“This is fun, I want one!” said Robye Heron after her first ride on the back of a dirt bike.
A native to Jackson, Wyoming, Robye grew up snowboarding but didn’t start dirt biking until later in life when her boyfriend—now fiancé—broke his leg and turned to the sport for something to do. She was hooked immediately and didn't waste any time buying a used dirt bike to follow her boyfriend around on the trails.
“He’s my inspiration. I’m lucky because I feel like a lot of the reason that I do get out in the mountains is because of him. He makes me feel comfortable to do that stuff and he’s very knowledgeable. He’s kind of like a crazy mountain addict. I attribute a lot of my adventures in the mountains to him.”
Things just progressed from there. She eventually invested in a brand new bike and during her second year riding got invited to do a girls’ ride in Montana, which reinforced her passion for dirt biking. Along with her love of the sport also came some fear.
“Every time I go I have this fear, this crazy fear, and I think, ‘Why am I doing this?’ but at the same time, I start to think, ‘Maybe this isn’t just fear but excitement as well.’ I keep thinking to myself ‘What if I just don’t go?’ And then I’m like, ‘No, that doesn’t sound fun at all! You gotta go.’ I tell myself that these feelings also come from a love for dirt biking not just a fear of it. I try to make it so that the fear is what pushes me forward. I gotta get out of my head.”
Whether she’s on the trail or prepping for her next adventure, taking the time to recognize her feelings and fears has helped. She’s usually able to talk herself down, to not think about things so much, and just go for it.
“I go through literally every emotion when I am on my dirt bike in a matter of an hour. If I don’t make a hill climb or something, it gets me down and I feel like my confidence goes down and then I ride way slower, way more scared, and I have to stop and say ‘You know how to ride a bike. Don’t let the bike ride you.’”
And it’s not just tough hill climbs...
“There’ve been times where we’ve been through a gnarly section and I think, ‘Oh my God we have to go back through that section,’ and I get in my head and just keep thinking about this section that’s coming up and how scary and how gnarly it is. Then I hesitate and, again, my confidence goes down and that’s when I have to say, ‘You did it before, you’ve got through it many times. Get out of your head, get out of your head. You’re thinking it’s going to be way worse than what it is.’ That’s what I try to tell myself. Then you trust the bike. Trust the gear. Trust the process and keep going.”
Robye’s advice for women who may be just starting out:
“Find a solid person that you trust to guide you. Going to that women’s ride in Montana and meeting those women, women of all levels, some who had been riding for 40 years and a 50-year-old woman there riding for her third time, was great. Having that group dynamic to be able to share stories with and talk about fears is huge. Also, the more you get on the bike, the more you get out there in the mountains, you naturally gain skill over time. Every time you go out you will gain something from it whether it’s a big learning curve or something that is very small that you might not even notice, but every single time you get out there and do the sport you are getting better—even if you don’t feel like it.”
Having Mountainist as a platform to share stories and find camaraderie with other women has been a big (and unexpected) help to Robye.
“When you’re a woman in the world of mountain sports, it’s easy to feel like an outcast sometimes especially when none of the gear fits you, none of it’s your size. It’s easy to get discouraged like your not supposed to be there or something. Being able to see other women participating in sports and finding other women from all over the States is beautiful to see. I realized it was something I didn’t know I needed. Everyone can bring something to the table and talk about their fears and you realize, ‘Wow, we have so much in common. We are in this together.”