Expectant mother Amanda Chapin shares her journey through pregnancy while riding.
When mountain biker, gravel rider and athlete Amanda Chapin discovered she was pregnant, she knew that she wanted to keep cycling throughout her pregnancy if she could, and her experiences of riding into motherhood are charted in a film by Flashpoint MVMNT.
“I’m used to pregnancy being represented by flowy dresses and flower crowns or something that is fragile and protected,” explains Chapin in the film. “I never saw myself in that representation of pregnancy and motherhood, so it was hard to see myself in that role at all.”
“When we decided to have a baby, I knew I wanted to be something different – to trade flower crowns for bike helmets – to keep my identity as a cyclist.”
In the film, Chapin talks about the research she did, the support and advice she got from medical experts and other athletes who have ridden through their pregnancy, and some of the adaptations she need to make to her riding. For example, an electric mountain bike became a very handy piece of kit for the later stages!
Riding within her limits, Chapin continued to mountain bike, gravel bike and even tandem mountain bike – though you’ll notice the film is heavy on the gravel riding aspect.
“For me, riding feels safe because I know my skills, I know my limits, and I stay well within my abilities when I’m on the bike. Plus it’s so great for my mental health.”
If you’re curious about cycling through pregnancy, you might also find the experience of our friend Michelle Arthurs-Brennen, Digital Editor of Cycling Weekly, useful. She talked to a number of pregnancy health experts including doctors, scientists and athletes.
Amanda in her own words
“I’m Amanda Chapin – I’m a gravel rider, mountain biker, cyclocross racer, tandem stoker, and sometimes even a roadie – plus I’m a new mom! And what an adventure it has been…
Bikes have been a big part of who I am for a long time, and I was scared that getting pregnant would disconnect me from bikes. I’m used to pregnancy being represented by flowy dresses and flower crowns or something that is fragile and protected. I never saw myself in that representation of pregnancy and motherhood, so it was hard to see myself in that role at all.
When we decided to have a baby, I knew I wanted to be something different – to trade flower crowns for bike helmets – to keep my identity as a cyclist. The day after I found out I was pregnant, I jumped into a cyclocross race, landed on the podium, and have kept that energy up throughout the full journey.
It is important to me that my new identity as a parent doesn’t replace my identity as an athlete. Figuring out how to balance these two things was confusing at first.
It’s commonly believed that pregnant women can’t be too active, and some people have questioned whether it was safe for me to keep riding. Modern studies have shown that maintaining your normal activity level IS healthy for mom and baby – as long as there are no other complications. (Of course this is something that should be discussed with your medical care team.)
For me, riding feels safe because I know my skills, I know my limits, and I stay well within my abilities when I’m on the bike. Plus it’s so great for my mental health.
Luckily, more and more women are showing that you can be pregnant, become a mom, and still be an athlete. I’ve never been more inspired by women! I look to riders like Laura King, Sonya Looney, Crystal Haggard, and my close friends who are new moms and still riding. It’s so cool to see these strong women crushing it throughout pregnancy and into motherhood. Seeing them do it gave me confidence that I could too, and hopefully I can pass that same confidence along to others.
I know that being a mom will change how I ride, and I am excited for that change. It will be a whole new adventure! Of course I hope that our kid enjoys riding bikes or at least doing something active and outdoors. I would love to share that with them.
But these days, there are more important things to hope for. I hope that our baby is safe when they go to school. That they have freedom to make the right choices for their body and healthcare. That they aren’t discriminated against for who they are. That they still have fresh air, fresh water, and wild places to visit. That they simply live in a world that is safe, healthy, and allows them to thrive.
I can’t wait to show our new little adventure buddy this world and share everything we love with them – riding bikes, the great outdoors, playing in the dirt, looking at the trees, soaking up the sun… At the same time, I am excited for them to introduce us to a whole new world too.
It’s going to be a wild ride, and that’s just how we like it.”