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Good Vibes Squamish ride empowers female mountain bikers

Local women take to Squamish trail to support and encourage each other.

If there is a Squamish mountain biking stoke level, this day of riding bent the needle on that meter.

On International Women's Day, a "Good Vibes" empowerment ride hit the trails in Squamish.

The riding session, which was augmented by snacks and doughnuts, was the brainchild of Codie Fletch, who works for Squamish's OneUp Components.

The day included a crew of six riders, including established riders, Fletch, Christina Chappetta, Angie McKirdy and Jo Peters, and two 15-year-old rippers, Lucy Vaneesteren and Tori Weatherbie.

Fletch said she came up with the International Women's Day ride to celebrate the diversity of Squamish mountain bikers.

She told her bosses that she wanted the company's social media to reflect more of a broader range of bikers, and they agreed.

A Good Vibes video came out of the day and has been shared by publications Pinkbike, Vital MTB, and NSMB.

"I think it is important for us to be representative of the community, whether that be the 17-year-old shredders or the middle-aged people getting into it for the first time, or those who have been riding for a really long time, I think it is important to have a brand that represents everyone," said Fletch, who was riding on the Sunshine Coast when reached by The Chief.

She said that mountain biking could look intimidating for newbies, with all the specialized equipment and male riders' dominance on social media.

Showing that a range of riders and abilities are involved can only be good for the sport, she added.

"It can just inspire more people to try the sport," she said.

"And also connect a community of such diverse rider skill sets, faces and abilities."

Fletch said she was encouraged to try mountain biking as a girl for an emotional release and to help her focus on being more in the moment.

"I went out on that first bike ride on a bike that was way too big for me on a trail that I wouldn't blink twice doing now, but I fell in love, and that was all I wanted to do."

The Good Vibes ride took place on March 8 on Miki's Magic, the memorial trail in honour of beloved local skier and rider Mikayla Martin, who died in 2019.

"I particularly love that trail because of how inclusive it is. It is the best to be riding beside it and to see young kids, to adults to... I even saw a couple of senior ladies on ebikes riding through it. While I didn't know Mikayla personally, all I could think about was how she is just at that start gate cheering everybody on, so stoked to see everyone riding bikes in her memory," said Fletch.

She said that she hopes for a day when female riders are just known as "riders," the culture isn't quite there yet, and it was empowering to see the young women at the event tackle things they were nervous about and get inspiration from senior female riders.

"It was so much fun," said a breathless Weatherbie, who was riding on Perth Road to a trail when reached by The Chief. "It was super sweet."

Weatherbie has been riding since she was about seven and had Martin as a coach.

"She was an amazing coach. Definitely one of my favourites and was very funny too. She was awesome."

Weatherbie said she learned a lot over the Good Vibes day of riding and was inspired by the older women who encouraged her.

Peters, 33, noted that, while she loves riding with men who can be very supportive, women push each other differently.

"Women are super encouraging," she said. "You don't leave any girl behind kind of thing."

Peters also said that when watching other women ride, it is easier for her to figure out how to manoeuvre herself because, physically, women move a bit differently.  

"When I see a woman hit it, they do it in such a way... that looks more doable for some reason. As soon as a girl does something, I am like, 'Perfect, I am doing it.' but if a guy does something, it just doesn't look as similar to what I would make it look. It looks too unfamiliar.'

She said as much as she and the other older riders inspired the younger girls, the younger riders of the group equally inspired them.

"They were pushing us as well because they are really incredible," Peters said, noting that she didn't start riding until she was 20.

What she loved about it then and now is the same.

"The way you can get onto a landing smoothly off of a jump or get your bike sideways in the air, it feels so good. And also features as well, they are a really big part of my riding," she said.