Norco Women's Ambassador, clinic organizer, event creator, and all-around rock star, Mel Schumacher
Elevating rider experience beyond the race itself, the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) launched its Fiver series in 2013, and it’s quickly become a staple of the North Shore riding scene thanks to its quality, and apres-race social time.
With races held every other Summer Thursday, and the renewed excitement around fun, food, drink and community, participation has been blossoming. However, the number of women out on the course remains relatively small.
Norco Women’s Ambassador Mel Schumacher noticed this and, as an active member of the North Vancouver riding community, she set out on a mission to get more women out to the events.
“The women’s turnout for the Fivers is anywhere from 5-20% and I wanted to see if we could get a better turnout because we all know there are a ton of women riders out there shredding up the trails and having a blast.
” she explained.
Her hope is to help women elevate their skills and enthusiasm on a bike through grassroots rides and events at the Norco John Henry shop, and saw the participation number at Fiver events as an indicator of how much work could be done to encourage more women.
Recalling her first ever Fiver, Schumacher added some insight into why some riders are shying away from such events.
“The mood was intense, the competition was real, and I remember riding down Crinkum Crankum hoping to keep the rubber side down! The NSMBA tries to keep the competition down and don’t hold official standings - but the nerves and competition usually prevail when putting so many people together.”
After seeing other riding hotspots develop their own female-centered events to introduce a racing environment while reducing the intimidation factor, she decided it was time the North Shore did something too.
“I actually wrote out an email to the NSMBA describing my role as an ambassador for Norco on the North Shore, telling the story of my first Fiver, and asking if it was possible to get something going,
” she explained. “As the NSMBA holds Fiver races annually, I thought it would be easiest to first approach an all-women event by adding on to their well-oiled series.”
The NSMBA jumped on board, and with Schumacher’s help, are hosting their first ever women’s only Fiver race on Thursday August 29, 2019 – with the support of Norco Bicycles and Capilano University, and après race festivities at Norco John Henry.
Taking a front seat on the planning and execution of the event, Mel has organized the race, après and has led the charge on course selection - including some classic descents on Mt Fromme that focus on intermediate terrain to attract and challenge as many riders as possible (to a max of 200). It’s worth noting, also, that the only timed parts of the race are the descents themselves – so suffering on the climbs is totally optional.
“The course starts out with Bobseld; everyone needs a good warm up that is fun and safe. How can you not have fun on this classic trail! We then ride up to Leppard which is a little of up and down and a little technical but all good! The course ends on Expresso; what is there not to love about Expresso?!? Technical, flowy, a little hop and bop here and there and ta-da, finished! Plenty of fun to be had!”
Mel inspecting Bobsled, a Fromme classic.
“I’m super stoked to see it come alive! It has been a long work in progress with a lot of moving pieces for everything to line-up and take place. My hope is that we fill up the entire 200 spots, everyone has an amazing ride and there are a lot of high-fives and smiles!"
NSMBA’s Womxn’s* Fiver:
Thurs. August 29, 2019
- Registration opens from 5:45-6:45 pm (There isn’t a “mass start”)
- Après is at Norco John Henry
– plant-based menu is being supplied by Capilano University
Let the NSMBA know you’re coming through the link below:
For more on the NSMBA, visit https://nsmba.ca/
*Organizers put the “x” for inclusivity: the race is reserved for people who identify as Womxn. The inclusive definition of “woman” and “female” welcomes trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people.