It is the beginning of June and with that brings more Steamboat mountain bike trails opening and my favourite time, the start of the Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare Women’s Bike Group. So what better time to talk about being a girl in the bike world than now?
Is there anything better than riding with a group of girls? A few years ago I would have said I prefer the company of men, but after multiple women’s clinics and ladies only rides I have come to enjoy going out on two wheels and playing with the girls.
It has nothing to do with it being any easier or slower, because I have friends who happily crush the boys climbing up Rabbit Ears Pass and others who can school most men on the technical downhills at the Steamboat Bike Park. It is the companionship, the support and the stupid fun we always seem to have when we are out there.
Many, many years ago when I first learnt to mountain bike the rocky section on the Lupine Trail on Emerald Mountain seemed like the hardest trail in the world and the logs on Eye to Eye were near impossible, but after hours of practise with a female friend we became pros. It wasn’t just the practise that helped us nail down the moves it was the encouragement and patience we showed each other. One spotting the other as she went over (sometimes the bars) the section we were working on. Cheering each other on “you can do it”. It made a difference. We learnt that girls had to finesse their moves and use their bikes to achieve what often the boys could do with pure brute force.
My saddest days are when women come to ride with me and are on bikes that are five sizey get out there and get it donees too big, their boyfriend’s old bike or even their commuter. Can you imagine climbing some of the stingers on the Bluffs Trail on a commuter bike .. with racks??? No me either but it can be done I have witnessed it! Th
Now being a girl in the bike world hasn’t always been easy. When working in the bike shop I often have men come and ask me if they can talk to someone who knows something about bikes. The boys in the shop usually laugh and say you are looking at her! On the mountain bike trail I get told “it’s technical, you better get off here” but my personal favourite is during a race or even a ride when you catch up to a male rider and he either purposely speeds ups so you cannot pass or just plain refuses to let you pass. When excuse me just doesn’t work and you have to take them on the next technical section. Mmmmm can we say karma?????
My husband used to worry about my kamikaze attitude during some of the technical sections on Buffalo Pass, off the Divide Trail or even on the mountain. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was a girl or because I was his wife and he cared about what happened to me. The truth was he hadn’t had a girlfriend before who could hold her own with the boys and he didn’t know what to do with me. It’s not that I didn’t care about my safety it was that I could see my line and I wasn’t concerned about what was going on around me. Now, he happily sits back and takes the credit when we zoom past a group of boys pushing their bikes up Lane of Pain or walking them down Mt Werner.
Bike Girl in Bike Town is a Steamboat local (ubiquitous yet anonymous) cycling enthusiast, rider and coach. Check back here each month for more of her insightful biking tips and first-hand tales from the trail…and the road.