Skip to Main Content

Behind the Dirt: Sturdy Dirty 2023

background image

 By: Sammi Bushman, Product Content Writer | Last Updated: July 11, 2023

When the Sturdy Dirty first broke ground in the forests of Northwest Washington, it was an outlier. Born from a desire for more competition and community, a coalition of women known as Sturdy Bitch Racing (SBR) trekked north to British Columbia to participate in another all women’s race.

What they experienced on the land of the Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish) people was both empowering and eye opening. There was competition, community, and representation. Outside of this safe space, male identified riders dominated the enduro racing scene, and there weren’t nearly as many women showing their faces at co-ed races.

The solution was clear: women needed a safe space to build their skills. And so, in 2014 the racers brought their vision home to Washington. The First women’s enduro race in the US, The Sturdy Dirty, was born. 

Led by rider, Mom, and all around badass Ady Bee Lane and her team, building a women’s only event came with lots of challenges. The sales statistics were against them. Men bought into mountain biking at a much greater proportion than women. Would people even want to participate?

“There just weren't a lot of women racing, you would race against the same handful of women over and over,” Lane said.  “We were sick of that. We wanted to have more competition.”

The community support was overwhelming. Ridership quickly grew from under 100 riders to the race’s current cap at 300. Now, organizers limit participation so racers don’t feel overcrowded on the trails. 

In the past nine years, the Sturdy has gone through many iterations with a few constant themes. SBR wanted to create an intimidation free environment where riders of all abilities could test their skills and have a great time.

“One of the things that makes Sturdy different is we try to make it a really fun day,” Lane said. “The courses are long and they are hard. It's not necessarily an easy race, so racers have to be able to do the thing, you know, but we also want it to be a fun day on the bike.”

Themed aid stations, group training rides, and dig days are just a few things that encourage participants to connect with each other and their communities.

Now, with a few more women’s only races across the country, they are certainly not alone. But the Sturdy Dirty continues to be a pillar for the MTB community. Representation matters, and in an industry dominated by men, the coalition of women running the Sturdy Dirty are putting in the work so future generations can enjoy more equitable trails. Spots sell out for good reason.

evo is proud to be the title sponsor of the Sturdy Dirty.

So what is it like to participate in a women’s only mountain bike race?
We asked our employees

Izzy Zaik

Izzy Zaik (She / Her) is the events coordinator for Hood River and Portland. The most challenging part? “The most challenging was the mental side of it for me!” Zaik said. “I had butterflies in my stomach before each stage, knowing I was about to push myself and go full speed into trails I hadn't ridden before.” Izzy placed 3rd in her category.

Emma Chamberland

Emma (she/her) is a store lead and social media manager for the evo Whistler Store. Most memorable part of her Sturdy Dirty experience? “It was all about building the community and having fun and that was really special,” Chamberland said. “I kept being told this was the funnest race ever, and they weren’t lying, it really is.”

Train Sturdy

background image

Wanna participate in the Sturdy Dirty? It’s half luck and half good timing. For the 2023 race, all 300 spots sold out in 15 minutes. With over 200 people on the waitlist this year, a spot at the Sturdy is coveted and hard to come by. Participants are capped to maintain the rider experience– but never fear, there’s plenty of opportunities to get involved. 

Some people go into races fresh off the couch, others spend each preceding week in a tight regimen of training. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Whoever you are and wherever you come from, Sturdy has something for you.

“We host a ton of group rides so that people can meet other racers and build that community for themselves,” Lane said. “When they come to race day they aren't just hanging out with their two friends or just by themselves. They now know, you know, 30 other women that are doing the race from the pre-rides.”

I train just by biking as much as possible! I don't actually use Strava or log miles, I just bike everyday! We host a weekly group ride every Wednesday in Hood River, where we start the ride from the shop and get a couple extra miles on the road which definitely helps me stay in shape!
Izzy Zaik
I really didn't do specific any training. I like to ride as much as I can so there was a lot of after work rides, big weekend pedals with friends training for other races, and a few bike park laps but none of it was really training, more-so just having fun on my bike. I do enjoy pushing myself to improve my speed every time I ride a trail but I’m really new to this whole race thing. I just had a bit of a show up and giver mentality.
Emma Chamberland

Race Sturdy

background image

On a foggy July morning, the racers gathered at the base of Raging River State forest. Together, they climbed up the long gravel road to the beginning of their stage. After months of hard work by volunteers, organizers, and sponsors, the trails were ready and the stage was set.

From amateurs to pros, LGBTQIA+ folx, POC, and more, all ability levels and identities were represented on the trails.

Aid stations were out in full force: evo employees wore Ted Lasso Mustaches as they worked on bikes and spun gears, SRAM offered mimosas and massages, and drinks, snacks, and stoke flowed.

Zaik placed 3rd in her category. Chamberland was just happy to be there. 

“I got to meet so many amazing new friends! Everyone at the race was so supportive of each other and we had some fun chats in-between the stages,” Chamberland said.


Be Sturdy

background image

In the world of competitive mountain biking, being a woman no longer makes you an outlier. And while we still often find ourselves riding with men, it is women centered communities like the Sturdy Dirty which reassure us the future of racing shines bright with strong, intelligent humans at its helm.

“I've been lucky to have an extremely positive experience being a woman in the mtb industry, both as a rider and working in the outdoor industry,” Zaik said. “I have found an incredible group of female riders to learn and ride with, all of my biggest breakthroughs have come from riding with other women.”

The popularity of Sturdy Dirty continues to surge in the PNW. Communities of women riders are flourishing around the country. At evo we admire their strength and resilience, while continuing to put our money and time into creating a more equitable mountain biking world where everyone feels invited to come play. 

“I think we sometimes doubt ourselves more or hold back in our riding,” Chamberland said. “It’s been extremely influential to me to see other women breaking barriers in the mtb world, there's something about seeing someone like you do something that's inspiring.”

Chief Marketing Officer at evo Rebecca Heard echoed this sentiment.

“Every time we see a person that looks like us doing something that we believe we can’t do, it inspires us to go do it too,” Heard said. “In its essence, the Sturdy is 300 riders inspiring other people to get after it.”