Lindsey Richter is on a mission: Change women’s lives with two wheels and some dirt.
At Kingdom Trails in Lyndonville, Vermont, in early September, bikekitz was on hand to see how she does it.
As the founder and “Director of Inspiration” of Liv Ladies AllRide, Lindsey started off the two-day mountain bike skills camp with a welcoming speech, and her outsize enthusiasm and positivity set the tone for the day. She told the group of some 70 women about how her own struggles with insecurity, depression, and lack of self-esteem eventually led her to create Ladies AllRide. During the dark times, “the one thing that really kept me going was my bike,” she said.
“Mountain biking is a sport that really challenges us and shows us what we’re made of,” she said. It was mountain biking that taught Lindsey “how to face my fears, how to look ahead and not get caught up in what’s happening beneath me.” She learned to believe in herself, “to figure out that I am capable of more than I ever thought.”
Lindsey has a long history as a mountain bike racer and industry insider, but talked honestly about something a lot of women can relate to: struggling to learn a skill or sport with people who are better at it but not very good at teaching it. She received such helpful advice as “just lean back” or “just go faster.”
“I was riding with all these pros who were like ‘oh, you got this, your bike knows what to do’ and I was like, ‘It does? Your bike sure seems to know what to do. And I don’t even have a seat dropper.’”
A turning point in her life came when she met some women who just wanted to ride, and invited her to join them. “Wait, there’s women who are nonjudgmental and just accept me into their circle of friends with open arms, without knowing anything more about me?” Lindsey said. “There needs to be more of this!”
Recognizing that “this is not a sport that’s easy to get into,” Lindsey wanted to start a program that invited women into the sport in a positive, encouraging way. So in 2013 Ladies AllRide was formed with the mission of “growing the presence of women in mountain bike communities across the globe through fun and educational skills camps.” In 2015, Lindsey partnered with Meredith Brandt, owner of Grit Clinics, and the two expanded the reach of Ladies AllRide with the help of their sponsor Liv Cycling.
The Lyndonville camp was held at the Wildflower Inn and sponsored by local bike shop Village Sport Shop at Darling Hill. The Darling Hill ridge rises between two branches of the Passumpsic River, and the Inn and Sport Shop sit atop this ridge with the Passumpsic valley and distant mountains spread out below. Looking out over it, you get the feeling you could take wing and soar over the green and blue landscape.
The first day of the clinic began by breaking the women into small groups according to ability and experience, each led by a woman mountain biking coach. The small groups allowed for a lot of personal attention and one-on-one coaching. “The coaches highlighted a couple tweaks that each of us could work on to ride better. For each of us it was different,” said Erin Farnum of Troy, New York.
Each Ladies AllRide coach is certified by BICP or PMBI, and also goes through a process of volunteering, shadowing, and co-coaching before moving into a head coaching position. The coaches all have years of experience in the different disciplines of cycling—downhill, cyclocross, cross country, enduro, freestyle BMX, even road. Many have raced at the national and international level. The thing they all have in common is a genuine enthusiasm for bringing women into the sport they love. The focus is on progression of skills, not on trying to be perfect.
Morgan Hebert, of Albany, New York, said she came to the camp to learn why she was doing things wrong and how to do it better. “I want to get my technical ability up to the next level.” Favorite thing she learned? “I learned to wheelie,” she said with a huge smile.
After breaking into groups, the coaches led the groups through a series of drills on a wide grassy lawn below the bike shop. “Drills” makes it sound like boot camp, but the vibe was positive, judging by the smiles and laughter we saw. After a morning of practice, the women enjoyed a lunch provided by Wildflower Inn. In the afternoon, the groups headed off for some on-trail riding and sessioning.
At the end of the day, riders could choose from a number of “education stations” that included topics like tire changing, nutrition, what to carry on a ride and how to use it, and a slideshow with Lindsey. The camp also included swag bags, demo products, raffle prizes, and discounts on apparel, parts and accessories, and rental or purchase of a new bike from Village Sport Shop at Darling Hill.
The camps, which happen at 12 locations across the country throughout the year, fill up really fast and are difficult to get into. Judy Olivier, who drove more than eight hours from Toronto, Ontario, to attend, said she had tried to get in several times before. This year, she and her husband were leaving for a weekend in Quebec when registration went live. But Judy told him, “I’m not leaving the house until I get in,” and was at her computer at 10am sharp, ready to register. Was it worth it? It was “an exceptional day of learning and sessioning. I’m definitely doing another Ladies AllRide clinic,” said Judy.