Behind the 9: Linda Travis talks Women ‘s Cycling, the Pink Panther and being a late bike bloomer

Linda Travis rides a mountain bike through the trees.
Linda Travis enjoys the forest.

NINER: WHAT’S YOUR ROLE AT NINER?
LINDA: I am the Inside Sales Manager. I manage the Factory Store and the Rider Services Rep group while being a Riders Services Rep myself. I’ve been at Niner a year and a half.

NINER: WHAT’S YOUR FIRST BIKE MEMORY?
LINDA: We lived on a cul de sac. I had a turquoise blue or pearly blue girl’s Schwinn with a white and glittery banana seat and white grips. I probably had tassles at some point. I remember being off the training wheels and trying to get over the curb and instead, running straight into it. It took me a while to figure that one out.

NINER: WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST MOUNTAIN BIKE AND WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST RIDE ON IT?
LINDA: My first mountain bike was a borrowed Kona hard tail that was a 19” frame. It was banana yellow and way too big. My first ride on it was in Chino Hills in Southern California. It was a long gradual fire road climb. I think it was a couple of miles long. We would just do the fire road climb and come back down. Eventually we ventured into singletrack.

NINER: WHAT WAS THE FIRST MOUNTAIN BIKE YOU BOUGHT?
LINDA: It was a full suspension Specialized Stumpjumper with a red fork and those rubber boots. It was silver. I got it for like $1200. The guy told me I’d never get any better at mountain biking if I didn’t ride at least 3 days a week and build my fitness. I’m not sure I appreciated that comment at the time, but I never forgot it.

NINER: WHAT’S THE ONE PLACE YOU’VE RIDDEN YOU’D GO BACK TO RIGHT NOW?
LINDA: Whistler! The downhill trails are incredible. So are the cross country trails that went to the lakes. There were great restaurants. Overall, the place just has great energy. That trip was in 2004 and it was then that I had a bit of a realization. Why were we living in So. California when there are all these other beautiful places to live? That’s when we moved out.

Linda Travis and her son and husband ride mountain bikes on a trail.
Linda’s boys are her favorite riding partners.

NINER: WHAT’S THE WORST RIDE YOU’VE EVER HAD?

LINDA: It was probably my second ride. It was in Aliso Woods, also in Southern California and I was with a group. Everyone decided to go up this trail called Cholla and everyone just kind of went, except me. I was spinning out. I was trying to turn. I was tipping over. And literally, when I got to the top, I wanted to throw up. My head was spinning and I felt like I was going to black out. Everyone else was just hanging out, chatting. I wasn’t happy. I looked around, settled myself down and said to myself, “If they can do it, I can do it.” And that’s what sparked the quest to get better at mountain biking. Eventually, we did live right in that neighborhood and I did master that trail.

NINER: WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE BIKE THAT HAS GRABBED YOUR ATTENTION AND HELD ON TO IT?
LINDA: I started mountain biking and I just never stopped. There wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t get on my bike and ride. The only time I didn’t ride was when I couldn’t ride, when I was too pregnant or deathly ill. It just became a love and such a passion. I was in my early 30’s. I was a late bloomer but you know, it’s never too late. I mean, I rode bikes as a kid, but no BMX, nothing serious. It was just transportation when I was a kid.

The whole mountain bike culture was pretty foreign to me at first though. I grew up a beach kid and surfing and knew the surf culture. But this whole tight lycra, weird clothing thing was definitely a little odd to me.

NINER: HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE WOMEN’S MOUNTAIN BIKE MARKET CHANGE IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, FOR THE GOOD OR BAD?
LINDA: The market has gone a long way in the women’s category. I love that shops and bike brands are bringing in women as part of the team and recognizing that women are a huge part of the growth.

I started out riding in men’s shorts. There were no women’s baggies 15 years ago. Now, we have apparel and bikes that are designed for us and fit us. It just cements the fact that we are an important part of this sport. Niner has made a huge commitment to women and they proudly put it out there! Just look at who they sponsor and write about! And it’s not just media. I have a handful of my local ride girls who are on RKT and JET RDO XS bikes who are blown way that they can actually fit a 29er. I can only say good things about the market and focus on women’s riding. Now, instead of hugging a fork in tight clothing, we’re in action shots bottoming them out! Thanks to Niner and all the other bike brands giving us props.

Linda Travis looks to rider her mountain bike off of a ledge.
Linda Travis sizes up the drop and the landing.

NINER: WHAT MOVIE OR NOVEL OR CARTOON CHARACTER DO YOU MOST CONNECT WITH?
LINDA: Pink Panther. The movies with Peter Sellers are my favorites. He’s just hysterical. The Pink Panther is thoughtful. He’s always analyzing. He’s pretty quiet but just loves mischief.

NINER: WHAT’S ONE RULE YOU TRY TO LIVE BY?
LINDA: Try to get along with everyone and not try to take myself too seriously.

NINER: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU DIDN’T WORK FOR NINER AND FUNDS WERE NOT AN ISSUE?
LINDA: I’d have a house in the desert, another at the beach and one in the mountains. I’d spend time with my family at all of them. Some travel too.

NINER: IN THE CYCLING WORLD, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET AND RIDE WITH?
LINDA: Someone from the downhill scene. I would really just want a one-on-one coaching session with someone like Aaron Gwin or Fabien Barel. They just have their technique down, but really there are so many others too.

NINER: WHAT PIECE OF BIKE GEAR OR COMPONENT CAN YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
LINDA: Probably a dropper post, or a full suspension bike. I can’t live without full suspension.

NINER: IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BOWLING, MINI-GOLF OR DISC GOLF WHICH WOULD IT BE?
LINDA: Mini golf. I really enjoy golf. And I’m super competitive with myself. It’s just super fun. I’ll probably be seen on a golf course in 20 years.

NINER: WHAT’S ONE SKILL YOU’D LIKE TO GET BETTER AT?
LINDA: It’s between cornering and jumping. Cornering is the key to everything. I’m working to learn to trust the tires. I practiced over the summer and it really helped, but I can get better.

NINER: WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS TO LIVE BY?
LINDA: Life’s about having fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Get out and play.

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