City Girl Gone Dirty – MTB Curious

Ever wonder what it’s like to whiz through the woods — across the dirt, rocks, and tree roots? It always looked like some epic, unattainable cool thing that only pros would attempt. Growing up in San Francisco, I didn’t know any mountain bikers. I had a single experience on a mountain bike via a program called Sportsbridge, which paired inner-city middle school girls with young professional women who had athletic backgrounds. After that memorable experience, I continued on my city-kid path adventuring on the pavement.

Little did I know that the sport of mountain biking was birthed in Marin County, a stone’s throw away from home across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking over the San Francisco area from an overlook with a bike in the foreground
Sunday ride up to Twin Peaks.
Amalia and her boyfriend on a ride by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Bridging the gap between us. ❤️😆
Amalia and her boyfriend riding MTB near San Francisco
I want my MTB! (Who’s old enough to get that reference? 😆) Fun times at China Camp State Park.

That initial taste of dirt held a tinge of curiosity as I got older, particularly in that sweaty palm feeling I’d get when watching the Red Bull Rampage or viral videos of people mountain biking on cliff edges on social media.

As I became more focused and passionate about my career in technology, I found myself surrounded by a lot of men, and extremely-driven (and often adrenaline-seeking) entrepreneurs and founders. As a competitive and driven person myself, the company I kept ultimately led me to my first downhill mountain biking experience.

An unfortunate season of California wildfires canceled the Lake Tahoe Triathlon, so given we had all booked a cabin and committed to the trip, we did the next most fun thing we could think of — a day of downhill mountain biking. Thanks to some great negotiation skills by one of my founder friends, we nabbed ourselves a private lesson for four followed by a free afternoon of riding.

The safety of a coach, protective gear, and encouragement (and competitiveness) of friends made for a perfect combination of turning this curiosity into something more.

By this point, I had already become hooked on triathlons. Road cycling was a regular weekend activity, and I was leveling-up my races each year.

Amalia posing at the finish with some friends after completing an Ironman race
Look at these sexy first time half Ironmen and Ironwomen; so hungry they're eating their medals. 😄
Amalia on a bike in front of a temple in Bagan, Burma.
Biking in Bagan!

I didn’t have any more epic Tahoe weekends, but my curiosity continued to pique across world travels.

I picked up mountain bikes in Southeast Asia, where there are often no paved roads at all, as well as in the beautiful redwoods of New Zealand, home to Crankworx Rotorua. This time, it wasn’t about being hardcore or doing something epic, it was about the journey.

At times, I have a fire to not only hang with the boys but pass them up. Other times, I am so grateful to have some stellar female riders to teach me the MTB ways in a stress-free and confidence-building environment.

There are so many reasons to go outside, so if you already like getting on a bike, then riding one in the dirt is just another goal and new experience that awaits.

Whatever your motivation or mode of learning, there is a support system. For me, it’s a combination of fun-loving friends, riding groups like Girls Rock, and inspirational Pearl iZUMi crew members.

Amalia posing with a group of women on a mountain bike ride in Santa Cruz
Had a blast at my first @girlsrockmtb event! Awesome #demobike thanks to @spokesmanbicycles. It makes me excited to cross over from #road to #MTB 😏 #girlsrock

There are so many reasons to go outside, so if you already like getting on a bike, then riding one in the dirt is just another goal and new experience that awaits.

Amalia pedaling a trishaw driver around.
The trishaw driver let me get in some Ironman training! 😄
Mountain biking with her boyfriend
Exploring by bike!

Mythical Facts About Mountain Biking

  1. Mountain biking is for guys. Let’s continue to break that gender bias. Sure, the ratio of guy riders to girl riders is still higher, but this is a woman’s sport! Just ask Casey Brown.
  2. Mountain biking is dangerous. You can learn how to ride in a safe way, gradually. Take a lesson. Join a free group ride. You don’t have to take ski lifts and bomb downhill your first time on the mountain. 😉
  3. Mountain biking is safer than road riding given all of the hit-and-runs these days. Look, both can be dangerous. Bike commuters that don’t own cars won’t stop riding, and neither will I. Be as safe as possible. Wear reflective clothing with BioViz, always carry your lights so you don’t get caught in the dark, and obey traffic laws. Sliding through that red light just isn’t worth your life.
  4. Mountain bikes are expensive and fixing them is complicated. I bought my 2003 Santa Cruz Blur in 2018 for $100. I took it to a shop and the mechanic gave me a non-broken fork and tuned it up for $20 and a bottle of kombucha. The mountain biking community is awesome.
  5. You’re either a road or dirt rider. Be whoever you want to be, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

My name is Amalia, and I’m a cyclist. I have three bikes: road, gravel, and mountain. #RideAllTheSurfaces

Throwback to @pearlizumiofficial #GoCrew weekend in Boulder! Miss my cycling buddies.
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Amalia's interest in triathlons began with a 1.5 mile relay leg swim from Alcatraz to her native San Francisco in 2007. Fast forward to 2013, she jokingly entered her first triathlon and placed 1st in her division, qualifying for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. From that point on, Amalia made triathlons an annual tradition, encouraging friends and colleagues to join in the fun, and eventually completed her first Ironman 70.3 in 2016. Amalia is proud to represent PEARL iZUMi, and enjoys fundraising for various causes and empowering people of all ages and abilities (especially women) to lead healthy, active lifestyles through cycling, swimming, running, hiking, climbing, and most any other outdoor activity.

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One thought on “City Girl Gone Dirty – MTB Curious

  1. This was so fun to watch! Entertaining the thought of mountain biking myself. It’s a scary unknown when you are so use to paved roads on a road bike! Thanks for sharing!

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