Who is Jess the Maker? Meet the Woman Behind the Funny MTB Videos.
If you haven’t heard of her yet, you have now, and you’ll undoubtedly see her all around soon enough. Jess Hana, aka, Jess the Maker, seemingly burst onto the mountain bike scene creating hilarious and totally relatable mountain bike videos on her Instagram channel, @jessthemaker. Read on to learn how Jess got into mountain biking, coaching, and content creation and afterwards, be sure to check out her videos.
Where are you originally from and where are you residing currently? I grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. After college I moved to Ithaca, NY for about 7 years followed by a stint of living on the road in an RV.
I currently reside in Bentonville, Arkansas (and yes, I moved there for the mountain biking) 😉
When did you start biking and how did you get into the sport? As a kid, I would ride a bike on the dirt road I lived on. I remember the neighbor kid down the street had a “mountain bike.” I thought it was really cool so I asked Santa that year for a mountain bike. There must have been a mix up because I received a pink cruiser bike: complete with coaster brakes, banana seat and some sweet handlebar streamers.
It wasn’t until 2012 that I got on an actual mountain bike. My then partner was an avid rider and I borrowed a hardtail (2 sizes too big) to give it a try. I believe I was only 10 minutes into my first ride when I panic braked and flew over the bars.
It wasn’t love at first ride, but something about the challenge kept me coming back.
How did you get into mountain bike coaching? In 2016, my friend, Gretchen and I, entered (and won!) a video contest for two spots to a Ladies AllRide Clinic in Grand Targhee, WY. We had a great time and learned a ton of skills that helped us gain more confidence on the bike. It was those coaches that really inspired me to go on for my PMBIA level 1 certification in Vermont that following year.
What advice do you have for a new rider or someone who wants to take their riding to the next level? For a new rider: Welcome! This sport has its ups and downs (literally) 😂we’re glad you’re here. Something that helped me in my early days as a rider was finding community. I enjoyed mountain biking a whole lot more when I met a group of folks to ride with in Ithaca, NY. It helped me connect with the fun aspects of mountain biking. I love learning from others by following their lines and stopping to session things in an encouraging environment.
For someone who wants to take things to the next level: Be comfortable with being a bit uncomfortable. If you want to improve your skills as a mountain biker you’ll need to (at some point) push yourself outside of your comfort zone. For me, it’s been consistent practice, working with coaches, attending skills clinics and most importantly having a growth mindset - all of these things can really push your progression.
How did you get into making mountain bike videos and content? I found myself a little lost at the beginning of 2021. Having spent 13 years as a graphic designer, I was burnt out and wanted to do something new.
Moving to Bentonville is really what helped incubate the beginnings of my mountain bike content creation. I didn’t set out with the intention to become a content creator. I just wanted to share a few funny videos here and there and they started gaining traction.
I was actually surprised at how quickly things started growing. I never thought I could connect with so many people in this way, and I love that. I knew I was onto something special when my friends were calling me saying random people were showing them my videos.
How do you balance just riding for fun with your work of always creating content? This has been tough and I had to set times solely for filming and solely for riding. There are the occasional rides where an idea will pop in my head and I’ll want to film something then and there. For the most part, I try to keep those separate.
How would you like to evolve with your role as a coach and content creator? Coaching: Last year I got my PMBIA Level 2 Air certification. Here in Bentonville, we have a ton of jumps and drops and I’m really excited to help more people who want to work on air features. However, I actually LOVE technical riding and really want to spend this year working more on technical maneuvers. Content: I’m working on some longer form content for YouTube this year. So stay tuned! I’ll be launching my YouTube channel (Dirt Scouts) soon.
And most importantly, if you could only bring 3 things with you to a desert island, what would they be? Obviously my mountain bike. Sunscreen. And an endless supply of tacos. 🌮
Watch her videos and follow along with Jess' adventures @jessthemaker.