International Teachers Day #Spokes-person profile- Emily Parkin
Why do you ride?
I ride because I feel strength from biking up mountains, and I feel freedom biking down mountains. I ride for my mental health. I ride to spend time with friends.
What’s your best riding tip?
Learn the basics of bike mechanics - you’ll be glad you did!
Biking makes me feel________.
Biking has given me ___________.
Strength, courage, freedom, resilience, friends, experiences.
Who is a rider in your community who inspires you?
My friend Andrea, who lives in Squamish, BC. Over the past 10 years, we’ve ridden together in Whistler, Squamish, and Canmore. I’m always amazed at her new skills and how she is constantly challenging herself to become a better rider. She makes mountain biking look effortless. Through practice, experience and challenging herself, she has become a strong rider that inspires me to be both brave and bold in my riding.
What is a piece of wisdom you want to pass on to younger riders, or young people who want to ride?
Just get started! You’ll never want to stop.
What brought you into the biking community?
In 2010, when I was teaching in England, a group of teachers invited me to mountain bike with them at night. I didn’t have a bike, so I looked online and found a very heavy, front suspension bike for £60 (about $100). Eventually, I was able to save up and purchase my first, brand new, mountain bike. Riding at night, with only 600 lumens of light guiding our route, was an incredible experience I don’t think I can find words to describe. We would ride 2-3 nights a week, through fields, mud, water, hauling my bike over fences….it was brilliant!
What are some barriers (perceived or actual) that you’ve faced entering this community? How did you overcome them?
As a white woman in the mountain biking community, I can’t say that I’ve faced many barriers. I recently watched a film by Patagonia, “Becoming Ruby”, that follows Brooklyn Bell. She didn’t see herself in the community, so she created her own, hand drawn, hero and role model named Ruby. I’d recommend watching it, as she shares her experience as a Black Woman, participating in a predominately white sport.
How can we engage more diverse groups into the biking community?
Create inclusive opportunities, with representation, that empowers girls to not only get involved, but STAY with the community for life. It’s crucial that ALL girls can see themselves represented in the community.
What is your most memorable biking trip/story?
I’m lucky to say that this was an extremely difficult question to answer because there are SO many to choose from! I have to choose one of the most challenging experiences - my first 24 hour mountain bike race in England in 2011 - Mountain Mayhem. Majority of the participants were part of a team, completing 6 hours each. I participated in the “solo category” which meant I biked for the full 24 hours. It was amazing to participate in this race, as we biked in the forest and rolling hills of Herefordshire, England with the backdrop of Eastnor Castle. It was challenging, painful and character building - it taught me resilience, and that I can find success when I step outside of my comfort zone.
What are three words that tell your biking story?
I can’t sum it up in only 3 words, but I have 3 statements I repeat to myself and friends every time we ride;
“Pin it to win it!”
“No blood, no mud, it was a dud!”