Women Involved Series: Audrey Duval

Originally from Quebec, Audrey Duval started skiing when she was 3 years old, so being in the Canadian Rockies has a lot of appeal to this petite brunette.

She is a level 3 ski instructor/level 2 coach, and is an accomplished mountain bike and yoga instructor.

Her yoga practicing is tightly woven into her two other sports, as she knows the importance of yoga in her daily activities.

Fourteen years ago, Audrey started road biking and a job in a bike shop landed her the first mountain bike experience – it was love at first trail! This happened nine years ago and, since 2013, Audrey is a certified mountain bike instructor, always ready to ignite your ride with her passion and enthusiasm.

As a result of her experience teaching women-only bike camps, Audrey decided to focus her energy to support other women in this male-oriented sport. Audrey started with the Dirt Series and is now teaching mountain biking and leading bike and yoga retreat in Golden, BC.

Audrey loves to share her passion and see her clients’ smiles when they accomplished something they didn’t think it was possible. Audrey also loves to challenge herself in scary downhill trails, to push her limit and do things she didn’t think it was possible – maybe that’s the secret why she understands her clientele so well. She really enjoys technical trails, and for this summer she wants to become a better jumper and pump more efficiently.

As an instructor and coach, Audrey cares about her client’s goal and knows that technique is not all: “I like to understand where my clients are coming from and see how I can help them get over their fears, or do a feature, a specific trail they didn’t t think they could do”, explains Audrey, adding that “as an expert skier and working toward my level 4 instructor, I found that one of my challenges is mental – and fear. What I am currently studying is how to unlock this mental challenge to become a better skier and be more relaxed… And how to apply it to mountain bike instruction.

Personal Website: audreyduval.com

What was your introduction to your #bikelife and why did you enjoy it?
The little town I live in started to offer spin class and my mom asked me if I wanted to join her, so I did!!! After a year enjoying spinning, I got my first road bike and the owner of the studio ask me if I would like to teach spinning!

Tell us about your time working at a bike shop, what inspired you to seek employment in the cycling industry?
I loved working retail and I worked at a ski shop in the winter since I was teaching skiing full time. I went to this shop a few times and really like the vibe, so I requested a summer job as I was studying to become a realtor.

What did you enjoy most while working at the bike shop?

Free espresso, amazing people (clients and staff), and bikes everywhere!

Why do you feel women should be active and involved in the cycling industry?

If you want a change, make the change happen yourself. The cycling industry is fun; there many great gals and guys! I have met so many amazing people from the industry that are really great friends now and I feel lucky to have this community.

Take us to your first few mountain bike rides, what did you learn and what inspired you to keep at it?

My cousins came out to visit me from Quebec, they mountain bike there, and I was a roadie.
So we decided to rent bikes at the nordic center in Canmore and at the time there weren't maps. It was a bit confusing, and at some point, we came down to a black run. I couldn't believe people rode that! My cousin did, so I told myself I will ride it someday and that same summer I did some black runs.

Clips or flats- what works for you and why?

Clips, I love them when riding XC or DH.
In winter I'm on flats as I like the challenge they provide me as I prefer clipless.
I love to not have to think of where my feet are related to the pedals, they provide me stability and it's so much easier to climb

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
My biggest challenges are more mental than anything else:
This is a blog post I wrote about it-

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 don't quite remember, besides few times before taking a skills course, I was so scared! I remember the boys at the shop telling a customer and me to only have one finger on each brake lever; there was no way I could wrap my head around that one. I was scared and I wanted all those fingers on the brakes! After a bike course, my riding totally changed, I fell in love with the sport and couldn't leave my mountain bike alone anymore.

What inspired you to become a certified mountain bike instructor?

I volunteered at several bike camps one summer and I loved the dynamic of women teaching. I love the simplicity of bike teaching compared to skiing. I love seeing women tackle down a challenge together and push the limit! Love the cheerleading!
What has been your most inspirational moment with mountain bike instruction?
The isn't really one moment, what I love the most is to see client's progress. I have one ambassador who I instructed from the beginning, and it so great to be part of someone's success and love of the sport.

What do you love about riding your bike?
The freedom of being outside, the challenge that trails give you, and that you are always learning to push your limit and progress. The friends I made throughout the year through biking; bikes and friends are the best!
Love the community and friendship.
Love the challenge each ride brings, love pushing my limit each time I ride, I love to tackle down technical terrain and do a line wasn't able to do before.
Love the freedom the sport gives me. I can hop in a car, drive a km, and ride my bike! I get to see new scenery and meet new people!

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why you chose them-

Ohhhh there are so many bikes!

I will go with my favorite one:
Thunderbolt 770 msl with Rocky Mountain Bicycle

It is my third model riding it, I remember the first event time getting on it! I couldn't believe how much fun that bike was, super nimble, easy to pedals, so much fun going down, can get air time so easily! It just a fun playful bike!

- Descending bike: Altitude 770- Just order myself a Maiden full on DH bike, will see how I like it!

- Fat Bike: Blizzard

- Road Bike: Conalgo

Tell us about Shred Sisters and how it got started-

I basically wanted to create an online community of women, to connect around the world so they could basically go travel somewhere and get show the goods!
I loved teaching so much that I decided to turn Shred Sisters into a bike skills teaching company, as I felt there was a need in my area to have more accessible courses. So I did! 

How can folks become involved with Shred Sisters?

So many ways-
You can come to one of our retreats, which happen twice a year!
You can join us for one of our courses!
You can come to one of our events, we usually host one event a month.
We also have an ambassador program.

Why do you feel organizations like Shred Sisters are important for women and the industry?

Because we learn differently; we have different hormones and that affects how we learn. In what is sometimes considered more of a "men's" sport, I feel it is key for women to be in a supportive environment that they feel understood. I've found we usually need a different progression.

For example, I was taking a ski jump course we had 4 guys and 3 girls.
The 3 boys took the medium jump - it was technical and some of them looked so scary!
2 of the girls were super strong skiers, one could barely get air, the second one was loving air but wouldn't feel 100% on one jump so she wouldn't go to the next one until she knew she could master the jump.

During that course, it proved to me that men take more risk, and will just do it from the pressure of their peers. Women are more cautious we want to know we master something before moving to the next! This is my observation from teaching and taking courses.

What are your hopes/goals for Shred Sisters over the next few years?

Expand to more territory, offer more advanced courses, and have more events that help women connect!

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?

I think we are past this as there is currently a huge community of women out there. For example, I would see more gals on Golden trails then men on a regular basis!

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?

I feel we are on the right path! The women's movement is already strong! Keep building a supportive community that helps women enjoy the sport more.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?

It's just so fun! I want everyone to get out there and have fun and I want to share the passion I have for the sport. I want the girls to feel the same freedom I have on a bike! I want them to find their bike buddies; it's such a positive place to be! It's one of the best hobbies ever!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I used to be a realtor.
I love gardening.
I love animals.
I can't imagine a day without being active.