Many riders push themselves to be better athletes, to climb harder and descend faster. However, there are some riders out there that athletic performance is only the beginning of their journey. These athletes have a purpose beyond their own pedals to push the cycling industry to be a better place for everyone. Meet our riders and ambassadors that are making it a point to drive the cycling industry towards inclusivity.
Welcome to WTB's Ride With Purpose.
Name: Ashley Duffus-Jambor
Where’s your local riding spot:
Galbraith Mountain, and I’m never bored of it.
1. Sports massage therapist at my own practice
2. Founder and designer @ Cosmic Dirt, a brand new inclusive women’s mountain apparel company. I don’t have *free time* anymore, but I love what I do!
Favorite WTB product:
Been super stoked on the Vigilante 2.6 lately. Spring in the PNW is peanut butter mud one day, kitty litter the next. They’re holding up in both, which is incredible. I have a lot of trouble trusting corners, but these are definitely helping!
One thing you never leave on a ride without:
S N A C K S. Eating enough on the trail always means riding better, seriously. I’ve bonked at the top of a 3 hour climb, it’s the worst thing. Also, homemade vegan/gf chocolate chip cookies >>> any kind of ‘sports food’.
Favorite biking partner:
My dog, he never says anything when I take too long. :P
What's a perfect day of biking look like to you:
Honestly, I’d trade a kidney to be able to ride Whistler again soon. Miss you, Canada. But, second best is when I don’t have any obligations and I can just wind around on Galbraith for 5 hours, choosing the longer route for no reason. There’s so much trail here, I can’t stop sometimes.
How did you get into biking:
This is a long answer, bear with me.
My dad worked at a shop when I was born (Shout out to Peak Sports in Corvallis, OR!) so I was always around bikes/mountain bike culture, but I didn’t truly pick up mountain biking til I was in my 20s. Some of the ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ mentality was at play there, I wish I’d tried it earlier!
My first *real* full squish mountain bike was a 2008 Transition Syren I picked up when I moved to Bellingham in 2010, heavily influenced by the friends I made when I got here. The trail we shot these photos on is the first trail I ever rode in Whatcom County, and the first time I ever rode a full suspension bike. I cried. I think being thrown headfirst into freeride culture in Bellingham at that time scared the shit out of me, and I sold the bike after a year and stopped riding.
Fast forward 5 years, I’d stopped doing all the outdoor sports I love, gained a bunch of weight because of it, and gotten wildly depressed. My husband and I moved to Bend, OR, and he started getting into mountain biking… so I skeptically figured I needed to try it again. The first ride I went on was 2.4 miles and 100ft of elevation, and I thought I was going to die. Good thing I didn’t.
We made the move back to Bellingham in 2018 and I couldn’t feel more at home now. I went from being able to barely make a small climb, to last year riding over 100 trails on Galbraith alone. Ive exponentially increased my skill level, I’m riding features and trails that I was scared of back in 2010. It’s been a full circle journey now, and I can honestly say mountain biking has changed my life. I have so much gratitude for the torture my body allows me to put it through, and smashing all kinds of goals I have for myself feels incredible.
Why do you ride:
Touching on what I just said above, mountain biking has absolutely transformed my life. I used to think I would never really be active again (because companies didn’t make clothes that fit me, so why would I try?), I used to struggle with eating disorders and serious body image issues. I used to think there was no way I’d ever be able to ride “X” trail/feature/location. I used to not really know who I was.
Now I feel more in my body than I ever have. I have so much gratitude that my cranky knees still let me hammer them for hours without giving out. That my relationship with food has been transformed by learning how to fuel my body for the things I want to accomplish. That I get to spend hours and hours in nature breathing fresh air and sweating and feeling very very alive. I’m tearing up talking about it. I feel like my entire worldview has been shifted BY A BICYCLE, and I want everyone to try it.
Was there a pivotal moment for you that made you start showing up for inclusivity within the industry? Or how did you start shifting your perspective?
There have been a lot of little moments, but mostly I realized that I absolutely live and breathe biking, and SO MANY more people probably would if they saw someone like them represented in the industry. I tell people all the time, if I can do this, so can you. But there’s a big disconnect with bike industry media. “You can’t be what you can’t see” is something that has been in my mind a lot lately. How are larger folks supposed to want to try cycling, when they don’t see anyone but skinny folks represented in media? I’ve always been a little hesitant to put myself out there in this capacity, but last year something broke in my mind, and I realized who’s going to do it if its not me? OK FINE.
What changes are you advocating in the industry and how
There’s a huge amount of value in marketing towards real people. Not everyone is built like a model. Not everyone can ride Rampage lines. These athletes are amazing, they’re pushing the boundaries of our sport, and I love watching them ride, it’s inspiring! But I also feel almost zero desire to get on my bike and go do that thing, whereas when I see a regular person shredding with a big smile on their face, or a girl with a big booty getting after it, I’m immediately like DAMN I NEED TO GO SHRED RIGHT FRIGGIN NOW. Show us that real people ride bikes too.
I started my own inclusive sized clothing line because nobody actually makes mountain bike clothing that fits me. I’ve been riding several days a week for five years now and I’ve never had ‘mountain bike’ shorts or pads that fit… I used to not own a chamois because I couldn’t find one. Yes, ouch. The industry needs to step up and take the risk to start making more inclusive clothing. More people are getting into cycling right now than at any other point in the past, companies are raking in the cash and they have the budget to just do it. People aren’t going to want to get into cycling if they can’t find anything to wear. Some of us are stubborn and ride in commuter-mom shorts from REI and t-shirts because we like it, but seriously, I want cool looking bike clothing! Until every brand offers women’s gear that actually fits real women, y’all aren’t doing it well enough. Build it and they will come.
Stop acting like women are just eye candy. A lot of brands are doing really well with this now, and I think people are getting the point, but you asked what I’m advocating for, and I can’t gloss over that. We work in the industry, we know what we are talking about, and we definitely can ride bikes too! Sponsor riders like Hannah Bergemann for being an absolute tank, instead of influencer babes who are just cute on the internet. If we want the younger generation of girls to grow up knowing they are equal to men, and can participate in sports at the same level, you have to start treating adult women like it now to create role models.
How can we create a bike industry that is accessible to everyone:
Start by putting differently shaped and non-white humans in your marketing campaigns front and center. There’s a lot of amazing work happening with racial inclusivity, but body size is a big piece of the conversation that’s still being left out. There’s a link between the two that I’m not qualified to talk about, because I’m a white girl, but it’s there.
Put us on the cover of magazines, talk about things that are struggles for real people. Start talking about bike setup for bigger people. Be welcoming to people who are different. Don’t tell us we need to ‘lose weight to fit in’, don’t tell us you ‘cant afford’ to do this stuff. I know how much money the bike industry is making right now, and it’s worth it. There are so many things. I’m an open book for anyone who wants more.
If you had to pick one thing every rider, and company needs to do today to create a more inclusive industry, what would it be:
Listen with your heart not your budget or your ego.
How can other people get more involved with shift the industry towards more inclusivity:
Be willing to listen to people different from you in order to learn and grow. Let go of your image of an “athlete” and recognize that everyone can love cycling just as much as the next.
It's 10 years from today…. What is the bike industry like in your eyes:
Oh man. If I can have a full outfit from more than 3 brands (mine excluded ;), we’re doing it right. Oh, and if my rear suspension doesn’t max out at 10 PSI more than I run it at, that’d be cool too.