Coaching for biking and business
Doing a drop versus a steep roll. Riding a skinny or performing a rear wheel lift. Based in Golden, Shred Sisters helps women learn to master mountain bike manoeuvres like these. Its courses are fun, relaxed, encouraging and non-competitive. “Women really shine in that space,” said Audrey Duval.
Duval, owner of Shred Sisters, has also had the chance to shine—with support from Columbia Basin Trust’s Basin Business Advisors (BBA) program. From managing her expanding business, to facing challenges during the pandemic, to having once-again-growing demand, Duval has appreciated having an advisor to talk to when she’s needed to “know if I’m making the right decisions or not. It’s been very powerful for that.”
A decade ago, Duval was a real estate agent in Canmore, Alberta. But she realized her passion didn’t lie between four walls—it was out teaching on two wheels on the trails. Seven years ago, she also relocated to Golden, which, she says, “is a great place to live. I enjoy the climate, the pace of life, the limitless opportunities for the outdoors.”
Shred Sisters now offers classes for beginners to advanced riders in Golden, Invermere, Cranbrook, Kimberley and Revelstoke, plus in Alberta.
The Basin Business Advisors program has helped in several ways. This program provides free, one-to-one, confidential business counselling and assessment services. Delivered by Community Futures Central Kootenay on behalf of the Trust, it offers advice and tools so that entrepreneurs can make informed decisions based on their unique situations, resources and visions.
Duval initially got in touch in 2019 to get guidance on overseeing her contract staff. “It’s not my background to manage people,” she said. She also discussed and tweaked her business plan. “It was reassuring that everything I was doing was right, because I learn as I go.”
When the pandemic hit, Shred Sisters had to shut down for a bit in spring 2020, but then, luckily, was able to operate again shortly after. Still, “I was just a mess,” Duval said. Conversations with her advisor helped her learn how other organizations were coping, and how she could alter her cancellation policies for the best interests of both her business and her clients. It was “a super crazy stressful year,” she says, but feels lucky with how it turned out.
BBA has also helped her “soul-search,” she said. “I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with the business.”
Pandemic aside, demand has been consistently rising. Did she want Shred Sisters to grow? Or stay how it was?
The answer resembles her mountain bike rides: “I just go with the flow,” she said, and plans to reassess her situation every year. “If it feels right, I’ll grow. If it doesn’t, I can keep it where it is.”
In 2020, this meant simply sustaining the business—a hard enough task during a pandemic. In 2021, interest skyrocketed. “We grew way more than expected,” she said. “Since the pandemic, there’s been a huge increase of people enjoying the outdoors and a massive bike boom, which has helped our business to grow.”
She also noted that Shred Sisters’ programs have often sold out faster than some of her competitors’ offerings—an indication that its reputation is expanding.
To meet this increasing demand, her first task has always been to find the right coaches, who live in the specific communities and know the local trails. In 2021, she contracted 22 part-time coaches (compared to 16 in 2020), including adding one to serve an additional community: Revelstoke. “I have been lucky to have an amazing team,” she said. “They are the reason the business is where it’s at.”
Her B.C. courses have been particularly popular. “To me, it’s really fulfilling because that’s where I want to be, that’s where I live,” she said. “The beauty of B.C. overall is that a lot of resources are put into outdoor facilities, including the constant building of trails. It’s a great place to do business. Golden in particular has lots of like-minded people who are here to enjoy all the area has to offer.”
Another chat with her BBA advisor encouraged her to contract out her social media presence—a task she previously disliked doing herself, but which has high marketing power. “It’s been pretty amazing to see what has come out of that. The momentum on Instagram and Facebook is really wild right now, so it’s super exciting.”
Duval truly appreciates the chance to speak to her advisor whenever issues like this come up. Working alone in the business, she loves that she has “someone that I can talk to that understands business and understands the struggle.”
It’s not so different than how she herself—along with all her coaches—empower women to tackle those trails.
Columbia Basin Trust photos
Submitted by Columbia Basin Trust