BettyGoHard Women Action Sports Blog

BettyGoHard - Taking the Intimidation out of Action Sports - providing the tools & information to build confidence, skills & friendship to help women of all ages, levels and lifestyles Get Out and Be Active!

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Posted by on in Being Betty Column

 

Last Sunday I listened to an interesting program on CBC Radio One – an edition of Cross Country Checkup that talked about social media and its effect on society. The question - is social media making us antisocial?

Many of the points raised in the program echoed my own thoughts on the topic. It seems that social media – Facebook, twitter, foursquare and all the mobile technology that goes along with it are pretty much ubiquitous these days.

I wonder – without the ability to connect to people though the internet, would I be living the same healthy, action packed life? Would I be enjoying the sports I do, to the level that I do?

The honest truth is – probably not. The only reason I ended up living in Squamish instead of a resort town was through a Facebook message from a friend. I can only contemplate living away from family in Australia because we can keep in contact, cheaply, through Skype and email. When it comes to each of my sports and other interests, I constantly use various platforms to retrieve and share information. It blows my mind to think that my riding, running, snowboarding and writing community extends around the globe. That is a helluva lot of people sharing the stoke!

 

The internet is a useful tool, and I believe it is playing a crucial role in the rising numbers of women participating in action sports. It allows you to organise rides to new places with new friends at a level that suits. You can get advice on skills, clothes, and equipment. You can be inspired by photos, video and stories of women excelling in their chosen field, and you can share your own journey.

'Should have checked the trail conditions online...' Whistler Bike Park. Rider: Pip Gardiner. Photo: Ryan Gardiner

There is a downside to all this connection. Free services like Facebook are not really free - you need to hand over a little bit of your privacy in order to get the full benefit of the service. That information can be shared with the corporation that runs the network as well as third party advertisers so you need to be careful with what you broadcast and what you allow access to your information. A balance between real and virtual is also important. Spending all your time online living other people experiences is not healthy but it is an easy trap to fall into, particularly when the weather is bad.

In my opinion, social media is another step in human evolution. Just as microscopes and telescopes have enhanced our ability to see, the internet has expanded our ability to connect. If we take the time to understand how each program works and use it to our advantage, we can augment our social life immensely. The key is to use the technology, rather than letting the technology use you.

The reality is there is no substitute for the real thing. If you spend an hour online watching other people ride bikes, or ride bikes for an hour, which will leaving you feeling amazing?

I thought so. Now get out there!

 

Day in the life of a modern Action Woman:

8.00 Get up, eat breakfast. Delicious new recipe from Bettygohard, energy for the day!  Om nom nom…

8.30 Draft and publish new Bettygohard blog post.

9.30 Broadcast post on Twitter, Linked in, and Facebook. Update website portfolio.

10.00 Plan next long trail run using GPS map from Squamish50 race

10.15 Browse through Girl Parkour photos – those girls are strong AND sexy. Resolve to do more core strength work. How do they balance on those rails??

10.35 Check next DH race route with SORCA – it’s a steep and gnarly one. Hmmm…

10.40 Get some tips from Fabian Barel on riding steep and gnarly tracks. Thanks Fabian!

11.00 Research lighter tires for freeride bike. Need it to do the Hot on Your Heels race – is there something as grippy as a Maxxis Minion but lighter?

11.30 Update Facebook status– Heading to bike park!

11.35 Download new music, a little Hilltop Hoods and some Crystal Method to get the riding party started. Blast some tunes while packing the truck.

11.40 Get two texts from friends already at the park – sweet!

11.45 Drive to Whistler. Ride, ride, talk, ride until the park closes. Meet up with a random crew and go for beers to cut the dust.

10.00 Drive home, update status to ‘best day ever! ‘

10.00 Go to sleep, dream of riding again.

 

'Having a lovely time - wish you were here' - Whistler Bike Park. Photo: Pip Gardiner

 

 

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Posted by on in Being Betty Column

To be honest I hope that nobody is reading this - it is the long weekend after all, and you should all be out playing!

I posted a link on the Betty facebook site to a recent article on Pinkbike entitled 'Why no Y?', another article lamenting the lack of ladies in MTB. You can read the full article on Pinkbike, and look at the pretty girl riding pictures.

I was motivated to write a response to this article because I believe it is time that we all admit that the MTB industry is changing, and changing for the better. MTB is no longer struggling in the backwater, it is gaining traction and becoming a sport that is gaining participation from men women and children from all walks of life.

I know I live in a bike-mad part of the world, but I started out in places where biking was a minority and girls even more so. I have traveled around and seen what works, and I want Pinkbike to share the success stories, not just the sob stories.

Forgive me, but I have published my response directly with Pinkbike in the hope that they put it on the front page and get some real dialogue going.

Please visit my response 'XX or XY? Bikes don't care', leave a comment and help me build something positive into our fantastic MTB community!

I hope your long weekend is full of sunshine and action!!

Pip

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Posted by on in Being Betty Column

 

I have never considered myself a very competitive person. In primary school I stayed clear of anything that involved sports and a prize preferring to stick to book learnin' which I was far more comfortable with. High school and university I played some basketball and soccer and started running by myself for fitness. In university I met my future husband who allowed me to tag along when he went bike riding and for the last 10 years I have been slowly catching on to this biking thing.

Last year to beat the winter blues I entered mself in a running group that was training for the Whistler half marathon. I got a lot out of the training and race prep - improved fitness, better eating habits, new running skills. It really got me thinking how having goals in our sports can help push us to new skill levels - and through that new levels of enjoyment.

This year, I decided to lady up and race in the local downhill MTB series. I live in Squamish, BC so the toonie races are run by the amazing Squamish Off Road Cycling Association. Every two weeks, they pick a different local trail to race, and have a BBQ social afterwards. Not a high stress race environment, but some of the tracks they race are deliciously gnarly. It has taken me a couple of years to muster the courage to give it a go.

So why chose this year to race? Number one - bucket list. I am turning the bg 3-0 this year, and I am trying to celebrate all year long by doing fun and challenging new things. Racing DH fits right in to that category! Number two - I had a great riding season last year and I finally feel I am confident enough on my bike to give it a go. Number three - I got my first ever DH bike. Everything is falling into place!

Of course, everytime I point my bike downhill over challenging terrain there is the potential for injury, and adding the need for speed into the mix can increase it. I choose to accept that risk, and to do everything I can to minimize the chance of something happening - I will ride within my limits, take time to look at the tracks beforehand, keep fit, wear appropriate protection and make sure the bike is always in good working order.

My goals this season are to ride smooth and ride in all the races, even the more challenging tracks at the end of the season. We are now two races in, and already I am kicking myself for waiting so long. We have a great group of girls turning up to race, everyone friendly and there to have fun no matter what bike they are riding or what their skill level is.

What I am really enjoying is spending time getting to know one track really well. For the first two races I have I have spent time pushing up, observing sections and riding them over and over. I think analysing the track, trying different lines and practising tricky sections over and over are going to improve my riding in the long run. It also gives the opportunity to watch other people ride and learn from how they tackle technical sections.

So far my results are pretty good  -  second and third place. I even find myself thinking 'I could have shaved a second here, could have added a pedal there!'. I am certainly no Ann Caro - but I am really enjoying racing DH. I encourage you to get out and have a go at a race in whatever your chosen sport is. You might not win, but you may push your skills to a new level. And remember to have fun- social racing is , after all, an excuse to hang out in a beautiful forest, talk with friends and play bikes. Everybody wins!

Now who wants to go riding?
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Posted by on in Being Betty Column


The only way down is down - what will I learn about myself on the way?

Here I am at 2000m, sitting on my behind on Whistler Peak. It is a stunning bluebird day and in front of me is an untracked powder field. The catch? To get there I have to navigate a gnarly entrance which I have never done before. I have to edge down an icy, exposed chute and halfway down I will have to let go and slide over a rock slab - no edge engaged, nothing to hold on to.

Just quietly, being exposed on the side of a mountain like this freaks the hell out of me. I grew up in outback Queensland, Australia where the ground is FLAT. Stick me on the side of a snow covered cliff and I feel like I am going to fall into space. It is a hard fear to overcome and I have had a few horrible experiences in the past on steep sections.

But today there are people lining up behind me - I don't have time to think about freaking out, only to act. I focus on getting down that chute then riding the heck out of the powder before anyone else can. For those few precious minutes I am completely in the moment, whooping with delight the whole way down. At the bottom I turn and look back up to the peak I have just come from and feel an immense sense of achievement. Today, I overcame that fear!

This story is a neat metaphor for how I want to live my life - I want to live in the moment, face my fears and achieve my full potential at everything I do. Participating in actions sports has taught me valuable life lessons and is one of the reasons I feel as strong and healthy as I do today.

Taking up mountain biking and snowboarding in my 20s has been a huge challenge. Physically I have had to become much fitter, and much more aware of how my brain and body work together.  Mentally, I have had to learn how to de-stress, how to overcome my internal dialogue and really focus what is important (I can either worry about money and life choices and world peace in my head OR bomb a technical section of trail well - not both!). Socially, it has helped me connect to new communities that value healthy minds and bodies and worship the great outdoors over the almighty dollar.

I support women’s involvement in actions sports because every girl, lass and lady out there deserves to be all that they can be.

Ladies, what has participating in action sports taught you? How would you persuade other women to get involved?

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Posted by on in Being Betty Column

Definitely an outdoors kind of day. Tantalus Range, Squamish BC (Photo Pip Gardiner)

I love my brain - it is constantly surprising me. Case in point - my ability to get back on the bike after ignoring it for several months over winter.

A lot of research has been done into how humans learn complex physical tasks like riding a bike. Even riding a bike in a straight line on the flat requires a lot of work. Think about how many muscles are working to balance and move forward. Think about how much information is going from your brain to your muscles via the nerves. Not to mention the sensory information pinging back and being processed. Then think about how much more is happening when you are bombing your favourite track, dodging chipmunks and dominating obstacles.

If you think back to learn a new skill, you might remember that your movements were uncertain, a little bit stiff. You probably had to concentrate really hard to do it right - I still stick my tongue out when snowboarding down steep stuff or through trees! When you repeat motor skills over and over again, your brain consolidates the information them to a point where eventually, you are able to perform them without thinking about them. This packaging of complex movements is known as muscle memory. Without our brain taking control like this, we would not be able to achieve that magical state of mind called flow.

This week the weather gods smiled on Squamish, drying out the trails and flooding the valley with warm golden sunshine. Back in the saddle? Yes please. Tyres pumped, brakes checked and bag packed. On with the shorts (told you it was warm!), some wool for luck and I am off. I plan on shorter ride close to home - a 20 minute fire road climb to the trail head then a couple of xc trails down with enough roots and rocks thrown in to make it interesting.

At the top of the trail I stop and unlock everything, wind the forks out. A few seconds to breathe then I am off...

...and a little rusty!! My brain is in overdrive trying to remember which foot and hand to weight around corners and where I need to be looking. I make progress but wibble and wabble disgracefully. Halfway down I realise I am in the wrong gear, and a little further down I realise I have forgotten to use my uppy-downy seat post.

But just before the trail ends I glimpse it...that fine form I was in at the end of last season. It may only have lasted a few turns, but it proves that those muscle memories are still there waiting to be woken up.

Here’s to muscle memory and mid-winter rides. Anyone else excited for the summer of riding ahead?

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Posted by on in Being Betty Column

 

More and more, women are participating in professional action sports. It is inspiring to see the rise in female sponsored riders, women in advertisements for major brands, women in their own action movies.

Behind every epic photograph, every high definition video, every contest win in every sport, there is a lady with a story. Someone who has had to learn the basics of their sport. Someone who may have struggled to find time and money to participate and compete. Someone who has broken equipment and possibly even bones doing what they love. Someone who is constantly managing risk and striving to be stronger and better at what they do.

This is not limited to the professionals. Take a look where you live and you will find women of all ages and occupations involved in action sports, each with their own unique perspective on why they ride, surf, ski, skate.

My name is Pip, and I was not always into action sports. I first started mountain biking 10 years ago while at university, mainly to try and share an interest with my boyfriend at the time. I slowly acquired some skills and maintained my interest despite numerous injuries, a small biking community with limited trail access and a hugely male dominated environment.

What started out as a hobby for me slowly but surely turned into a passion that I share with my now-husband. Holidays, spare time, employment, moving to Canada - even our honeymoon was arranged around mountain biking. Now I have added snowboarding and trail running to my list of activities, and had my first day on skis just the other week...

Being involved with action sports has changed my life in many good ways. I have made the choice to be more concerned with being strong, healthy and happy than to work too hard for money just acquire things. I treasure people and experiences. I measure personal development and success by new skills learnt and fears overcome.

Every time I tie up my running shoes, buckle up my snowboard, pull on my MTB gloves I am in control. I am writing my own story, and I know it is going to be incredible.

We are social creatures and I believe sharing personal experiences is an essential way to strengthen and grow our community. Together we can push the boundaries of what is possible in female action sports, on a professional and personal level.  Social sites like bettygohard.com provide the perfect forum for networking and inspiring ladies of all ages to get out and have a go.

Ladies, what is your story?



 

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