Women on Bikes Series: Christina Faust

I live in a small southern town with my boyfriend, Brad and our 3 cats, Smeagol, Moose, and Onion. We have dirt jumps and a pumptrack in our backyard and a dining room, living room, and kitchen full of bikes. 
I am a shift supervisor at Starbucks and I work a crazy unpredictable full time schedule. I am also a full time student working towards a degree in computer programming. 
I am really enjoying being back in school, though the schedule is challenging. 

I already have a BS degree in Animal Science and trained horses for many years. It is my goal to have a rewarding job with a predictable schedule that pays me well enough so I can afford to go on more adventures with my bikes. I am also making my best attempt at training 6 days/week for the race season.  I don't sleep much, though it is probably my second most favorite thing to do. The first being riding bikes, of course!

Check out Christina's Dirty Jane profile and Flare profile and blog and instagram!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I learned to ride a bike when I was a kid and rode bikes everywhere in high school and college. I didn't have a car until I was 21. I really got into mountain biking when I was going through a divorce in 2009. It was my escape and my ego builder. I started out on some dirt jumps and met some local riders and then began trail riding which eventually led to gravity riding. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I think the feeling of freedom and the connection with nature and with my own body was what really pushed me to ride more. It is very empowering to progress your skills on a bicycle, and when you've hit a low point in life, that sense of strength can really give you a great platform for other areas of life. 

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
My first race ever was a grassroots downhill race. I had never done any actual downhill riding other than XC and all mountain. I was so scared, but it was so much fun to have a goal of getting to the finish line and doing it. The next summer I went to Snowshoe and rode a downhill specific bike for the first time. My boyfriend was impressed by how well I rode and mentioned maybe I should try racing, so the next year I got a downhill bike and haven't looked back. 

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
I love downhill races. The atmosphere is so relaxed and everyone is like family. My favorite event every year is the Duryea Downhill race in Reading Pa. It is always the first race on my schedule. The mountain is in the city and the race finishes in the city park where they have a bit of a festival atmosphere and lots of residents out to watch. The atmosphere is so amazing. My sister lives nearby so I get to visit family and race. 

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain, etc.)
Mountain, especially the downhill bits. And pumptracks! 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride? (If not a mountain biker, how about first commuter ride, paved trail ride, gravel, etc.) 
It was a long time ago on an old Huffy I bought a Kmart. I remember feeling pretty badass because my big heavy clunky bike was the only one not sliding around in the muck that was early spring in Pennsylvania. Thinking back on it I recall feeling a whole lot more confident then, than I do now sometimes! Youth... 

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I try to calm my nerves with steady conscious breath. I am working on a mantra that helps me center and relax when I get into sticky spots. 

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?
No, and actually have no desire to try them. I am quite happy with flats and don't feel at any disadvantage in most of my riding. 

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
When I first started getting into mountain bikes more seriously, I was dirt jumping and rode over a berm...twice...in a 3 month period, sustaining first one relatively minor head trauma and then one that left me feeling drunk for 2 months. It was tough staying chill and resting. I really wanted to ride. Once I was back on my bike, it took about 2 years before I felt confident riding berms again. Now I don't even give them a second thought, but those two years were challenging. It took a lot of patience. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
The freedom, and especially the community! 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a BMX bike to play on that I found at Play it Again Sports for $60. I had my bike shop fix it up and it is great to practice manuals and ride the pumptrack on. I call her "Cherry Bomb".  My Dirt jump bike is a Deity Cryptkeeper that I bought a year ago to replace an old DJ that never quite felt right. I love my DJ bike, makes me feel like a kid.  I call him "Charlie", after Charlie the Unicorn. My trail bike, which is what I ride most, is an 2nd gen 2008 Transition Covert. I started out on a medium frame before realizing that it was two big and acquired a small from a friend. I recently got a new Fox fork for it and I LOVE that bike.  I call it "Dragon". My Downhill rig is a 2008 Moorewood Izimu (apparently I have a "vintage" quiver). I am currently rebuilding it with new components to keep it competitive. I love that bike too, it is like riding a DJ bike with lots of suspension. What more could you ask for?! I call my Izimu "Slayer", which is funny because I recently found out "Izimu" means "cannibal". 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I am riding for Flare Clothing Company for 2015 and I highly recommend their clothing. The colors are great and the quality is top notch. I also highly recommend MyAlibi bloomers as a great chamois.   

What inspired you to start blogging and using social media to share your bike riding adventures?
I have always loved writing and have found that people love reading what I write. I love to share my adventures and the stories that are shared with me. I hope that by sharing my adventures on two wheels I can inspire more women to get out there on a bike!

You're a Dirty Jane ambassador, how did you find out about Dirty Jane and what made you want to be an ambassador for them?
When Dirty Jane was first coming around on the scene I caught a status here and there and started sharing videos and photos on their page. They had a "post yourself with a "I am Jane" sign and get stickers" post, so I was motivated and came up with a really creative self portrait. Soon after AnnKa contacted me with her plan or starting an ambassadorship program. Needless to say, I was super stoked to be noticed and offered such a great opportunity which I am proud to continue with to this day.

What's the best thing about being an ambassador for Dirty Jane? 
The connections and recognition. Sometimes I meet people and they recognize me as a Dirty Jane! I also was connected with Flare Clothing Company through Dirty Jane and would not have my current sponsorship without that connection. I am grateful for all the hard work that AnnKa has put into Dirty Jane and encouraging more women to ride bikes.

You recently became sponsored by Flare Clothing Co. What inspired you to pursue sponsorship from this company?
AnnKa at Dirty Jane posted up an application for the Flare Clothing Co Sponsorship.  At first I was on the fence because I hadn't really looked at the company's clothing. But I like standing out from the crowd (I once had orange hair) and am drawn to the unique. After seeing photos of riders in Flare kits I started to think that maybe this was something I would love. I was super excited when I got the email from Hannah at Flare that I was accepted for sponsorship!

What are you most excited about now that you are sponsored by Flare?
Now that I have almost an entire Flare wardrobe I can say that I LOVE their clothing. The jerseys are amazingly comfortable, as are the shorts. Even the sweatshirts and t-shirts are top notch clothing. I love how the designs are based more on fashion trends than on motocross race gear trends. I really love the energy of Flare's founder, Hannah Meyers, and her support at the local races in the UK. My only wish is that I could visit the UK so I could ride with all the other Flarians on a regular basis!

What do you feel keeps women from wanting to get involved with mountain biking? 
A lot of times I really think it is about time constraints. Some of it is definitely lack of confidence, but that usually disappears as soon as you can get the ladies out on the trails and on a bike. I think as women we try to do so much and sometimes doing the things we really want to do takes the back seat. I think helping women realize that they are worth taking the time for themselves, a little time for freedom, a little time to connect with nature, a little time to build some confidence so that they can attack everyday life with more vigor, I think that is the direction we need to take. We are worth the escape that mountain biking can give us. The escape will make us better people in the end.

What would you like to see happen (in general) to encourage more women to pick up this style of riding?
I believe that the trend towards more women's clinics is definitely a good thing. Unfortunately these are often expensive (though the coaching and experience are definitely worth it!) and most women have a hard time spending money on themselves in such a way. I would love to see more men encouraging the women in their lives to get out and learn and ride with other women. Skip the flowers, skip the jewelry, get your lady an unforgettable experience. My entire current mountain bike experience was driven by my boyfriend believing in me, believing I could be pretty badass. I began to believe it myself. We might start strong, but without someone encouraging us along the way it is easy to fall off the singletrack. That could be the men in our lives, or the women! Social media really helps fuel our confidence too. Local riding groups seem to be really strong and help get women out more often. Start a group; get more ladies on your local trails!

What would you tell someone who is thinking of trying mountain biking for the first time?
Find a bike you feel confident on and ask around for recommendations for an easy local trail. See if your local bike shop knows of any coaches in the area that might be able to take you out and give you some tips to get you learning proper techniques that will make your experience safe and more fun! It may cost you a little bit of money, but the knowledge you will gain will be priceless.  You will also have more fun if you learn some good techniques starting off. And...make sure you have a good helmet!!

What is something random about you that people may or may not know?
Just one thing?! I used to sell roses and belly dance at the Renaissance Faire. :)  I also was a horse trainer in a previous life...and I had orange hair.