Women on Bikes Series: Shelbi Fields
Last year, we traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma so I could go to a skills clinic with Switchback Training Systems.
I did so good that I race on their team now. I would like to help to get more young girls interested in Mountain Biking.
I don't have very many young girls to ride with, I usually ride with adult friends. My last 2 races, there were not any young girls and I had to start the race with teenagers and adults. It was pretty scary. I don't think people understand that mountain biking is so fun, it's good exercise, a good way to get out of the house and make new friends.
Tell us why your #bikelife is an important part of who you are-
I have met a lot of good friends mountain biking that I like riding with. I love the fun and excitement. I love the challenge.
You have been riding since you were 3 years old! Who was the person who introduced you and how?
I was riding my scooter down a hill and my dad told me to try to ride my bike down the hill like my scooter. I did it like 3 times with my feet just off the ground. Then dad told me to pedal and I did! The next weekend, we all went camping and my dad had me ride the trails.
Can you take us back to your first few mountain bike rides? What did you learn and why did you love it?
My first few rides were fun at first but I would get tired soon. The hills were really tough and I didn't like it at all. A few times, I stopped in the middle of the trail and wanted to go home. I would walk out of the trail. I was angry that I couldn't ride some parts and I quit talking to everyone. Other times, riding was a lot of fun. One day, my dad took me on an all women's ride called Ladies of Trails. That ride, I rode 10 miles and kept up with all the women. I met a bunch of new friends. That's when I learned when I could ride a bike pretty good. One of the girls on the ride asked us to go to a skills clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma where I met Nicole. Nicole taught me the ready position, how to use both brakes, butt way back and other skills.
What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
The Dog Dayz Race in Arkadelphia, AR was my favorite race. I liked it because I won first place. My grandparents got to come watch me. We had a great camping spot and I love camping out at the races. The trails are tough and I like tough trails. They had a BMX track and an obstacle course that was very challenging and fun. I like racing in Arkansas because the Friends of Arkansas Single Track Kids (FAST Kids) race there. I like racing against kids my own age. They are a lot of fun to hang out with.
Have fun, don't panic too much and you can't stop the butterflies.
Your last two races you were racing with a lot of older folks, which was pretty scary. How did you overcome your nervousness?
I tried not to panic but it was pretty hard. I didn't ride the best because I didn't have anyone near my size or age to ride against. I had a hard time keeping up. It's a lot more fun racing against people my own age. My last race was a duathlon that I raced as part of a relay with by friend, Eli. He is 8 and can run. We beat a lot of adults. That was fun.
Clips or flats? What do you like and why?
I am trying to learn clipless but I am riding flats on the trails. My friend, Tara, got stuck in her clipless and fell into some poison ivy. I don't want to do that.
When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
When I first started riding, I only used my back brake. I was worried that if I used my front brake too much, I would go OTB and bust my face. I went to the Switch Back Training Systems skills clinic where I met Nicole. Nicole taught me the right way to use my brakes and a lot of other good skills. I went to another little clinic in Louisville, KY where I met Kate and Danielle. I got to practice skills in a cave. I would suggest going to a women's skills clinic. It was a lot of fun, I met some great friends and they had good food.
I would like to do long wheelies and manuals. I want to learn how to do big air tricks like a handstand or a front flip. It's doesn't drag me down because none of my friends can do that stuff.
What do you love about riding your bike?
I love riding with friends. All of my riding friends are grown up and they go really fast so they are fun to ride with. My bike riding buddies are the best and they take really good care of me.
Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a Specialized Rip Rock. It's white and pink and it is really fast. It has fat tires and I can go up hills and through sand really good. I just put hydraulic brakes and a new crankset on it. My dad helped. My dad picked the bike out and surprised me with it. This bike is a 10!
What do you love the most about mountain biking?
Riding with my friends, making new friends and winning races.
Who would be your mountain biking idol and why?
Amanda Cordell is my mountain biking idol. She is a professional rider. She is adventurous, strong, fast, cool, awesome, funny, silly and sweet. When I grow up I want to be like her.
If you could mountain bike anywhere- where would you like to go?
Snowshoe, West Virginia Mountain bike park is my favorite place to ride. Dreamweaver, Raging Bull, Easy Street and Skyline was so fun. You could go so fast on Easy Street! I liked riding the chairlift. The apartment there had bunk beds and it felt like home. In the village, I liked bungee trampoline jumping and rock climbing. I wanted to do the zip lines but I was too little. I loved swimming at the indoor pool and the lake. I like the obstacle course at the lake. I really want to go back.
Do you have thoughts on what could happen locally to inspire more young women to give mountain biking a go?
Our Ladies of Trails ride is great. The Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club does this ride. I think if more girls knew about this ride, they would have a lot of fun. The other women are really supportive. Women are nicer and don't leave you. At the guys ride, they go fast and are like, "Bye Felicia!" and whoosh, they are gone. It's not fair or fun to get left behind on the trails. The ladies take good care of each other and let you go as fast as you want. If more girls could ride with us girls, they would have a good time. Our girls bring good snacks too. I am working with the president of the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club to start a kid’s ride in Memphis. Hopefully they will start it this year and I will be a ride leader. I am so excited to lead the trail ride!!!!! This will be my first real job!
What inspires you to encourage young women to ride?
Mountain biking has made me feel so strong and confident. It is good exercise. I feel really, really proud of myself when I win a race. I have met so many awesome friends because of mountain biking. I would like more girls to experience how much fun mountain biking really is.
Tell us a random fact about yourself!
This was the longest paper I have ever had to write. I am on honor roll in 3rd grade and my favorite activity, by a lot, is PE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!