OIWC Announces Pioneering Woman Award winner for the Bike Industry

Ashley Korenblat will be presented with the first annual Pioneering Woman Award for the Bike Industry during the OIWC Gathering, Thursday, September 28th at Interbike.

Ashley Korenblat, owner and proprietor of Western Spirit Cycling Adventures, will be presented with the first annual Pioneering Woman Award for the Bike Industry along with a $1,000 check to go to her charity of choice during the OIWC Gathering, Thursday, September 28th at Interbike.

Ashley has a long and storied history in the sport of cycling—she's spent the past 17 years (among other things!) helping to grow and cultivate women leaders in the industry. From her early days as the president of Merlin Metalworks, Inc., she consistently hired women and encouraged them to jump in the male-dominated industry. At Merlin, Ashley invited women leaders from the Harvard School of Business to examine their bicycle production and help the company's growth. As a guest lecturer on entrepreneurialism at both Harvard and Dartmouth, Ashley encouraged women to become small business owners.

On the NORBA circuit, her personal career high was winning the NORBA finals in the 1989 women's dual slalom. As a racer, Ashley also encouraged women in the early days of the sport to get involved in competition.

Ashley has grown Western Spirit Cycling from a regional touring company to one that serves international trips with close to 2,000 annual clients. Ashley's goal of getting more women on bikes manifests itself in the majority female staff she hires and in designing trips that are enticing to female clients. Last year, Ashley partnered with 2001 World Champion Alison Dunlap to host adventure camps that are both co-ed and exclusive to women. Ashley has also partnered with Susan Demattei, Terry Bicycles and Specialized to create women-only events and adventure trips.

As a founder of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Ashley was one of the first women leaders to help grow the sport through volunteer advocacy. She helped promote the importance of keeping trails open to mountain bicyclists. When Ashley started at IMBA in 1990, it was an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff. When she left in 2003, IMBA had a $1.4 million budget and a staff of 20. Ashley was the president of IMBA from 1996-2001 and met with President Bill Clinton to help expand mountain bike access. In 2003 Ashley was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

“Ashley is highly overqualified for what she does,” laughed Jane Guyer, Logistics Coordinator and Guide, who has worked at Western Spirit since Ashley bought the business from founder Lou Warner in 1996. “She has a business degree from Dartmouth, and she worked on Wall Street. But she threw in the towel on the professional world, and decided to run a mountain bike company. On top of that, she's a Southern gal, and cares about everybody.”

Western Spirit is based in Utah, where Ashley lives with her husband Mark Sevenoff and bouncing baby boy, Kip.

OIWC is a non-profit corporation focused on the mission of equipping women to achieve their success. OIWC is sponsored at the Gold Plus level by EMS, Fox River, REI, and W.L. Gore & Associates. At the Gold level, sponsors are Jansport, Mountain Hardwear, and The North Face. Silver sponsors are Backpacker Magazine, Black Diamond, Burton, Camelbak, GearTrends/SNEWS, Hi-Tec, Interbike, Marmot, Outdoor Retailer, Outdoor Wares, The Forest Group, Thule, Timberland, and Tubbs Snowshoes. Bronze sponsors are Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Cascade Designs, Chaco, Columbia, Contourwear, Fuji Bicycles, GoLite, Guyot, Kelty Woman, Leisure Trends Group, Leki USA, Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Research, OutdoorMind, Quality Bicycle Products, Shimano, SIA, Sierra Magazine, and Specialized.