Women on Bikes Series: Paige Schmidt

When I started looking for individuals all over to talk to I came across LUNA Chix. There are several groups of LUNA Chix and I was lucky to find a group that had individuals willing to be interviewed! So here is Paige who is involved with the Team LUNA Chix Tulsa Mountain Bike group.

When did you first start riding a bike?
When I was a kid. I rode my bike everywhere. It was our source of freedom as latch key kids.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Exercise, need, and fun.

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain)
I'm not a roadie but have commuted off and on over the years and enjoy riding paved trails in Tulsa. I also love riding my mountain bike but love any sport or activity that I can do without getting in a car to get there. Having a bike and feeling comfortable riding it from your home whether for transportation, fun or fitness is very empowering.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride? (If not a mountain biker, how about first commuter ride, paved trail ride, gravel, etc.)
 I was very uncomfortable on my first mountain bike ride. Despite riding constantly as a kid I hadn't ridden in years and yes, you do forget how to ride a bike despite the adage. Plus, riding a mountain bike with my boyfriend, now husband, was much different that riding around the town as a kid. Luckily, I persisted.

----Forgetting how to ride a bike: Riding a bike is like any other skills you use it or lose it. I think having ridden a bike as a kid helped me to know that I could do it and that it was something I had enjoyed previously. That said, I don't think it is necessary to have learned as a child to be a confident or skilled rider as an adult, however, I can't speak to that directly.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
 I don't really remember. I think I took it down a notch and tried to ride on gravel trails without obstacles and easy dirt trails. I also began commuting on bike regularly. Being comfortable and strong on your bike in a 'safe' environment certainly lent itself to mountain biking better than having not ridden a bike in 10+ years; not knowing how to shift gears, etc and dropping down a switch back the wrong direction.

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share?
I use clipless pedals. My suggestion would be to practice on grass where it is softer to fall or if you have access to a trainer, put your bike on it and practice unclipping and stepping off your bike and putting your foot down when you stop. You can also practice on easier trails until you get more comfortable.

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
 I'm not commuting presently but I think there are a multitude of challenges you can or may face, unfortunately. Some of the challenges may be mental while others are practical. I think being in a situation where you don't have a choice certainly makes your options clear. Once you ride your bike in the cold snow or pouring rain because you have to, doing by choice becomes a lot easier.
 XTerra world champ Shonny Vanlandingham and myself.
 She taught our skills clinic this past fall.
Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Many.  I think the best way to recover is not to pretend like it isn't okay to be shaken by the experience. If you expect it, then you are less likely to beat yourself up about being scared or nervous to get back on the bike. Allow yourself to be set back either in your confidence or skills is okay. If you give yourself that chance to be uncomfortable and get back in the saddle in a way that is less scary then I think you are more likely to have a positive experience and get back to the type or level of riding experiences you were accustomed to before your accident.

What do you love about riding your bike?
 Freedom, empowerment, health, community, friendship, fun, fitness....

How is it to have a husband/partner ride with you? What would be one of the more pivotal experiences you've had together on bike?
I love that my husband and I both enjoy riding bikes together. I do think that in terms of mountain biking it was challenging learning from him. I don't think I am alone when I say that men and women approach mountain biking very differently.
I spent most of my early years trying to keep up with him and didn't have anyone to ride behind to learn lines or skills. It was like the guys just did it so I thought that if I rode faster, harder, and longer that I would eventually make the obstacles. I now know that brute force won't get you over the log, it may, but skill definitely will.
 Skill and strength are complimentary but not equivalent. I think that is what is so powerful about riding with other women. They get what you are going through and can explain things in terms that make sense to you. I've spoken with other female riders that agree men and women ride very differently both due to physical differences in our bodies but also in how we approach riding. I still love riding with my husband but I also appreciate the benefits of riding with other women.

How did you get involved with LUNA Chix? 
I was just trying to get back into mountain biking after a several year hiatus after having a baby and moving from an area that lacked trails. The terrain near Tulsa was VERY different from what I had ridden previously and it was covered with rocks. They were everywhere and I was terrified of them. I also had a heavier, low end hard tail bike, was not as fit as I had been previously, and didn't really have any skills. Remember, I used force to get over obstacles so I lacked a lot of control. 
My husband and I were on our second or third ride and didn't really know the trails. We had stopped on one of the rockier, more difficult trails to let an oncoming rider pass. It was a woman and she was riding ALONE.  She seemed to know what she was doing and where she was going so we asked her for trail directions. She kindly got us up to speed and told us to turn around and follow her if we wanted. My husband and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and followed her.

This was Heidi, the first LUNA Chix I met. She immediately started showing and telling me lines and skills. She told me to look her and the LUNA team up on Facebook. I did and started attending their rides, religiously. I even did my first race. After riding as a participant for two years, they invited me to join the team!  I was so thrilled. This is my second year on the team and I feel so fortunate to have a vehicle to help other women enjoy the sport of mountain biking while raising awareness and money for The Breast Cancer Fund .  LUNA has teams all over the country so I encourage any women that runs, cycles or does triathlons to look them up Team LUNA Chix to see if there is a team nearby.
Me (2nd from right) at Midwest women's mountain bike clinic last summer