In North America, you probably see female mountain bikers and think nothing of it. But what if you were in Iran where a woman’s virtue is at stake if she is seen riding a bike? Or in Nepal where it’s been forbidden by family (and customary for women to live with their family until they get married)? What if you had to be the first woman in your community to mountain bike like a woman I spoke to in Guatemala? There is a lot we can take for granted in our lives without even realizing the hurdles some women must overcome to even sit on a bike seat and pedal down the road.
This podcast was one I was really excited to record challenging cultural norms and acting as role models for many young women.
Enter World-Ride. World Ride is a 501(c)3 non profit that works to empower women globally through mountain biking. They have established programs around the world where we work with local women to create bike libraries, assist women with leadership and guide training, and support women with their race goals. They are currently working with women in Guatemala, Nepal, and Iran as well as adding to their mission in many new countries Peru, Botswana, Ghana, and Israel.
This podcast episode was a lot of fun to put together and it is extra special to me. Mountain biking has profoundly changed my life and is something I’m passionate about. But to hear these stories of courage, overcoming cultural paradigms, having to convince their families that this is right, and the freedom and confidence that resulted from it is amazingly touching and inspiring. These women are changing the world and paving the way for others. Please support World-Ride in their efforts to continue building on this global community.
“ People didn’t accept it. I had intruders, like people make problems for me. they were afraid of this not being safe for me, and also what people might think about me. Like the neighbors, they weren’t really happy seeing me, as woman riding a bike. There is nothing wrong with this sport I’m doing. All I want is just to feel free and to do it.“Faranak Partoazar
“I used to get a lot of criticism and relatives… I actually never listened to them. They’re always like being a girl- you can’t just roam here and there with boys all the time. It’s not safe for girls. I used to say that it’s up to me how safe it would be. Because I’m the one who is going to keep the boundary.”Usha Khanal
“Everywhere that we work, it’s not really accepted for women to do sports and outdoor activities, especially mountain biking. The women that we work with are so strong and amazing, to just fight for what they love and be able to participate in sport that they really love. It’s been really cool to see that paradigm and that belief start to change. I know that they are still fighting against from beliefs form people in other countries.”– Julie Cornelius
“You have to trust yourself. In this sport, you can learn how to trust in you. I think in life, if you are afraid, you are not doing your best. Fears and all of that kind of insecure things can change everything in your path. In this sport, you don’t have too much time to think. but at the same time, if you are sure you’re doing it right…Even if you fall, that is a lesson for you. Falling is part of the sport, it’s part of life. So I think this sport is very applicable for life.”
Topics Discussed in the Podcast
- Overcoming Cultural Norms
- Being one of the first female mountain bikers in their respective communities
- What it was like to convince their families that they should ride
- Why they love mountain biking
- How mountain biking changes lives
Listen Now to these Female Mountain Bikers
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- Listen to the podcast episodes about mountain biking
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