Authored by 2021 Kaden Ambassador Tina Dutra
Getting into biking
Everyone can remember their first great bike ride. Then the second, third, and the cascade of memories that follow. For me, the memory that kicks off my biking saga started when I was around five and asked my dad to take the training wheels off my bike. I was tired of feeling like a baby and wanted to keep up with my brothers. Feeling the rubber hit pavement without the cringey scraping and rattling of plastic training wheels for the first time felt like freedom to a five year old me. Never had I moved so fast or gracefully under my own power and I was absolutely giddy.
Discovering mountain biking
Fast forward to post-college, I went to Highland Bike Park
for the first time on their closing day 2016. Mind you, I had not ridden a bike in years at this point, but being me, allured by the thrill of a new outdoor pastime and not wanting to miss out as my then boyfriend went to the bike park with his friends, I went too. Before this trip, I was vaguely aware of mountain biking. After spending years with my nose in math and science textbooks, I really hadn’t let myself explore the outdoors and from what I had been exposed to in marketing and social media, I saw that the outdoor space was very male driven. I went to Highland because I knew I was going to be with my boyfriend and the intimidation factor of doing something new was brought down to a reasonable level. I suited up in all the body armor the rental shop could provide, took a “Find your Ride” lesson and was immediately hooked. I refound that sense of childish delight as I “zoomed” down Freedom Trail.
Before the day was over, I was already scheming how to buy a bike. After learning to bike at five, I was taught to ski and snowboard on the hills of central CT and that became the greatest love of my life. Now, as an adult, I was still skiing, but a part of my heart felt hollow each April when the snow melted. But now, with biking, it was becoming clear to me that I could have that pure alpine bliss in the warm months too.
Fast forward again to present day me, about four years into my mountain biking relationship (we had to take a break for a year due to injuries), I found I wanted to do more in the women’s mountain biking community. Most of my rides were spent with my dude friends, and they are some of the most amazing humans I know, but there was definitely a feeling of longing for pink and pigtails on the trails. As I was pondering this idea in the back of my mind, a series of unfortunate events occurred that brought this thought to the tangible forefront in my life.
Getting connected with World Ride
On a dark night of the early pandemic, while recovering from injury, I was in severe longing for connection to the biking community. Scrolling through social media to live vicariously through everyone’s throwback photos, I came across a post about an organization, World Ride
, hosting a virtual movie night, with proceeds going towards supporting and empowering women riders around the world. Intrigued and needing a hiatus from COVID and injury gloom, I signed up. During the movie, we watched “Free Riding Iran,
” “Life of Pie
,” and “Becoming Ruby
.” As the short films lit up my screen, it was like a camera lens finally coming into focus; all the subtle, unidentified feelings I had around women in mountain biking came into clear, sharp focus. Biking was not only a fun pastime, but for many women, it’s an escape from oppressive societies and gives them a chance to feel free for at least a couple hours at a time. I also saw how valuable it was for women to carve out a piece of the outdoor space just for them. There was a need to create space for women to grow, advance and thrive, all under their own comfort. That pure bliss that I felt as a child, at Highland, and now every time I step on my pedals, is a true lifeline for other women around the world. I was hooked, and wanted to know how I could do more to help out this organization as they empowered women worldwide.
Volunteering at World Ride and our work
Now at World Ride, I volunteer as the Ambassador Coordinator, organizing 18 ambassadors from the US, Canada, Guatemala, and New Zealand as they each aim to raise $1000 for World Ride yearly. World Ride is now sponsoring projects and/or women in 8 countries: Nepal, Guatemala, Peru, Iran, Botswana, Israel, Ghana, and Lesotho. Our projects include:
- Creating bike libraries so the barrier of entry to riding is reduced.
- Building pump tracks so there are safe places to ride.
- Sponsoring local women to get trained in leadership and bike guiding so they can lead local women’s rides.
- Sponsoring female athletes so they can compete on the world stage, when they otherwise would not be supported by their own governments due to gender.
- Sponsoring local races for girls, like in Botswana, so they too can experience the thrill of bike racing where they have previously been excluded from such fun.
World Ride raises funds by hosting movie nights and by organizing trips to the countries we work with, having the local women we train as guides lead the excursions. We currently have trips running in Nepal, Peru, and Guatemala, with additional trips planned for 2022 in Botswana and Lesotho. (Check out Gage’s blog post about her trip with World Ride to Nepal
For reference, these are some of the things World Ride is trying to acquire for the women we work with in other countries:
$20 covers costs for a weekly group ride
$50 buys a helmet for a guide or rider who comes for a social ride
$60 for a set of new tires for our bike library bikes
$80 for a pair of mtb-specific shoes
$100 for first aid and leadership training
$300 to train a new guide
$500 for mountain bike skills certification training
$950 buys a hardtail bike for the bike library
$1800 buys a full suspension bike for the bike library
Every time I help new people learn about World Ride or receive donations for the organization, I’m thrilled to be expanding on the work to include more women in the mountain biking arena. Because it’s not about the bikes, it’s about empowering women and helping them learn reliance and bravery that can help them in all aspects of life.
If you have interest in donating, please check out my fundraising page
!If you want to learn more about World Ride, check us out on Instagram, @worldridemtb, or at our website: www.world-ride.com.
Photos courtesy of Tina Dutra and World Ride.