This Is BC: North Shore Betty is star of new film

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This Is BC: North Shore Betty is star of new film
Betty Birrell is a legend on Vancouver's North Shore. The former flight attendant and wind-surfing pioneer has been shredding the trails on her mountain bike. Now at 73-she's the star of a new film. Jay Durant tries to keep up with her on This Is BC. – Jun 9, 2022

More than half a million YouTubers have watched mountain biker Betty Birrell tear down the North Shore trails and it’s inspiring people by proving that life doesn’t have to slow down in your early 70s.

She’s the star of a new film by Patagonia.

“I don’t need to stop, you just don’t need to stop,” Birrell said.

It’s the only way she’s ever known. Her entire life, Birrell has treated the world as one big playground, first achieving mountaineering feats in her 20s.

“On one expedition, we got between six to eight first ascents in this one particular area,” Birrell said.

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She was a professional windsurfer, pioneering the sport for women by taking on waves few others dared. She became well-known on the world circuit.

“If you went to Japan for a competition, you were a hero, signing autographs,” Birrell said.

“This is a 1982 article. I was on the cover there,” she said, after rummaging through a stack of magazines that profiled her at the height of her career.

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Birrell has had her share of injuries over the years. Mountain biking is no exception. She first got into the sport nearly 30 years ago.

“I’ve broken my arm, I’ve broken my hand, I’ve broken this arm. I’ve dislocated both shoulders,” Birrell told Global News.

She helped break in some of the North Shore trails back in the early 1990s before the sport exploded in popularity.

“I could go out during the week and not run into anyone on the climbs or the downhill trails,” Birrell said.

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Time has forced Birrell to pull back a bit of the extreme on her rides.

But, North Shore Betty can still send it at age 73.

“Betty’s kind of a legend on the North Shore. I feel like I’m with a celebrity. It feels pretty cool,” said fellow North Shore rider Amanda Moffat.

Birrell said she doesn’t view her age as an obstacle.

“I don’t think people should be judged by their age. I think people should keep pushing the envelope — their own personal envelope as long as they’re comfortable,” Birrell said.

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