For many women, our introduction to mountain biking consists of bloody shins, pushing our bikes uphill, and cursing at our male counterparts. I was no exception. Living in a small community in Northern Utah, there weren’t a lot of people out on the trails, let alone women.
When my significant other bought me my first mountain bike as a way to cross-train for trail running, I didn’t know many people who rode other than him and his group of friends.
Riding with “the guys” was and is fun, and I owe the rider I am today to following them down trails that I wouldn't have dared attempt otherwise. But men and women ride differently, there were some things that they tried to share with me that just didn’t translate. The guys group had a bond and friendship that seemed really cool to be a part of. I wanted something like that.
Then I found WomenMTB, a Utah-based mountain biking club for all ages, that was holding group rides and clinics for women only.
After silently stalking WomenMTB on social media for several months, I went out on my first ride. The next day, I joined the club. Fast forward to today, and I sit on the board of directors working to turn our organization into a non-profit.
WomenMTB’s mission is to empower women and our community through mountain biking by creating an environment of acceptance, encouragement, growth, and education. And we do this by hosting family-friendly rides and dig days on our favorite trails and holding skills and maintenance clinics that give female riders a fun and less intimidating place to learn. Joining the board and donating my time to the organization provided me a way to give back to the sport that had taught me so much.
I didn’t only gain a riding group, I found a family of women who have become some of my best friends. Together, we are nurturing and extending our reach in the mountain biking community here in Utah.
We ride together, train together and race together. This year, along with help from our amazing MTB community, we hosted Utah’s first ever Women’s only Enduro race. Nearly 180 women of all ages registered, many who have never attended a race before.
Going into 2019, we hope to complete our non-profit application. Becoming a non-profit will help us in raising funds that we will use to put on events and clinics in our community. Our long-term goals include growing WomenMTB across the nation by sharing our model with other women who want to build and improve their own communities.
Building a community for women in the mountain biking world is only part of the puzzle. Finding and connecting with companies that value and support local communities and riders from all levels and backgrounds is another key component. That’s what drew me to Knolly and why I joined the Knation Grassroots Program for 2018.
The Knolly team has been extremely supportive and encouraging of its women riders and seeks out our feedback on their bikes. When it came to building my Fugitive LT for the 2019 season, the team looked at every part of the build to make sure it would fit my size and riding style. From looking at suspension options to crank arm length, they built the bike that would best suit me.
Knowing I have a team of some of the brightest minds in the industry, that believes in me and my goals, has helped me focus more on what I want accomplish as a rider next season and beyond.
In the meantime, if you like bike pictures and trail dogs follow my adventures on Instagram at @ShayliSchralps and over at @WomenMTB to see what we’re up to. For the women out there, our Facebook group WomenMTB is home to more than 1,800 women from all over the world. It’s an online community where you can ask questions, share stories, and meet other women shredders. If you’re passing through Utah during our dry months, check out our events on Facebook and hit the trails with us. We’d love to show you around.