Joyride 150, a bike park near Toronto, is the park that inspired Joy Ride in the first Shred Girls book in the series. So, naturally, I reached out to the park’s owner to meet some of the rad girls who were shredding in the park! He hooked me up with some amazing girls with a huge range of experience, age and riding styles, and I’m stoked for you all to meet Desiree—Desi—Smith.
Desiree is also the niece of one of my favorite human beings, as it turns out, and I love her because when I emailed her about doing an interview, she immediately got back to me with a YES, and a note that I should reach out to her equally awesome roommate… What a great friend!
When did you start riding? What got you into Joyride?
I started riding 3 years ago when my aunt and uncle brought me to Joyride. I hadn’t been on a bike in about 10 years so it was a HUGE learning curve but I fell in love instantly.
When did you decide you wanted to start riding more seriously?
I wanted to start riding more seriously right away but unfortunately lived 2 hours away from Joyride and didn’t own my own bike yet. I recently moved to Mississauga so I started getting serious about riding earlier this year.
Have you made friends through racing? (If so, any tips for talking to new people?)
I have made so many amazing friends although, I didn’t really know anyone at joyride until recently. Going more often you tend to see the same people and meeting people becomes easier. I am super shy and will rarely start a conversation with someone new but the great thing about riding is you already know that you have something in common! Every girl I have met through riding has been super rad so there is nothing to be scared of! Meeting the first few people is the hardest, but it becomes easier once you start to make some friends that ride. A great place to start is at Joyride 150’s Women’s Weekend! The park is only girls and the skills range from people just getting on a bike to some really experienced riders. This makes it a great environment to meet new people, everyone is there to learn new things and have fun. If you see someone trying something that you can do, go offer them some advice. If someone is trying something that you also want to learn, go learn it with them! I am more intimidated talking to people that are better than I am but I’ve finally started doing it and it has never failed! In my experiences, people that ride bikes are all pretty awesome and there’s no reason to be scared to talk to them!
Favorite part about riding?
I absolutely love motivating people. Whether it’s getting someone on a bike, motivating them to try new things or talking them through something they are terrified of. I would live to see more girls on a bike so getting people stoked on riding is such a rewarding feeling!
Least favorite part about riding?
Injuries!! I am a slow learner and tend to have a little more guts than skill. I get impatient trying to learn the basics and move on to something that is out of my skill level which has resulted in many injuries for me (slowly learning my lesson). There is nothing worse than wanting to ride your bike and having time to ride your bike but not being able to!
Coolest trick or accomplishment you’ve had with riding?
My biggest accomplishment in riding is just that, riding a bike. I am a very shy person and riding in front of people sends my anxiety through the roof, I usually need to sit for a few minutes and relax to stop shaking before I start riding. For the first 2 years of being on a bike I would only ride if there was either no one around or just a few people. A 5 hour session at Joyride would frequently mean I was actually on my bike about 10-15 times. I hated it so much but I loved the thrill of riding my bike so I kept going just praying it would be a slow night. I have slowly started to become more outgoing and riding in front of large groups which is huge for me. If you asked me 2 years ago, I never would have believed I would be where I am now.
What does a week of training/riding look like for you?
My weeks are a bit insane right now, I work a full time job as well as a part time job and I am taking night courses at University of Toronto so riding is a bit on the slower side for me right now. I try to get in anywhere from 1-4 hours of riding a week right now. I also do lots of yoga, I find this helps to prevent new injuries and speed up the healing of previous ones! I usually try to do some strength training as well but right now I’m not really able to fit it in.
Best tip for someone your age or younger who’d love to get started riding/racing, but doesn’t know anyone else to ride with?
If you like it, just do it! I rode by myself for almost the first 2 years of being on a bike. I’m not going to lie, it’s very difficult to progress and motivate yourself but I loved my bike so much that I kept going. If you’re shy like me, you will likely find it difficult to ride in front of people when you’re alone (especially when trying to learn new things!). I found it really helped to throw some music on, it blocks out the noise and distractions around you so you can really just focus on your riding (I try to pretend there is no one around). You will start meeting people the more you ride, the faster you can do this, the better. Having people to ride with helps SO much, it helps to keep you motivated, keep progressing and it’s just more fun. BUT, you have to start somewhere, so if you don’t have anyone to ride with, get on a bike and ride alone. Meeting people will come the more you ride, it’s worth it I promise!
Best tip for tackling a scary section in a bike park, i.e the pump track for someone super new to riding?
If you’re intimidated by something, walk through it first so you don’t have any surprises when you ride. If possible, take your bike with you and push it through so you can see how it handles things (I found this really helpful when learning how to drop into a quarter, seeing that the bike could roll over the coping without anything hitting the coping was very reassuring). If you know someone who can ride it, ask them to try it slowly so you can watch. Once you’re ready, try it slowly so you can get comfortable. The most important thing that you’ll hear a million times is look where you want to go, this sounds obvious but so many people fail to do this when they’re learning (including myself). This is one of the most important things because it gives you your balance and keeps you going the right way and avoiding hitting things (another thing I do quite often). And lastly, wear pads!! No you won’t look lame for riding with pads on and they will give you so much more confidence.
Absolute favorite piece of gear?
100% my bike. I spent so much time looking at complete bikes but just wasn’t sold on any of them so I decided to build custom. This meant waiting longer to save up but I wouldn’t change anything, I love my bike so much now!
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