By now, you've heard the exciting news that Wild Rye is the new official apparel partner of Ladies AllRide Bike Camps. There's no limit to what becomes possible when two mountain bike brands that believe in the power of women supporting each other while having FUN on bikes join forces.
Lindsey Richter, Founder of Ladies AllRide was awesome enough to share her story about she got started mountain biking as well as what inspired her to start such an incredible organization. She'll tell us more about how LAR empowers women-identifying individuals to be transformed by the power of mountain biking: to get together, learn skills and gain confidence on and off their bikes!
Tell us about your background with mountain biking — how did you get started?
I was an athlete in high school and then didn't play sports in college so I lost my fitness and a lot of self-esteem. My dad bought me a mountain bike for college transportation in 1992 and we would ride fireroads together when I'd come home from college to visit, but I wasn't familiar with real mountain bike trails yet. I jumped right into the working world out of college in 1996 and got into advertising and PR. I felt something was seriously missing from my life and realized it was exercise, an outlet for my energy and a community of like-minded people. I decided to throw myself into mountain bike racing as a way to motivate me to spark my fitness again. I figured if I had something to "train" for I would be more inclined to workout again. The decision to race mountain bikes changed my life in so many ways. I met like-minded people and felt like I fit in amongst them, I found my fitness again and more importantly I found a passion that fueled me and helped me find confidence in myself that had been missing for years.
What inspired you to start Ladies AllRide?
I traveled across the country from 2002-2013 with my now ex-husband who was a pro downhill racer/freerider. I managed his career and helped create a tour, The AllRide Tour that involved promoting mountain biking, racing, running a kids race team and creating editorial content to help push him as an athlete and AllRide as a brand. During this time I noticed a distinct void in the participation of women in the sport. When I started asking women spectating at events why they weren't riding, the answers made sense. Many were introduced to the sport by someone who was an experienced rider, who didn't know what to say to help them feel safe or comfortable, and they ended up having a scary experience that turned them away. I also knew the marketing around mountain biking showed it as an "extreme" sport with lots of cliff hucking and big, scary downhill photos instead of inviting and fun. I realized there was a need for a series of events focused on inviting women into the sport in a welcoming, non-competitive way. In 2010 I started a Ladies AllRide component to our AllRide brand and made some videos meant to encourage women to get into the sport. I also got certified to teach by two different coaching programs and taught as many places as I could full-time for a few years to gain knowledge and experience. Then in 2015 Liv cycling and SRAM both showed interest in supporting our vision and the official Liv Ladies AllRide Mountain Bike Skills Camps: Powered by SRAM were born.
Tell us more about the concept behind Ladies AllRide for someone who may not know about it.
My life has personally been transformed by the power of mountain biking. The symmetry between bikes and life has been a catalyst for growth and change in my life and I am passionate about helping others experience this. Together with a team of rad coaches we aim to inspire women to face fears, believe in themselves and get RAD on their mountain bikes! These events are meant to bring people who identify as women together in a fun and welcoming environment to learn mountain bike skills, bond over bikes and experience the many ways mountain biking relates to life. AllRide is really a message: We should ALL RIDE bikes to experience the joy, fun and life lessons bikes can bring into our lives. We want to help more people experience the power of mountain biking because it’s an exciting and challenging sport that is good for the mind, body and spirit and it can truly change lives. ALL abilities, ALL body types, ALL fitness levels, ALL skin colors, ALL walks of life - we want to see ALL people who are able discover what they are capable of using mountain bikes as our tool.
Tell us about your team that makes the organization come alive.
None of this would be possible without an amazing TEAM! First there's my business partner, Meredith Brandt. She also saw a need for women to learn mountain biking safely in our hometown of Bend, OR in 2011. She started her own small series of lessons called Grit Clinics. We joined forces in 2015 to take Ladies AllRide on the road and turned Grit Clinics into a private coaching business all over the country that includes men and non-binary folks who aren't interested in a women's event. Meredith and our events manager Ali deal with all the crazy details that come with the madness of running a series of mountain bike camps all over the country and I am beyond blessed to have them running the show.
During my travels in the bike industry I met a lot of women who raced at the highest level and were interested in coaching. Many of them became certified to coach soon after me and over time our stellar coaching staff was born. We have around 50 coaches across the country who have tons of experience and literally make the whole program as magical as it is. Each participant spends about 90% of their time at our camps with their dedicated coach, so we attribute so much of our expertise, welcoming vibe, energy and professionalism to our entire team. We are pretty lucky to have such an amazing community of women helping us make these camps awesome.
What advice do you have for someone looking into mountain biking?
Take a lesson!! I can say with confidence it will make a huge difference to take at least one lesson to get started in order to develop an understanding of how it all works. It takes time to learn balance and skills on a mountain bike in changing terrain and the consequences of mistakes can be painful. Maybe go to a local shop in your area and try some bikes out, find a bike that fits and feels good and then enroll yourself in lessons, group rides, educational shop nights -- whatever you can do to become more familiar with the sport and meet others willing to help you on your mountain biking journey will help a lot.
What was the hardest thing for you to learn on your bike?
I think the hardest thing for me to learn on the bike was how to deal with fear. I had elaborate thoughts about what could happen if I crashed or made mistakes and it was debilitating at times. I threw temper tantrums and my bike often. ha! When I first started racing I wouldn't even ride down the downhills! I would jump off my bike and run down while carrying it awkwardly! I've probably had more crashes running with my bike than riding it. Once I started learning skills from people who actually knew what they were talking about, I started to develop a stronger mind. I realized that when I learned HOW to do something, my brain would stay focused on what needed to happen, rather than on what COULD happen. I learned how to change my thoughts from negative, fear-based thoughts to thoughts that kept my wheels rolling forward. I think the mental component to mountain biking is a big deal and that's why at our camps we focus on how to work on the mind just as much as learning skills with the body. As far as actual skills on the bike, I think learning to jump in my 30's was hard. I saw a lot of people get hurt while hucking through the air so there was legit fear around catching air. I was lucky to have a group of rad women who knew a thing or two about jumping and they taught me how to catch air in baby steps and now I love jumping my bike. Little jumps are great because three inches of airtime these days feels AMAZING!!
What is the most rewarding part of building an organization like Ladies AllRide?
Oh, tough question. It's ALL so rewarding. Having a team who loves what they do is rewarding to witness and be a part of. Building something meaningful that has a positive effect on people's lives has been a dream come true. Feeling like this is my absolute calling in life is impossible to explain, but I celebrate it with gratitude every single day. One of the most rewarding parts of building this has been seeing how many women are now getting into the sport and witnessing firsthand how it helps women realize what they're capable of on and off the bike. Hearing women's stories about struggling in life and how attending a camp changed their mindset and their belief in themselves is where the real magic sparkles in my heart.
Feeling inspired and ready to get more comfortable on your bike? Check out the 2022 Ladies AllRide Camp schedule and register today!