Women Involved Series: Joy Patten

I started mountain biking in 1995, on a steel hardtail mountain bike with V-brakes. It was a steep learning curve, but I immediately fell in love with the sport. At the same time, I was going through college getting my Mechanical Engineering Degree from Cal Poly SLO. I became a better rider over the years as technology improved. I raced a lot of cross country mountain bike races in the 90s, it was fun and pushed my skills and fitness.

While I was going to school the Downhill Race scene was big, it was on TV and I was just in awe of it. I wanted to be like Marla Streb, Missi Giovi, and the other fast girls. I had a roommate who made movies for Fox Racing and I told myself, one day I would race Downhill. While I was going to school though I knew I didn't have the money to afford the equipment nor did I have the time to dedicate to DH racing. I focused on finishing my degree and finding a job.

I completed my degree in 2002. I have worked at fossil power plants, nuclear power plants and I currently work for a company called Solar Turbines as a Field Engineer. I was a Rotordynamacist for 9 years, from 2004 to 2013, which means I designed journal bearings, found rotating equipment's natural frequencies and completed vibration analysis for turbomachinery. I have worked for Solar Turbines for 15 years. They are the largest manufacturer of Gas Turbine engines in the 1000 - 30000 hp range. (Jet engines on the ground) I am currently a Field Product Support Engineer and I support our Design Team and our Field Service operation. It is a fun dynamic job that is rewarding.

In 2004 I purchased my first downhill bike and it was love at first ride. I love the feel of downhill riding /racing, the speed, big hits, the drops, the experience of riding a downhill bike is just otherworldly. From 2005-2008 I raced as an expert DH rider, I had a boy in 2006, and I worked my tail off to learn more bike skills. In 2008 I came back from having a baby and worked my tail off to win expert races and gain the points to be able to go to the pro ranks. At the end of 2009 I applied for my Pro License and received it. The women I have met over the years of riding and racing have been the best part of the experience. The other pro ladies are encouraging, sincere and incredible. In 2009 for my first year as a pro I raced for Vixen Racing, which was a team of amazing fast women. I have raced/ridden all over the US and Canada in the last 10 years. I love racing, as it pushes me out of my comfort zone.

In 2007 I started www.JoyrideMTB.com as a women's skills mountain bike clinic. I loved how much I have received from the sport of mountain biking and I want to give back in some way. I have coached with Dirt Series, Grit Clinics, and quite a few other organizations over the years. I am a certified PMBIA instructor.

I moved to Utah in 2013, I continued to do some racing, but now I do more clinics than races. I work with an amazing women's community of AndShesDopeToo. I developed a bunch of clinics for them and another local women's mountain bike community of WomenMTB. For 2019 I am also a Santa Cruz Juliana Ambassador. I also started snowmobiling, which not many women do and I really want to start coaching snowmobiling and getting more women in the backcountry with a throttle! Mountain bike skills crossover to the sleds really well!

Below are a bunch of website sites to give you a little more information about me. My website has more pics and racing info from my heyday of racing!

Solar Turbines (This is what I do in the real world!):

Instagram handle: @joyridemtns

Tell us about your introduction to mountain biking, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
I was introduced to mountain biking at 19 by a boyfriend. I was living in San Luis Obispo, California, which is quaint, picturesque, town with mountains all around. He had a mountain bike and loved it. He spent a lot of time reading mountain bike magazines and ogling over the latest product and news. That piqued my interest that he thought the sport so cool. It made me think I must try this. In 1996, he had a nice Specialized hardtail with good components. It was too big for me, but I decided one day to borrow it anyway and I took it on a 5-mile dirt road loop behind Cal Poly. It was one of my running loops, so I was familiar with the terrain and the course. I got to the first real descent, that was long enough to gain some speed. The wind blew through my hair and I went fast, and I was hooked. I got to the bottom and the exhilaration I experienced was incredible. I knew I had to be a mountain biker.

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 struggled with braking and not sliding out. I would try to stop and end up sliding the bike out from underneath me. I also struggled with control on the front wheel over terrain. It took me a while to sort these skills out, I worked on braking slower, I wouldn’t slide, and I got comfortable with handling the front end. I don’t ever remember anyone giving me any tips though… I crashed a lot.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Riding a wheelie for an extended period is not something I have mastered yet… I can get in 5 or 6 pedal strokes and then I must put the front wheel down. It’s not something I need for an extended period of time, so I just keep telling myself to practice.

For folks who are nervous about giving mountain biking a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
Take a clinic with a trusted company/coach/group. Make sure they are certified and know what they are teaching you. Good coaches create a positive learning environment. There are a ton of good programs out there now.

What was your inspiration for becoming a mountain bike coach?
I was fast in the early 2000s, I didn’t have all the skills, but I was decent, and I could ride a bike. I understood most of the mechanics of what riding was with my bike. I could see my friends doing so many things wrong and struggling with the bike. This made them timid and afraid on the bike. I wanted to see them feel confident while they rode, and I wanted to do more than just race, in 2007 I started JoyrideMTB Clinics and started working with quite a few women. I did a lot of drills before we would hit the trail, I could watch their body position and see what techniques they needed improving. Then we would go hit a trail and go from there.
Tell us about your coaching business, Joyride MTB!
I started Joyride MTB as a Women’s Clinic when I was living in Southern California/San Diego area. Many of the women I rode within SoCal were timid and struggled with bike-handling skills. I could see what and how they were doing it wrong and I wanted to help them. There was a technical trail in the mountains above San Diego called Noble Canyon, an 11 mile (mostly descent) from 5800ft to 4000ft that was super-fast, rocky, technical and fun to ride. I could ride all the sections and many of the women I went with really struggled to clean them. I put together clinics where I would teach a whole bunch of skills at the top of the trail, then we would ride the trail and we would stop and session the harder sections. I had a lot of success with my drills style of coaching. I could help women right away understand what they needed to adjust and then we could put it to use. I developed a teaching plan that worked quite well. I continued coaching over the years and found more women’s groups to coach with. I reached more women this way. My schedule is so busy, with a career and being a mom, that working with a group that does the marketing side makes my life so much easier.

Tell us about the AndShesDopeToo and the WomenMTB communities and why you enjoy working with them- 
AndShesDopeToo is the embodiment of everything I could want in a women’s community. The owner really knows how to bring women together and put women at ease. The environment is one of trust, openness, kindness, support, and empowerment. There is no judgment of who you are, just a want and desire to enjoy the outdoors together. The goal of ASDT is to get women outside in the mountains and build confidence in outdoor sports that they can carry over to their personal lives. Along with a lot of fun!! I have always been a shy person and not someone who wants to deal with drama or cattiness. I think women are amazing and I truly love seeing them build skills and ride mountain bikes with confidence. ASDT builds an environment that is so accepting of everyone, the love and support is truly felt. I come away from the time I spend with these women as a better person. I know how much happiness riding my bike brings me and I want to give back to my community in some way. ASDT allows me to give back in the best way I know how.

WomenMTB is similar, they are also a great group of women. I love their mission and I love working with them! They do so much for women just getting into mountain biking with beginner rides and no-drop rides. The ladies I have met in that group just great!

Have you had any biffs (accidents) that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Yes, in 2005 I was trying to learn drops with a bunch of guys, who didn’t give me any real advice on how to do it. Just send it basically… And well that didn’t work, I went off a drop, landed on my head and broke my left collar bone into 3 pieces, broke a bunch of ribs nearby spine and was basically a disaster. This injury took over 6 months to heal from the physical, and it was at least 3-4 years for the mental/emotional healing to occur. This was the second drop I had endo’d on with serious injury in 2005, this one just a lot worse than the previous. After this injury, just thinking about a drop made me so nervous, when I got near one I would literally start hyperventilating. I wanted to race downhill so bad and I knew if I didn’t get over my fear of drops, I would never be able to get there. I decided after that injury in 2005 I would take some time off because mentally, I just couldn’t handle what I was trying to do. I had my son in 2006, and by the end of 2007, I was ready to get back on my bike. I wanted to race, and I wanted to go fast. I didn’t figure out how to do a drop properly until I got my first Santa Cruz V10. I got the V10 Christmas of 2008. The first time I took it off a drop I floated through the air, my front end wasn’t nose heavy at all. It was such a different feeling, that I finally realized how it was supposed to feel going off a drop. I spent the next few years slowly learning to trust the bike and drops. Many drops I would do, and some I still wouldn’t.

Now, I love drops, I love the feeling of flying through the air, sending it off a ledge, floating and landing with my two wheels at once. It is a good time! But some days it takes me time to warm up to them and remember how it feels!

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love dancing with my bike, I love it when I find the Zen and me and my bike are one. When I am one with my bike and the trail I can find the moment of utter bliss and happiness. It’s one of those moments of surreal joy. I wish I was better with words to explain how finding Zen on your bike is so incredible. It is truly mind-blowing!

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a Juliana Strega and a Juliana Furtado. I am a downhiller at heart, I love squish, I love my bike being able to handle lots of chunky terrain. When I bought the Strega, I wasn’t sure if I was going to sell my XC bike or my DH bike. I did back to back laps at Winter Park Resort in Colorado with my V10 and my Strega. My Strega felt better. The Strega handles all sorts of gnarly technical terrain, jumps, drops, and could pedal uphill. The bike is mind-blowing, it is a downhill bike that pedals. My favorite combination of traits! My Strega makes descents so easy it almost feels like cheating. She plows through the chunk and she knows how to handle the big jumps!

But my Strega is NOT a cross country bike, and when I want to go for a long pedal, the Furtado fits the bill. I have taken that bike down some seriously steep terrain, off big drops, and climbed thousands of feet with her. The Furtado is an excellent climber and has handled all the gnar I have thrown at her. It really is an impressive bike for only 130mm of travel. She is my mellow xc ride/ or long climbing ride bike that can still perform when it gets techy. She is playful and easy to put her where I want her on the trail.

Why do I have two bikes? Because when I want to ride the real DH tracks I need a bike that can handle it, the Strega laughs the harder I push her. When I want a long pedal, the Furtado works, she likes to go uphill.
You have done quite a bit of racing over the years, tell us what you enjoyed most about your experience-
I have most enjoyed the people and the experiences. The women on my teams and that I raced against are just amazing women. They inspired me every day with their passion, kindness, skills, and love. I was welcomed with open arms into a group of women I didn’t think I was good enough to be a part of. They made me faster, they made me laugh, they gave me support when I needed it and they pushed me to be my best self.

The experience of achieving a goal was also just as amazing. When I would complete a race at level I wasn’t sure I could achieve I was stoked. When I would hit a big jump or clean a technical line I was excited. I never really think I am that fast and then I get my race results and I am surprised I did as well as I did. I remember finishing a qualifying run and telling myself, okay I got to take at least 30 seconds off and when I took 40 seconds off my qualifying time I was thrilled! Time and again when I really pushed myself I found I could do alright. I belonged in the Pro class. I dreamed of being of Professional Downhill Mountain biker for 10 years before I became one. Achieving the goals, I did really put a smile on my face.

For folks who have never participated in an event, do you have any tips or suggestions that might help them feel more comfortable/enjoy the experience?
Join a women’s group that also races. They can show you the ropes, help you feel more comfortable and help you understand how to handle the event. This way someone who has the experience can take you under their wing and help you work through any fears you might have.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I would say the perception that the sport only supports super gnarly riding. If skiing only supported double black heli-skiing many women would be deterred. Mountain biking is for all levels, all-terrain, all sorts of options. I don’t think the beginner; mellow side of the sport is advertised enough. People probably think we are all riding down bootleg canyon gnarly steeps, when really there is something for everyone.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved? 
More sponsored women at the top. This would give more visibility to women that they are welcome, supported and part of the club. When I say sponsored, I mean racers, ambassadors and coaches. Full-time support to get them in front of more people. There are a handful of sponsored women in the US who can ride their bikes as a full-time job. That should not be the case. We should have hundreds!!!

What inspires you to encourage women to ride? 
How mountain biking has changed my life pushes me to want more women on bikes. Mountain biking has given me the confidence to try more than I think I am capable of. Mountain biking has made me believe in myself.

Women do not give themselves enough credit. We are very critical of ourselves, we are unkind to ourselves, and we don’t push ourselves to achieve what we truly can. I see so many women who don’t know how amazing they are, how capable they are. I want to change that.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I was my company’s (Solar Turbines) first female Field Engineer in 2012 and was encouraged and pushed by the President of Solar Turbines to do so.