Women on Bikes Series: Nicky Soulsby

I grew up in North Vancouver, and spent pretty much all of my childhood outside. I competed on the BC Freestyle mogul team, the BC women's u-18 rugby team, and played rep soccer. 
My mom tried to get me into mountain biking as a kid, but I didn't take to it.

This June my friend took me up Seymour, and I gave mountain biking another whirl. I fell head over heels for it, literally and metaphorically. I spent the rest of the summer biking, and plan to race in the BC cups this year. My favourite kind of riding is steep and technical, but I like pretty much everything else too. 

When I'm not outside I like to paint and listen to music. I currently live in Victoria for school, and I am at UVic in my fourth year of Mechanical Engineering.

Check out Nicky's Pinkbike Video and 
Find Nicky on Instagram!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I first started riding a bike when I was 4 or 5 years old, in our lane way where all the kids in our neighborhood would hang out. My little brother had gotten a new bike with training wheels. I was jealous, so I took off the training wheels so that I could ride it and made him learn to ride without training wheels. 

You mentioned your mom tried to get you into mountain biking as a kid-but it didn't take. What do you feel was different about your experience then vs. now?
I think that I liked it as a kid, but I was probably just more interested in playing with my friends.

Tell us what you remember about your mountain bike ride this year that gave you the bug!
I've always loved being outdoors; skiing, hiking, surfing and camping. When I tried biking I fell in love with it because it filled the gap that skiing fills in winter. It’s exhilarating. Hiking is awesome, but there isn’t the same adrenaline factor.  

If you have nervousness, what do you do or think to overcome it?
Breathing and thinking positively is key. I have definitely been nervous before trying new things, but the feeling you get from trying something new, whether you succeed or fail, is always way better than feeling like you should have tried but didn't. And if you did fall you can get up and try it again, and it will be even more rewarding when you finally get it.

You love steep and technical sections-what makes you embrace that challenge and why does it fulfill you?
There is a natural transition from mogul skiing to technical riding, as a lot of the techniques are similar. I like steep technical sections because you have the freedom to pick your own line, and it is also what came most easily to me when I started biking. Jumping is definitely the most intimidating part of riding for me.

You plan to race in the BC cups this year- tell us about why you want to compete and what it means to you being a second-year rider.
I am stoked to compete in the BC cups next year because it will be an opportunity to improve and to get exposed to the mountain biking community. I am also excited to meet more girls who mountain bike and share the same zeal for riding as I do.  

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 don't use clipless pedals, but I was interested in it before I bought riding shoes. I would definitely consider it in the future, especially since the studs on my pedals have ripped apart my shins.  

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I've fallen a lot of times, but getting up, back on my bike and trying again is the best thing I can do. If I don't try again right away I will have a harder time trying it again in the future, because I make it to be more daunting than it is in my head. 

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I haven't mastered any part of riding yet, so I ask a lot of questions, like a ton. Every time I find something challenging or don't know how to approach it, I ask the guys I ride with what they do, and then I consciously think about doing that while I ride. If you don't get it the first time just try again, not everything comes easily so just keep trying and you'll get it. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
Everything! I love the people I ride with, being outside, being challenged, improving, being scared, having fun and pretty much everything else too. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I bought a 2009 Specialized Demo 7 at the beginning of summer. It was really inexpensive and was such an awesome bike to learn to ride on. I sold it at the end of summer and upgraded to a 2012 Intense 951. Having a downhill bike gave me more confidence to try things I otherwise might not have, just because there's that extra bit of give if you screw up. I'm also hoping to get a trail bike soon. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I have a Giro Cipher and I love it. I also bought Sombrio riding shoes at the end of the summer and they helped my riding a lot. 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I think that a lot of Women are deterred from extreme sports because of what they have been exposed to. If they watch Redbull Rampage and think that that is what all of mountain biking is like, they probably aren't going to try it. I think that if mountain biking for beginners was advertised more, there would be more people who tried it.

Another factor could be that it is a male dominated sport - little boys grow up riding and they get their friends to come with them, so it spreads the word and gets more guys interested. If there aren't a lot of girls trying, they won't be able to spread the word as far. I think that more girls would go biking if they had girls to introduce them to riding, however; I have tried to get a lot of my girlfriends to come riding, and most of them don't want to try. It doesn't matter how much I talk off their ear telling them how great it is, they just don't have the interest or desire to try - so there is a lack of interest too. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I think that exposing girls to riding is key, because that is what will spark an interest. After they have been exposed to it, they need a comfortable environment to learn in. A lot of companies are trying to make that environment by creating all girls riding groups. I worked at Escape Adventures, a kids bike camp run out of Vancouver, for part of the summer. They had Spoke Sisters riding camps, which were geared for all levels of girls wanting to learn or improve their riding skills with other girls. It creates a supportive atmosphere to learn in, and the girls little rippers. I also think that girls should be encouraged to ride with guys. Guys are skilled at pushing one another to try new things while still having a good time. 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
It's fun and I want girls to ride with! I hope that by introducing more women to riding some of them will also find a passion for it. 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I love to travel, and have been to 5 continents. When I was in Australia I did a 2 night hiking trip with my god-brother, and ended up getting lost at near the end. We found the closest road and hitchhiked back to where we had left our truck. The person who picked us up happened to be the first person to cross the Tasman Sea in a kayak and the first person to cross country ski to the south pole, Justin Jones, from the documentaries 'Crossing the Ditch' and 'Crossing the Ice'


  1. A video too! http://www.pinkbike.com/video/386345/


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