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Moksha: The Movie

Women Biking Toward Freedom in Nepal

Moksha, a film presented by AndShesDopeToo, is about the future of Nepali women. Viewers are presented with the cultural and physical landscape of majestic Nepal through the eyes of three women: Roja, Usha, and Nishma. Moksha follows these inimitable women as they find mental and physical health on mountain bikes in their very own backyard, the Himalayas.

The special online premiere of the film will take place on March 8th,beginning at 10 am MST. Be sure that you’re registered to watch the premier here.

Learn a bit more about the brave women behind the film—what incredibly hard work went into making it—as well as the difference these people will make for the female future of Nepal.

The Collaboration

Moshka came to life through a collaboration with AndShesDopeToo, the Ladies Mountain League, Himalayan Single Track, and WRKSHRT Media. The end game? To help women pursue an active lifestyle of adventure, and support one another in the great outdoors and everywhere else.

The minds behind Moksha are seeking to invest in the future of Nepali women. By connecting them to others with similar goals, they’re proving that these women’s potential to thrive outside of their societal norms is possible. Nepali women, like all women, are strong and capable, but serious gender inequality still exists in the country. While these women’s experiences are readily transferable to the world of outdoor recreation, in Nepal, being a strong woman is not encouraged. Which is where mountain biking comes in. Pushing forward for the opportunities they can directly affect, building the skills most crucial to their personal development—that’s what Moksha is all about.

The film highlights the women on a weeklong bike-packing adventure through the lower Everest region, facilitating a confidence-building MTB clinic led by Ladies All Ride founder Lindsey Richter, and competing in the Asian Enduro Race Series. These inspiring moments, along with many shared Nepali meals, customs, and dances, created long-lasting sisterhood despite the age gaps and cultural differences within the team. In short, the film depicts a blossoming female community in a dramatically male-dominant society and culture.

The film’s two partners, Himalayan Single Track and the Ladies Mountain League, are likewise dedicated to supporting Nepali women by empowering them through adventure sports and friendship. They do this by creating  more opportunities for women to connect with others and facilitate social inclusion and integration. Not long after they first became involved in the clinics, Roja and Usha were hired by Jenny, the owner of Himalayan Single Track, and became the first MBLA (Mountain Bike Leader Award) certified female mountain bike guides. Roja and Usha also lead a weekly morning progression and trail ride with other young women, challenging cultural norms and acting as role models.

Jenny also created the Ladies Mountain League (LML), through which Kathmandu women have access to a “bike library.” The library allows women to take out bikes and go on recreational rides in and around the Kathmandu valley for up to one week.

World Ride: Not Just a Tour Company

International guide Julie Cornelius, who had a big part in the conceptualization and ultimate creation of Moksha, also continues to support the growth of women’s mountain biking in Nepal through World Ride. The tour company organizes mountain bike trips and retreats through the Himalayas, and at the same time seeks to expand women’s involvement in outdoor recreation and more specifically, of course, mountain biking. They do this by supporting the aforementioned Ladies Bike League, by providing guide certification training for new female mountain guides, and supporting Nepali women who are competing in races around Asia. In fact, in 2018, Nepal will have seven female riders in the Asian Enduro event, more than triple the amount they had last year (two). With the sharing of this project, women will gain the confidence to want to strive to join the female riders who are building up this movement.

And while one of its goals is surely to send a Nepali woman to the Olympics (one day!), the ultimate goal is to help women see themselves as a part of the wider outdoor community, to challenge their country’s gender norms, and encourage the next generation to embrace the joy and freedom that can be found with outdoor recreation.

Enjoy it Yourself, and Lend a Hand

Mountain bike tourism continues to grow throughout the country, and mountain bike guiding is proving a sustainable career path for both women and men. Take a a guided mountain bike ride through Nepal and experience for yourself some of the highest mountains and most spectacular views this planet has to offer. Enjoy the warmth of the native people, stay in genuine Nepali teahouses, and cover a lot more ground than on a hiking trip. World Ride runs two trips, the Annapurna Circuit and Jomsom Muktinath Enduro. Both trips have dates for women only as well as for coed trips. In addition, private custom trips are possible.

Because mountain biking can be expensive, World Ride is helping make the financial burden less restrictive for local riders. They encourage those who make the trek to Nepal to bring gear and contributions for the Ladies Mountain League, where even a little goes a long way and is appreciated.

Says Nishma, “It’s been four years since I started mountain biking and I feel it has helped me grow as an individual. I feel like an independent woman who can travel places by herself; I am strong enough to challenge the society that doesn’t want to accept me as I am. When I am on my bike, I am happy and free from trouble. I feel more confident about myself and I’m not scared to try new things. For me, mountain biking is my freedom. It takes me to the places where other vehicles can’t; into the deepest parts of nature that make me love the natural environment.”