Women specific marketing appeals to some, not all. There will always be two camps. Those that find it speaks to them, and those who don’t. I’ve always waffled between the two. Sometimes I am inspired by what I see, sometimes I feel my abilities are questioned. And this is the tightrope of gender marketing. This is not a new problem, and not specific to marketing in mountain biking.

Recently I was asked to participate in a parody article for NSMB.com “poking fun in a 100% positive/funny way from the imaginary perspective of it being a sport dominated by women”. This opportunity appealed to me, as I anticipated something light,
humorous and potentially thought provoking. In reality, the intent of the article differs from the outcome. Although the reaction has been largely positive, it has offended some. Yes, I likely should have been more thoughtful in my willingness to participate, and I take responsibility for that.

Professionally, I work with many female athletes and brand ambassadors who are supported by women specific bike brands. I myself am a “brand ambassador” because of what I do to support women in mountain biking. I work with my local bike shops to lead women only rides, and have been doing this for over a decade.

I love what is developing in the culture of the sport. I’ve been riding bikes for a long time, and the focus on what women want and need in the sport is very welcome. Liv Cycling’s commitment to the female rider is unprecedented, and I still remember the first time I saw the Juliana-SRAM Pro team cross my social media feed. A women only EWS race team – truly one of a kind – and I was absolutely inspired. Seeing the video of these women riding aggressively made my day. Did I share it? Absolutely. Did I concern myself with the color of the bikes, or what they were wearing? Not at all. This was a team of women riding their bikes at the international level, and I knew instinctively there had been a shift in the sport.

I am grateful for the support I receive from my athletes, both recreational and professional. I’m grateful that an online website asked me to participate in an opinion piece. My intent was never to discredit those who choose to ride a women’s specific bike, or discredit those whose profession it is to market to women.

Do I think we are there with women specific marketing? Like anything new, and it is relatively new, it is an evolutionary process and there are growing pains. The bike brands have their work cut out for them, and they will never please all. But I do see it heading in the right direction in that it also appeals to women like me. More and more, I see videos that I identify with. Women, yes on women specific bikes, riding the way I want to ride. And that is a good thing.