the cycling industry?
Cyclists, especially mountain bikers have a unique perspective on life. It's the people I've met and the connections I have made that I love the most about the cycling industry. I don't think anyone is in this industry to get rich or show how powerful they can be, so there is not a lot of that to deal with. People that ride respect nature, love adventure and just want a positive life experience. Who doesn't want to be around that all day? In my mind, this is what is important in life.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love feeling fit and strong. I love that there is no limit to what I can do on a bike. There is always a trail/race/event I can do that challenges me. Feedback is usually immediate and absolute. There is very little grey area in mountain biking. I find riding very centering and meditative if I want it to be. It's also a great way to meet new friends and connect with old ones.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I am a huge Ibis fan. I love all their bikes, love the company and love the folks that work there like family. That said my favorite Ibis is my Ripmo. It's an amazing long travel 29er and she's blinged out with custom I-9 wheels to match the blue and orange frame. Its the sexiest bike I've ever owned. I've had it for a couple of months but not been able to ride it much due to the terrible winter we have been having here in Western North Carolina.
I also have a super pimp Ibis Hakka MX, which is a gravel bike with a dropper! This bike has been a lifesaver this winter for me. It has been keeping me sane and when it's too cold/wet/muddy/dark to go outside it's hooked up to a smart trainer and I have been obsessed with riding Zwift. It's like a video game for your bike. Indoor riding is way more fun this way and you can connect with other riders in real time, which is cool. The added fitness will pay dividends in the spring and fall, so I will be able to get right out and do some big rides without having to rebuild fitness lost over the winter.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I think some of the images, videos, and stereotypes in the bike media can be pretty intimidating for women. Watching some of the mountain bike videos and seeing some of the print media, especially ads makes mountain biking seem a little far from reach for most women, especially older ladies. Sure I'd love to be able to ride a big flowline with gap jumps and whip out my rear end every time I jump, but I really don't think that's gonna happen. It is happening in my mind even if no one can see it. If I can get that feeling of pushing my limits and enjoy trails with a big smile on my face that is enough for me. If women looking to get into the sport realized that it can be whatever you want it to be, I think it would be amazing. Having someone to open up that world to you is important. With the proliferation of women's events and skills clinics over the past 5 or so years, I think this is really contributing to the growth of the sport for women and is super important.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I'd love to see more of the bike companies sponsoring and supporting events that empower women. The Bell Joy Ride and LIV ambassador programs really stand out as leaders in this movement. Also, bike industry hiring more women will go a long way to changing things. Ibis is pushing the envelope encouraging women participation without specifically making a women's specific bike, in fact I guess you could say all their bikes are for women they just let the men ride them too:} All Ibis are designed by lady-power in a small package, Roxy Lo. She understands the connection between form and function.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I love to see traditional stereotypes shattered and more importantly I love to see how people feel after riding a mountain bike. It really is the best therapy. I love giving ladies the tools to explore their own abilities with regards to fitness and skill on the bike and watching the massive improvements that happen once someone gets "hooked."

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I love collecting notebooks and amazing paper and stationery and love the feeling of opening a new book.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Women on Bikes Series: Kristine Krauss

Hey there! My name is Kristine Krauss. I am a cat 1 downhill racer, park rat and dabble in trail riding in the snow season. My now Fiancée Kim Godfrey introduced me to mountain bikes on one of our first dates in 2015 and I have been addicted ever since. We have recently formed our own downhill race team HB&T Racing. We travel around the country racing while holding down the 9 to 5 jobs. I enjoy doing most of the maintenance on my bikes myself but I am still working on learning suspension. When not riding or wrenching on the bikes I can be found working the day job for a prosthetics company that specializes in transradial recreational products.

Instagram for myself

HB&T Racing Instagram

HB&T Racing Facebook

Tell us about your introduction to mountain biking, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
The first time I was introduced to a mountain bike was in 2015 on a date. Kim took me to Valmont Bike Park in Boulder. I was warned about the high powered brakes and then set loose. Kim gave me some pointers and I took a pretty good digger trying to jump. When we were done for the day I had a shiny new scrape on my arm and couldn’t wait to do it again. The next bike adventure I got to ride some very gnarly “secret” trails. A full day of shuttle laps and barely making it down the mountain I was hooked. From that day on I have become a freeriding and gravity racing nut.

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 a bit with braking and a lot with vision. It took me taking some coaching from Kim and friends to understand that I could actually use my front brake and not go over the bars. Lots and lots and lots of practice in parking lots working on the 2 – 1 – none technique. Vision was the toughest to get a grasp on for sure. Not looking at the ground right in front of your wheel is tricky especially on rough tech. Again, I spent many hours doing circles around cones in parking lots just working on looking ahead. I think not getting frustrated with your self is key. Nothing about mountain bikes is intuitive.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Vision is definitely something I am always working on and I still struggle with cornering and track speed for races. When I get down or start getting frustrated with a skill I have to remind myself that this is fun. Generally when I force myself to remember that I am able to get back out there and give it my best.

Any tips or suggestions for folks wanting to introduce someone to mountain biking, especially if it's a significant other?
I would say start out small/easy. If lending someone who is new to bikes one of your bikes at least make sure it fits and isn’t completely clapped out. Take some time to actually give some solid pointers. I.e. foot position, breaking, how the gears work. With the significant other, definitely ride WITH that person. Listen to what they say and offer up stoke or advise. And if your partner is very frustrated offer up lessons. They get the info and skills they need and you score a new riding buddy.

Clips or flats? What do you use when and why?
Oh, flats for sure. I did give clips a try but I don’t care for the feeling of being “stuck” to the bike. I believe learning to ride flat pedals gives a rider honest skills and helps prevent bad habits.
For folks who are nervous about giving mountain biking a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
I would say coaching. A coach can get you started in the right direction and help you through any hang-ups or nerves you might have. I would say that is the main reason I have been able to ride as well as I do.

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?
I have had a few uh… get-offs that were a challenge to recover from.

I did dislocate my elbow. It took 6 months for it to heal and it still tweaks sometimes but I started with dry needling to help stimulate the muscle recovery then strength exercises to keep it healthy.

The other notable biff I had was on the World Cup track at Angel Fire Bike Park in New Mexico. I stuffed my front wheel and went over the bars straight on to my chest. I had on a hard plastic chesty that kept me from breaking my ribs. I ended up with a pretty serious concussion and was transported off the mountain by patrol. That was a mental hurdle. I was scared of going fast for a little while and scared of that trail. I took my time getting back up to speed. Little bits here and there. The biggest help came from a friend. She told me to just hold on and breathe. Remembering to breathe was absolutely the best way for me to get back up to race pace and conquer that trail.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love the feeling of clearing a new big jump or smashing a rock garden. I love that as I get better I can take on more challenging things. This is one sport where there is pretty much no cap on the skills or challenges.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My trail/enduro bike it a Canfield Brothers Balance. 27.5” wheels with a coil shock on the rear. I chose the Balance after shopping around for about a year. I finally got to ride one and it was magical. Everything just felt amazing so I had to build one up for myself.

My dh bike is the awesome Canfield Brothers Jedi. 27.5” wheels with coil shock on the rear. I owned the YT Tues before but the way the Jedi is designed to smash rock gardens is crazy. It is my favorite bike to ride.

Tell us about HB&T Racing-
We travel the country racing and riding as much as we can while holding down the 9-5 job. We both race gravity/dh and dabble in enduro racing. Kim races in the pro category and I race cat 1.

What do you enjoy most about having your own race team?
The freedom to choose the races and design the season we need.

What has been your favorite event to participate in so far?
Crankworx Canada. I raced the Garbo and the air dh. It was awesome to see and meet so many talented women.

Why do you feel folks should try at least one mountain bike event?
To say you did and the feeling that comes with it.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
It looks like a scary dude sport. The industry does a pretty good job painting that image.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
Creating awareness and buzz. Things like community bike days and ladies rides are a good place to start. The bike industry could help out by treating the women in the industry as equals to the men.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
The excitement and happiness that comes from any rider when they are able to learn a new skill or get that double.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I played goaltender and forward in inline hockey for 10 years.

Friday, May 24, 2019

High Hopes

The greatest decision I made for myself this year was to give myself a break. (More accurately, a mental break as I'm still too darned busy for my own good at times.)

This has happened in multiple ways: going back to wearing baggies, taking a break from racing, and to making changes with Josie's Bike Life to ease up on future stresses.

All in all, I have been feeling positive over my choices, but life can't be easy...can it?

This year, one of the bigger things I have been wanting to get off my plate has been my dad's estate. It was all-consuming last year as I struggled to navigate a map of twists and turns with no real direction.  It's like someone dumped a bowl of sauce covered noodles on the floor and said "Clean this up!" without giving you anything to clean it up with. This year it seems to be trying extremely hard to keep sucking up my emotional reserves. I've broken out my metaphorical "big guns" and have been practicing self-care, and it's helped, but it doesn't completely negate the obvious.

The decision to sell the property was not something I made lightly, but after I had spent more time down there, I knew it was the right decision for me. I wanted to take the remaining time I had with the property to build up some positive memories. Explore sections of the woods I had never found before, look for morels, take pictures of wildflowers, and spend time with Travis that didn't involve cleaning up years of dust and raccoon turds.

Then the realtor broke the news that the water test came back worse after the well was shocked twice. Of course the well would have to be bad. Why would the well actually be good? I mean, really? I spent money on a new (and super fancy) septic system, I updated the electricity, so why would the well actually be in okay condition?

I sighed.

"Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Shooting for the stars when I couldn't make a killing"


I have been told that Dad had hoped for improving things around the house when he retired.
It still doesn't take away the sting of reality...the ugly truth of my having to deal with extreme neglect.
My dad was not a lazy man, he kept himself busy with what he enjoyed. I mean, I can't blame him because I find myself guilty of the same thing. I'm just not guilty of it to the degree that he was. However, his avoidance of doing the necessary adulting left me with a literal pile of crap and a lot of emotional and mental exhaustion.

It sucks. 

I always suspected that I would be dealing with a handful when my dad passed, but I never expected it to be the degree it was. I wasn't expecting to have something more than mess. I was mentally prepared as much as I could be for the "stuff" but I wasn't expecting everything else, that is relatively major when it comes to a home, to be in such a state of disrepair. 

One thing after another, after another. I'm the classic case of "if it can go wrong, it will." This is part of why I do not buy lottery tickets. 

"Didn't know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million"

It's challenging because I find myself in this awkward place of wanting to be mad at my dad for what he left me, but I miss him terribly.
I'm seeing parts of him that were hidden from me for many years, and that unearths a lot of emotion.
I want to be angry, I want to cry...I have every right to be frustrated because it's what was left for me. I don't want my memory of my dad to be tainted with what wasn't his best quality. The only way I keep myself from flipping my lid is to focus on the positives...or at the very least, try and find amusement in the sh*tshow that has been my last year.

I've been navigating this uncharted territory, tackling obstacles as best I can. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm going to keep going forward, even when it feels like the light is moving away from me.

The biggest lesson of all of this is that I've had to accept that I need to be gentle with myself. There is a lot for me to process on all sides of the situation. I have to accept that my dad is part of me, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to possess all of his qualities. I'm ME. My decisions are mine, and I know that even if there are similarities, there are enough differences for me to acknowledge that we were two different people.

"Burn your biographies
Rewrite your history
Light up your wildest dreams"

Monday, May 20, 2019

Women on Bikes Series: Misty Mahoy

Hi, I'm Misty Mahoy from Florida. I run a ladies mountain bike club called the Muddbunnies, we are an international organization that gets women on bikes & be super badass in the dirt. We lead weekly rides all over central Florida even go out of state to ride other trails.

Also teach mountain bike skills through Grit Clinics, Ninja Clinic & my own business All About Balance MTB. I love when people fall in love with this sport like we all have :)

FaceBook: Misty Mahoy
Instagram: AllAboutBalanceMTB


Tell us about your introduction to mountain biking, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
The 1st ride I was on a technical trail that I walk every single hill. I wasn’t completely in love with it…… but I was going through a stressful part of life and I needed an escape. So I kept going back to it until I finally I was able to ride every single hill. That was my “This is for me” moment!

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Body position was my game changer! Its helped in every single part of my riding!

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Technical climbs are my weakness. Practice…..once a week I ride a trail that has a tricky climb that I struggle with!

Clips or flats? What do you use when and why?
I use both but I prefer flats. I went back to flats last year after being clipped in for 5 years, it was a HUGE learning curve, but it taught me the importance of body position. I still clip in but If I’m trying to do something new I prefer to be in my flats.

For folks who are nervous about giving mountain biking a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
Find a great group of positive people to start with! When I started the Muddbunnies I wanted to find a group of like-minded ladies who just wanted to ride bikes and have fun!

Also, set personal goals for yourself too. When I started I didn’t have anyone that was at my level to ride with, so I set goals. I would challenge myself with how many laps I could do or don’t quit until I climb that hill.
Tell us about the Mudbunnies mountain biking group and how women can join-
The Muddbunnies is about building a community of women who love to ride bikes on dirt. It is our mission to empower and encourage more women to ride bikes on dirt. By bringing a community of women together to offer a positive and encouraging environment to ride in and learn from, women’s mountain biking is beginning to gain momentum!

What inspired you to create your business All About Balance MTB-
My BADASS community is what inspired me to create my business! I started the Muddbunnies 5 years ago and we were just “winging it” with riding. Helping new riders with hints that helped me through my first year of riding.

Ladies All Ride came in and did a BADASS clinic ……we were all so pumped!! We all got so much out of the skills we learned through the clinic everyone wanted more. I shadowed one of the coaches Sally Collins and she was so encouraging to get certified to coach…… so I got certified! I’m so happy I did! I love seeing people thrive in this sport!

What do you love most about helping others learn mtb skills?
I love seeing the excitement when they finally get that “there it is” moment. I love seeing my students taking their riding to the next level!!
What is the best part about being involved in the cycling industry?
I love the people in our community! They are so supportive & stoked just to ride bikes!! I have met so many super AMAZING people though MTB, some of my best friends I met on the trail!

What do you love about riding your bike?
Freedom! I know that’s what everyone says but it’s so true! There is nothing like a bike ride after a crap day or great day!

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Jamis Dragon Hardtail 29- this is the bike that made me fall with MTB! She’s my trusty around town gravel MTB. So lightweight so fast!

Trek Fuel EX- This is “Big Beefy” he is perfect for shredding trails here in Florida or out of state. I love this bike…..I can take him off some sketchy drops and he makes me look good…..lol

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Intimidation factor…. this sport has all this crazy downhill & 5-foot gap jumps, plus super male-dominated.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I feel that the industry is already making so much progress with ladies only clinics. Bike companies are doing ladies advocate/ambassador programs to empower women to get out and ride!! Bike shops are hosting ladies’ nights that teach ladies how the change tires, bike washing & simple trail side maintenance.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
It’s the confidence they build on & off the bike!! There is something about loading your bike, driving to the trail, overcoming your fears and feeling like a BADASS on your bike!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
In my past life, I trained horses professionally…..from starting babies to the first time in the show ring. My teaching roots run deep ;)