Women Involved: Tammy Donahugh

Riding BMX at local skate park
Tammy Donahugh is a well-known and respected name in mountain biking. 
She has been riding for 22 years and has about 13 years of experience in the industry including: racing downhill in the Pro circuit, and assisted with the development of the world’s largest mountain bicycles skills instruction program, competing in slopestyle/dirt jump competitions, and coaching bike skills clinics.

About ICP:
"It came from the CMIC (Canadian Mountainbike Instructor Certification) but I spearheaded the acquisition of the materials and then turned it into a comprehensive program for IMBA. Myself and Shaums March have worked together over these past two years to update and improve the curriculum and get things more current."

She is one of the few sponsored female dirt jumpers and the only female Freeride Mountain Bike Association (FMBA) judge.

Tammy has been with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) for almost 10 years. 

Her tenure has included work as the Operations Manager, designing and building bike parks for the Trail Solutions program, and creating and administering a comprehensive skills curriculum in her current role as manager of the Instructor Certification Program (ICP). Tammy is currently a Level 3 ICP instructor, and she has been teaching individual and group clinics for eight years.

Tammy has a passion for the sport and loves to share her knowledge with others. She created and produced Dixie Trix, an all-women's freeride event that included clinics with certified professional riders and a slopestyle competition for amateur and pros.

Follow Tammy on: FacebookInstagram, and Twitter

When did you first start riding a bike?

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Different periods of my life have provided a multitude of motivations, but bottom line is that it’s fun and completely addictive! I am competitive with myself and at this point couldn’t imagine a life without bikes.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I’m a horrible competitor actually, but would have to say that the Ranch Style events were by far my favorite. The Ranch Style was held on private property for about 5 years and consisted of a day teaching women’s clinics, the most awesome dual slalom, and a slopestyle comp. This is where I got my start teaching women and kept my slopestyle skills sharp. Unfortunately I was the only woman who would compete in the slopestyle event each year, but it was always a fun and positive vibe out there camping, riding with friends and taking runs together with my husband, Jimmy. 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Total exhaustion! I pretty much hyperventilated trying to keep up on a horrendous fire road climb.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
Visualization and taking in a few deep breathes. 

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 rode clipless for many years, but ride flats about 100% of the time these days. Personally I don’t think beginners should be clipped in. They should be focusing on proper body position and skill development. 

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Gravity fed and freestyle riding is no doubt more consequential and therefore injuries do happen (and I’ve had my share)– especially in the earlier years when you’re constantly challenging yourself and learning where your limits are. There is no easy way to deal with injuries unfortunately. If there is a way to continue releasing endorphins through another activity that doesn’t involve using the injured body part then obviously you want to do that. Otherwise you just have to take the hand that was dealt to you and utilize your down-time the best you can.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
There is not one skill that sticks out in my mind. I was very lucky to have a group of fun guys to ride with when I was younger and we would go on weekly night rides and “street ride”. I never pulled off any amazing tricks, but riding in that focused environment and watching the guys inadvertently taught me a lot about bike handling.  

Sugar Showdown- Duthie Hill 2013
Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Always! I would love to improve my single wheel skills – longer more controlled manuals and stoppies.
You gotta focus on your improvements – not the skills you wish you had. The challenges never cease. If you want to improve on a specific skill, practice it in a controlled environment if possible.
Otherwise put some extra protection on and session a section of trail with a friend that provides the technical riding aspect you’re feeling inadequate at. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
What’s not to love? 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Dirt Jumper – SuperCo.  Handmade in SLC, UT. They no longer produce frames, but I love the geometry and feeling of the bike so much that I don’t want to ride anything else. While in business SuperCo was the most supportive company not only to me, but to women riders in general. 
Slopestyle – Specialized P Slope. It’s the best tool for the job!
BMX – Verde Spectrum & FBM Steadfast. I ride the Verde in the parks and the FBM on dirt.  20” wheels work better on skate park transitions in my opinion. I dirt jump the 20” sometimes, but you have to be really “on-it” and precise.
Trail Bike – Specialized Stumpjumper EVO. A 150mm bike that provides the best of both worlds – good at ascending and great at descending. It’s very active, has a short rear end, and is extremely playful.
Big Squish Bike – For the last few years I rode a Morewood Kalula, but I just ordered a new Transition TR500 (the Morewood is up for sale fyi). I prefer 170-180mm travel bikes for downhill riding that I can switch back and forth between a single crown and double crown fork depending on the terrain and location. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Sombrio apparel, IXS protective gear, Deity components, Profile hubs, Schwalbe Tires, Spank rims and Native eyewear.

You work for IMBA as an Instructor Certification Program Manager- tell us about your job and what it entails.
Some of the day to day tasks include planning and organizing certification courses, managing our Instructor Trainers, enhancing and improving the overall program, training materials and curriculum.

What inspired you to get involved and work for IMBA?
When we moved to Colorado ten years ago I took a customer service position with IMBA.  I actually didn’t know much about the organization, but the people there seemed great and I could tell that it was the type of environment I wanted to surround myself with.

Why is IMBA such a valuable asset to the mountain biking communities?
Many reasons, but one would be their available resources. Whatever challenges your community is facing regarding bicycles, another community somewhere else has most likely already faced those challenges. IMBA’s staff is very wide spread and part of the reason for that is to be more effective in communities and grass roots efforts.

Sugar Showdown- Duthie Hill 2013
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
They are worried about breaking themselves off, and think they are not good enough to do the sport. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I think we are slowly but surely making progress in this area in past 3-5 years. 
There are many more women’s clubs and special events out there. Making instruction and fun events more accessible to women and girls will inherently bring more females into the sport. 
The hardest part is contacting those females who have an interest in trying the sport, but they aren’t yet connected to the bike industry.

Combining our sport with other action sports like dirt bikes, bmx, snowboarding, surfing, etc., will help give us a broader reach and find those females who already love outdoor sports that offer a taste of adrenalin. This has recently happened on the men’s side of our sport, which a very good sign.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I just don’t want them to miss out on what riding bikes has to offer and I want to share what I’ve learned over the many many years of trial and error. I’ve watched girls become stronger, more confident people through riding bikes and there’s nothing better than knowing that I had a small part in that transformation!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
In junior college not only did I play Volleyball, I sang the national anthem before the start of our games.