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Riding with the Goddess

Women are mountain biking’s fastest growing demographic

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But Lisa Lefroy, Katrina Strand and Kira Cailes found a way to make it work. All began in fun and later racing, but one trail led Cailes in one direction while another shuttled Lefroy and Strand along a different route - a dirty one.

They called themselves The Dirty Girls.

"Katrina and I came down from the park one day absolutely covered in mud," Lefroy said. "Every inch of us is covered in mud except where our goggles were. We were walking through the village, and Richey Schley said, 'Look at those dirty girls.' I liked it, so we kind of took it and ran with it."

More like pedaled.

Lefroy and Strand capitalized on the novelty of being freeride mountain bikers. Female racers were popular enough, but Lefroy and Strand's tricks and jumps set them apart from the rest of the pack.

"We sent out this brochure titled Dirty Girls saying what we did and who we were," Lefroy said. "People liked that we made ourselves into a product. We were playing up the fact that we weren't racers but freeriders and were marketable. It didn't hurt that we had Richey and Brett Tippie calling afterwards and telling them they needed to support us."

Brochures were only the beginning. The duo's freeriding feats were showcased on race courses, in films, in television and print. Instead of the usual Playboy pin up, Marazocchi dubbed this duo the first Bomber Girls who actually knew how to ride a bike. Decline Magazine included the two women in their "26 Most Influential People in Mountain Biking" issue.

This past year Strand represented Canada at the World Championships, finished top three at the Canadian National Championships and she recently finished third at the Pro Gravity MTB Race Tour (formally the NORBA series) in Port Angeles, Washington. Even though it was only a short drive away from one of Canada's most famous mountain biking Mecca, Strand had to explain off-road mountain biking to her American hosts.

"A lot of people still don't know what it is," Strand said. "Last weekend at a Pro Gravity Race I was staying with relatives and it was an half-an-hour process of explaining what mountain biking is. This is not far away. It's still a fringe sport. It's still not an Olympic sport."

The two event planners are determined to bring both the sport and women's participation in it to a wider audience. They looked beyond their own careers and began to brainstorm how they could contribute to the bigger picture of women in mountain biking, and the world's only women's freeride competition was born. Womenzworx, which takes place during Crankworx in August, is the only competitive event in the world that showcases the talents of female freeriders.

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