I’ve always thought of mountain biking as a great way for men and women to come together. My wife and I ride together, I’ve had several female riding buddies over the years and, in general, if a girl was willing to show up and get a little dirty, she was welcomed into the group.

Unfortunately, over the last few years I’ve seen the slow creep of the social justice warriors into our sport, which has led to the idea that women would flock to mountain biking if the stinky guys would just get out of the way. Part of this idea is the argument that mountain biking is “gender neutral”. At its heart this is well intentioned – no one should be discouraged from riding based on their gender – but it also ends up harming the same people it is trying to help.

Nothing in nature is “gender neutral” and that includes mountain biking. It is in understanding the differences that we can help each individual find the best path for them. Pretending that there are no differences between men and women means that we can’t have honest discussions about the best path for each to improve.

In this podcast I explore this idea and explain why mountain biking is not gender neutral, why this is alright and what this means for really empowering women riders to take control of their improvement.

Click Here To Download The MP3 File

Like I say at the beginning of the podcast, my intention with this is not to discourage women from riding but to help them find their own personal path to mastery and enjoyment. Nothing is more discouraging than not knowing how to find that path because people won’t be honest with you, and in the end that will lead to more women quitting riding.

I hope this podcast can help you better understand the differences between the sexes and how you can use that to make better training and riding decisions. We need more people using mountain biking as a tool for self improvement, not as a battleground for ideas that are not based in reality.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

5 thoughts on “Why Mountain Biking Is Not A “Gender Neutral” Sport…And Why That’s Alright.

  1. Angela says:

    I will be really surprised if you manage to keep this podcase public after a couple of days. I usually really enjoy your material and knowledge and respect your well-researched point of view. Aside from the oddly hesitant much too long intro, I can barely listen to this. Sorry but you really missed the mark with this one. I suggest you dress up like a woman and go for a solo ride sometime so you can experience what our issues are and why we sometimes do women-only clinics and feel the need to stress it as a general neutral sport. It is nothing you addressed in this podcast but as you collect more real data, perhaps you can record a more informed session next time. Thanks for this morning’s “mansplain”

    • bikejames says:

      I feel that you may have missed the point. I had the long intro because I wanted to try and make sure that people understood that my goal was to point out that there are differences between the sexes and that impacts how they experience mountain biking and what they may need to do to improve compared to men. I am sorry if you took it the wrong way but I stand by my assertion that nothing is nature is “gender neutral” and pretending that mountain biking is because it fits the current social justice warrior narrative may be hurting the people it is trying to help. I felt my points were well researched – using actual science about what it takes to be successful at mountain biking and comparing it to the science on gender differences in those areas – so if you have something I missed I would be happy to reconsider them.

  2. Trish Bolander says:

    If you are sincerely concerned about women not training correctly because of all this “mountain biking is a gender-neutral sport” rhetoric and want to offer women-specific mountain bike training, just do it. It would be wonderful! The first half of your podcast just made you sound triggered and confused; threatened to see women taking up space that would have gone to men. I’m sort of like you though, in that we don’t need anyone to announce these are female films. Just show them! I think everyone enjoys seeing people get stoked and shred on a bike no matter the gender, race, or sexual orientation. The mount biking community in general can be intimidating. Women just want to be a part of the sport and see more women-specific groups and rides because they actually understand that there is an aspect of “locker room” talk (hopefully, not at the level of “grab her by the pussy”-Trump) that they don’t want to feel like they have interrupted. Next time you feel like women are trying to push men out of the way, just imagine that there is room for everyone. We just need a bigger space. Literally. Our trails are packed.

    • bikejames says:

      Sorry if you took it the wrong way but I don’t see how I came across as threatened by women riding. I mentioned my wife rides and I was inspired by my daughter getting into riding and seeing her experience. I specifically said that it wasn’t intended to discourage women but to help empower them by having an honest conversation based on the science of being a good rider in light of the science looking at the differences between the sexes in those areas. This is a subject that there doesn’t seem to be any way to approach it without offending someone so I just went for it, knowing there would be some who took it the wrong way but hoping that some would and get some benefit from it.

  3. Vinay says:

    One advantage women have (or at least to me, seem to have) is that they are typically more agile so I can imagine they may have less issues getting their movement patterns right, compared to the typical guy. At least that’s my observation. Guys probably have the edge in building muscle, but women are more likely to point their strength in the right direction.

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