Community. Skill. Confidence.
Three words heard repeatedly while talking to the many Squamish women who are kicking it on the trails, tracks, and roadways that crisscross the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Dirt biking, mountain biking, street biking, and snowmobiling are just a few of the many traditionally male-dominated sports that are being embraced by Squamish’s adventure-seeking women. Groups such as Girls With No Limits, a dirt biking group for women founded by MC Boudreau in 2017, are popping up as more women riders seek each other out.
“It’s just about making connections, meeting other girls,” said Boudreau, who started the group as a way to encourage women to come out riding without their significant others or male relatives.
When Boudreau started dirt biking, at first recreationally then competitively, she found a welcoming, close community, and was compelled to give back to the sport and help other women too.
Girls With No Limits offers coaching and skills training to women, as well as being somewhat of a social club.
“Living here, we share a passion for a sport, and if you share the same sport there’s so much to talk about,” said Boudreau. “I see that a lot, when we go on rides, how girls become super good friends right away, just on one ride. It’s really cool to see, it’s inspiring.”
It isn’t all about socializing, though.
Lison Boilard, a competitive dirt biker who lives in Whistler, says that strength and training is an aspect of motorsports that women often overlook.
“You can’t do these sports if you can’t hold on to your bike,” she said. “Women that want to do these sports, start training. You have to be able to lift your bike at least, by yourself. You have to be strong and in shape, it’s not going to be fun for you and it’s not going to be fun for the other people [on the ride].”
Angelisa Edwards and her husband bought snowmobiles as a way to avoid the costs and lineups of snowboarding at Whistler.
She ended up falling in love with the ride up rather than the ride down, and started Braap Babes With No Limits in 2014, as a way to encourage female snowmobilers’ confidence as well as form friendships around the sport.
“I am very surprised about the reaction we’ve got from the group,” she said. “I was trying to find other female riders to snowmobile with; at that time there wasn’t that many. Four years ago you would see one other girl, now I see about ten or more, it’s quite amazing.”
Edwards loves the freedom and access to the backcountry that snowmobiling gives her, and has made her commitment to the sport work while raising a daughter. She and her husband take turns hitting the hills, which does occasionally have its drawbacks, she says: “If it’s a powder day and it’s my husband’s turn to go, I want to get out there too. But we make sacrifices.”
Kat Gina Jezowicz grew up riding motorcycles with her brothers and remembers the strong impression the Sea to Sky Highway made on her when she first arrived on holiday from the Czech Republic.
“I just woke up on the bus, and the first thing I thought was, I need to get a motorcycle,” she said. Nine years later, she’s on her third bike, a BMW 1000RR, and is an active participant in the street bike community that congregates to practice at tracks in Washington and Canada.
While more and more women are riding and racing street bikes on enclosed tracks, it is still rare for Jezowicz to see another female on the road.
“Everyone treats you like you’re a little bit something special because you are.”