Outride The Storm
If you know Blake Hansen by reputation, she’s a thrill-seeking, ground-breaking MTB rider who shatters gender norms in the sport as she makes way for future generations. If you meet her face to face, her kind, generous manner can’t help but put you at ease. She’s the sort of athlete that balances all these different energies to move the culture forward—mostly by being herself and making riding seem really fun.
We caught up with Blake after she had a chance to test out pieces from our women’s fall Trail collection on a Vancouver island ride. The island’s rain shadow means precipitation and wind conditions vary greatly depending on the side of the mountain you’re on. In a temperate rainforest, a waterproof cycling jacket and windbreaker are a must, but on the leeward side, moderate temps call for lighter layers. “Talking about the weather” is usually code for “mundane conversation”, but with Blake Hansen, it’s both breezy and profound.
Can you talk about the feeling of freedom that comes along with mountain biking?
MTB is just an amazing way to wander around in nature while getting a thrill as well as a workout. I think the freedom comes in accentuating whichever of those things calls out to you the most on a certain day. For me, some days it’s to get out and find peace, but more often than not, it’s to scare myself a little. I get to choose.
Is it fun to ride in wet weather?
I LOVE riding when it’s wet, but not when I’m wet.
What, if anything, makes it more enjoyable?
Layers, layers, layers. Your body temp changes as you ride, and you need to be able to stay cozy on the up as well as the down.
Are there any aspects of the fall that you like as a rider?
The fall is arguably the BEST season to ride. The weather is usually milder, and the precipitation starts to pick, up but it can be one of the more temperamental seasons as well.
You mentioned you had some thoughts on our fall Trail collection for women. Mind sharing?
For me, the new lineup checks a lot of boxes. Good layer options, materials, styles, and colors will go a long way to heighten the riding experience.
Can the right gear get you out in conditions you couldn’t ride in without it?
The right gear will 100% get me out on a day I wouldn’t otherwise choose to ride. I’m as temperamental as the weather, so having gear that makes it easier to ignore the cold or the rain means I’m much more likely to choose a ride over staying home.
You’ve spoken in recent interviews about mountain biking as a tool for self-discovery. Can you tell us more about that?
I think that because MTB can be what you want it to be, it gives you the opportunity to learn what makes you tick and why. Not to mention everything you find yourself learning from being out there doing it.
You’ve also mentioned that you want to be a representation in the sport that people in our generation didn’t have. Can you talk about the importance of the visibility of athletes that don’t fit the molds we grew up with?
I think historically, the cycling industry specifically has done a subpar job at reflecting the sport’s diversity within its athletes and ambassadors. I grew up watching and respecting the world’s best mountain bikers and bmx’ers, but I never saw myself in them. As a trans person, I never had anyone to look up to within the sports I was raised by. The industry never felt it important to give anyone like that a platform or support. It left enough of an impact that it felt important to speak up and let it be known that things are different now that I’m here.
In this same vein, digging new mountain bike trails for yourself and future riders is something I know you’ve done. Is there a metaphor here for what your presence means in the sport for future LGBTQ+ riders?
Haha, I would like to think that being able to get to the place I have with the sport shows the next generation that it’s possible. You don’t have to hide who you are anymore in order to succeed. Be your genuine self, and let that light shine, baby.
When Blake said this, it all came together for us. Behind these bright, uplifting words is a long journey of recognition and becoming. While her manner is easy, her path hasn’t been. We’re grateful for riders like Blake Hansen, not only for what she brings to the sport but for what she makes others know they can too.
On a mission to make wet rides a little more enjoyable, we've developed the new Women's Trail Rain Jacket. With a 2.5-layer woven fabric, this jacket is extremely breathable, all while being completely waterproof. And with a relaxed fit, it's right at home on both the trail and around town.
Whether you're going for style, protection or a little of both, our Trail Pants are sure to be your go-to riding pants. We made them from a woven version of our lightweight and ultra-breathable VaporRize™ fabrics. As a result, the pants are more than tough enough to take repeated spills while you're finding your line (or losing it), without sacrificing anything to comfort.