Brooke Goudy’s first interaction with the sport of mountain biking a few years ago came in the form of her avid cyclist boyfriend who wanted to share his passion for the sport.
But as a black woman, Goudy’s typical response to this persistent nudging to get her on a bike was: “Black people don’t do that.”
Looking back now, Goudy resists sharing this part of her story, but at the time, it reflected her mindset when it came to biking, mostly because she hadn’t seen any other people of colour doing it.
“I was traveling from bike park to bike park, you know, sitting there drinking my soda while my boyfriend rode his bike and I have to say, I never saw another black person out there. Obviously, there were black people out there doing that, but I didn’t really get to see that,” she said. “And it just continued to solidify what I thought was a truth.”
Eventually, Goudy was convinced to give it a try and when she did, she fell head over heels for the sport. From the beauty that surrounded her on the trails to the joy she felt while riding, Goudy instantly loved every aspect of mountain biking.
But with that love, came questions: “Why aren’t there more women out here? Why aren’t there more black and brown folks out here? And if there are, where are they?” she said.
From there, Goudy started diving into the issue. She wrote blogs about the lack of diversity and what it was actually like to be on a bike, and made it her mission to get the word out about the sport and do what she could to make mountain biking more diverse.
“I have so many privileges. And I really want to use those privileges to create spaces where folks can understand that joy and soak up getting on a mountain bike and going down a mountain biking trail and be able to progress. And so that’s what I do now,” she said.
“Yeti Cycles brought me on, and they supported my program since the very beginning. And it just seemed like a natural fit for me to uplift their brand and continue to do this work with this sport. And so we’ve been setting up clinics across the United States to create safe, inclusive spaces in which people can try mountain biking for the first time, or the second time, or the third time, or even to try an intermediate trail or an advanced trail and really feel like they can be themselves and really feel like someone that fits in.”
About a month ago, Goudy’s work led her to a partnership with Grow Cycling—an L.A.-based non-profit founded by former World Cup Downhill racer and current Red Bull TV commentator Eliot Jackson—which aims to do exactly what she’s already been hard at work on: increasing diversity in mountain biking.
While Jackson and his program are working towards the same goal as Goudy, their first respective experiences with the sport weren’t quite the same. Being from a family that supported any sporting venture he wanted to do, Jackson never once felt that, as a black man, mountain biking wasn’t for him, even if he did notice the lack of diversity right from the get-go.
However, much like Goudy, once in the sport, the experience was an entirely positive one. So when his downhill career ended, and the push for a more inclusive mountain biking community started to grow, it was never about righting a wrong he saw in the sport, it was about sharing his positive experiences with as many people as possible. Especially people who may not think the sport is for them.
“After I stopped racing, it was kind of like, ‘OK, now that I’m not racing, and I’m not thinking about eating right, training, all of this stuff every single day, I’m able to think about and reconcile the experiences that I’ve had,” said Jackson.
“And my experience in cycling was always really, really positive. I think that’s why I love it so much, and why I want to give back and bring more people in.”
With not only his downhill career starting right here at Crankworx in Whistler years ago, but his first opportunity as a broadcaster also coming through the festival, Jackson views Grow’s partnership with Crankworx Whistler in 2022 as a full-circle moment in his career.
Both Jackson and Goudy will be on hand at the festival when it gets rolling this week, and they will have an opportunity to sit down with executives and spokespeople from every corner of the mountain biking community to promote Grow’s message and initiatives and, hopefully, bring mountain biking to even more people who otherwise never would have seen themselves doing it.
“If it wasn’t for mountain biking, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now, I wouldn’t be going to Whistler, I wouldn’t be sitting in Mont-Sainte-Anne about to commentate for Red Bull TV,” Jackson said.
“Mountain biking has given me such an amazing life. So I’m really excited to hopefully give people like me, who just maybe weren’t lucky enough to have those moments, a chance to be introduced to the sport. I think that having a more diverse group of riders can do so much, whether it’s introducing new ways to ride the bike, new ideas. So that’s something that means a lot. I’m really excited about it and I love doing this work. It’s super cool and super fulfilling.”