5 Questions with VIDA MTB Series Co-founder Sarah Rawley

The secret to teaching women MTB skills is much different than men

Event
Rawley believes women who really like to ride want bikes that they can progress on.

Rawley believes women who really like to ride want bikes that they can progress on.

Back in January, we told you about a new partnership between Yeti and VIDA MTB Series. Then this summer a few of our staff’s significant others got the chance to do one of these women-only clinics. We (the husbands) were so impressed with the near immediate improvement in our lovely lady’s skills, we decided we needed to learn a little more about what’s going on at these clinics.

For that we turned to VIDA co-founder (and former Yeti employee) Sarah Rawley, who along with Elena Forchielli, runs the Colorado-based program that in 2015 included six events plus a women’s race dubbed the BetiBikeBash.

Besides teaching and running a business, Rawley is an accomplished rider and racer who’s contested a handful of Enduro World Series events and even competed in fall flung locales such as Chile, where she placed third at a pro-level race.

With Vida it’s more than just a clinic. It's a community.

With Vida it’s more than just a clinic. It’s a community.

“I love how mountain biking can take you all over the world,” she says, adding that the VIDA MTB Series is focused on inspiring a movement to promote cycling as a way of improving lives. “Our fundamental goal is to encourage more women to ride bikes and support them in their endeavors through instruction, building communities, and breaking down barriers to participation.”

Mtbr: Give us a breakdown of what the VIDA MTB Series is all about.
Sarah Rawley:
So our main offerings are our women’s only skills clinics, which this past year were in Sedona, Boulder, suburban Denver, Keystone Resort, Crested Butte, and Duluth, Minnesota. We also had the BetiBikeBash, which is a women’s only mountain bike race held in conjunction with the event near Denver. Next year we are adding an event at McDowell Mountain Park near Phoenix.

The main goal with the races is we want women to be able to compete in a supportive environment. So they’re not racing on the same course as a bunch of guys, and it’s not overly technical. A lot of women think they can’t race and that’s where VIDA comes into play. We help them obtain the tools and confidence they need.

The goal is to provide riders with the right skills and confidence so they are ready to take on challenge, but do it safely.

The goal is to provide riders with the right skills and confidence so they are ready to take on challenge, but do it safely.

As for the clinics, it’s all female instructors and we strive for a 1-to-6 ratio. We also have an ambassador program that is comprised of women who want to be involved and grow in this community. So they come to our events and serve as assistant coaches as a way to get teaching experience. So sometimes you actually get a 2-to-6 ratio.

The clinics themselves are all day. So it’s 8am check in, then 9-4 with a break for lunch, which is included. We also usually have a tech clinic at end of day to talk about the mechanics of bikes, maintenance, and that kind of thing.

Continue to page 2 for more from our interview with VIDA MTB’s Sarah Rawley »

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympics, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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