Julie Cornelius - Uniting Women Globally Through Mountain Biking

Jules Cornelius

Hello! Who are you and where are your riding roots?

I grew up in the Phoenix AZ desert and would spend hours with my brother riding around on dirt roads near our house. I always wanted to get outside and explore, but it was not a huge part of my upbringing. I really got into the outdoors and mountain biking when I moved down to Tucson to go to college. 

During my sophomore year or college, I bought a Bianchi road bike and LOVED being out on a bike. I started riding every day, joined the University of Arizona cycling team, got a job in a bike shop...and was hooked.

I always wanted to be out on the trails, but loved the community and social aspects of road cycling. When I took my first mountain bike lesson and started riding on trails, I knew that was my place and where I felt most connected.

I enjoyed exploring the different parts of Arizona where I grew up. I grew up in the Sonoran desert, with towering Saguaro cacti, but loved going to visit Flagstaff and being surrounded by Pine trees. 

I now live in Moab, UT, which is my favorite place on earth. I love to travel and experience incredible places, but I feel very fortunate to get to call Moab home. Moab is a test of gear, and I love my Juliana Roubion out on the chunky, rocky terrain. 

Mountain biking has become my life! In Moab, I work as a mountain bike guide for Rim Tours. I am also the director of a non profit World Ride that has the mission of empowering women through mountain biking globally. I get to work with local women in the countries that we have projects in and help encourage more women to ride.

Mountain biking is an incredibly empowering sport because it is scary, but overcoming the fear and realizing what you are capable of translates into other areas of life.

The mountain bike community is amazing and most people will want to suggest trails to ride or show you how to ride a certain feature.  

The thing I love most about mountain biking is the community. I am so grateful for the friends I have made and the people that I have met through it.

I also love being outside in a beautiful place and taking in everything about the place. One thing I really love about mountain biking is the constant challenge - there is always something to work on or next level to take it.

I also really like that I can travel to new places and instantly have a community of people who want to tell you all about their local trails. As a kid, if you asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have told you that I wanted to travel the world.

I have made travel a huge priority in my life and I love that I get to combine my passion for travel, mountain biking, and growing the community through World Ride.

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

One of the most physically challenging experiences I have had with mountain biking was riding the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. The route took us 9 days and topped out at 17,769 ft of elevation.

The day we went over the high point, Thorong La Pass, we hiked our bikes for 4.5 hours. I like big days on my bike, and now I have a different perspective of what challenging is. Thinking about this ride always gives me some extra motivation when I am working on something with World Ride or trying to ride a challenging feature on my bike.

Starting World Ride is one of the things I am most proud of because I get to share my favorite sport with women in developing countries. I had been working on a film project in Nepal, which turned into Moksha (a film that follows three Nepali women who have dedicated themselves to spreading the joy that mountain biking can give to women across the Himalayas).

I had always wanted to figure out a way to continue to help, and World Ride was born. I started working in Nepal to help support the women mountain biking there and have since expanded with the same mission in Guatemala.

This year, we are working on continuing to expand to Peru and Lesotho. I decided on the name World Ride because I want to continue spreading the mission globally. 

In our first full year, we organized a few trip and and with proceeds and donations, we were able to purchase a brand new Liv Cycling Embolden full suspension mountain bike for the Ladies Mountain League bike library in Nepal!

This is a big upgrade for the ladies who have been continuing to improve their skills on the current fleet of hardtail bikes. Shortly after the bike was built up and ready to go, Aarati Shrestha checked out the bike from the bike library and raced it to 3rd place in the Nepali Downhill National Championships!

Just two years ago, Aarati was one of the ladies who came to a skills clinic during a trip that initiated the founding of World Ride. At this skills clinic led by Lindsey Richter of Ladies Allride , Aarati had never been on a mountain bike before and struggled to balance while standing on the pedals.

(First two pictures below are of Aarati and the progress she has made form her very first time on a mountain bike to riding a technical feature less than a year later.)


Through riding, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?

Mountain biking has become such an important part of my life and has helped give me confidence and grow as a person. I love that the growth in both life and mountain biking is limitless.

I want to share this through my work with World Ride and helping to empower women through mountain biking globally. I want to help other women around the world to have the same experience that I have.

I also want to help change the lives of women in other places where the culture has a different attitude toward women. If women can gain confidence through mountain biking, it can change the way they are in other aspects of their lives. 

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

I have my masters degree in nutrition, so one of the things I cannot leave home without is a pack full of healthy snacks! Some of my favorites are Larabars, dried mangoes (I buy these by the case!), and peanut butter banana trail bites

The other thing that is always in my pack is my camera. I love capturing the places that I am in through taking photos.

It helps me to see things from a different perspective, capture the little details about a place, and gives me memories to look back on. The camera that I use is a Sony A6500 and almost always use my 18-135 lens. This camera is great because it is relatively small and lightweight enough for me to take on bike rides, but also takes amazing photos. 

Do you have any advice for other riders who are just starting out?

My advice for anyone starting out with mountain biking is to take a lesson from a certified skills coach. There are fundamental skills that help lay the groundwork for any more advanced skills in the sport.

Learning these skills early on can help you to gain confidence, stay safe and ultimately have more fun. If you are a female looking to learn skills, I highly recommend attending a LadiesAllride skills camp.

They are a weekend of learning skills based on your level and desire to learn...and they are so much fun! It is one of the most supportive and encouraging weekends. You can find me teaching  at the Sedona camps! Another great opportunity for women who have never mountain biked before is attending the AndShesDopeToo rendezvous events. These take place in my home of Moab, UT and we give all of the fundamentals in a very supportive and fun environment. Plus, you can try out all sorts of other sports like rock climbing, hiking, rappelling, trail running, and more. 

Mountain biking can be an intimidating sport. There is a lot of gear, jargon, and plenty of extreme mountain bike videos out there. Most bike shops have local group rides, so find a group of people that have a similar level as you. The mountain bike community is amazing and most people will want to suggest trails to ride or show you how to ride a certain feature. 

What have been the most influential riding/hiking books, podcasts, or people?

One of the people that has been most influential for me is my friend Lindsey Richter, the founder of LadiesAllride. When I started mountain biking, I was extremely timid and it wasn’t until I met Lindsey that I learned new skills that gave me confidence to ride the rocky desert terrain of where I lived.

I had an opportunity to work with Lindsey during a private lesson, and then attended her skills camp in Sedona, AZ. It changed the game for me and really jumpstarted my skills progression. Lindsey has such a great energy and is really good at encouraging people to progress. 

I got my mountain bike coaching certification and I now coach at Lindsey’s Ladies Allride skills camps. I also get to call Lindsey a friend and love getting out on bike rides with her when our paths cross. I have told Lindsey a few times that she changed my life because she helped give me the confidence and skills to get to where I am now. 

Where’s your next adventure?

This year is looking to be full of adventures for me! With World Ride, I am planning two trips to Nepal, a trip to Peru, one to Lesotho and another to Guatemala. I am very excited to be working in all of these places that I love visiting. 

I love that the growth in both life and mountain biking is limitless.

Along with these trips, I am excited to be hosting retreats with AndShesDopeToo in Moab, UT, Bears Ears, UT, Park City, UT, Crested Butte, CO and Sun Valley, ID. These retreats are a fun weekend of women mountain biking in a cool place - what more could you want?

Along with these work related trip, I am hoping to get to Switzerland this summer and spend some time mountain biking in Revelstoke, BC. Moab gets pretty hot during the summertime, so getting away to escape the heat is pretty necessary. 

Where can others learn more about you?

Instagram: @juliebike, @worldridemtb

World Ride: www.world-ride.com

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