Connecting women riders in BC
When M-C Boudreau first started riding, she was too shy to be a part of the regular rides and trail maintenance at the Squamish Dirt Bike Association (SDBA). She’s a confident rider, but didn’t want to be the only woman rider.
So she decided to set up a Facebook group to bring women together to ride. A few friends started riding together, but the Girls With No Limits group really took off after she hosted a social evening fundraiser. It was the club’s first community event held away from the dirt trails. It brought members together in a fun setting so they could connect and get to know one another, plus it raised $1,000 for trail signage. “It put our girls group on the map,” said M-C.
This group has attracted many women, creating a network of off-road riders. They welcome all levels and riding abilities – if you’re interested in trying the sport and connecting with other like-minded women, then this is the group for you. M-C receives many messages from women who are interested in riding, curious about how to start. “It’s a fun sport and they want to try it,” explains M-C. “It takes a lot of guts to ride dirt bikes.” Her ultimate goal is for women to learn new skills, push themselves and develop as a rider.
Marie-Claude (M-C) Boudreau has volunteered with the SDBA for the past year as Director of Events, jumping in with both feet to make her mark on the club. “It’s really addictive,” she says. As soon as an event is done she is thinking about the next one, and how to make it even better next time.
She enjoys organizing events, even birthday parties; it’s a talent that comes naturally to her. She coordinates and manages the club events, and helps with trail maintenance. “The key to volunteering is to enjoy what you are doing,” says M-C. “Luckily, our club’s board of directors is an amazing crew, which makes it easy to grow as a club.” Her favourite part is bringing people together and seeing those personal connections form.
“We’re all here to support one another,” explains M-C. “We will push, pull and encourage you. Riding builds confidence, even if we have to pull you up the hill, because next time you may not need as much help.”
These events offer women experience on the bike, develop their skills, provide opportunity for learning and sharing, and create connections with other women. With that comes a sense of belonging. But more importantly it demonstrates and reaffirms to them that they CAN do it.
M-C is so proud of the women she rides with. She enjoys making connections and encouraging women to get out of their comfort zone. Each time the riders come out to an event, they gain more experience and more confidence.
“I think it’s important to break the habit of riding with the same person.” M-C explains that when you ride with the same person, you depend on them, and for many women that person tends to be a male. So skill building workshops have become an important component of her events. “When you learn a new skill, it makes you want to keep practicing,” says M-C. “It creates a spark and builds confidence.”
The proof is in the numbers. Their female event and overall membership numbers have risen dramatically. Three years ago Girls With No Limits had three people out for rides, now about 20 women attend their bi-weekly ride. M-C recently organized their annual Spring Fling event in early May. This women’s ride in Squamish includes lunch, a two-hour coaching clinic and guided ride. Attendees must be a SDBA club member to participate. Because of the interest in this event and off-road riding in general, a lot of new women became members. M-C had to double check the SDBA member list to make sure she was seeing it correctly – the number of women in the club was almost equal to the number of men! “I had goosebumps to see how many women were in the club,” remarked M-C.
It’s still early in the season, and the numbers may change, but she is excited to see the upward trend. “To see the rise of women riding is very special,” she says. “Now I see so many more women on the trails and can make more connections.”
It’s all about creating connections and fostering a supportive community. M-C explains that the members of Girls With No Limits really create a positive energy; they are inspired to be involved and help, which starts a big circle of people giving back and helping one another.
M-C has been in a number of different competitive sports including rock climbing and snowboarding. But the connection and sense of community she has personally experienced in off-road riding is unique; it’s something she has never really felt in any other sport.
The feeling goes back to her first off-road riding experience on the trails. M-C started riding a motorcycle in 2005 and has been riding off-road since 2013. That year she decided to go camping. So she loaded up her street legal Enduro motorcycle saddle bags, put her dog in a crate on her bike and away they went. When they showed up to the riding area everyone was staring at them. She encountered a great group of people from the West Coast Dirt Riders who took her out on her first ride around the trails. She was overwhelmed with their kindness. She sold her bike that year and purchased a more suitable off-road motorcycle. Now her goal and purpose is to be more like those riders – to help others that are learning so they can enjoy the beautiful mountain trails. She is well on her way. For the past six years M-C has been riding off-road and inspiring women to go beyond their limits.
Girls With No Limits
Their motto says it all: “Our mission is to help facilitate and encourage women to ride trails, practice skills, and meet other women who ride. Building a community of women who ride dirt bikes in the Sea to Sky area and beyond.”
Off-Road Stories is a series by the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada’s Off-Road Council to tell the real stories of off-road motorcyclists across Canada. It shares interesting stories of remarkable everyday off-road riders, showcases the valuable work they are doing in our communities and the positive impact of their efforts.