Women on Bikes Series: Robin Dunn

Robin grew up in rural New Jersey, where her passion for the outdoors started. While pursuing her Master’s in Geology at the University of Maine, she was introduced to mountain biking. Upon moving back to New Jersey, she purchased her first mountain bike and never looked back. Robin rides (and has been known to race) all kinds of bikes but her heart belongs to the trails and mountain biking.

Robin is a teacher and usually spends her summers as a mountain bike instructor at a day camp. She also holds a Level 2 ICP skills certificate and is a part of the Cognition Coaching team.

Robin devotes much of her time to NICA and is the Head Coach of the Princeton Progressions team. She has also coached at Ray's Women's Weekend and is a Juliana Grassroots Ambassador.

Social Media - Facebook, Instagram, Blog, and Twitter

Tell us about your introduction to mountain biking, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
I grew up in rural NJ (yes, it does exist!) where I loved being outside and rode a bike to get around. I got my first taste of mountain biking when I was in graduate school in Maine and bought a "real" mountain bike after moving back to NJ. It was a way for me to get outside and enjoy the woods.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them.

Clinics were unheard when I started riding - at least where I lived. I jumped right into clipless pedals - having no fundamental skills. I spent a lot of time on the ground or just "doing it" and not really doing it well. Later on, I spent a lot of time on my skills development (practice practice practice) and I actually ride flat pedals now. You really learn how to ride and handle a bike when you are not clipped in.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I struggle with step-ups and bunny hops. I know what I need to do but struggle to pull it together. I will try things and after three tries, I move on. I also struggle with drops - I've been working on them but speed check is a big issue for me. I always want someone there to tow me in!
What inspired you to become a mountain bike instructor?
My coach and mentor. I was starting to feel burned out from training and racing. My coach asked if I would be interested in helping him coach a clinic - I said yes and it was such an incredible experience. I loved helping others and coaching ended up being more rewarding than racing. I also am inspired by other female coaches who stoke the stoke. I want to be like them!

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?

Start with the fundamentals and progress. So many people skip the fundamentals and jump right into things that are way beyond their capabilities. Progression builds confidence as well as the skill set.

Tell us why you became involved with NICA-
My coach and mentor introduced me to the program. NICA was just getting started in NJ when I got my ICP certifications to coach - between that, my full-time job as a teacher and my experience working with a kids mountain bike camp during the summer, it was a natural fit.

What do you enjoy most about being involved with helping youth enjoy mountain biking?
Seeing kids go beyond what they think they are capable of, whether it's mental or physical. I love watching kids progress through the season, overcoming challenges on and off the trails.

What do you enjoy most about coaching (in general)
Seeing that smile when someone achieves their goal or works through a challenge. Hearing that "woo woo"or "I did it!" when they've accomplished a new skill. Helping people find their "this is awesome" feeling.

What do you love about riding your bike?
Due to my work schedule/life, I ride by myself a lot. And I'm fine with that. It gives me time to think and reflect. I am able to escape from everything else going on in my life and focus on the now.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Oiy. I have a few...

I am an ambassador for Juliana - I love love love their bikes. So my everyday go-to bike is a Juliana Furtado. My bigger travel and enduro bike is a Juliana Roubion.

I have a GT Furty for downhill.

I have a We The People BMX bike for skateparks, pumptracks, and our many trips to Ray's in the winter.

My road bike is a Cannondale Evo and my CX bike (now gravel bike) is a Cannondale Super X.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
From my own personal experience...I sometimes see the "couple" thing - where the boyfriend/husband/partner tries to introduce a woman to biking. It often doesn't go well. It's not the same as having a group of women to ride with. I think having women's rides and groups aren't as intimidating and more welcoming to new riders is key. At least that is what helped me get involved!

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
Provide more opportunities for women's rides and clinics. More women's only demo events (I know Juliana and Liv do this).

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I look to my "shero" lady shredders for inspiration and try to pass it along to others. I often tell beginners "we all started somewhere" if they need encouragement or inspiration.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I broke my leg (both tibia and fibula) riding my bike when I was 8. I spent a week in the hospital and 11 weeks in two different casts. And I still love to ride bikes.