We sat down with Haibike Hero and all-round rad person, Kara Beal, asking a few questions around women in cycling and her approach to inspiring girls in the male-dominated sport of mountain biking.
Having only started her eMTB journey in January 2019, Kara is now well and truly a part of the cycling scene and her love for the sport is only growing stronger. Since taking up mountain biking, and with help from her boyfriend Tom Cardy (who also happens to be one of our Haibike Heroes), Kara has been transitioning into a full-time mountain biking influencer and content creator; documenting her progress along the way and helping to inspire female cyclists all over.
In 2013 British Cycling launched their campaign #OneinaMillion with an ambition to get 1 million more women on bikes by 2020. Have you noticed more women out cycling?
Kara: I’ve seen a lot more women out riding which is awesome, especially in a mainly male-dominated sport. At the races there are lots of females and out on the local trails, bike parks and even skateparks I see women giving it a go! I have had a lot of women reach out to me on social media saying they have got into riding and even men saying that they showed their wife/girlfriend my videos and it has inspired them to give it a go so that is awesome as well!
Women can be proportioned a lot differently to men, as a woman, how do you find the fit of the AllMtn?
Kara: The Haibike AllMtn is so versatile and it's great for girls too. The geometry of the bike is perfect as the top tube is slightly angled, so the fit is spot on for a female and the reach is perfect as well!
Through your YouTube channel alone, you have both inspired and given female cyclists the confidence to get out on their bikes. What advice would you give to a woman new to cycling?
Kara: I would say just give it a go, go at your own pace and don’t be scared of what other people think. Everyone was a beginner at some point and going at your own pace and sticking to your skill level you’ll find yourself progressing a lot quicker than if you were to do something too hard.
I would also say try not to be intimidated by other riders. It can be super scary sitting at the top of a trail waiting to drop in with lots of other riders around - but it doesn’t matter how far you can jump, how quick you can go down a trail, or even how stylish you look. It's how much you enjoy it that matters the most and that's what keeps me coming back for more!
With the help of Kara, we've pulled together some top tips to keep your cycling inspiration high:
1. Have fun!
2. Get the right bike for you
3. Go at your own pace
4. Crashes are part of the game
Like Kara said, it's easy to get intimidated when you're sat at the trailhead surrounded by lots of other riders, but everyone has been in the same boat before and everyone's just there to have fun at the end of the day - so have fun too!
One thing that can make it slightly easier is finding a bike you're comfortable on; the more comfortable you are, the more confident you'll likely be. Unfortunately, your 15-year-old bike that you used to ride to school on probably won't be fit for modern mountain biking demands. Geometry and sizing have come on leaps and bounds since then, both providing more comfort and more confidence for your riding. You can see the range of Haibike’s here, all of which include a great size guide to help you pick the right one for you.
Another thing worth mentioning is that crashes are part of the game when it comes to cycling. There's nothing worse than a crash to knock your newly found confidence but try and dust yourself off and get back on it. Remember, it's all a learning curve and it happens to the best of us - the adage "learn from your mistakes" has never been truer! As Kara mentioned, go at your own pace and you’ll find yourself progressing quicker.
If you want some more inspiration to go out and send it, we recommend you check out Kara's YouTube channel to keep up to date on her progression and cycling journey.