Stories of Commitment: Vanessa Lebrun

Vancouver, BC, Canada

If you wanted to put a label on Vanessa Lebrun, good luck finding one that would fit. After starting her cycling journey as a commuter, she’s really spread her wings.

From bikepacking and cyclocross to mountain biking, dirt jumping and BMX, you’d be hard-pressed to get Vanessa to confess to a favorite cycling discipline. She tackles each backcountry trail, bike park and gravel road with equal passion, expressing her zest for life on two wheels.

“I find myself at home on the trails, but love to ride to the beach on hot summer days and explore the city,” said Vanessa. “Cycling allows you to see so much more. I like being part of the landscape instead of looking at it.”

Speaking of passion, it doesn’t stop with Vanessa’s recreational activities. As the Liv Brand Specialist at Giant Canada and Director at North Shore Mountain Bike Association, cycling is truly in every sphere of her life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Being all in, it’s being so immersed in your passion that it becomes a lifestyle, a part of who you are,” said Vanessa. “It’s wanting to share your passion and elevate others along the way!”

We caught up with Vanessa to learn more about how she discovered biking and how she’s crafted a life around what she loves.

Vanessa Lebrun, All In

Liv: How did you get into cycling? When you were just starting to ride, what made you want to stick with it? 

Vanessa: I got into cycling as a teenager to get to my very first job that was located just outside of town. The owners of this little bed & breakfast didn’t want to hire me because I didn’t own a car. I really wanted to prove them wrong and committed to ride there every morning – rain or shine. At that time, and well into my adult life, I wasn’t interested in getting a car, so cycling allowed me to get to work and school. 

Cycling has always been an obvious choice for me and the best way to get around. Whether it’s on an extended commuting ride to work on my Devote Advanced, or while pushing my limits on the North Shore’s gnarly trails on my Intrigue Advanced, cycling means freedom. 

Liv: How did riding become a passion? 

Vanessa: I moved to British Columbia in 2015 and that’s really when things shifted for me. The possibility of riding year-round opened up new possibilities and allowed me to improve and gain confidence. Riding in the wet Pacific Northwest conditions sure brings its load of challenges (slick roots, slippery rocks and lots of cleaning required), but it allowed me to become a better rider. I would never trade a day on the trails for a day at the ski resort, that’s for sure. Mountain biking is my winter sport! 

Liv: Describe the path that led you to your position with Liv. Why was Liv a brand you wanted to work for?  

Vanessa: I studied marketing and consumer behaviors at Laval University (Quebec City) with the intention of working for a company that was meaningful and striving to improve life for its consumers. I didn’t know what it would be back then, but when I learned about Liv, it all made sense. My sister got an Avail in 2014 when Liv was launched as a standalone brand and I became very curious. Moving to the West Coast allowed me to make connections in the industry, and there started my journey at Giant Group Canada. 

There’s something very special about the brand and all the opportunities we create for women. And it starts internally! The fact that women are involved in every critical role of the business is very inspiring. It shows me that everything is possible and that working hard is rewarding, on a professional level but also as a cyclist. Working for Liv is such a privilege! Not only are we selling outstanding products that are designed for women, everyone on our team strives to make cycling better for women. We are leaders in the industry and I’m incredibly proud to be part of the organization.

Vanessa Lebrun, Liv Cycling

Liv: What do you see as the biggest challenges for women getting into cycling, progressing in the sport and/or working in the industry? What opportunities do you see in your position at Liv to overcome those challenges? 

Vanessa: Just like anyone doing anything, women cyclists want to feel like they belong. Even though online shopping has taken more importance over the last couple of years, bike shops are an irreplaceable resource for any cyclist. Whether it’s to purchase a bike, get a service or treat themselves with some fresh gear, I think this point of contact with the cycling world is very important and needs to be more welcoming. 

With that being said, I believe it’s not only up to the stores to do all the work, but there’s some groundwork that needs to be done by bike companies. It goes from creating inspiring and educational content, sharing different narratives that are more inclusive, supporting athletes and speaking to women wherever they are in their cycling journey. These are all game-changers and I believe the work needs to be done at every level of the industry.

At Liv Cycling Canada, we have Liv ambassadors all across the country who do incredible work and create supportive cycling communities. Our program is very special and it’s built around good times spent on the bike rather than performance. It’s all about empowerment, skills building, fun times and community. It’s about real life experiences and friendships. Some of our ambassadors have been with us since the very beginning and it really feels like we’re a big family! 

Liv: What does the future of cycling look like? 

Vanessa: When I see all that’s happening on the local and international scene, I believe the future of women’s cycling is brighter than ever! Things started shifting over the last few years, but 2022 will be historical with the inaugural Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. I’m hoping that this event will be a mindset changer and that the public will be there to cheer on these incredible athletes. Women are pushing the boundaries in all disciplines and I’m very thrilled for what’s coming! 

Liv: How are you an advocate for cycling? 

Vanessa: Cycling is in so many spheres of my life! It’s my career, my passion and my medicine. That’s where I meet my friends, feel joy and find my true self. I’m so grateful for everything it has brought in my life and I’m always looking for ways to give back. In 2020, I joined the Board of Directors of the North Shore Mountain Bike Association. There’s so much work that goes into building and maintaining trails, and being part of NSMBA made me realize how lucky we are to have access to such a playground to recreate in. Becoming a member of your local trail association makes such a big difference and attending a trail day is something any mountain biker should experience. It really gives you another perspective and makes you more appreciative of the sport.

Vanessa Lebrun, MTB
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