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Shred & Flow: A Celebration of Women in Mountain Biking
Words by Robin Vieira
From the onset of the Shred & Flow project, the intention behind the film was to celebrate women and their place in the bike community. We wanted to unpack some of the nuances and address some of the culture that is omnipresent but doesn’t sit in the limelight often, if ever. Being a female rider is just about as complex or simple as you want to make it. On the surface it can feel binary– either you fit in with the guys or you go to the opposite side of the spectrum. But that dynamic really misses the point.
It’s easy to pretend you don’t care in order to fit in with the bro-brah culture inherent to the mountain bike world. To be one of the guys, always stoked and ready to shred. But that doesn’t allow for women to be themselves. The hard part is to just be your own damn self on the bike and celebrate whatever that is. The truth is, bikes enable a sense of confidence that women already have inside us, whether we know it or not. When we let them, bikes force us to be our true selves. However, in a society with a dark history of oppression, women are constantly trying to look and be a certain way. It’s a beautiful and freeling thing when bikes allow us to forget that.
Women often find themselves on either end of the large spectrum in the bike community. On one end, we have women going above and beyond to create a women-centric community. Lots of pride, and lots of trying to put men in their “place”– a result of years of men putting women in their “place.” You’ll hear them say, “it’s only fair… they’ve done this to us, right?” But that’s wrong in my opinion. On the other end, we have women trying to assimilate into the bro-brah culture that men created. While I love parts of that culture, there’s a difference between trying to copy what the guys are doing and owning our own style.
What both ends have in common is the need for exclusivity– two extreme ways to carve out space for ourselves in the mountain bike community. But there is a third area that I strive to exist in. Existing here is to recognize your unique strengths and struggles, take pride in both, and lift other women up by recognizing theirs. We’re all different riders and that’s a beautiful thing. These differences help us grow.