Awesome Land: Women of Dirt by Leana Gerard

As I stand on top of the mountain the sun gleaming off my goggle lenses, all I can hear is the hurricane strength winds blowing through the long grass which envelops my fancy new clip shoes. The raw grasp of nature tugs on my every sense as the world stands still for just one moment. I take a deep breath, as if by doing so am able to preserve that moment of undiluted, unequivocal freedom and joy.

I glance down at the trail ahead and notice that it disappears into the thick fir forest 100 meters away and I can’t help but smile, as I know this is going to be one hell of a ride.

Awesome Land is that place that you cherish, that place that holds such a high value that it rates among Christmas and puppies as your favorite things. And amid all the chaos of your life it is that place you look most forward to spending time at. Not all Awesome Lands are the same. For some it might be a skate park, for others a chairlift assisted mountainside. Some prefer the dirt jumps while for a select few Awesome Land is the no-mans-land outside the local Frisko Freeze which strategically is located directly adjacent to an outlet mall.

Woman of Dirt aims to share the Awesome Lands of eleven individual ladies who venerate the bike, worship hero dirt, and exist for the next day of riding.

From a former world champion to a freestyle pioneer there is no shortage of personalities and riding styles with the women featured.  You get a unique opportunity to follow some of the sports top female athletes as they let you tag along for a day in their life.

The women featured include:

Tammy Donahugh

Stephanie Nychka

Cierra Smith

Emily Johnston

Lisa Myklak

Jill Kintner

Dawn Cashen

Katrina Strand

Leana Gerrard

Kathy Pruitt

Darcy Turenne

Miles Sullivan and Mark Brent are the brave souls who not only talked about making this much overdue film- but made it happen! These men saw not just girls riding bikes but the unique camaraderie, undiluted bliss and passion for bikes that seemingly binds all female mountain bikers. They sought to tell the stories of these women and show off their skills and style in a pseudo documentary.

When Mark and Miles approached me about doing a section in the film, they gave me the option of where I wanted to shoot my scene. When I was thinking of some of the most awesome places I’ve ridden, Hood River, Oregon was on the top of my list.

When we showed up we had some time to kill in town so we decided to have a mini bike seesh. Now, I had never really ridden one and of course they decided to turn the cameras on for what promised to have disaster written all over it. A little mini bike 101 lesson and we were off- literally. I know I crashed a couple of times, one of which I had kept a death grip on the throttle until a large tree decided to save me from my damsel in distress situation.

Little Moab was the name of the trail I chose to ride on. The trail got its name because it teeters on the side of the cliffs much like the trails in Moab, Utah. It was a glorious day for shooting video, Mark and Miles were going nuts for the lighting and my riding buddy Looch Worl and I were going crazy for the hero dirt. Well, that was until we got to the cliff side at which point the 50 mph gusts of wind were a bit of a deterrent when riding on the edge of the 500 foot cliffs. It was scary, like crazy scary. I think I told Mark that never before have I gone so slow and had a heart rate so high simply from the terror of falling over the edge.

The highlights of my day of riding for the video include:

5. Learning how to ride mini bikes, even if I did have to crash a few times.

4. Winning in a target-shooting contest with a pistol.

3. Hanging out with Mark, Miles, Daniel and Looch and just having an awesome day with the boys.

2. Riding some of the most picturesque trails in the country.

1. Being asked to prom by Looch Worl. You better believe I’ll be going!

The movie is having it’s premier at the Northwest Film Forum Theater in Seattle on Feb 5th.  Everyone is encouraged to come out and if you can’t make it to this event, there will be no shortage of showings across the country and world in the following weeks.

For more information go to www.womenofdirt.com or view the trailer

Shred gnar, and have fun on your bike!

-Leana Gerard

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