Women on Bikes Series: Marianne Jeppson

My name is Marianne Jeppson. Everyone calls me MJ. I am a pediatric nurse. I am happily married to my best friend and we have 2 “fur-kids”.
I love riding my bike and being out in nature. This is my third season racing with the Dirt Divas.

When did you first start riding a bike?
I first started riding a bike when I was a kid and it was wonderful!! I had some version of a hot pink Huffy with a banana seat that had pink and purple flowers on it. I rocked that thing and I could pull some serious stunts on it for sure…

Then I kind of grew out of the bike riding years and played other sports like soccer, basketball, and track. I forgot all about bikes until my late-30s when I thought it would be a good idea to explore mountain biking.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I am a bit of a late bloomer given that I just started mountain biking few years ago. I am motivated to ride by several things. I ride to become a better mountain biker, to stay healthy, to enjoy nature, and for the simple joy felt on a fast flowy trail when the sun and wind kiss my face. I also ride because it restores my sanity by allowing me to work out the “ya-yas” which makes me a much nicer person to be around.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I am not sure I have a favorite biking event. All events are fun but for different reasons. I guess if I had to choose, I would say the Beti Bike Bash is my favorite because there is such great energy associated with this event.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Umm, yes….and to keep the story short…it is amazing I still mountain bike. Note to guys out there—Moab is not a great place to take your girlfriend to teach her how to mountain bike. Porcupine Rim is not a great trail for first day ever on a mountain bike nor for learning clipless pedals…just sayin’….

If you had nervousness at all, what did you do or think to overcome it?
I was nervous and had visions of selling my bike the minute we got back to Colorado. Fortunately, I decided I needed to give it a fair chance and actually find some beginner trails to ride before giving up on mountain biking. After all, so many people seemed to enjoy it. I am grateful that I did not quit riding after the first time out.

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?
Yes--I use clipless pedals, especially for racing. My advice would be to put them on the loosest setting possible when first transitioning to them and RELAX. Don’t think about them too much. If you are trying to learn some new technical mountain biking skills swap out the clipless for a pair of flats so you can focus on the skill you are trying to learn instead if stressing about clipping in.

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 biffed it in …big shocker…Moab!! I was alone when it happened and had to figure out how to get back to the truck and then go get my hubby who was riding another trail.
Couple lessons here: 1) Do not ride alone or split up---bad idea in places like Moab. 2) Moab has a nice Urgent Care 3) When you fail to clip out --yes—WHEN not IF—the fall will suck and it will hurt. If you are lucky nothing breaks and you only end up with a few stitches. 4) Try not to fall and land on your break lever as it can and will puncture your chest if you hit it hard enough 5) Get back on your bike ASAP and ride!!

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Braking skills were a challenge. I would use too many fingers and mostly the rear brake which isn’t the best technique. Take some mountain biking skills sessions as soon as you can so that you do not have to spend years breaking (no pun intended) bad habits. Use one finger for breaking and learn how to use your front brake.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
There are plenty of skills I still find challenging. Most days I avoid letting it drag me down by reminding myself that “I am a work in progress and that as long as I keep pedaling, I am still making progress”.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love riding my bike because it helps me disconnect from the fast-paced insanity that has become our world. It restores my mind-body balance and reminds me to keep things simple.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a cross country bike for mountain biking and racing. I have a fat bike to help me make friends with winter. I have a cruiser bike because sometimes you just need to chill. I have a cross bike to help me out when I can’t get to a mountain bike trailhead and just need to get some training in. So many bikes…so little time….

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love my POC helmet and my Dirt Divas gear. I love Optic Nerve sunglasses and would recommend them to everyone.

You are a member of Dirt Divas, tell us why you joined the Dirt Divas club-
I wanted to meet other female riders and learn how to become a better rider.

What has been the best thing about having joined Dirt Divas
Meeting other woman riders and sharing new adventures with them.

What advice would you give someone seeking to join a club for the first time? 
Just join, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What is the best thing about being able to join other women with a common interest? 
Sharing stories and growing into better riders together. Our social rides are super fun.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking? 
I think women get intimidated by the public perception of mountain biking. Many people think mountain biking is like the “X games” or something that is really extreme or too hardcore to learn as an average person let alone trying to learn it as a woman.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride? 
Having more women-only events may help encourage more women to join the sport.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride? 
It is a great sport and I think everyone should try it.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I am obsessed with pirates. Yeah pirates--as in Jack Sparrow and Pirates of the Caribbean. :)