Nishma was one of the first ladies to become a full-time mountain bike guide in Nepal, with the help of World Ride.

She is interviewed by Julie Cornelius, World Ride founder.

Nishma Shresta: My Name is Nishma Shresta, I am from Kathmandu, Nepal. I’m a mountain biker, a guide and athlete. I just love mountain biking because it gives me freedom and time away from the chaos of life. And I don’t want to do a 9-to-5 job in an office (laughs). It’s really fun to be able to work as a mountain bike guide. I get to meet people from around the world, I show them my country, and I get to travel as well. It’s really fun!

Julie Cornelius: That’s so great! Yes, it’s so fun to be able to do what you love.

JC: How did you get into mountain biking?

NS: I got into mountain biking because of my Dad and my brothers. My parents really support the fact that I mountain bike. Nepalese don’t generally support females in extreme sports like mountain biking. Families are generally really conservative. My (girl)friends’ parents don’t allow them to go out at night, they have to be home. My Mom and Dad don’t restrict me, which has helped me being able to mountain bike. I travel far from home for multiple days to ride, and they are not angry with me for traveling just with boys, out in the mountains. It has really helped me build my confidence as well. My family motivated and encouraged me to get more into mountain biking.

JC: Do you think it’s because your Dad helped you get into mountain biking that your parents are less restrictive? Or why are they less restrictive?

NS: If I go back to my family’s history, my Mom’s Dad was a swimmer, my Dad’s brother was a karateka, and as professional athletes, they didn’t get a lot of opportunities, which was sad for them. So I think that’s why they wanted to support me and encourage me to get an athletic career in mountain biking. When you can’t do something, you want your children to be able to do it, and to support other kids in doing it. I think that’s why my parents are really supportive of my mountain biking career.

JC: That’s so great, I’m so glad that they are!

NC: Yeah, I’m glad that I have parents like them!

JC: It makes me wonder: how do you think that dynamic can change in Nepal? I think you being an example for other women is one way to change it. But it is probably going to come down to families changing, and letting women go out and ride. What are your thoughts about that?

NC: I think parents play a huge role in their children’s interest in mountain biking, but in any sport really, football, cricket, etc. If parents don’t support their children, then it’s really hard for them to survive. It affects them mentally. It’s ok to not want to study 24/7, and to seek freedom through sports. And it would help a lot if parents supported and encouraged them to get into sports or any other activity or interest. I think that many women in Nepal could do great things in mountain biking. I see their talent, but the problems that arise are that some parents can’t afford a bike and gear, or they prefer their daughters pursue their studies, some send them abroad for education and make them focus on their (more traditional) career. That basically explains why we don’t have a lot of women in outdoor sports.

JC: What are some ideas you have to try to get more women into mountain biking or other outdoor sports in Nepal?

NS: For women, having a role model can really inspire other women to get involved. They can tell their parents about this role model and therefore give them an example that mountain biking can provide a job. Having events just for fun, rather than competitive events, can really help women get into mountain biking. Not everybody wants to race. They want to have fun, explore new places on their bike… anything about having fun, to help women get more confident, and show then that mountain biking can help them grow.

JC: Yes totally. Just like the weekley Ladies Mountain League social rides. Those have been a huge success and a lot of women really enjoy them. Right?

NS: Yes!

JC: What would you like to see World Ride continue to do, or do something new? What are some ideas you have on how World Ride could help support that?

NS: I think we should organize more clinics. And not only in Kathmandu, but in other cities of Nepal as well. There are females interested in mountain biking in those cities too. So if we could cover Nepal entirely, it would be a huge support to those women. And among them, we can see who is interested in competing in mtb. And then in turn, they could help with other mtb-related initiatives. It would be huge for female mountain biking in Nepal.

JC: Yes, expanding outside of Kathmandu, I’m excited about that! We’ll have to chat more about what places and how we can organize more clinics there and in general.

JC: I know you have a trip planned this coming week. Where are you going and what will you be doing?

NS: I am planning to go to Phaplu but I’m not sure yet. I haven’t decided yet.

JC: If you do go, what are you going to do there? Riding, right?

NS: I am planning to explore more trails there. Last time we were there, there weren’t a lot of trails. But they have developed a lot more trails now. So I want to ride all of them now! And, we can see Evererst from there, so I’m planning to see that too.

JC: Oh that’s so fun! That area is so cool.

JC: What are you most looking forward to this year?

NS: I am looking forward to organizing more events this year. We don’t have trips planned because of Covid, so I’ll have more time for events. My focus will be skill development training for children and women. So let’s see if I can make it happen!

JC: Well as soon as we can travel, World Ride will host a PMBIA mountain bike skills instructor certification for you in Kathmandu. So hopefully that will happen this year!

JC: Do you have any other thoughts or ideas on women’s mountain biking in Nepal?

NS: I am also planning to register my local club here in my hometown, that way I can get women and kids involved in mountain biking. Through that club I’ll be able to organize events and skills clinics. And get other fellow mountain bikers involved, which will help grow the community.

JC: Tell me about your community: where is it? What is it like?

NS: I live a little outside Kathmandu Valley, about 5 km away from main Kathmandu City. There are three or four small schools that I want to reach out to, tell them about my MTB club and if they are interested in starting their own MTB team, then I’ll be able to support them with skills training. And when their skills grow, I can take them to more advanced trails, to practice, grow more, and above all have fun! That’s my plan for the community.

JC: That’s so fun, I love that! That’s how mountain biking is going to grow, getting kids involved.

And I do think you’re an awesome role model for them!

JC: I really want to continue the conversation about how World Ride can help support everything you’re doing, and work on growing things in Nepal. So any ideas you have, just send them my way. Whether it’d be needing more bikes for the bike library, or anything else. I love your idea of expanding outside of Kathmandu. So if you want to send me a list of other places where it would be best to start programs, then we can work on developing those.

NS: Yeah, that will be awesome!

JC: The big thing I want to do this year is the mountain bike skills instructor certification with PMBIA in Nepal. As soon as it is safe to travel, the head of PMBIA will come and do the certification. So it would be awesome to have women from all around Nepal come for those certifications. So if you want to help get the word out to them that would be great. It’s hard to set dates right now, but I imagine it would be this Fall. You gather all the women, we organize the coaching certification!

NS: I can spread the word for sure. It will be awesome! Let’s do it!

JC: And it’s really in line with what you’re talking about, doing skills clinics and events. And it’s important to learn how to teach mountain biking, to make it fun and structured too. I’m excited about that!

NS: I hope we can make it happen!

JC: as long as we can travel, we’re going to make it happen! It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when!

NS: Yes, I will help with that and with anything else I can help with in Nepal!

JC: Thank you so much, it’s so awesome to work with you, and I am excited that you are taking on a lot of this stuff (events, clinics, spreading the word about mountain biking and World Ride programs). You’re so passionate about getting more people riding bikes!

NS: I just want to have more girls to ride with, rather than boys. It’s been five or six years that I ride now, and I still haven’t gotten a chance to ride with girls. It would be so much more fun, have fun, be crazy, and girly. It would be awesome for me!

JC: Yeah! Well, I want to help you with that!

NS: Let’s do it, I’m excited!

JC: Yeaaaah!
I know it’s late in Nepal now, so I don’t want to take more of your time. Thank you so much for talking with me today. And let’s keep talking about how we can make all this happen!

NS: Yes! It will be an honor to work with you guys.

JC: Thank you!

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