IN 2004, TURENNE DITCHED THE CONFINES OF THE DH COURSE AND BEGAN TRAVELING THE WORLD AS ONE OF THE SPORT'S ONLY PROFESSIONAL FEMALE FREERIDERS. SHE IS A HOST AND PRODUCER FOR THE POPULAR RIDE GUIDE TELEVISION SERIES, RECENTLY DEVELOPED A SIGNATURE BIKE FROM NORCO, AND HAS BEEN FEATURED IN MAGAZINES LIKE ROLLING STONE AND MEN'S JOURNAL. THIS FALL, 25-YEAR-OLD TURENNE WILL BEGIN WORKING TOWARD A MASTER'S DEGREE IN COMMUNICATIONS.
Almost every female who rode a bike inspired me and motivated me when I first started riding, but I really looked up to April Lawyer and Marla Streb. I became a fan of Marla after watching her riding smoother than any other woman I had ever seen at the Big Bear NORBA when I was a junior. I loved how she pumped every little roller and made it look like the bike was floating underneath her. That's why I decided that style was important to me as a rider. I later found out that she has a master's and is a classical piano genius. Knowing that kept me from walking away from my university education on more than one occasion.
April represented everything I wanted to be when I was a teenager. I remember seeing her in the X Games Snowboard Big Air competition, and to me, the fact that she did both sports was hands-down the coolest thing ever. She showed the world that it was okay to be feminine and athletic at the same time, which wasn't very common with female mountain bikers back then.
Maintaining a sense of femininity while riding is almost impossible, because it's the last thing on my mind as I'm hitting a set of jumps or careening down a hill. That said, there's nothing stopping me or anybody else from being feminine off the bike. I love dresses. I'd live in them if it were warm enough in Canada.
It's okay to ride with the boys, be a good athlete, and be proud of your femininity at the same time. Being comfortable with who you are is the most important thing. I'm a huge softy and love being a woman, so putting on a tough facade would just scream insecurity.
Mountain biking can be rough, painful and dirty, but the sport is also incredibly peaceful and contemplative. It combines the art of sport with environmental connection and offers unlimited challenge…it has a lot more appeal than we give it credit for.
Five top female riders discuss the women who inspire them, breaking into the boys’ club, zen and the fine art of femininity.
This content was originally published in Bike’s Sept/Oct 2009 issue.