Here’s How Women Can Start to Race (and Win) Downhill Mountain Biking

Competitive Racer Kim Godfrey on Gravity, Women’s Mountain Bike Clinics and Beginner Tips

Sure, Kim Godfrey works as a graphic designer during the week—but she uses her vacation and weekends to train and race downhill. She also loves to coach as much as she can fit into her busy schedule, so that she can share her knowledge and passion when it comes to bikes. We sat down with her to talk about her love of the sport, gear and tips for newbies.


What about Mountain Biking draws you to the sport?
I started with the Xterra Offroad Triathlons. I have a swimming background and always wanted to try triathlon. A co-worker talked me into my first one and I tried that and it was tough. The mountain biking was a lot harder than I thought it would ever be.

I picked up cross-country racing to get better at triathlon and then realized a single sport is so much easier to train for. And then it dawned on me that I hate climbing, but I do love going downhill. That revelation led me to Super D, which has nice downhills without the climbs of cross country. I raced a season of that and it sucked me in. I’m sad it took me so long to find gravity racing.

What is it about downhill that you love?
I like going fast. My motto is Fast = Fun. I’m smiling on the downhills and I’m never smiling on the climbs.


What is your favorite place nearby to ride right now?
Angel Fire, New Mexico. It offers everything; it’s like a mini Whistler.

What are you training for these days?
The Pro GRT Race Series, National Champs as well as Whistler Crankworx.

What events have you won or placed in recently?
Best finish was Kamikaze PRO GRT – 2nd place which I was really stoked on, especially since I had a bone to pick with that course.

Early that year I had a spectacular crash on the same track. I was on a borrowed bike and the suspension was just not set up for me. I’d overheard someone talking about taking a different line, over the stump rather than around it, and I thought “yeah that sounds good” even though I’d never practiced it. I got bucked and I rode this nose wheelie for a bit before going endo. It made the Kamikaze win even more sweet.


What advice can you give beginners who are looking to start mountain biking?
Start with a coach. You will get pointed in the right direction from the beginning. I was in it six years, suffering on the climbs and not learning actual bike skills.

Bikes are not intuitive, we often do the opposite of what you should be doing. With a coach you can work on your stance, how to brake properly, and how to corner. You’ll start having fun a lot quicker if you learn it right from the beginning.

What are the best coaching options nearby?
Trestle Bike Park – you’re going to have the time of your life. You’re going to learn all the skills that are applicable to cross country riding. And you get to the lift to the top!

VIDA Mountainbike Series – quality group clinics for women who support each other.

GRIT Clinics – private, one on one classes.

What is the most important gear that a beginner needs to be successful and safe?
Helmet – Don’t skimp on that, try some on, do some research. There is a whole lot of technology going into helmets now that help decrease concussions. A lot of them will save your skull but your brain is still going to slap inside. Take advantage of the new technology if you care about your brain.

Eye protection – If you are doing downhill I would recommend goggles not glasses. If you want to keep it local, I would recommend Optic Nerve. They do a good job specializing in eye protection. They’re a local Colorado company and their prices aren’t going to break the bank.

Protect your skin – don’t go out in little skimpy gym shorts. Wear something that can protect your flesh if you take a fall. Alpinestars makes great clothing for riding.

Gloves – I like full finger gloves for the sake of protection and so my fingers don’t get sweaty and slip.

Pedals – If you are just getting started I’d say go with flat pedals so you will learn it the right way. I started with clip ins and I’m still trying to break some bad habits. Also as a beginner you feel more comfortable knowing you can just take your foot off.

What’s a reasonable beginner bike budget?
Downhill – brand new fully built $3,000 is the entry price. Used ones you can get for about $1,500.

Which Bike Shops in Boulder would you recommend?
The Fix Bike Shop – they are more gravity oriented so it’s more up my alley

Boulder Cycle Sport – they hold women’s nights and are friendly for women who are getting into the sport.

Dirt Labs – Don’t forget to maintain your suspension, getting fresh oil makes a huge difference and it’s one of the things a lot of people overlook or under value on their bikes.

What’s your best teaching moment that you can remember?
It was at one of the Gravity Goddess camps that Trestle holds. I had an intermediate group of girls and they all really wanted to work on drops. The second day of camp there was this drop on this black trail called No Quarter and it was probably 6 feet to send. We talked through it, the approach, how to do it, we watched some guys riding it, and I went up and sent it to see a girl hit it.

I asked them “Who really wants to do this?” This one girl, who wasn’t necessarily the strongest of the group, half raised her hand. We pushed up and I lead her in and she did everything she was supposed to do for the successful drop. The whole group cheered for her and she was beaming the rest of the day. The next lap through everyone in the group sent it as a train. The great thing about these clinics is you get that sense of camaraderie and “if she can do it, I can do it” mentality.

What other words of wisdom do you have mountain bikers?
Don’t forget your post ride beers! Gravity Brewing is my favorite place and they’re really creative with their beers. I’m planning on bringing growlers to all the local races to spread the cheer. They’re in my home town of Louisville and I can’t argue with the name.

Try downhill. The Gravity biking community is so welcoming and helpful. People are always happy to help read a line, lead them in, help fix something on their bike.


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