Women on Bikes Series: Lauren (Heitzman) Patterson pt. 2

Photo Credit: Kimberly Patterson
Meet Lauren who will be featured in Meg's documentary Sisterhood of Shred!

Read Lauren's first post! (Part 1)

I hope you enjoy Lauren's interview and find yourself inspired by her words, determination, and passion.

Learn more about the Sisterhood of Shred documentary here

What do you love about riding your bike?
EVERYTHING!!! Bikes are the best!! I love the sounds of the bikes components working together and with the ground, the smells of the trees and plants and dirt, the details like the math and physics behind it all, and the sweet feeling of freedom I get when I ride. How I can just lose myself entirely while riding. I feel like all the time spent on my bike is rejuvenating and especially time in the air, it’s like time stops and my life is extended by hundreds of years and then I land.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Well let’s see, I have a Specialized Demo 8 II, that's my DH bike and its rad, and usually covered in dirt. Feels like a Cadillac. I chose this one because the Demo has always been the best and most comfortable geometry for my body; it rips the trails and flies like a bird.
I have Tribe, Ya'Na dirt jumper, I love this bike!! I built it entirely from the ground up, my first completely customized build. I loved this bike a little too hard and snapped the crank bolt a few weeks ago so she's laid up in the bike hospital right now. I chose Tribe because I was ready to take my slope skills to the next level and needed a bike that I know will hold up the abuse of hard jump riding and crashes.
Thankfully I also have a Specialized P. Slope so I can keep riding while waiting on parts. This one is my full suspension jump bike, flies well and keeps it squishy when I need it. I chose this because it’s a rad bike and very versatile I can take it on trails as well as jumps and still be super playful. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I really like the Troy Lee Designs helmets and Five Tens entire line. There is something there for everyone and they are a must for every ride. I normally ride in t-shirt and jeans or a tank top and jeans or shorts with my Kali Rasta knee pads and some tall fun socks, check out DeFeet for some awesome socks. I like the look and feel of Spank wheel sets and Chromag components mostly for the rad colors and strength I can trust. For performance specifically I choose SMAC pedals, seriously awesome pedals. 

Tell us about The Sisterhood of Shred and how you became involved?
The sisterhood of shred is the community of women riders that push their own limits in riding as well as the limits of the sport and what women can do. They have families and jobs responsibilities, but also this passion for riding. The Sisterhood is all women who want to ride and push this sport in positive directions, we learn from each other, support each other and ride together, it’s a family outside your family. The sisterhood has always been there it has just needed a brilliant individual to give it a name and follow it around with several cameras, shout out, go Meg!! In every little corner of the world there are women doing what they can and making things happen for women’s riding in their community, the documentary aims to shine a light on these women and the strength and dedication, good times and bad that we all go through as women to succeed at our passion.

What has been the most rewarding thing since joining The Sisterhood?
Photo Credit goes to Kimberly Patterson or
Meg Pattillo
Like I said not really a thing you join or sign up for it just is, it’s like "Hey homie, you ride bikes? Thats rad me too, lets hang out." "Hey those girls ride too, cool, let’s all ride together." "That was fun let’s keep doing this." "Hey, homies that I ride with and have awesome times with, this is my friend, blank and some of her friends, they heard that we ride and want to give it try." Rad! Let’s all ride and learn together." and it just keeps spreading like that.

Each of these women have their own stories and lives and reasons for riding, but we all find this singular passion for riding together and live it. We are all ages and from every background you can imagine. most rewarding is getting to ride a learn from all of these women and their experiences and having this encouraging support system that is always just a phone call away.

Why is The Sisterhood so important to you?
The sisterhood is important to me because life is hard and you just can’t always do things on your own. There are all these women out there with the same fears and failures triumphs and goals and when we all come together we can share that and are stronger. We are passion upon excitement and it breaths inspiration and that helps to form new goals and push the sport farther. It takes the simple act of riding a bike and adds just a tad more fun. Knowing there's a big crew of friends all hurtling through life together; anywhere you go they’re all on the same page as you. It’s cool.

What changes to your life have come from being involved with such a positive group of women?
I think the biggest change for me has been actually riding with people, I usually would just ride by myself to practice and then sometimes with some of the guys on my team. I am more grateful for the time I have and the fact that I get to ride with such amazing spirits. I have become more able to take a step back and look at my own riding and see an entire scale of progression in all these women. I can see where I came from when I was learning and I can see skills and tricks I want to learn in the girls that have been rocking it longer or working on different things. I am constantly inspired!

In your own words, what do you feel inhibits women from getting involved with mountain bike riding or riding bicycles in general?
Fear. Whether that is a fear of danger, injury, time commitment, financial commitment, judgment, a certain feature, it’s all fear. I feel often like these are fears that are placed on women by society and even other women and especially from the time they are very young. "Oh that's not what girls do, all the extreme stuff is for boys." "You don't want to get hurt, or dirty. What if you break your arm?" "You’ll ruin your clothes." "Isn’t that expensive, there's no future in that." "You’re going to get all muscley/scarred up and gross."  "What will boys think?" "What about your husband?" (All things I have overheard or been told personally.) There seems to be a lot of pressures and expectations placed on women that aren't placed on boys or men and I think women tend to carry that with them into everything they do not just mountain bikes. That's why we need this positive community to show women that mountain biking is probably one of the best decisions you could ever make and how to not be afraid and to take that strength with them into every aspect of their lives.

What do you feel would help women get over their nervousness?
Really well designed women specific protective gear, telling young girls to never be afraid and to follow what makes them happiest, programs at schools, more camps clinics and comps for women, support from major companies that have the ear of the public. Mostly just getting out there as a female riders doing the foot work and showing others that it’s okay to do this stuff and that it’s actually really fun! Basically keeping a very active community going.

What has it been like to learn and ride from other women vs. men (being mountain biking is so men-based?) What are the positives that you've had from female coaching/encouragement?
It’s always very different because girls can and I think do tend to identify with other women better and don't feel as weak around other women so I think that the ability to progress surfaces much more quickly than with a male coach or friend. I feel that the more I ride with other women the more my passion for this sport is ignited. Men tend to be fast and aggressive in this sport as with any sport and sometimes you need that, but a lot of the time I feel like you just need to see that it can be done by some one that is more on your level. Guys just don't sit there and calculate it like women they tend to charge at the task and either fail or succeed.
Women I think learn from other women because somewhere they trust that this other woman has already done all that calculating and worrying, but figured it out and now it’s okay for her and all the other women to try it. I think I personally have benefited from both male and female coaches and their differing perspectives. Sometimes I just need to charge at something like we talked earlier it helps me find my F*#k it. At the same time having a whole crew of women to support me when I charge at that task or trick or whatever I’m doing is inspiring and helps me to feel like I won’t fail or at least if I do they will pick me back up dust me off and encourage me to try again.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Patterson
What would you tell a woman who is thinking about mountain biking (or any form of riding) for the first time?
Do it. It’s the best thing you can ever do for yourself. Find out what kind of riding you like and borrow or get a bike that fits your needs. Your life will be changed forever, and welcome to the sisterhood.