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June 01, 2021

ALI'S ROCKY RIDE - The latest Shred Girls Novel from Molly Hurford

Molly Hurford's Shred Girls are back.  In the follow up to the inaugural Shred Girls novel "Lindsay's Joyride", Ali, Lindsay and Jen are back and jump full steam into the world of mountain biking.  With the great support of Lindsay's cool older cousin Phoebe, together they learn what it takes to train and compete in a mountain bike race.   


Come along for a wild ride as the Shred Girls take on mountain biking!  Feel like part of the team in this empowering read that features illustrations and training logs.

The Shred Girls reunite at Ali’s home for a mountain-biking training trip that builds up to an elite competition! Even though Ali grew up mountain biking with her professional-biker older brothers, she’s anxious. Her brothers always make her feel like she’s not talented enough. Could they be right? She’ll just have to find out.

But it’ll be hard to focus on training when Jen, Lindsay, and Lindsay’s awesome older cousin Phoebe come to stay for two weeks. Ali’s never had friends who are girls before, and now they’re jumping into a long-term sleepover! Well, she’s not sure that ultra-feminine Jen is actually her friend . . . yet. Ali’s about to get a crash course on friendship!

With everything going on, Ali’s got a rocky road ahead–but she has the right bike for this ride!

(Source:  Shred Girls website)  Suggested for readers aged 8-14



In conversation with Molly Hurford

SeeWhatSheCanDo had a chance to chat with author Molly Hurford to hear more about how her own experiences growing up have shaped each of the characters who make up the Shred Girls.  Molly shares who and what has shaped her own adventures in the world of cycling and offers excellent advice to coaches and sport leaders who want to make sport a positive and, most importantly, FUN experience for girls.


The characters of Lindsay, Jen and Ali are, in some ways, reluctant to see themselves as athletes or athletic.  Was this your experience growing up? How much of your personal experience in the world of cycling comes into your Shred Girls novels?  

Oh yeah! I was the least athletic kid ever, and proud of it. When I was younger, it felt like you could be one or the other: a bookworm or an athlete, and I was always a bookworm first. It took until I was in college before I realized that you could be both! I'd say I relate to all of the Shred Girls: I'm a stubborn perfectionist like Jen, a shy bookworm like Lindsay, and like Ali, I grew up with primarily guys as friends and struggled to relate to other girls. It's funny, as I've written about each of the girls, it's made me even more aware of the fact that we can all be much more multifaceted than we think. It's so easy to get into stereotypes: Jen is girly, Lindsay is a nerd... but then, you realized Jen is actually a super tough bike racer who secretly loves Wonder Woman comics and actually isn't as confident as she appears on the surface, and Lindsay might be into reading and superheroes, but she also wants to develop her own sense of style and she kind of kicks butt on the bike once she starts riding. All that to say, we contain multitudes and we're allowed to be passionate about activities that don't necessarily relate to one another.


Lindsay’s older cousin Phoebe plays an important role as a mentor to all three girls.  Did you have a mentor or role model growing up in the world of cycling/sport?

I didn't have a sports mentor since it took me a long time to get into cycling—but I did have a few awesome mentor types along the way in high school. My English teacher and newspaper advisor both were great about giving me a lot of ownership over what I wanted to do while I was in school: For me (and my mother will attest to this), the best mentoring I could have is someone who offers a bit of guidance, but steps back and lets me learn for myself. In college, I had a great environmental reporting professor who taught a fabulous class (and was also a runner). After the semester ended, we became running buddies and I worked as a teacher's assistant for her for a year—and I remember when I got my first editor job at a magazine, her reference letter had the line, "How do you get the most from Molly? You step back and let her write." 

But you asked about sport! For me, that came from my work in journalism because I had the ability to interview so many amazing, inspirational women. I didn't have a singular mentor, but learning some skills, tricks and tips from THE BEST in the cyclocross scene, like 15-time US National Champ Katie Compton, World Cup winner and billion-time Olympian Katerina Nash really set me up for success. Interview hundreds of racers after hundreds of races and you start to really learn about the sport!



In both of your Shred Girls novels, you have a character share the story by creating entries in a journal/training log.  It’s a great way to hear the thoughts going through both Lindsay’s (Lindsay’s Joyride) and Ali’s (Ali’s Rocky Road) head as they face new and challenging experiences and environments.  What inspired you to use this particular writing technique?  How much does journalling and writing your thoughts out influence you and how you manage new experiences and environments in your own life?

I love a good journal, I've been keeping one on and off (mostly on) since I was eight years old! So to me, journaling is just a natural experience. But really, the idea for Shred Girls came way before I even thought about writing about bikes and younger girls. Funny enough, I have a note written down from 2011 that reads, "My name is Lindsay and I live in a world of superheroes." My original plan was to have a book about a girl who wanted superpowers and ended up getting them but no one believed her, or something to that effect. And when I started Shred Girls, that became an obvious journal entry opening. 

Beyond that, journalling about training and about life has always been huge for me. I had a cheesy blog where I wrote terrible poetry in my teens, I had a training blog when I started triathlon in my early 20s, and I always have a paper journal at all times. It keeps me organized, it helps me think through goals, and—in past years when I've traveled a lot for work—it keeps me grounded. And of course, practically, a training log is critical for any athlete!


What’s been some of your favourite experiences as a children’s literature author?  Is there something in particular that you’ve experienced that you wouldn’t have expected to happen in hind site?

It's pretty rewarding getting emails from parents saying that the Shred Girls books have gotten their bike riders to enjoy reading, or vice versa—that the books got their bookworms interested in riding bikes! But the best is getting emails and letters from the girls themselves saying how the book changed something for them. I don't think I ever expected to get messages like that, or at least, I never really thought about getting them, but it makes me cry (and feel like a total rock star) pretty much every time. And I admit, seeing my book on a bookshelf in a store is basically the coolest thing in the entire universe and it never gets old. But I expected that—I've wanted to be a writer since I was three years old!



What one piece of advice would you give to a coach who may be coaching young girls for the first time to help make the experience in sport a good one for the girls on their team?

I have a whole article about how to get more girls into sport here, but the big thing is to make it as fun and comfortable-feeling as possible, which will change from girl to girl. Some girls will thrive by having a lot of friends around, or by being put in charge of something during a practice. Other girls—my younger self included—need to ease themselves into the situation, and shouldn't be put on the spot. It's tough, but try as much as possible to really read the situation. I remember a disastrous attempt at putting me in soccer when I was seven: I was super shy, my mom had warned the coach about it, and the coach—well meaning as he was—decided to single me out and loudly tell everyone that I was his special helper for the day. Well, I instantly burst into tears and was inconsolable until my mom had to take me home. (That was the last time I played an organized sport in school.)

The other thing is to let girls just play on their bikes—that 'fun' thing! Try not to make the whole practice about a longer ride, or about a super serious skills session. Set up fun obstacle courses, and encourage time spent just messing around on bikes. Girls often miss out on this—boys are always playing on bikes as kids, working on wheelies and stuff like that, but I've noticed girls are more often really good at being Serious at Practice. We want them to be playing too! That's how they develop skills, and learn that biking is fun—not work.


                  (Source: SeeWhatSheCanDo)


About Molly Hurford

Molly Hurford is a journalist in love with all things cycling, running, nutrition and movement-related. When not outside, she’s writing about being outside, travel, and athletic style and together offering coaching and training with her equally-active husband and long-time cycling coach Peter Glassford through consummateathlete.com.  Molly and Peter also co-host The Consummate Athlete Podcast where they interview world-class athletes and scientists.  She’s the author of multiple books including The Athlete's Guide to Sponsorship and her young adult fiction series Shred Girls focuses on getting girls excited about bikes. The first book in the Shred Girls series, “Lindsay’s Joyride”, was released in May, 2019.  


Want to access some helpful Hurford knowledge nuggets before you hit the start line this racing season?  Then head to Molly Hurford’s Tips: Have the Best Race Season Yet to access tips and insights from Molly.  



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