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MEC Ambassador Anita Naidu on mountain bike getting air

Anita Naidu

Anita is an all-mountain matador who divides her time between the mountains, the internet and remote corners of the world, leading global humanitarian crisis projects.

A decade ago, Anita became the first professional downhill mountain biker of East Indian descent and was recently named one of the World’s Most Adventurous Women by Men’s Journal magazine. She’s also a multiple award-winning humanitarian, aspiring astronaut, electrical and environmental engineer, sought after anti-racism educator, climber and snowsports aficionado.

Anita enjoys training for high level competitions and when she’s not catching air, she’s one of the bike industry’s most in-demand coaches, having helped thousands of beginners to elite racers reach their biking goals. As the creator and head coach of Bike Fest Series, Anita is committed to removing barriers to the outdoors: socioeconomic, gender, race, cultural, language, athletic and geographical.

A frequent keynote speaker, Anita’s bike clinics, humanitarian work and anti-racism training have been featured in numerous global publications and media channels all over the world.

“You may not change the world, but who will you be if you don’t try?”

Instagram: @abrownpanther

Get to know Anita

MEC Ambassador Anita Naidu in a blue hike helmet

What was a defining outdoor activity moment for you?

Becoming the first professional gravity mountain biker of my ethnicity was by far my biggest breakthrough in the outdoors. Because I never saw anyone of my race (particularly a female!) choose this path, the absence of role models meant there was no prescribed ritual for what I wanted to do. There were many instances when I questioned if it was even possible. But more importantly, becoming the first pro of my ethnicity has allowed me to offer up my skills in service and my hard-earned insider privilege to help others be more included.

Favourite part of mountain biking?

As a coach, it’s being part of other people’s best day – it’s a privilege to be in the lives of others and I’m most exhilarated when coaching them to new heights and witnessing their breakthroughs.

MEC Ambassador Anita Naidu with group of women in mountain biking clinic

Biggest tip for beginner mountain bikers?

Take up space. The word amateur is derived from “one who loves”. You don’t need to ride like a pro or even at a high level to think of yourself as a biker – all you need is enthusiasm.

What equipment has been the biggest game-changer?

Dropper seat post on my bike!

What factors into your gear choices?

Simplicity by far. When you’re in situations that require quick thinking, you need gear that is quick to access and easy to deploy. Mechanisms that can jam up easily or require too much set up time can make the difference between an amazing outdoor adventure versus a call to search and rescue.

Anita getting some air mountain biking

Who inspires you?

Anyone who fights relentlessly for the ideals of true equality, is willing to risk their social capital for those ideals and for those outside their direct circle.

How has the transformative power of the outdoors impacted your life?

Nature reminds us of both our significance and our insignificance. I go to the outdoors whenever I need to make complex moral choices, to weigh the far-reaching consequences of outcomes or resolve my toughest life decisions. My work is often high-intensity problem solving and it’s an incredible privilege to have access to quiet escapes that brings joy, exhilaration and clarity. Playing in the mountains is the reset button for many of life stressors.

MEC Ambassador Anita Naidu snowboarding

When do you feel most playful?

Jumping my bike, slashing powder or an old-school dance off with friends. A good match of Connect Four is up there as well.

Scariest thing you’ve done?

It’s often expected that certain life experiences – dropping into unmarked couloirs, bike jump performances in front of a live crowd with Nitro Circus, free climbing an unmarked climb, living in conflict zones – would be a natural response for this question. I’ve done all those things, yet none of them compare to standing up to inherent systems that are designed for you to fail. And doing so before it was trendy or rewarded. Being an activist before activism became mainstream was by far the scariest thing I’ve experienced – going against certain aspects of society because you are committed to living your highest ideals can be truly daunting at times. It demanded far more courage than any of my athletic experiences.

If your life had a theme, what would it be?

Defiance, idealistic realism and a deep love for humanity – just because you may not win every fight for a better world or to advance the promise of equality doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up for battle.

Anita’s gear picks