Mountain Biking

My Ride Tribe Helped Me Through My Darkest Days – Bicycling

Ladies AllRide

Jeff Clark/Courtesy Liv Cycling

I fell in love with mountain biking the way lots of people fall off them—hard, fast, and inevitably. I was looking for something fulfilling that I could pour my heart into, and my corporate marketing career just wasn’t doing it. I missed my fitness and the feeling of competing and belonging to a team like I’d gotten from sports as a kid.

My dad had bought me a hardtail mountain bike for transportation in college, so on a whim I dusted off the cobwebs and began racing cross-country. As I lined up with the other women at the staging area while we waited to race our hearts out, I knew: There was something special about this community.

Ladies AllRide

Amanda Conde/Courtesy Lindsey Richter & Ladies AllRide

I was right. I met the most interesting, wonderful people, including my husband, simply because we were all riding bikes. It didn’t matter what walks of life we came from, what body types we had, or what we looked like or dressed like. We all knew what it was like to grind up a steep climb, sail down a flowy descent, and stand on top of a mountain in silent awe. We had a connection, like a secret club.

Over the next decade I traveled to national and world cup races with my pro mountain biker husband. During this time I found my true calling: I wanted to encourage more women to join this awesome club. So in 2013 I founded a coaching business called . We run women’s mountain bike skills camps around the world to introduce more women to the joys of mountain biking. We want to show them how it can enhance their lives, and to help them find a place to belong.

Ladies AllRide

Burke Lawrence/Courtesy Lindsey Richter & Ladies AllRide

When my husband and I decided to end our marriage after nearly 15 years together, I sank into a deep depression. My heartache was overwhelming; I constantly questioned everything, including my worth in the world, for a few years. I continued to lead the camps, even though I felt I’d lost my own spark and joy. At many events during the divorce I found myself bawling right up until moments before my welcome speech.

With the help of my team of coaches, I always pulled it together because I knew I had an important message to share. I would dry my eyes, step out of the van, and welcome everyone with a genuine smile and heartfelt speech. Our camps are designed to help women realize what they’re capable of, and I knew that if I was asking these riders to be open and vulnerable to the challenges of the weekend, I could let my guard down too. I spoke openly about what I was dealing with, and I think this openness helped set the stage for events filled with emotional connection, support, and challenge.

Ladies AllRide

Katie Lozancich/Courtesy Lindsey Richter & Ladies AllRide

During the dark days of my divorce, women I met through mountain biking would show up on my doorstep and drag me out into the woods to ride. They were with me, but I alone had to complete the long, unrelenting, painful climbs where the top was nowhere in sight. I would contemplate giving up when my legs were on fire, I couldn’t catch my breath, and it didn’t feel worth it to keep going.

As I pushed through the pain of divorce, my mountain bike community was there to remind me to look ahead and keep the wheels rolling forward. My tribe of women were there to cheer me on while I suffered through some of the hardest years of my life.

Divorce made me feel like a failure and filled me with fears of being alone forever, but this community I’m a part of reminds me every day that I belong to something, and I am not alone. I can say with great relief that I’m on the other side of the long climb through divorce. I am more passionate than ever about my mission to show women around the globe that this lifestyle can exist for them, and that despite what dark times they go through, the bike and community of female mountain bikers can help make each day flow a little sweeter.

3 More Women-Only Bike Parties to Help You Find Your Own Tribe

Rapha Women’s 100
On this annual event day (TBA), women-only 100km road rides are hosted all over the world.

WTF Bike Explorers
This group hosts bikepacking trips for women, trans, femme, and non-binary riders.

Roam Fest
The world’s largest women’s mountain bike festival, held annually in Brevard, North Carolina (spring), and Sedona, Arizona (fall).