- Michelle's Adventures
- Copyright © 2003-2005, Michelle Dumaresq
- Michelle Dumaresq (Canada)
- Champion Downhill Mountain Bike Racer
The following sections are abstracted from e-mails
to Lynn from Michelle,
in which she tells of her recent mountain bike racing adventures.
See also the new documentary film
My name is Michelle Dumaresq and I am a professional downhill
mountain bike racer from Canada, I was given a link to your site
by a friend from Toronto. I am so impressed with your success
page and the intro that you wrote before it. As a trans woman
I have sought out people who share similar experiences in life
and in sport. I actually just came into contact with Lauren Manzanno,
a cyclist, from your site. I don't have my own site yet, but
I will soon. Below is some of the details of how I got to where
I am at.
I am at an interesting point in my life, at least it feels that
way. I just experienced the most amazing summer of my life but
it was also very challenging. I was at the center of quite a
contraversy, you see it's ok in our socitey to be differently
gendered(at least here in Canada) but when someone like me takes
up competitive sport a few eyebrows get raised. I have found
as a trans person it's acceptable to compete but don't you dare
win. Well I did just that. What happened this summer happened
so fast that I barely had time to think of the consequences.
It is only now, after spending most of the fall very scared and
confused that I have seemed to get my focus back. That's why
I'm writing to you and some other trans athletes now.
Even though the events leading up to this summer took two years
to happen it really seemed to come so fast. I have been riding
most of my life(since I was 7, I'm 32 now) and before 2001 I
had never raced a bike. I grew up in Vancouver and the trails
here are the hardest in the world, one just becomes a good rider
here or you don't ride. The majority of riders on Vancouvers
North Shore are not racers at all, the term freeriders actually
started here. It's actually a lot of fun if you dress like a
hockey player. I was up riding in Sept. 1999 and I came across
12 women on downhill bikes(that never happens) and they were
making a film called Wheel Women, the precurser to the film Dirt
Divas. Nobody knew who I was and I just asked if I could tag
along. Well I became a featured rider in this film and nobody
at that time knew that I was trans. It was nice living stealth
but I knew it couldn't last. I had just done an all womens mtb
film and when word spread, it spread fast. Before everyone found
out they asked me if I had ever tried racing bikes. I used to
race snowboards for 6 years but not bikes. Well in may of 01
I raced my first race and much to my suprise I won (the course
is still my favorite, Mission B.C.) I was in the beginner catagory
but my time would have won the pro womens by 2 seconds. I was
as suprised as anyone, I have always had great focus when it
comes to sport but I didn't expect to do so well. I did 2 more
races that season before my licence was suspended (to many complaints).
Ironically the world cup of mountain biking came to Vancouver
that week and if not for that it could have all turned out differently.
Because the wc was here, so were the officials from the UCI (cycling's
governing body) and they sat down and said "what are we
going to do with Michelle". The UCI said tell her to go
away. The local officials said "you don't know Michelle,
she is not likely to just go away" I have friends in the
local cycling organization so I heard everything.
Well in apr of 02 I received a race licence to race in the pro
womens cat, unrestricted, pretty cool. That was 3 weeks before
the first race, so much for race training. My first race as a
pro I got third and everything was fine (remember it's ok to
race just don't win) well the next week the race was at Mission,
my favorite track. I won by ten seconds and the shit hit the
fan. They got a petition going and had all of the pro women sign
it and a bunch of the guys? I got to see the petition(friends
in high places). The commisinare refused to accept it because
I had a race licence. So I was a little emotional to say the
least, these women were protesting right in front of me and I
had one of the proudest days of my life (my first win as a pro)
I cried for 2 of the 4 hours that we had to wait for the awards.
On top of everything else a friend of mine who is a filmmaker
approached me when I got my licence and I agreed to have them
document everything that went on last summer ( we both knew somehow
this would be interesting and should be recorded on film) so
they caught it all on film.The documentary will be out in the
winter of 03/04 and is called "100% woman". I went
onto the podium and the other girls kept their arms folded across
their chests, oh well I put my own hands in the air.
Well after that I won the Canada Cup series and that qualified
me for the national team. That's when the shit really hit the
fan. Aug 9th was a nightmare, I had tv crews show up at work.
I had just come out at work, reluctantly, a month before when
the first news stories hit. My bosses were cool they said that
it's none of their business. I am the production manager in a
metal fabricating shop, all guys. Everyone was cool if a little
supprised. I have always been a passable ts and they where a
little suprised, if I had a dollar for everyone that has said"you
don't look like a trans person" I'd be riding better bikes.
Well I got to go to the worlds in Austria in Sept 02 to represent
my country as part of the Canadian womens downhill team. It was
amazing, so many people and so much media. Austrian tv played
an interview that I did on their national news the night before
the race so everyone in Austria knew who I was, staring and coming
up to me( with support) till I left the country 4 days later.
It was the proudest moment of my life, opening cerimonies with
the national team jacket on and a huge crowd cheering for Canada.
Only one of the Canadian women was talking to me so I'm glad
I had the doc crew to hang with. I think I'm the first trans
woman to make a national team?
I have been in contact with other trans athletes from all over
north america. Many of them have just called me on the phone
to make a connection. Is there any network of trans athletes
out there? I have even been contacted by the US track and field
assn because they have several trans athletes and they are trying
to come to a decision also.
I have also started to speak publicly in the gender studies programs
at universities here in Canada. This is something that I had
never thought that I was cappable of doing. I was approached
in the fall of 02 and asked to speak to students. I just got
up and told my story to people. This is an opportunity to share
my story and maybe motivate others who are facing challenges
simmilar or different than mine.
- I now have the opportunity and responsibility to dedicate
myself to a part of my sport which I believe holds great things
for my future. I never set out to change the world of sport,
I just wanted to race a bike, if what I have done opens the door
for other trans athletes then that will be wonderful. I am not
just a racer, I am a rider who races and riding bicycles is my
life, I am committed to my continued participation in the promotion
of women's cycling. I will also be part of promoting the involvement
of anyone who doesn't feel like they belong or have access to
the sport of cycling. When I was in my teens, I believed that
my life was not worth living and that I had no future( I wish
that your TS success page existed then). I hope to reach out
to others who feel this way and show them(by my actions) that
anything is possible if you stay positive and tell yourself you
can do it.
I would welcome your thoughts.
January 10, 2003
From: "michelle dumaresq" <email@example.com>
To: "Lynn Conway"
Subject: an update for the site
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003
Please feel free to post this letter to your site.
In January 2003 I wrote a brief story about my life and my racing
adventures, since then there has been alot going on. For those
of you who don't know me, I am a woman with a trans history and
I race downhill mountainbikes, basically we race a very large
mountainbike from the top of a mountain to the bottom as fast
as you can go.
When I first wrote my story on this site I had no idea that there
were so many other amazing Trans athlete's out there, making their
mark in the world just like myself. I had included my email at
the bottom of my letter and I have been contacted by so many,
thank you all for writing. When I was a teen and considering transition,
I felt like I was the only one in the world doing this. When I
stepped into the world of professional sports, I also felt like
I was the only one. I happy to report that I'm not alone. Stepping
into an arena, onto a grass field, diving into a pool or in the
start gate at the top of a mountain as a woman with a trans history
is never easy but my greatest hope is that it will be easier for
the next person who chooses to follow in our steps.
I was given an opportunity this past winter to dedicate myself
to training for the sport that I love, I received sponsorship
from Santa Cruz Bicycles based in Santa Cruz California, I can't
thank them enough for taking the steps to allow me to pursue my
dreams. Bike racing at the world cup level is a very expensive
endevour, a typical downhill bike costs over $5000 dollars, athlete's
require support of sponsors and I could never have made it without
- posing on Grouse mtn in North Vancouver with my
new downhill bike
I set out an extensive traing plan for the spring and summer,
this included countless hours on a road bike, sweating in the
gym and focusing mentally before the season began. 2003 was my
first full year of racing at the world cup level and I knew that
it would take some serious training, my competitors do it and
I would have to do it also. I am lucky to have some great friends
who have extensive knowlege about training as well as some of
the women who have contacted me who I've also used as a resource.
I'm doing my own training plans for now but I hope to have a coach
My first race of the season was a provincial race held on Vancouver
Island, the B.C. Cup #1. After the negative reaction from some
of my competitors the previous season, I was hoping this year
would prove to be less of a distraction in terms of protests and
mean spirits. I quickly realized that the women who had complained
so loudly the year before had quit racing and the women who truly
loved this sport were still there to compete. Many of the women
that I race against still don't think that it's fair that I race
against them but we are all still friends, sharing opinions and
ideas, hopefully creating more understanding as we go. I had received
my new downhill bike only days before this event so I was happy
to take the first win of the season.
One notable difference this year is the lack of attention of the
media, not that I'm complaining, it's nice to come home after
winning a race and not have to field calls from reporters asking
me to justify myself again and again. I'm still doing some media
because I still believe that my story could help other young trans
people set and reach their goals. I did walk out of an interview
with one major American network because of their lack of respect.
Watch for an article in Outside Magazine this fall and next year
a documentary, filmed by two wonderful and talented women who
have followed me everywhere for the past two years.
The world cup season for me started at the end of June at Mt.
St. Anne in Quebec, Canada. I had trained so hard and this would
be the first test. I qualified 5th, a great mental boost as I
was competing against some of the fastest women in the world.
I took a crash in my race and ended up 13th, still I was happy
with how I preformed. The second World cup was here in Vancouver,
my own backyard with so many of my friends there to watch. I sadly
had a bike machanical problem and did not finish well.
- me at the world cup at Grouse mtn in Vancouver
flying over the rocks
- fast enough to make my mom VERY nervous.
Next up for me was Canada's premier event, the National Championships.
This was probably the biggest event of the year for me because
it determines our National Champion. This race was held at one
of the greatest mountainbike mecca's, Whistler B.C. The course
was fantastic and quite a challenge. I quailfied 2nd behind Claire
Buchar and for the first time, I was a little nervous, to beat
Claire would take a very fast, mistake free run. I came down
the mountain faster than I had ever gone before, it felt out
of control, right on the edge of disaster. I came across the
finnish line and then waited ( holding my breath and crossing
my fingers) for Claire to do her run. She came across the finish
line 2 seconds behind me. I jumped up and down and let out the
loudest scream, my dream had come true, I was the Canadian National
Champion and my Parents were right there to see their daughter
take the National title. This was one of the happiest moments
of my life.
- right before the finish line at the National Championships,
- I think my mom had her eyes closed
- A champange shower on the podium
Winning the Nationals qualified me for the Canadian National
Womens Downhill Team, going to Lugano, Swizerland to represent
Canada. This is an honour and I feel so lucky to be a part of
this team, my teammates this year are a bunch of wonderful, strong
and talented athlete's that I respect greatly. What a difference
a year makes. Last year my teammates where not even talking to
me. I ended up 17th overall in the world for the 2003 season
and I have high hopes for next year.
- On the downhill course at the world championships
- Jumping on the 4 cross course.
- 4 cross is like a bmx race on the side of a mountain
This season has now come to an end once again and I'm now already
preparing for next year, lining up sponsors, setting up off season
training plans and taking a much needed break. I have been encouraged
this year by so many people, people on the other side of the
world sending letters of support and telling me not to give up
even when life get's difficult. Life is an incredible journey
and a wonderful adventure, I can't wait for the next chapter.
I still love throwing my leg over my bike and pointing it down
the hill as much as I did when I was a kid, I'm just a bigger
kid now. When I started racing I had no idea where I would end
up and to some extent, I still don't, each day is something new.
New people, new challenges and a bunch of new goals to be set.
Thank you Lynn for hosting such a terrific site, I consider myself
very fortunate to be included with so many incredible women and
Thank you to all who have written me with support.
Canadian National Mountainbike Team
- www.NSMB.com , www.johnhenrybikes.com
- Atomic Labritories , Smith Eyeware , MRP products
- "Michelle Dumaresq" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- For more information about Michelle's story, see: