Sunday, February 17, 2019

Women Supporting Women

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Women Supporting Women

If you want to learn about how Magnolia BMX got its start, and how Shred Girls, got their start. This is the post for you.  I worked with Molly Hurtford from Shred Girls over a series of weeks to put together this laid back, conversational style interview. To the young women out there looking to turn your cycling passion into a business, I hope this inspires you.

Molly: The let's-kick-this-off question: How did you get into cycling? Where did it all begin?

Bea: I first picked up a bike when I was around 7 I’m guessing, but being raised in Toronto, I was limited to riding my bike up and down the block in downtown Toronto, bumping into crowds and with TTC lines above my head. It wasn’t an ideal place to ride, but what did I know at that age.

When I was 14 or 15, I bought my first BMX with the money I had saved from working at a pizza store. I remember going into Main Cycle in Hamilton, and Adam Mrowka who owns Station BMX in Hamilton now, helped me pick out a yellow Haro complete. I remember it being like $300 and I bought the most stupid looking pegs to go with it, which I thought was acceptable at the time. LOL - I never used them.

So I started out riding park in probably the most cherished era of freestyle BMX for about 5 years until I stepped away for school and a career. During that gap without my bike, I was unaware of how miserable I was until I quit my job of 4 years, to then somehow be introduced to racing during my “discovery period", and it’s been a whirlwind since. Racing has brought a lot of meaning back into my life, and I’ve been grateful to have accomplished a lot, including representing Canada at Worlds in 2017. To supplement my training, I’ve also dabbled in downhill and track cycling. Riding downhill has brought me to amazing places like Whistler and New Hampshire, and it’s also introduced me to people with a more positive and relaxed mindset in cycling. Track cycling, on the other hand, provided me with the motivation to be more disciplined in my training in the gym.

How did you get your start Molly?

Molly: I rode bikes as a kid the way a kid does: just messing around. I had a neighbor who was my age, so the second his training wheels came off, mine absolutely HAD to. But as we got older, we stopped playing outside and my bike just collected dust in the shed. I was honestly the least athletic kid ever: I would even pretend to feel faint to get out of running the mile in gym class!

Then, I got to college and, surprise, I started to feel crappy eating all junky dining hall food and not getting any exercise. So, I started thinking about doing a triathlon, because that's how my dad got in shape when HE was in college. Weird, but I had no idea what else to do. I started on the stationary bike at the gym, and pulled out my old mountain bike from when I was a kid. Eventually, I bought a junky road bike, did my first few races, and fell in love.

Fast forward, I joined my college team (Rutgers Cycling!) to get faster at the bike leg during triathlons, and the guys on the team urged me to try cyclocross. I fell in love. After that, I dabbled in every type of biking: road, MTB, track, BMX, whatever was around. I've raced a ton over the years, but even more important for me, I shifted from being a wannabe-fashion journalist to someone who writes about fitness, nutrition and especially cycling. I still love triathlon and running, but the more skill-oriented cycling stuff like BMX is super fun for me!

How did Magnolia BMX come about?

Bea: A little after I started riding, I started my own clothing company -everyone was doing it, but I thought being female BMX centric would be worth doing since there wasn’t a lot of competition in the market - or any. I got bored of it really quick and man it was REALLY expensive to keep up, so I was looking for ways to grow without having to spend more money.

During this time, none of the BMX news sites covered female riders, and if they did, it was rare, and if you ever saw a girl on a BMX site, guaranteed 99% of the time it was a “model" with bike parts.

So, I decided to put out content myself! I’ve been covering female events to the best of my ability, but more importantly covering female riders and doing online interviews with them for the past 15 years. I’m oddly happy to say that other news sites are finally jumping on board - yea the “models” are still there but there’s quality female BMX coverage too. To stay competitive, I teamed up with Rebecca Pergentile for a few years, to cover flatland news, and recently in the past 5 years, I started covering racing on top of freestyle. It’s a lot of work these days for 1 person, but it’s rewarding.

What’s the origin story for Shred Girls?

Molly: We have super similar origin stories, honestly. I was writing for a bunch of bike publications and had put out a couple of nonfiction books (one for women, called "Saddle, Sore: Ride Comfortable, Ride Happy"!). I was talking to a ton of female cyclists, and one common thread I was hearing when I did women's talks at bike shops was 'I wish I had gotten into this when I was younger.' I felt the same way: I wished I had started mountain biking much younger so that I would have learned the skills at an age when I was much less timid / less breakable! But when you're a young girl, you don't see yourself in cycling magazines, books, movies, or any media. So, being a writer, I tried to figure out a way to write to fix that problem... and Shred Girls was that solution. I wanted to write a series of books that would be similar to The Babysitter's Club — the books that inspired me to start babysitting as a preteen! — but with bikes, not babies. I wanted to start with three main characters who were all different from each other in how they looked, how they acted and how they found cycling because I wanted it to be clear that any girl can shred! The first book, Lindsay's Joyride, focuses on Lindsay, a shy bookworm who gets her first BMX bike from her cousin, meeting Ali and Jen in the process. And with those books coming out starting in May, I also wanted to have on online resource that highlighted real girls in all types of cycling, from track to MTB to BMX, at all skill levels, so that girls could see that other girls just like them are riding. And I wanted to have resources for how to get into riding, pick gear, find people to ride with, eat right, all the stuff that cycling magazines talk about, but for young girls!

Phew. That was the shortest I could go there!

When you started Magnolia BMX, what was the reception like? Were people excited to see more women's options for clothing, and later, when you shifted to news?

Bea: It’s funny how close we are, the first time an article of mine went on a BMX website it was one of the best days ever because something I wrote got published and funny enough, I always wanted to illustrate a book, but that hasn’t happened yet.

When Magnolia BMX started, the feedback was overall good, the only people that were negative were people that I considered “friends” at the time. As I got better with designing shirts, the demand increased, but it was really when I introduced our BMX and MTB jewelry that the line really exploded. Having content on the website, including interviews and videos allowed me to build a consistent flow of visitors to the website and established us as the destination for news. Unfortunately, there’s been some life moments that got in the way and now I’m trying to rebuild that.

What was the process like to write a book and published?

Molly: Long and hard!! With my other books, I've done a few different things: had a small publisher, self-published and had a bigger publisher. For Shred Girls, the first book took about a year to write — the idea hit me and I started working on it, but at the same time, I was finishing the updated edition of Saddle, Sore: Ride Comfortable, Ride Happy, plus all of my other work! So it took a while. When I got the draft finished, I decided to self-publish it, because I really wanted to get it out into the world, and didn't want to wait for the publishing process. Honestly, looking back, I think I was also struck with imposter syndrome ('who am I to be writing fiction?') and was afraid of dealing with rejection.

But it gets a little fairy-tale-ish here, and even writing it out feels too good to be true sometimes! To make a long story short, I had self-published "Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride" back in 2017, but almost immediately, Rodale Kids (now Random House) offered me a contract for the series, if I was willing to pull the self-published version off of the Amazon shelves. I was.

Now, two years after I originally launched the idea of the Shred Girls series, Lindsay's Joyride is out May 7 (preorder link is here) and has a ton of awesome illustrations and updates, which I'm obviously crazy-excited about—and it's awesome to have it coming out with a bigger publisher since now, hopefully, it'll be able to reach even more young girls outside of the cycling community and convert more new riders! (I wrote about the whole concept / why I started the series over here a couple weeks ago).

Why women's BMX? What drew you to that — and what made you realize that there was a need for women's BMX news?

Bea: That’s awesome and I’m super excited to see your launch!

I chose to focus on Women’s BMX, naturally because I was/am riding BMX. The issue around 2004 -09 was that I knew female worthy news existed, it just wasn’t enough for big news sites to post up for some reason. Back in the day, the focus was always on two female riders (they were amazing) but I made an effort to find those underground girls and interview them too, just to show the world there’s more than “these number of girls” who ride in the world.

During this time, the ladies weren’t as keen to post up clips of their riding either and to be honest, it wasn’t that easy as it is now. “Back in the day” you kinda needed to know a videographer to get your stuff edited, now you can easily do it all on your phone. Not to toot my own horn, but I swear back then, the only time you saw a ton of BMX edits by girls was when I was holding my online Magnolia BMX edit contest. I did it for a few years, I had awesome sponsors who donated prizes, I gave the ladies a super long time to make the edit (like I’d post the contest up in the Spring and have it close in December) and eventually I stopped because girls were doing it on their own.

Now, it’s trying to not follow trends and being creative. There are a few BMX sites that are starting to sensationalize their headings in hopes of causing drama for more clicks - I’m not about that, but I am about asking real questions.

What’s your 5 year plan after the books and where do you want to take Shred Girls? When or what will be your “made it” moment?

Molly: Love that—isn't it funny how technology has made what we used to do so easily? I remember trying to figure out video back around 2006-2007 and trying to do a VERY short-lived web show called 1 Drifter back in the early 2010s with a Flip Cam and a super old GoPro and the oldest version of iMovie around. It was ... not great. Now, iPhone could do a better job with 10 minutes of work!

OK, 5 year plan. Ha, I better start making one! Honestly, it is a little nebulous at the moment, only because a lot rides on how the first book, Lindsay's Joyride, does when it's out in May. I'm doing all that I can to prep for a successful launch and making as many book talk/ride plans as possible. The hope is that it does well and actually reach a wide audience beyond the cycling community. After all, not only people who babysat bought Babysitters Club books, and not only girls who rode horses read The Magic Saddle Club (or whatever that horse-y series was called!). If it grows like that, my hope is to keep writing the series and growing it from the literary side of things, so that there are dozens of books in the Shred Girls series! While writing them, though, I'd love to expand the website more so that girls interested in riding have more resources to look to as they try to get into the sport—a lot more training and nutrition content, since I think that's lacking for young girls. And I would love to start running more camps/rides/talks/clinics for that younger female audience!

So really, the 5-year plan is to try to expand the Shred Girls books, the site, and the events. But until I see what the initial launch looks like, it's hard to make any real numbers-based goals and predictions about where it's going. So I'm sure by August of this year, I'll have a much better handle on where we can realistically go with Shred Girls.

In a lot of ways, I've already had a few 'made it' moments: I've heard from a few parents of cyclists who got early editions of the book when I first put it out, who've told me that their young cyclist isn't really a reader, but she read Shred Girls over and over; and on the other side, I've heard from parents who've told me that their bookworm read Shred Girls and now she rides with her dad every week! (But I wouldn't say no to a New York Times Bestseller designation either…)

What about you, from a longer-term perspective? Do you want to keep Magnolia BMX solo, or are you hoping to expand into hiring people, or get it rolled into another BMX publication? With the way the media landscape is shifting like crazy, I'm sure you're dealing with the same question marks as I am about that kind of thing!

Bea: I can definitely agree there are some gaps in knowledge when it comes to nutrition in cycling, in BMX specifically. BMX freestyle, in particular, good nutrition is still in its infancy stage, most riders are still hammering down a big mac before a session - so I think your idea is great and in fact, when I interview BMX racers I always ask a few questions relating to nutrition to help the reader.

I’d love to actually hire for Magnolia BMX and expand into MTB, but it’s not in the plans any time soon. I really enjoy interviewing people and getting to the nitty-gritty things, and if I can do that full time even for someone else, that would be a dream. Right now I’m waiting to see where media goes next, very curious to see the shift too, and hoping to get it on early.

What’s a normal week for you like these days with a book coming out and I’m sure you have a “normal” job?

Molly: I don't actually have a 'normal' job, per se! But I do have a ton of work stuff outside of writing the Shred Girls series and running the website. I do a lot of freelance writing for places like Outside, MapMyRun, Bicycling, and a few others, so doing a few articles a week is pretty standard for me. But a normal week is tricky because we travel a ton to coach different camps and clinics as well. For example, right now I'm in California, where we just coached a 2-week camp, so most days, I was riding a few hours with the campers and then coming home and catching up on work (and getting up super early to get assignments in on Eastern Standard Time!), then I went to a training camp I was covering for an assignment. This week, the camps are over and we're in a small studio apartment in Ventura, CA, so I could catch up on assignments and get a head start on the Shred Girls book #3 draft before I go to another camp that I'm coaching in February. I have a pretty strict schedule for myself in terms of when we record and upload our Consummate Athlete Podcast, when I write posts for my personal site,, when I work on book stuff and when I do the stuff, so every day looks super different but always involves a lot of writing and hopefully some training!

What was the first BMX trick you nailed? Can you remember how you felt when you 'got it' and what a turning point in 'hey, I could be good at this' was?

Bea: You’re truly living my dream right now. My freestyle career was pretty long but short-lived, I gave it up to pursue a “normal” career and ended up putting all my eggs in college and growing in a job. I did nail a trick but it was just a roll-back, nothing fancy. It was really racing that I actually had that “I could be good at this” moment. The first inclination was when I peddled down the first straight without any fear or reservations. That said, freestyle with its ramps and shit like that, really help develop what control I have right now on my bike, so it wasn’t like a waste of time. Looking back, I wish I stuck with it - because I would have probably had enough tricks by now to compete for the 2020 Olympics in Freestyle, but when you don’t have the heart for it anymore like you can’t force it.

I guess my last question is, what advice would you have for someone to do what you’re doing right now. What skills do they need to pick up, may it be in education or life skills? Being your own boss and all?

Molly: So many people talk about the hustle, so it seems cheesy... but it's totally true. The whole freelance writing life is awesome, but there were a ton of no-sleep nights when I started (and there still are, though thankfully not quite as many!). I was waking up at 3AM to watch World Cup races happening in Europe while in California, trying to live stream and write the race report via a sketchy pirated feed being announced in French, a language that I decidedly do not speak well. I once sat in a donut shop until 4AM with my then-boss as we furiously edited a magazine that was due to the printers at 7AM, and I've driven across the country more often than I care to count. It's been awesome, but it's really hard work—especially when you're trying to get your name out there. The biggest advice? Put yourself out there and if you want to be a writer, look at smaller publications (like ours!) rather than going for someplace like Outside when you've never been published. And in terms of being your own boss and keeping it all together... You don't have anyone to blame when stuff goes wrong or plans get screwed up, so be meticulous with planning and organization. Every deadline, flight, travel plan, training ride — have it on your Calendar, in your planner, wherever you'll actually see it, and follow through. It sucks to have to fire yourself!

Last Q for you: How does the women's freestyle addition for 2020 change the BMX landscape for women? Any big predictions? (And how might it affect Magnolia? It seems like all eyes will be on women's BMX in the next year!)

Bea: One word, HUGE. This is a huge opportunity for representation, and what I’m hoping will change is the addition of a female division in other competitions like at x-games - they still don’t have a women’s division, it’s crazy!

Also hoping that Simple Session brings back Sister Session, which was something I looked forward to watching until they stopped doing it. In terms of predictions, USA is going to be on the podium for sure, in what capacity I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if two Americans landed on the podium. For Magnolia BMX not sure... more news, hopefully, enough coffee for me to keep up with the action.
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Monday, January 21, 2019

Spotlight: Saya Sakakibara

Monday, January 21, 2019

Spotlight: Saya Sakakibara

I'm excited to kick off the new year with an interview with Australia's own Saya Sakakibara! 19 year old Saya has had an amazing first year as an Elite rider, where she finished with a #2 BMX World ranking. In this interview, we talk about Saya and her support system, a little about her family, her accomplishments and struggles. It's also Australia Day in a few days, so sit back, grab a slab, turn on the old barbie, and read on. Crikey!

Age: 19
Hometown: Helensburgh
Sponsors: Redbull, DK, BOX, Oakley, Michram Industries, Onyx, HT, Shimano, Shoei, Parkside Sports Physiotherapy, Fist, SD Components

How and when did your journey into BMX start?

I started BMX when I was 4 years old. My brother Kai was already into the sport and I was dragged to practice and racing every weekend, where I sat, watched and most of the time played in the dirt. I think my parents saw that I was super bored all the time so they bought me a bike and I was off! At first, it wasn't for me, I crashed 3 times on the same jump and I cried and went home. For 4 months I resented my bike but one day I was on track again and I've been doing it ever since!

I find it really interesting that at one point in your career you represented Japan, but obviously since then, you have been representing Australia. How does that transition work exactly? Were there any difficulties switching from one representing country to another, and what factors played into your final decision?

So when I was turning 7, I competed in my first World Championships, and this was while I was living in Japan - hence why I competed as a Japanese rider. Then when we moved to Australia, we just continued to race as a Japanese at World Championships each year until my first year as a Junior Elite. Turning Junior Elite, means that everything becomes more official, points from races count towards nation rankings and everything becomes more serious. So, I had to make a decision before the start of the year, yes it was a long process. Counting up the pros and cons and thinking about my future as an athlete and as a person. I think what it came down to was where I feel the most comfortable. My family lives in Australia, I have friends in Australia and most of my fans are in Australia - so Australia it was!

As someone born in Australia, that is half Japanese and half British, I also find it interesting that you’re represented by a Japanese Athlete Agency and sponsored by Redbull Australia. You’re truly a woman of the world, but growing up were there any difficulties with finding your own identity?

Haha! I definitely being everywhere but I don't think I had any troubles. I was quite young when I had those big country moves so I was able to adapt quite well. I think more than it being difficult, I was more embracing all the changes and unusual experiences that were coming my way. And I believe those experiences were the foundations of what my identity has become now. I can speak Japanese, I have Japanese values but I also feel like I am full Australian as well!

Congratulations on a stellar season. Usually, when a Junior enters Elite, you see them fall off the planet a little bit... or rather the podium. In your case, you’ve been consistently hitting the podiums and even finished 2018 with a #2 BMX World ranking. Looking back at 2018, how do you feel about your own performance, are you surprised in any capacity?

Thank you! Absolutely I was surprised. Actually, last year, I was writing my goals down and I wrote down 'Finalist at World Cup' and I thought I was getting ahead of myself. But I was like 'well, may as well aim high' and stuck with it! Little did I know that I was going to end up with all these crazy results this year! I think my lack of expectations was a part of my success as I didn't put any pressure on myself, and just tried to ride the best lap I could possibly do. Which led to a better state of mind when it came down to lining up on the gate to Olympic medalists and multiple World Champions. I mean, I think I just went with the flow, I didn't get a podium at each round, I had some crashes along the way and I can honestly say it's been an up and down year. I experienced more than I've ever imagined and learned more about myself rather than anything.

What was the change in levels like going from Junior to Elite? 

I feel like it depends on the way you look at it. Yes, going from Junior to Elite is a big jump as you go from racing riders around the same age as you then to racing riders up to 30 years old with sooo much experience under their belt. You go from only having to race 15-20 riders to racing 30-50 riders. And you become part of the highest rank category in BMX as the level of competition goes through the roof!

But on the other hand, you still line up on a gate, you do your normal gate, pedal hard and do a few jumps and turns and you finish the race! Just a simple BMX race.

So for me, I just took it on as another mental challenge more than anything. I didn't change much in physical training as doing what I was doing was working. It was just now to keep building on the foundations that I've built to be stronger, faster and more skillful.

There’s a positive movement going on right now, which ironically is about sharing the real honest struggles since we tend to share only the positive aspect of our lives on social media. Could you share with us a struggle or disappointment in your career so far, and how you dealt with it?

I have to be honest, I tend not to share too many struggles as there are so many other people in the world who would love to be living the life that I am, and I feel like my problems and struggles are nothing compared to theirs. But, I think there is value in sharing difficult times, and disappointment as even though people can't directly relate, but they could relate and take the positives or life lessons from my problems and apply it to theirs.

I think one example is the World Championships in 2017. I was 2nd year Junior as was winning the final and was on my way to a rainbow jersey. Then I got passed on the line, finishing 2nd. I was filled with anger, disappointment, embarrassment and felt like I let everyone down.

Yes, 2nd in the World is a great result. But the fact that the year prior, I couldn't race as I crashed during practice and the fact that from that moment on, I was dedicating everything to win the rainbow jersey. I was the best I've ever felt on the track and mentally as well.

It just came down to just being honest with myself and credit myself for the things I did well. eg. Great gate, great first straight etc. And things that didn't go so well. eg. my 3rd straight was slow. But to be honest there wasn't much that I did wrong. I actually had a really good lap and there wasn't much that I would've done differently. It was accepting that the other girl was faster and probably worked as hard as I did to win too, and to accept the defeat. Then! make sure it NEVER happens again. I chose not to watch the video back because I knew it will make me rather upset instead of fired up. I decided to move on but not forget the feeling of disappointment and failure and that was what motivated me to continue to train hard and work on those flaws that messed me up.

You’ve credited your brother Kai and your Dad for pushing you to the limits physically and mentally. How has your dad helped you, and was he a former racer himself? What is mum’s role like when it comes to your BMX career?

My dad helped me, just being a dad. He was never a racer nor an athlete but I think he knew my abilities and what I was capable of and pushed me until I got there. I feel like he was very strict but was reasonable, and most of the time, I was just being a scaredy cat.

Well my mum was and is a quiet supporter. She drove us to training, spent hours in the sun filming every lap we did, prepared us snacks for when we went riding and cooked race food for us every event. She never pushed me to do things, but she supported Kai and I's passion and love for the sport and did everything in her power to make it as easy as possible to follow our dreams. And I absolutely love her and appreciate her for that.

I think it’s wonderful that your family is so supportive and involved! I’ve personally have seen parents take it way too far with their kids where I didn’t even feel like racing after seeing parents bully their kids for not finishing first. Is there any advice that you can give from your parents, or opinions you have of your own on this subject, or maybe advice for parents who are hoping to have Olympians in the future?

I think it is a very difficult subject. But in my opinion, the motivation has to come from within. It must come from the rider or the child that they do WANT to win or WANT to get better. And it is their parent's job to support that as much as they can rather than push them to train, or bully them when the rider doesn't get the result that the parent wants.

It's important to also remember that BMX is a sport and it's supposed to be enjoyable, and it's supposed to be fun, and the motivation will stop when the fun stops. I think BMX and sports in general is a great tool for kids - being active, making new friends and also teaches success, failure, commitment and dedication which are life lessons! So the bottom line is, support not push, and it really doesn't matter if your 7 year old kid is World Champion or not!

Switching gears a little, Facundo wanted to know, what you eat during the season. More specifically, foods for training before and after a race.

Usually I don't have a specific diet. If the meal I eat has vegetables, some protein, and carbohydrates, then I'm happy. I tend to eat salads with a bit of meat a lot for lunch, and for dinners, is usually a rice or pasta dish.

Foods for training, I usually just have a bottle of water and a bottle of electrolytes or sport drink, and a protein shake afterward. - I don't usually eat during the session but make sure I eat well after.
For racing, I make sure I have a good breakfast, or lunch if racing is in the afternoon, then I stick to maybe a Red Bull for a kick start. After that, I top up between races with high carbohydrate foods that are easy to eat like fruit, or mini muffins, or Nutella sandwiches.
After racing... Treat myself with yummy food!!

I understand you’re in New Zealand for a couple of weeks, training with the Smulders sisters, Jessie Smith, and Sarah Walker, how’s the training session going so far and what’s in store for the rest of the 2019 season? 

Yes it's been super fun. Every day has been exciting with these girls, training and hanging out in this beautiful country. I am staying in Hamilton but spending a good amount of time in Cambridge which is countryside. Surrounding environment is so green and the weather has been really great so far!

So the first race back for me will be the Oceania Championships in Te Awamutu in NZ. Some of the girls from Aussie will be coming over which will be an awesome event. And then a few open races back at home until off to Europe again for the European Cup and World Cup circuits starting in April. I haven't planned too far ahead, but I'm sure ill be visiting the US sometime later in the year.

Does your bike change depending on if your training or racing? What’s your set up like going into 2019?

My bike stays the same both racing and training. The only thing that I might change may be the gearing ratio, whether I want a hard gearing for sprints, or maybe a lighter gearing for training on the track. It depends but that will be the only thing that changes.

My bike set up is:
DK Bike - Professional V2 frame
Box Components parts
SD Components carbon rims
Michram chainring
HT Components pedals
Tioga tyres
Onyx Racing hubs

For each sponsor you have, what’s one product you’d highly recommend from each?

Thank you to all of my incredible sponsors:

Red Bull - giving me the opportunity to work alongside an awesome company and providing me with energy!
DK Bikes - Professional V2 frame
BOX Components - X5 fork
Oakley - Airbrake goggles: Super comfy and comes in so many styles!
Shoei Helmets - VFX-WR Helmet
Michram Industries - LM17 chainrings
HT components - T1 SX clip pedals
Onyx Racing - Ultra Hubs
Shimano - S-Phyre shoes
Fist Gloves - Our Sushibara signature gloves!
Parkside Sports Physiotherapy - Their physiotherapy :) haha

Photos from of her Instagram Account @sayasakakibara

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

FOLLOW UP TO: Compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Freestyle BMX

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

FOLLOW UP TO: Compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Freestyle BMX

In 2017, I had put together some information on how you can be an Olympian at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend reading this first before continuing down below.

Did you read it? OK good. For those of you who have been sleeping under a rock, and is like "oh jeez, maybe I can do this". Guess what...there's still an opportunity. I reached out to BMX Freestyle Consultant for the UCI, Bart De Jong to answer my questions.

Bea: If there was a rider who can compete this year (2019) and earn enough points (ie, make podium at every stop for example), can they still qualify for the Olympics?

Bart: If a rider scores enough points to qualify their country for a spot in Tokyo it will be up to the federation to accept the spot first, and then decide who is going. If the single rider scores enough points to qualify his/her country during the qualification period (1 November 2018 - 11 May 2020), they'll get a spot. It all depends on the results/scores. The results of the two highest ranked riders will be added, but one single rider possibly can score more points than two riders together.

Bea: Can a rider compete this year, and upset the entire system regardless of which country they’re from? Or is it too late?

Bart: It's not too late to qualify but the qualifying period started back on 1 November 2018 in Chengdu so the first points have already been given out at the last World Cup of the season and the 2018 UCI World Championships. But plenty are coming up with a.o. the 6 best C1 results during the qualification period, National Championships of 2019, 6 best World Cup results, etc. (see qualification document below).

Bea: If you’re a rider who holds two passports, say one was USA and the other one was like Vietnam (just pulling a random country out), could someone “Eric Moussambani” it? If you’re not familiar, he was a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, he swam for the first time less than a year before the Sydney Olympics. He gained entry to the Olympics without meeting the qualification requirements through a wildcard draw, which was to encourage participating in developing countries.

Bart: With only 9 spots available for Men as well as Women, we will not get in that situation where we have to fill up the spots to complete 9 riders per class. We've only got 9 per class and as it looks right now, we've got plenty of riders from many different countries competing for these spots. 38 girls entered the last World Cup from around 19 different countries. I have a feeling this number will only grow in the next year or two. Again, read the criteria document and you'll learn how it's done so we'll have great riders in both classes in Tokyo.

(If you have two passports, you'll have to decide which country you want to represent. It's that country you will score points for (and only one country). It's not possible to change countries mid-season and it's complicated to change countries even after the year is up. There's no priority given to any rider with two passports. )

Qualifying Doc:

There you have it! If you're hiding talent somewhere, it's still not too late. As it stands, below are the top 9 country rankings entering 2019 and the top two female riders in each country. Data from UCI.

1. United States
  • Perris Benegas
  • Hannah Roberts
2. Germany
  • Lara Lessmann
  • Jennifer Wohlrab
3. Spain
  • Teresa Fernandez-Miranda
  • Beatriz Ibanez
4. Switzerland
  • Nikita Ducarroz

5. Russian Federation
  • Elizaveta Posadskikh
  • EKaterina Kruglova

6. Chile
  • Valentina Perez

7. Japan
  • Oike Minato

8. Great Britain
  • Charlotte Worthington
  • Isobel Burrell

9. Australia
  • Caroline Buchanan

Photos provided by Bart De Jong
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Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018 Vans BMX Pro Cup Malaga, Spain Results

Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018 Vans BMX Pro Cup Malaga, Spain Results

Perris Benegas takes home gold at the Malaga Vans BMX Pro Cup Stop - Photo from Rad Theif
Results from the Vans BMX Pro Cup in Malaga, Spain

11 JAY LEWIS GBR 79.25

2018 Vans BMX Pro Cup Series Spain Womens Semi - Finals | BMX Pro Cup | VANS


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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Spotlight: 2nd Annual Women's Weekend in the Woods

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Spotlight: 2nd Annual Women's Weekend in the Woods

Photo Cred: Tasha Lindemann
Women Weekends, clinics, jams, whatever you want to call it. They are so important for the development of our community. I will be the first to say, as a shy rider, I progress the most when I attend a women's jam. Why you might ask? It's less pressure, more relaxed and it's almost like we get permission to make mistakes and look stupid without the criticism. Taryn Hipp is hosting the 2nd annual Women's Weekend in the Woods, and because I want to help promote the event, I reached out to Taryn to ask some question to help plan your trip. If you want to make new friends and learn more, keep reading.

How did the Women's Weekend in the Woods Jam get it’s start?

Winter of 2017 a few of us from PA went out to Ray's for Women's Weekend and met a bunch of women who had no idea that there were things at Posh and Catty other than huge doubles. They just assumed there was nothing for them to ride so they never made the trip. So, we started throwing around the idea of getting all these women out to the trails & they seemed psyched on it. So I sent a text home to all the dudes just being like "I want to have a ladies jam & I want to do it between Labor Day & Halloween" (our two biggest jams each year - when the trails are dialed), they all were stoked on the idea so I picked a date & that was it. I didn't realize how much work it would be, I just knew I wanted other girls to come to the trails & ride. It ended up being such a huge success, thanks to the endless help/support/love of so many women from around the world so we figured, why not do it again? It also helped to get more women to Posh & Catty throughout the year which was the biggest take away for me personally. I had spent so long riding alone at Posh that when women roll in I get so hyped.

Compared to the first year, what can we expect at this years jam?

I think this year there will be even more ladies than last year because again, I think women were still a little nervous to come out to the trails even after we announced the jam, like maybe they didn't know what to expect or what it was going to be like. But after seeing all the photos & videos including the edit Bette White made which I think really captured how awesome & supportive everyone was that weekend, while showing how much fun the trails are to ride, I think they are more comfortable with the idea of riding both sets of trails. Go watch Bette's edit on YouTube!

Is there a certain level you need to have, to ride at either Catty or Posh?

You can literally come to either spot with zero experience on a BMX and still have fun. Catty has a small pump track for beginners as well as a roller line that is super fun to ride (& has a few options if you want to jump some smaller jumps). Posh has a roller line too (also with options for various skill levels) and I just finished a new line at Posh that is just small tables and berms, really easy, totally rollable & super fun for new riders. Both trails have stuff for everyone. We have small gap doubles & tables for women who are learning to jump and bigger stuff for those are already jumping/clearing big jumps. Also, a few women have asked me what bike to bring. It's a BMX event so that would be best but a downhill/dirt jumper bike would also be fine. You could probably even ride a mountain bike. Just come ride!

It's a BMX event so that would be best but a downhill/dirt jumper bike would also be fine.

For the ladies who are brining their dudes, can they join in on the fun?

Everyone is welcome during Women's Weekend. We just wanted to pick a couple days where girls could be 100% sure there were other women at the trails to ride with. Both events are also kid-friendly! Also, bring your dogs. Just don't bring any drugs or alcohol.

Photo Cred: Tasha Lindemann
Is there anything being sold at the jam, like food and merch?

We will have (vegan, vegetarian & meat) food available as well as merch. The food we offer on a donation basis with all funds going directly to Posh and Catty to help cover the cost of insurance and leasing the land. This year we are planning on having some surprise celebrity grill masters so that should be cool. Livin Hella Good will also be there selling hoodies & tshirts. This year we will also have an exclusive women's jam tshirt available which I am super excited about. Thanks to Mo Malone for designing our awesome artwork this year. I'm still bummed I couldn't pull it together quick enough last year to create a shirt with the art Alexis Mabry did (would people buy one after the fact?). Both women are so ridiculously talented.

Is this strictly a jam format or will there be some ladies holding clinics too?

Yeah, it's just a trail jam. Super mellow, you don't have to be anywhere at any specific time or anything. We just want people to come to the woods & ride bikes. So as far as clinics, nothing is planned but if women want to share their skills with one another in a clinic-esque format, that is totally encouraged. Last year that sort of happened organically. Women were helping each other learn new things. This weekend is about building each other up & supporting other women in BMX in a non-competitive environment so whatever that looks like for the group of women who come, then I'm psyched. We are going to do a group photo & lady train at Catty at 3pm so if that's something ladies want to be a part of then just be sure you're at Catty at 3pm on Saturday. Both jams "start" at whatever time we get the trails dialed & ready to ride. So, show up early if you want to help & stay late to tarp.

Wheres the spot to stay at this year?

There are a lot of locals offering space to folks coming to town for the jam. The best way to find a place to stay is on the event page on facebook. There are also a bunch of affordable hotels in the Lehigh Valley. Catty & Posh are about a 15 minute drive from one another so really, you can stay anywhere in Bethlehem or Catty, even Easton or Allentown & still be a short drive to either set of trails.

Photo Cred: Tasha Lindemann
Is parking at either spot easy to navigate?

Street parking is available at Catty. We just ask that you park on Pearl Street or 14th (do not park on 12th street) & do not block anyone's driveway. It's super important to us that we respect the neighbors. This is why, when coming to Posh we ask people to park at the Giant by Dairy Queen & ride to the trails. There is a map on the facebook event page to help you navigate the neighborhood to Posh (basically, what streets are the most downhill for riding there). It's less than a mile away. If you have kids or stuff you need to drop off before you park, that's totally cool. We just ask that you do not park on the street at Posh.

Sponsors you’d like to thank?

T1 is the jam sponsor for a second year in a row & we really appreciate their support. Even when I was like "is this even going to work" the folks at T1 were stoked & never doubted it would be awesome. Also, thanks to Nina Buitrago & Hammer Nutrition we'll have a bunch of cool freebies for the women at the jam. The trails are sponsored by S&M, Fit, & Empire. We get a lot of support locally from Action Wheels in Bethlehem. There are a lot of companies that support Posh & Catty which is so awesome. I would try to list them all but I'm sure I would forget someone & look like a total jerk.

Photo Cred: Tasha Lindemann
What can you promise if we show up?

If you show up to the Women's Weekend in the Woods at Posh and Catty you will make SO MANY new friends. I can also promise you'll leave a better bike rider. The stoke will be so high & you'll be surrounded by women who want to build you up & see you succeed. It's impossible not to have a good time. This whole thing started because we wanted to ride bikes together.

Women's BMX is such a beautiful thing & it's just really nice to get to share the PA woods with other girls who love riding bikes. I love that this idea turned into something & I am forever grateful for the help of the women's BMX community including Tracy, Becky & Tasha who are all Catty locals & put a ton of time & effort into the trails there. Andrea & Becky up in New England who are super supportive of the entire women's BMX scene but are really creating something big up north. Adrienne & Bette who aren't locals either but have been working hard to get the jam going both years are absolute treasures. It's a group effort, we're all in this together & I'm psyched to see everyone in the woods.

Photo Cred: Tasha Lindemann

Date: Saturday Sep 22 at 10 AM – Sunday Sep 23 at 8 PM
Waiver (Required): 
Full details here:

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

2018 Vans BMX Pro Cup Guadalajara, Mexico Results

Sunday, August 26, 2018

2018 Vans BMX Pro Cup Guadalajara, Mexico Results

Angie Marino - Photo by Rob Dolecki

Results from the Vans BMX Pro Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico.

1. Angie Marino USA 85.50
2. Teresa Azcoaga ESP 84.38
3. Nina Buitrago USA 83.50
4. Jesse Gregory USA 83.50
5. Macarena Perez CHL 82.50
6. Margarita Valenzuela Mera MEX 81.25
7. Michelle Gomez MEX 78.38
8. Dayana Lopez MEX 77.88
9. Tania Torres Reyes MEX 77.88
10. Wendy Lara MEX 77.13
11. Ariana Montoya MEX 76.00
12. Nidia Mena MEX 74.50
13. Luciana Rougier ARG 73.00

1. Angie Mario USA 86.38
2. Nina Buitrago USA 85.63
3. Macarena Perez CHL 85.13
4. Tereza Azcoaga ESP 83.50
5. Margarita Valenzuela Mera MEX 81.75
6. Jesse Gregory USA 81.25
7. Dayana Lopez MEX 78.38
8. Tania Torres Reyes MEX 75.88
9. Michelle Gomez MEX 0.00

Best Trick: Angie Marino - No hander transfer from bowl to bowl
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Friday, August 24, 2018

Avriana Hebert Jr Womens World 8 Bike Check

Friday, August 24, 2018

Avriana Hebert Jr Womens World 8 Bike Check

I did an interview with Avriana last year just after Worlds in South Carolina, and so I thought it would be fitting to do a bike check post 2018 Worlds in Azerbaijan. Find out what Canada's Jr Women's World 8 rocks below.

Avriana who is 5'10" rides a Pro XXL, which is a 21.75 TT frame, with a 14.875 Chain Stay and BB Height of 11.5. The frame alone weighs only 3lb 13oz.

"This frame ultimately earned its name as the WorldCup through its maiden year winning the overall title and alongside has become the most sought out frame in the market. Its unique design offers a no gimmick straight to victory geometry that has been proven in consistent results." - YESS BMX

Avriana has the back end fully pulled back, she adds "I find it more comfortable for me with my long ass legs 😂 and it’s nice for my manuals"

Grips: ODI Lock on Grips (Black)
Chain Ring: Tangent 4 Bolt (Black)
Seat: Tangent Carve Saddle ( black/ white)
Bars: Tangent Flat Iron 62 (black)
Forks: Yess BMX (Reach Forks)

"The YESSBMX Reach Aluminum fork was designed to be lightweight and dependable BMX race fork without the high price tag of carbon fiber. The Reach Pro fork is constructed from 6061-T6 aluminum with high-quality welds and no glue or bonding agent to further increase strength and rigidity. The steerer tube is 1-pc machined and includes an aluminum compression bolt that can be removed if you prefer a stem lock system. No weight limit. For Race Use only." - YESS BMX

Seat Clamp: Yess BMX
Stem: Tangent Split Stem (Black)

Tires: Tioga Fastr React
Rims: Alienation (TCS Malice Rims) Black
Hubs: Stealth Pro Hubs (Red)
Cranks: Hallow Tech II DXR
Brakes: Hydraulic Disc Brakes (Shimano)

Disc brakes are becoming a little more common now in the BMX Racing world. When asked what she thinks of them, Avriana said "Renny (from Yess) had given them to me to try, and as soon as I rode them I loved them. There way more touchy and all around I find them more reliable for myself!"

Pedals: HT-X2-SX (Black)


Follow Avriana @avriana__h
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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Spotlight: Stephanie Nychka

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Spotlight: Stephanie Nychka

She's real, raw and all inspiring. For some, it's the fact that she's a mom and a badass rider, for others like myself, I appreciate that she's open and honest about her BMX journey. Stephanie is a part of a very small pool of female riders representing Canada in competitions like FISE and we took some time to learn about her, but we only broke the surface at best.

Age: Old enough to have 3 kids, a doctorate and a ton of student loans.

Location: Calgary, Alberta

When and how did you get into riding bikes and I mean before competing in BMX - what’s your bike history?

I started riding urban (hard tails) when I was around 20 and living in Edmonton, which quickly evolved into freeriding and racing downhill. After a few years of living in Whistler and Portland, my passion for slopestyle and dirt jumping emerged. There are so few women who do this style of riding, I'd always be seated with the guys. I've been lucky enough to have ridden in the Crankworx Slopestyle (the only woman to have ever done so), as well as the Red Bull Freezeride (one of two women to be invited). I started organizing SlopeSistair, a women's freeride event that drew women from all over North America, because there really is no way for women in mountain biking to advance if they don't race. I raced 4x for a year in the Jeep Series event for that reason, and even that was eventually disbanded.

What motivated the idea to give BMX a try and how did you find the transition?

I was continually looking for options to take my riding to the next level. Cory Coffey and Nikita Ducarroz assistant coached at a couple mtb clinics in Tahoe where they tried their hand at hard tails and dirt jumping, and they in turn encouraged me to give the 2017 Edmonton FISE a shot. I bought a bike off a 12-year old boy from kijiji (it was far too small) and drove to Edmonton the following week, never having ridden a bmx or skate park. FISE was an eye opener- I would have been much more comfortable competing in the mountain bike slopestyle! Once I started riding bmx at BLine (our indoor bike park), transitioning initially wasn't that difficult but I've been finding that even after a year, riding a skatepark is still intimidating and not at all easy.

On a side note: I first met Ms Coffey when Specialized sent her to compete in SlopeSistair!

You did amazing at FISE, thank you for representing Canada! HOWEVER, I see you were kinda disappointed in yourself. Could you walk us through what Edmonton was like, what your expectations were leading up to the event, and how you’re feeling now looking back.

Oh, I don't think I'd use the word 'amazing'. I was definitely disappointed - I hoped that I would qualify for finals but once I started riding the course I realized I hadn't properly prepared myself. I had spent so much time having fun learning tricks and bouncing back and forth between a hardtail and BMX, that I'd completely disregarded the other skills necessary to compete on a FISE course. I didn't have the stamina or flow to throw any of my bigger tricks and that was difficult because I felt I had so much more to bring to my runs.

In addition to the above, what lessons did you learn that you could pass over to others?

I don't know if I am the right person to ask for advice. :) There are so many parts to freestyle BMX and most girls who compete have so much experience riding each of the different disciplines: street, park, vert and trail. You definitely can't get away with being a one trick pony. An athlete really needs to focus on all elements of their riding in order to succeed on these courses.

In a nutshell, what's the overall challenge with FISE?

The challenge of the FISE course is having an arsenal of tricks to take to quarters, big boxes and transfers, and flow between features in order to have the speed and amplitude to execute them.

Are you looking to compete in the Olympics? What’s your plan for Tokyo 2020?

To be honest I'm just focusing on improving my riding each time I get out, so that I can see tangible progress every event. I've always had a dream to go to the Olympics either as an athlete or a chiropractor- I'm open to either.

As of right now, BMX is very much on the bottom of the totem pole is terms of the support and funds provided. Unless it’s changed since I last checked, I don’t believe the women are provided anything right now. It’s easy to guess what you’d need in an ideal world (travel expense, training support, etc), but if you could ask Cycling Canada for a minimum level support that didn’t involve money upfront, what do you think the ladies would need?

It would be incredible to have coaches or mentors in order to create a competitive group of riders, and instill confidence in us. In dreamland, we would also have access to Sports Medicine facilities as well as Strength & Conditioning professionals, and have accommodations to train in different locations. I would also need a cute water boy/man.

Are you still a practicing chiropractor today and if you are, how are you balancing the competition, being a mom and the chiropractor life style?

I'm not currently working as a chiropractor as I have a 2, 4 and 6 year old at home, and am not licensed to work in Canada (I took my DC in the US). Instead I started a luxury concierge business for Calgary professionals that I can run from home. I wouldn't be able to do much of what I do without my husband- if he was like me, we'd be a mess. He knows how important riding is to me and we've made it a priority for me to train as well as attend a few MTB and BMX events each year.

As a chiropractor, is there anything you’re noticing from other riders that bugs you? Like… when people don’t stretch enough, or omg look at that joint etc etc. Something that a professional would pick up.

Not specifically. I find the thing I notice right away are injuries, and I always do my best to diagnose them (based on what little information I know, or the crash itself) before they visit another professional. I find a lot of the higher level athletes are pretty serious when it comes to diet, exercise and appropriate recovery time from injuries.

Who inspires your riding?

I find the people who inspire me change as my riding evolves. Currently, there are a few riders at BLine who inspire me: Joel, 40 year old friend who picked up park last November, who has methodically taught himself (and me) how to do some very technical tricks because he loves the challenge; and Carson Donovan, a fearless 16 year old, addicted to the thrill of riding and attempting new things. My 6 year old daughter Maiken's progression also amazes me and being able to share it with her brings so much joy to my riding. She reminds me why I've continued to try pushing the women's side of mountain biking.

What do you want to say to the ladies who think they’re too “old” to start biking?

WTF! You're calling me old, respect your elders! No one is too 'old' to start riding- many of the women who take up mountain biking in our clinics are over 30, and it makes them all smile more than they did on their wedding day.

Instragram: RidesLikeAMother
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Tuesday, August 7, 2018


"In my first competition back after injury and 8 months away from competition. I was buzzing to get out there on my mountain bike and compete in the best trick, high jump and pumptrack events at the Snow Summit Craft and Cranks Festival competition.

The highlight of my weekend was pushing my two wheel progression and riding away from my biggest back flips yet with loved ones around me. I am really living for these moments at the moment not the titles and results.

I unfortunately had crash and took a big slam to my back and head in the high jump competition along with 8 other competitors carted off to hospital with me. After a quiet week recovery I am feeling much better and enjoying being back on the bike in Canada.

Check out all the action in my video above Boosted by @BoostAus "Boost Mobile Australia"

Caroline Buchanan

Mikey King

@maxmandell_ & @raymondnorte

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Equal Prize Money at Vans BMX Pro Cup

Friday, July 20, 2018

Equal Prize Money at Vans BMX Pro Cup

This past Thursday, Vans BMX Pro Cup announced that the Huntington Beach stop on August 3 & 5 2018 will have equal prize money! An astounding $25,000 paid out for men and women. In response to the big news, I reached out to some previous invitees for their reactions.

Sarah Lampert USA
"It is wonderful news that the Vans BMX pro cup will be having equal prize purses. This is a tremendous step in Women’s BMX history. These women who are constantly competing and giving their all to the sport, deserve the same payout and recognition as the men do. Hopefully the other contests out there that don’t even have a real competing class for women can recognize this and follow in Vans’ footsteps."


Nikki Wetzel USA
"It's about damn time that us female athletes are getting recognized and paid/ treated the same as the men. It's a push for further equality in our sport of BMX."

Colin MacKay

Nina Buitrago USA
"The Vans BMX Pro Cup is paving the way for how contests can and should be run, including womens category at all regional qualifiers and global events, the equal pay out at Huntington Beach for the women is both exciting and historical! (First ever UCI urban world championship 2017 did equal prize purse)... Vans open will be the first equal pay out of 2018!! I hope other contests will follow their lead and inclusiveness at the very least. Cheers to Vans for throwing the best events and for their efforts to help grow freestyle as a whole!! 👊🏻❤️"

Colin Mackay

Hannah Roberts USA
"Equal pay with Vans is sick! I think it is going to bring a higher level of riding to not only the event but the sport as a whole! It is a great opportunity and incentive for people to raise the bar!"

Colin Mackay

Camila Harambour Chile
"It’s amazing how much the BMX women’s world has been growing lately and this is a good reflection on that.  I think we all girls appreciate the recognition of the hard work that we all have been putting along the years. Thank you Vans !!"

Cami at the Santiago stop. Credit unknown

Additional riders were reached out for commentary, but you know, people are busy. What do you think about this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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