While main­stream moun­tain bike me­dia seems to have set a low stan­dard for cov­er­ing women’s spe­cific rid­ing, there is a mo­men­tous up­take by the rid­ers them­selves to change the way the fe­male rid­ers are por­trayed.

Mountain Bike for Her - - Content - By Ash Kelly

Specif­i­cally, the Women’s Freeride Move­ment: Lisa Ma­son, Carolyn Ka­vanagh and Berny Jac­ques. Im­pres­sively, all three hold down full-time jobs and don’t earn a penny run­ning WFM in their spare time; this is how they give back to the sis­ter­hood of shred. Each pil­lar of WFM does some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. Their Face­book group is the hub of ac­tiv­ity, a cu­rated crowd sourced col­lec­tion of all things rad and fe­male in ex­treme sports, with a fo­cus on rid­ing. The new web­site - which was de­signed by Jac­ques and launched last Au­gust - show­cases the girls’ own writ­ing and videog­ra­phy. For Ma­son, who does most of the writ­ing, it’s all about us­ing her words to make peo­ple laugh. They have also hosted three ladies nights at the Air Dome in Whistler in an at­tempt to fill the void left when Crankworx Women’s Worx was can­celled. Within six months of the first Air Dome night in 2011, the WFM Face­book group had over 450 ac­tive mem­bers. The group con­tin­ued to grow in size and nar­row its fo­cus. “We try and in­spire women to do dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties or dif­fer­ent gen­res of bik­ing by show­cas­ing what women can do, and thereby em­power them to do it them­selves, or push fur­ther,” said Ma­son. What all three of the ladies be­hind the WFM bring to the ta­ble is an in­sa­tiable de­sire to shred. Ma­son started rid­ing when she was 25 and hasn’t stopped for the last 10 years. “I started [rid­ing] in Whistler so I get to see a lot of women, and get to see all of the best women. I think that it re­ally gave me a drive early on to try to ride my hard­est,” said Ma­son. Her first rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence sums up her ded­i­ca­tion to rid­ing. “We were rid­ing Train Wreck, this Whistler clas­sic trail and we came across a root that was way skin­ner than my arm. I turned to my friend and said ‘You want me to go over that?’ and he turned to me and said ‘You suck way worse than I thought you would,’ Ever since then I was like, time to shred. I’m not go­ing to let this guy tell me I suck.”

Ka­vanagh, now 42, has been rid­ing since 1999. She started out with can­tilever brakes on old school North Shore gnar. “It was kind of lonely at first be­cause I didn’t know any­body, but I knew I liked the sport and I wanted to be bet­ter at it and per­sis­tence paid off,” she said. In the midst of what she calls a ma­jor 40-year-old’s cri­sis, Ka­vanagh spent her 40th birth­day on Crabap­ple hits as one of three women that rep­re­sented at the Unof­fi­cial Whip Off for Crankworx 2012. She spends a good ma­jor­ity of her spare time with her chain­saw, re­pair­ing long forgotten and ne­glected trails on Cy­press Moun­tain in North Van­cou­ver. Jac­ques was lucky enough to start rid­ing the North Shore at 10 years old. Since then she has up­graded from her first bike, a Wal-Mart spe­cial, and raced the B.C. Cup cir­cuit. In 2013, Jac­ques raced her first sea­son as a pro­fes­sional. “I did ac­tu­ally stop moun­tain bik­ing for two years be­cause I didn’t know any­one that would go with me when my friends moved away. Then I joined an ex­treme sports club and I was the only girl out of 15 guys. From there I was like ‘I can show th­ese guys that I can do it.’ ” Know­ing the WFM is work­ing to­wards goals sim­i­lar to her own gives Santa Cruz jour­nal­ist Joh Rath­bun the in­spi­ra­tion she needs to keep pitch­ing sto­ries about women in sport. So far it has been an up­hill battle try­ing to get women the

Lisa, Berny and Carolyn (front to back) Lisa Ma­son, Berny Jac­ques and Carolyn Ka­vanagh each bring their own strengths to the WFM project, but on the trail it’s hard to say the same. All three ladies are ex­tremely well rounded rid­ers who can take on some of the most tech­ni­cal trails in Whistler and the North Shore. They don’t shy away from the jumps or the speed ei­ther.

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