Empower MTB is Changing The world of Women’s Mountain Biking

It is important to us to always be surrounded by like-minded folks in the industry. So about a year ago, we had noticed an ambassador of ours, Cindy Abbott (@cindit.mtb), had met and started coaching Aja Jackson (@theajajackson). Aja's spirit is so inspiring, and she captures your attention immediately. We obviously love mountain biking (duh, that's a no-brainer), so we were hooked when she started documenting her progression in Enduro-style mountain bike racing. Recently Aja created a community driven non-profit, Empower MTB, with a mission to get more women on bikes at all levels.

We love sharing stories about how mountain biking changes lives for the better. So let us introduce one of our RAD ambassadors, Aja Jackson, with a little Q & A session. She's making waves in this industry, and we couldn't be more proud to call her a teammate. 

 

 

Q:Tell us about Aja Jackson and how the mountain bike industry found its way into your life.

 Aja: I am a storyteller, so be prepared for the scenic route.

My name is Aja, and I like to create connections. My gift is enabling people to drive change by connecting ideas, people, and actions. Mountain biking found its way to me in August 2020. My fiancé purchased a bike for me and encouraged me to join him on the trails. I fell off of my bike quite a bit at first, but I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new. Over time, I began meeting fellow lady shredders and started to feel more at home. Biking has changed my life. I ride to stay connected to myself and connect with people who share a love of being outdoors and on two wheels. 

 

Q: As a female rider in the industry, do you see space for improvement, and how could we make changes? 

Aja: In my experience, I have found opportunities for improvement in three areas: Marketing, Accessibility, & Consumer Experience.

  • Marketing 
  • Historically, Mountain Biking has been a male-dominated sport, and every year more women have started biking and competing on the professional level. The lack of female representation in marketing perpetuates the idea that this is still a male-dominated sport and that women are not participating. Women drive the majority of consumer purchasing; businesses need to tailor marketing with women in mind.
  • Accessibility
  • There is an opportunity to make the sport of biking more accessible for beginners. An example would be offering beginner-designed, cost-conscious mountain bikes and apparel. As a person advances in skill, they can invest in more advanced products. 
  • When it comes to apparel, there is a need for more variety in alluring and affordable women’s clothing. For example, clothing can represent the many sides of women. We can be aggressive, and sometimes we want to match pastels and even show a little bit of thigh. We are not one thing; we are many things. Women should have the tools to share the many sides of themselves when they are on two wheels. 
  • Consumer Experience
  • Setting up learning environments where riders are willing to take risks and potentially fail. One of the most important aspects of mountain biking is staying safe while having fun and not being afraid. A newer mountain biker might feel pressured to go faster than comfortable, take risks and make dangerous decisions not to appear scared. These actions have negative consequences that may include a bad experience on the bike or even worse things like injury, which could cause them to stop riding altogether! By giving people the opportunity to safely take risks, and potentially fail, we give them a reason to mountain bike again.

 

Q: How did Empower MTB come about? Who all is involved, And how does it help the MTB Industry?  

Aja: Empower MTB was born from my experience as a new rider in the biking community. Once I started racing Enduro, I fell more in love with biking, started meeting some amazing people, and traveled to new trails. When I noticed so few women participating in the competitions, it motivated me to do something about it. During a fireside chat, post-race, I shared my vision for Empower MTB; I wanted to encourage more women to get on bikes and expand the feeling of community and friendship I experienced.

Our first major accomplishment was a fundraiser we hosted with the Arkansas Enduro Series summer 2021. We found that race registration fees were a barrier to entry for newer riders. Our fundraiser provided scholarships for Amateur and Junior female competitors. As a result, we helped increase female participation from 9% to 19%!  

In fall 2021, we partnered with community influencers in the DFW area to host a skills clinic for riders of all levels. Thanks to the generous support of REI, Level Up MTB, Dirt Gypsy Mechanyx, and Monster Energy, we were able to provide almost 40 riders with access to free training for a day. 

Our spring 2022 Empower MTB Enduro will be hosted at 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery on May 14th in Muenster, TX. The purpose of this event is to motivate more women to participate in Enduro racing by providing a fun and safe environment to experience the sport of Enduro and the community that comes with it. Registration opens in February 2022. Register Here!

The MTB industry is a well-oiled engine that provides community, education, and adventure. Many organizations are already doing great work to bring more women into the sport. Empower MTB is here to spotlight those communities and community influencers working hard every day to help increase the number of female riders in mountain biking.  

 

Q: What are the future goals for you and Empower MTB?

 Aja: Our vision is simple; we want to make biking more approachable and create a community for women in mountain biking. 

 

Q: How can we help Empower MTB to succeed?

 Aja:

  • Donations/Sponsorships - a simple yet effective way to give our community the tools it needs to make a difference. Donate Here!
  • Empower MTB Community Partnerships – we would love to bring the Empower MTB spirit to your community and help create an experience to remember. 
  • Volunteer - One of the best ways to get involved in your community is by getting hands-on experience and volunteering
  • Feedback – We want to hear from you! We constantly seek feedback to improve and evolve. 
  • Purchase Our JerseyWe've partnered with Cognative MTB to create the official Empower MTB Jersey! Check it out here! With your purchase, you help fund future projects and bring awareness to our nonprofit. 

 

Last but certainly not least….

 

  • Wear Cognative MTB! Giving back is at the core of Cognative MTB. Through their 2% For the Trails initiative, Cognative MTB gives back a portion of every sale to the volunteer organizations that protect, build, and maintain the trails we all love. Use code EMPOWER at checkout to receive 20% off your purchase. (Offer ends 2/27 at midnight. One use per customer.)

 

We are so excited that Empower MTB and Cognative MTB have formed this partnership and have allowed us space to share our story on their blog. We want to thank Cognative, who share our vision of empowering riders to get outside and learn what makes experiencing the outdoors special, especially on two wheels. In the coming months, we plan on releasing more insider scoops and community interviews. Be sure to subscribe to our Empower MTB mailing list, so you never miss an update! See you next month :)