Shred & Flow
Shred & Flow
While bouncing over rocks, free-falling down drops, and full-sending off dirt ramps, a downhill mountain biker can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. It’s the kind of speed where a wrong move results in a gnarly scrape, on a lucky day. An intoxicating mix of nerves, balance, and potential calamity, the adrenaline rush that results from an intense downhill trail ride is necessary to stay alive and alert — and thrilling enough to keep everyone pedaling back for more.
This rush is a recipe for major fun, but it also results in some major vulnerability. The truth is, you can’t fake it on the trail. Either you can keep up with the pack and handle a certain trail feature, or you can’t. The difference is as obvious as a wipeout. Emotionally and physically, it’s a sport that can leave you feeling exposed. Not necessarily in a bad way, but certainly in a way that you’d only want to experience around supportive and trusted peers — especially if you’re new to the sport. For women, that often means biking with other women.
Mountain biking is a male-dominated sport with a male-dominated culture, making strong female biking friendships and supportive female-led communities highly necessary for the sport to thrive. “Shred & Flow” follows two mountain biking trailblazers — Sarah “Eddie” Edwards and Robin Viera — as they reflect on their friendship, scout trails, goof off, and mentor some young female riders at full speed.
Sound like your idea of a good time? Cruise through the Q&A below to learn more about these amazing women and the man they worked with behind the camera — it may just inspire a future high-speed adventure of your own.
Q: Tell us about your first experiences in the saddle.
Robin: “I picked up mountain biking after choosing not to pursue a soccer career after college. I fell in love hard. It filled a gap in my life that I didn't know existed. On the trails, I found myself entering a state of “flow” — something that, as a yoga teacher with a Neuroscience and Exercise Science degree, I’m infinitely fascinated by. I find a lot of peace in my solo time spent in the saddle on flowy single-tracks, technical rock gardens, and even long gravel rides.”
Sarah: “I’m fairly new to the bike scene. In college, I first discovered road cycling and quickly fell in love with its freedom and community. Over time, this love affair evolved, and I decided on a whim to buy a mountain bike. When it comes to my growth as a rider, I give all credit to my crew in Bend, OR. They took me under their wing and made mountain biking a safe, goofy, weird place for me. It quickly became my favorite thing in the world.”
Andy: “I believe that a bike is a tool to tap into a deeper sense of who you are. It’s hard for me to get on any bike and not feel like a kid at the homemade pump track a few blocks from my childhood home. It’s pure freedom and I’m always trying to find ways to inspire more people to hop on, and see the magic for themselves.”
Q: What is it like to be a woman in the bike community?
Sarah: “The culture is intimidatingly male-dominated. I’ve worked in the bike industry for the last six years, and I still get mansplained, talked down to, and judged with a larger magnifying glass than comparable men. As a rider, I’ve learned from some amazing men, but there’s something different about riding with women. It’s been really cool to see the explosion of women's clinics, riding groups, camps, and teams popping up in the last few years. I’d love to see these venues grow and offer more safe spaces for women to ask questions, build confidence, and have fun.”
Robin: “Women have found two primary ways to carve out space for themselves in the mountain bike community. On one hand, we have women working to create a very women-centric bike community, one that often tries to “put men in their place" as a reaction to years of men putting women “in their place." On the other hand, we have women trying to fit into the current “bro-brah” culture created by men. There is a third area, where I try to exist. It’s all about recognizing and taking pride in your unique strengths, and lifting other women up by recognizing theirs. Sarah and I, for example, are really different riders, and that's a beautiful thing. We value those differences and use them to grow.”
Q: What are your goals for this film?
Robin: This film is about women riding without limits. In a society with a dark history of oppression, women are constantly living between acting a certain way and being themselves. The bike community often reinforces this, but the bike itself has the power to force us open and be our true selves. When women ride true to their style and to who they are, it's a beautiful, freeing, and uplifting thing.”
Sarah: I want to show how mountain biking doesn’t need to be so serious. For me, it’s all about getting out and getting weird. Riding bikes is the best place to be whoever you want to be, to laugh, cry, make weird voices, sing songs, and goof around. The more we can vocalize that in the industry, the better off we will all be. I love racing as much as the next person, but I think at its core, bike riding is the ultimate safe space to play and let your inner child out.”
Andy: “I wanted to pass the mic and give Robin and Sarah a platform. They’re both incredibly smart and talented, with insightful and inspiring things to say about mountain biking. They’re also wildly different from one another, which was key. We wanted to play their personalities off each other and show that there isn’t one template for what women have to be in mountain biking.”
Q: How did your BFGoodrich® Trail-Terrain T/A® Tires do on location?
Robin: “Driving with the Trail-Terrain tires was a dream. They took us from pavement to gravel to trail effortlessly.”
Sarah: “The tires crushed all the technical, rutted-out dirt roads we threw at them during filming. It made our lives a lot easier.”
Q: What did you take away from working on this project?
Sarah: “I had a minor identity crisis when making this film. I’m not a professional athlete or a coach or some crazy epic rider with a Youtube channel. I felt like an imposter. Through conversations with the crew, I realized that few men would ever think this way and that I actually am exactly who young girls and women need to see in this space. We all love a sick professional rider edit, but the more average, everyday women we show getting out and getting rad on bikes, the better.”
Robin: “Bikes bring out the best and the worst in us. They strip us down and show us the good, the bad, and the ugly. I learned a lot about my riding style, what I love to do and what I don't. (I love to ride fast, and I love riding with Eddie!) I was also reminded of how much my bike has taught me while not riding. Things like positive self-talk, courage, the strength to breathe, and to simply be me. I am so grateful for all the gals and guys who've shown me how to ride a bike, and so much more.”
Andy: “Women are competent, capable, strong, and unique. And we should all stop putting them in a box.”