Midwest Dirt Legion

We caught up with MDL founders Steph Aich (She/Her) and Ash Murray (They/Them) as they look forward to 2020 and reflect on the group’s warm welcome in the Twin Cities. They even left us with a much-needed inspirational quote of the day, by Hunter S. Thompson:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!’"

Ash Murray (right) and Steph Aich (left)

Ash Murray (right) and Steph Aich (left)

How has MDL changed or grown over the years? 

We are only in our second year, so it’s grown a ton! Last spring, a few of us took a trip to Bentonville, Arkansas so that Steph could attend a class taught by the Bike Instructor Certification Program. She is now a Level 1 certified coach, which is RAD! For 2019, we added Intermediate Skills Sessions taught by Samantha, and Steph taught the Beginner Skills Sessions. Ash is planning to get certified over the winter and coach in 2020.  

We also hosted a Downhill Day this year, where we went to Spirit Mountain in Duluth, MN and introduced some folks to riding downhill. Off the trail, we have really increased our awareness and engagement on social media. Earlier this year, we did a radio interview with Blast Beats n’ Bicycles and recently we were featured on The Radavist.  

In 2019, we realized we wanted to change the language we used surrounding gender for our events. We had been advertising that our Skills Sessions were for Women/Transgender/Femme/Gender Non-Binary folks. After some discussion, we came to the conclusion that FTW no longer resonated with us. In an effort to be more concise, we decided to use the term Marginalized Genders instead. We understand that language is constantly evolving as we learn more and have more discussions around the topic, and we always want to be open to changing that language as it becomes necessary.  

We have had a TON of support from our community which has really helped us grow. These past two years we have partnered with Behind Bars Bicycle Shop, VOLVPAC, and the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series. We have begun talking with some more local groups and businesses on how we can partner and host events together in 2020. 

What are your goals for the future? 

Keep up the momentum! We want to get more people riding dirt, talking about about pronouns, and partnering with rad groups who share our mission. We are a small operation, so we have the ability to be pretty nimble and consider all opportunities that come our way. We are going to continue hosting Skills Sessions, group rides, and another Downhill Day.  

For 2020, we would like to find a sponsor for demo bikes. This will allow us to loan out free bikes to those who want to attend our events but don’t have a mountain bike (yet). Ash will get their Level 1 coaching certification so they can teach the Beginner Skills Sessions, and Steph will get her Level 2 and teach the Intermediate Sessions.  

We are also excited for our friend Erica, who is currently learning American Sign Language so she can teach people how to mountain bike. She has been a great supporter of Midwest Dirt Legion and we are stoked to have her signing at some of our Skills Sessions next year! We would really like Midwest Dirt Legion to become a platform for other folks to start a chapter in their local community. We both live in Minneapolis, so we are only realistically able to host events in Minnesota or Wisconsin.  

It would be wonderful to have Dirt Legions all over the country and make a larger impact on building a welcoming and encouraging mountain bike community. 

“We understand that language is constantly evolving as we learn more and have more discussions around the topic, and we always want to be open to changing that language as it becomes necessary.” 

Bailey SellComment