Women on Bikes Series: Katherine Barry

I am in my final year of an Architectural Sciences degree at BCIT. Currently, I live in Burnaby during the school year and have spent the past two summers in Whistler. I plan to move to Whistler after school permanently. 

I have a bike-obsessed dad who always wanted to get me into mountain biking. I ended up getting into road riding instead and have done that for 6 years. 
My first summer in Whistler my dad convinced me to try downhill. I crashed within the first two minutes and hated it. 

Of course the next day I was out again and a few weeks later, saving every penny I could, I bought my first dh bike. Since then I have been completely addicted! I set goals each year and work to achieve them. 

My goal for 2015 is to enter some races and challenge myself to get better and faster! As well, I hope to get into more of the trail riding side of mtb but am going to need a job to fund it first!

Check Katherine out on Instagram and Pinkbike!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I've been riding bikes as long as I can remember. My real addiction began at 20 years old in the summer of 2009 when I bought my first road bike. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I am super competitive so having good friends to ride with and to challenge me is the best motivation. Besides that, I just love riding and take any opportunity I can. 

What competitions do you plan to attend next year and why?
I would like to try some Phat Wednesday races at Whistler; they look like a fun way to try downhill racing for a beginner like myself. 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
I crashed! Hard! First 2 minutes of riding and I went over the bars twice. I swore I would never ride again. Then of course I was out riding again the next morning. 

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I usually listen to my nervousness; my brain is pretty good at telling me when I'm not ready to try something crazy. On those days I just ride at 80% instead of 100%.  

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 use them on my road bike but not in downhill. I may try them for downhill once I get more comfortable. For road biking I initially started with a really loose release so that I could unclip in a hurry and gradually worked up to a tighter release as I became more familiar with them. 

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 been really lucky so far, lots of big crashes but very minor injuries.  

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 have made good use of the Whistler Bike Park lessons. I attended Women's Nights and had amazing guides teaching me the skills I needed for everything from the complete basics to gnarly tech, big jumps and sketchy drops. Meeting an awesome group of ladies to ride with was also huge, I always have a ton of girls on speed dial to ride with which means plenty of saddle time.  

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Tech! Anyone who knows me knows I shiver at the site of roots and rock gardens! I have been practicing hard to improve my skills on the tech trails and have no shame in getting off my bike and walking around anything beyond my skill level. 

Whistler comes up a lot in the mtb world, could you tell us a bit about Whistler and why it's so amazing to go ride there? (For the folks that aren't able to travel much!)
I couldn't possibly list all the reasons it's s amazing! There are trails for every level of rider, designed by some of the world's greatest trail builders. The guides are so helpful and kind, you can watch yourself progress so much faster under their instruction. And for all the female riders out there... Whistler has one of the highest rates of female riders, you can go into any bike store and find gear that fits, you can stand in line with some of the best female riders and watch them training for races, and once again... women's nights! There's nothing better than having instruction geared towards you and a group of your friends followed up by beer and nachos at the GLC twice a week. 

What was it like growing up and having a father who helped encourage and maybe push your boundaries in the bicycle world?
My dad is my inspiration; he was out riding the Shore back in the early days. While a lot of kids hear how dangerous mountain biking is, my dad was always more than happy to take me out on trail rides and show me the ropes. Now when we ride together he's a bit freaked out at some of the features I hit and how fast I go but he will never discourage me. 

What have been some of your favorite goals you've accomplished?
With road biking, I completed my second Ride to Conquer Cancer, riding 290km ride over two days and raising close to $4000.00 (something I will be doing year after year I hope). For downhill, I started off my summer on some nice easy blue runs with the goal of eventually hitting Aline. I exceeded my goal quite significantly, by the end of the summer I was comfortably riding Aline and getting familiar with other black runs like Dirt Merchant, Freight Train and even trying some black tech like Top of the World and Duffman. 

Tell us about WBP Women's nights and what they are about/do-
Women's nights are an inexpensive way to try mountain biking or to develop your skills. Groups of 4-6 women are lead by a guide for 2 hours and taught how to approach features on trails with constant reinforcement on technique and bike handling throughout the lessons. Afterwards we all get together for drink, food and prizes! I've met some of my best friends at Women's nights!

You have ridden roads for quite a few years. Having that under your belt, do you feel it helped you or challenged you more when you started to mtb?
I sure had to learn to slow it down a bit. I am used to reaching speeds of more than 80kms an hour and I am still prone to racing down trails, sometimes beyond my skill level. But other than that the two have complimented each other well, I am now much better at cornering on my road bike and the cardio from road riding means I can ride downhill for longer without getting tired.

What are the differences between the two riding styles that you enjoy?
They are two different worlds! Pretty much the only similarity is the two wheels. Road riding requires sustained periods of endurance and is often much safer (although road incidents tend to be pretty awful as they usually involved little protection and sometimes involve vehicles). Downhill is a lot more strength and requires fast-thinking and reaction times and carries an inherent danger with it. My road bike is 20 lbs; my downhill is 38 lbs and a complete pain to ride on anything that isn't a downhill course! 

With mtb, do you find it hard to go back to riding paved surfaces for fun?
Yes! Riding in the mountains has made it very difficult to enjoy road riding again, especially in my city where it's mostly on congested streets. I think living in Whistler ruined city life in general for me, though! 

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love the friends I've made through riding, I love those days where you have a series of perfect runs and feel like a pro, I love when you clear a big jump perfectly, I love the first time you hit a new feature you've been dreading and realize how much you're improving, and most of all I just love being in nature with my best friends and being goofy, making dirt bike noises and silently competing to be the best/fastest! 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My downhill is a 2012 Devinci Wilson, my road bike is a mix of my old Fuji Finest 1.0 with a Jamis frame and upgraded components and I have a Norco 125 dirt jumper. I upgraded to the Devinci after starting on a Kona Stinky, I wanted something light and playful. I've been lucky to spend so much time in the bike park and needed a bike that could handle the big features but was still light enough for me to have some fun in the air and the Wilson was the perfect fit! I absolutely love it!  

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I swear by Raceface Khyber shorts... they're pricy but they are adjustable for comfort, they're thick and durable but with plenty of ventilation so you can still ride in the dead of summer. My other favourites include my 5.10 bike shoes for flat pedals (your feet stick to your pedals like glue and they're super comfy), my Kali helmet (super light with adjustable padding and a spare visor- has saved me from a few concussions, too) and my Atlas neck brace (most women fit in the youth size, making it the cheapest option, I won't ride without it anymore).    
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I think girls are encouraged to go into more feminine sports. There's nothing wrong with that but when you tell a young girl that some sports are boy sports it can become really discouraging. We need to tell young girls that they can ride bikes just as well as the boys if they put in the same time and dedication. I also think there is this perception among a lot of women that mountain biking is all about big air and crazy tricks because most of the publicity is from Redbull events and YouTube videos these days, a greater focus on videos that show other events like Enduro, XC, and touring may show women that there is a wide range of types of riding.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
More clinics and clubs for women! And spread the word! I am relentless in trying to get my friends to give it a go- once they've tried it, they're usually hooked! 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I am always in need of more riding buddies! As much as I love riding with my guy friends, there's something special about those days where it's just you and your girls. The more women I can get involved, the more friends I have to ride with! Plus it's so cool when you aren't the only bike-obsessed girl around! 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
Hmmm... not sure what would apply here... I ended up in Whistler after getting hired as a student labourer in the municipalities road maintenance crew, so when I wasn't biking I was in an orange jump suit painting lines, filling pot holes, fixing signs.