One-on-One with Les Chèvres de montagne
1. What is Les Chèvres de montagne? Tell us how Les Chèvres started and the movement’s vision.
Les Chèvres de montagne is an outdoor women community. Our mission is to democratize outdoor sports for women.
Les Chèvres was born out of one main need: to break down the accessibility barriers of the outdoors and to see more independent and confident women on the playground. Each ambassador of Les Chèvres has their own reason to get involved. For us two, the vision of Les Chèvres was, and still is, to grow the female representation in the vast world of outdoors activities and sports.
Pascale: I practised alpine skiing and wind sports with boys, mainly. A great gang actually. However, at one point, the need to look up to female role models, to share victories, doubts and challenges with other women started to make me think… but where are the women who all have what it takes to practise these sports? What are the barriers that prevent them from integrating these environments?
Émilie: I grew up in the competitive world of sports, where multiple hours of training are devoted to succeed in races and competitions throughout the year, with always this pressure to perform hanging over my head. I was always attracted to adventure and sports practised outside; whenever there was a snowstorm, I spent my days snowboarding, the more hours I could spend outside, the better. When I retired from the competitive world, I wanted to try everything !!! But where to begin when you never climbed, never tried mountain biking, never been canoe-camping, never sailed, etc. It’s very intimidating. Les Chèvres is the easy way in for all women who are asking themselves: where to begin?
2. How/when did Les Chèvres decide to include cycling in their movement? How important is cycling for you?
Our first Les Chèvres event was a mountain bike weekend. Mountain biking was naturally adopted because it takes technical knowledge, gear knowledge, and mostly a partner with whom to ride (ideally). Coming together as a community around mountain biking made perfect sense! Now, it is Les Chèvres signature sport; we have clubs, clinics and weekends where we get together to ride throughout the year. We even just started group rides in Western Canada for girls who are looking for partners to start riding or want to progress, or simply to have fun and meet new people.
Pascale: For me, cycling has been a part of my daily life for years now, but it wasn’t always the case. I got my first mountain bike more than 10 years ago. However, I only had one friend with whom to ride and she lived 200 km away. So I only rode 2 to 3 times per year, when we would get together. Then, with my boyfriend, I started road biking regularly; it was road during the week and mountain during the weekends. Today, with my son and Les Chèvres, I mainly ride my gravel bike in nice and quiet dirt roads, with the trailer, in adventure mode. I try to keep some time for mountain bike rides, it is an amazing and complete sport with adrenaline rushes that allows you to explore the mountain differently.
Émilie: I spent everything I had at 17 to buy my first road bike. I cried of joy and stress at not having a single penny left, but it turned out to be a great investment. My bike gave me the impression I was going on adventures, even if I still had this performing mode well anchored in me after all these years in the competitive world, my bike allowed me to discover new roads, admire beautiful landscapes and ultimately, to slow down and enjoy the moment. I started mountain biking at the same time as I joined Les Chèvres five years ago. I loved it instantly: playing in the trails (safely because rocks do hurt) was a revelation for me and above all, being free of the performance pressure was incredible. Of course, we can always compare in every sport, but I love the friendly atmosphere that comes with mountain biking, being in the woods, exploring mountains, TALKING in the trails, eating lunch in the great outdoors, and most of all, the AFTER-ride.
Cycling, in all its forms, has really carved its place in our lives and in Les Chèvres community!
Photo credits : Yan Kaczynski
3. What are the main values Les Chèvres wish to transmit to its members?
✦ Fun - a lot and always!
✦ Mutual aid
✦ Confidence and independence
✦ Community spirit
4. According to you, what is Les Chèvres biggest accomplishment? What are you most proud of?
The scale the movement has taken. At first, groups were mostly composed of our friends who came to support us. Today, we are the biggest outdoors community in Canada. We sometimes bump into girls who started with us many years ago, who are now thriving in their sports, and that makes us very proud.
5. Did cycling teach you a lesson, if so, what is it?
Respect your limits and let your pride aside. Accidents in mountain or gravel bike can have irreversible consequences that will affect other activities. Our motto : “If you don’t feel it, don’t do it.”
6. What are your projects for 2021?
To continue developing our small community in British Columbia; to promote the importance of having fun while practising a sport (and disregarding the performance pressure social media can cause); to start activities for our 14-17 year-old Chèvres (start them young by sharing our passion for the outdoors and making it contagious).
7. What motivates you to always keep going forward?
How participants and our ambassadors continue to show up for all of our adventures with a big smile on their faces. Our team is incredible and we deeply believe in our mission. A day spent outside always motivates us to continue, even if we don’t count our hours and that the project isn’t fully viable yet. We sincerely and humbly believe that this community has its place and we want to continue to make it grow.
Photo credits : Alexandra Racine, éditées par Yan Kaczynski
8. What advice would you give to a girl who has just started cycling?
You must have fun, it’s the most important factor!!!
If it’s not the case, try riding with new partners or try a new bike style. Take the time you need to feel good and confident. Because in the end, what matters most is that it brings you joy!
9. Who is Les Chèvres for? How to join?
Les Chèvres de montagne is for all women who are motivated, who want to surpass themselves, meet new people and learn. There is no age limit, what matters is that you want to be there.
You can join the group by becoming a member:
10. What crazy idea would you suggest to PEPPERMINT?
✦ A bike trip in Western Canada
✦ A bike camp for teenagers
Photo credits : Yan Kaczynski