Women on Bikes Series: Krista Gray

Meet Dirty Jane Ambassador, Krista Gray! In Spring of 2011 she purchased her first mountain bike without even knowing if she would enjoy that style of riding!

Now, not only does she lead group rides but she's also the vice president of San Jose Mountain Biking! 

You can check out her Facebook page to see what mountain bike adventures she's been on!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I first started riding a bike in second grade in my neighborhood on the outskirts of the city of San Francisco, where going down the steep hills no-handed was my best trick.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
The same things that motivated me as a kid to ride my bike as much as I did, still motivate me today- the freedom, the friendships, the adventure.

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
 I have never competed in any event, but I would like to one day just for the experience.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
 If I were to compete it would be a in a downhill event.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
It was the spring of 2011, not so long ago- but at that time beginner rides, and specifically women’s beginner rides, were not as prevalent in my town as they are today. Finding a group to ride with, I failed miserably right out of the gate, and I felt ridiculous actually- even questioned why I was doing this to myself? But eventually I found a group of supportive mountain biking friends, and with that I became thankful and determined.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
If I am nervous about riding I remember that my pace and my capabilities are OK, and to know what my limits are- remembering that no one really cares if I am fast or slow but me, and me is all that matters. There's always room for growth.

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I tried clipless and it wasn't for me. It doesn't feel natural to me after riding bikes otherwise all my life. I say go with your personal preference, there is no right or wrong. Try both and decide for yourself, don’t let someone tell you which one you should use.

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
I’ve had a few; the most recent resulted in a concussion, broken arm, sprained wrist, and a permanent dent in my thigh. I think I was in denial the first few days, but after realizing that I was going to be one-handed for a while, and really couldn’t ride my bike- I got really bummed.
Physical recovery consisted of rest, ice, and compression- followed by this amazing Chinese herbal rub with massage daily- and time, 7 weeks off the bike.

Mentally I knew I would be back soon, and I wanted to be back so bad that I organized hikes for the wounded and healing mountain bikers of my group and that helped a lot.
Emotionally I cried one day then got over it- thankful, for it could have been much worse. I tripped-out on the memory-loss side of the concussion, and the 7 days it took to feel like I was back on this planet from dreamland.

My first ride back at 7 weeks (against the physical therapists orders) was healing and wonderful.  Now I am just working on getting my physical strength back and becoming stronger (and wiser) than before the biff.

What do you love about riding your bike?
The freedom it brings, the adventures it takes me on, the feeling of becoming one with my bike, the reward of accomplishing a good climb, the thrill and speed of a descent- and the great friends I make along the way who share the same love.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I started with a new but basic Specialized Myka- a women’s specific hardtail. I didn’t spend much on it and didn’t hit dirt with it until after months of road riding and becoming familiar with it- as I had only really been riding beach cruiser bikes previously.  During the 3+ years I rode the hartdail; I learned about and completed many upgrades to it. I enjoyed that very much. I became interested in learning about full suspension next, so I sold the hardtail to a woman who was a beginner rider and bought a brand new Trek Remedy 8 27.5. I chose Trek because of their support of the Trek Dirt Series mountain bike camps for women. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I totally dig Dakine brand for clothing, packs, and bags. I wouldn't wear any shoe other than 510's, and photochromic glasses.  I am looking forward to trying out a brand out of Australia soon- DHaRCO. I have an order out and am stoked to get their product in my hands, thanks to DirtyJane.com. 

What inspired you to start leading group rides? Do you have any suggestions for individuals who would like to start guiding other women out?
The thought never crossed my mind to lead rides, until one day David B, President of the group I was riding with, San Jose Mountain Biking, suggested it. You see I live in Santa Cruz, and 3 ½ years ago group rides here were not as prevalent as they are now.  

So I was inspired to give back to all the beginners out there who may have been in my shoes, learning, and not having easy access to a supportive leader and guide- at the same time I wanted to learn my local trails, so this is how I did it.

Advice I would give to anyone wanting to start guiding women out on rides is- be ultra-supportive. Cater to their needs, and in order to do that you must realize what their needs are. Talk to them, ask questions, and pay attention. Answer, and follow up. If you're hosting a co-ed ride, make the women the priority.

What do you love about teaching a beginner riding class? What has been the most inspirational experience you’ve had with instructing?
I love when I witness that "click" in a riders head and when it translates to the body and they're able to accomplish a skill they've otherwise didn't "get".

The most inspirational experience I've had is an example of a woman who started out brand new, attended weekly instructional rides, and finally rode down that steep section she'd always walked. It's when a downhill section is conquered after facing so much fear that inspires me the most- and even a tricky uphill section too- after facing and conquering self-doubt! 

How did you get involved with San Jose Mountain Biking? What do you do as Vice President and how has the experience enriched your life?
The involvement with San Jose Mountain Biking just happened, naturally. I joined and it was like instant family. I returned every weekend due to the support I received from the organizers and members. My role as a ride leader just fell into my lap, and I was hooked. 

I love it because I get to meet many interesting people from all over the world. I get the opportunity to give them a tour of the trails here, the great places to eat, and show them how to support mountain biking through trail building and volunteering for local mountain bike events. The best part of it all, however, is the smile on the faces of the riders when I teach them a new skill, show them a new trail, and simply give them the support they need to be a happy mountain biker. As Vice President of San Jose Mountain Biking, this is my purpose.

How did you hear about Dirty Jane and what inspired you to become a Dirty Jane Ambassador?
Again, thanks to David- the President of San Jose Mountain Biking, he contacted me and suggested that I apply. I was inspired to become part of a support system within the women's specific realm of mountain biking. Thanks to Dirty Jane, I am learning everyday about what other mountain biking women need and prefer when it comes to all aspects of our sport, from the best gear, clothing, stories, and support- it's all there. Special thanks to Ann Ka for her support and always seeing the best in me, that’s what I’m talking about!

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking.
Knowledge, or lack thereof. Women just getting into the sport may not have any, enough, or the right information about riding. There is so much to know, especially when you're a beginner.
Support system- finding a women's group to ride with may be difficult, but I am happy to see more and more pop up around Santa Cruz over the last 3 years!

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Women's specific riding groups should have more social media coverage, combined with more information and specifics about rides, which should occur on a more regular basis, and with more options of dates, times, and locations. Also, there should be a support system where women can ask questions, get answers, and receive some follow up and feedback on their experience.

Asking what women want and making it readily available with lots of support and information is the key. And don't forget the follow up! Something I do with my co-ed rides is make women the priority, and never say the ride is too full for them. Ladies First!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I used to ride horses and teach country line dancing for a large venue when I was a teenager J


  1. Awesome..... you go Krista! Love your group rides, keep up the great work you are doing in inspiring us women to get out there and ride.


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