Women Ride!

My riding crew today: Steph and Deneb!
It was a gorgeous Saturday and not only did I have a mountain bike ride planned, but I would be taking two friends out! This would be the first time I would lead two other women out on the trails. I’ve ridden with Steph a couple times; her goal behind rides is to get comfortable and familiar with where the trails take you and how to link them together for a fun ride. She loves mountain biking and is looking to purchase a bike in the near future. Deneb someone I’ve known for several years from working at the Co-Op and one of the first individuals I interviewed for my blog. She’s mountain biked many more years than I have and I will admit, I had some nervous butterflies when I was put to the front! However, I was equally excited to finally go on a ride with her,so that canceled out the nerves.

I came up with a loop for the Van Peenen trails that would introduce Steph to some new ways to connect as well as some new challenges. I would take us on IPT to North 40, from North 40 we would hit Gunnar and take the upper half of Little Big Horn to Fred’s. From Fred’s we’d cut along the flat and ride up Rocky Road, hit the pines, ride down Gunnar, sneak onto Dust Bowl-from there Deneb would have to leave and Steph and I would go back to North 40 and ride it the opposite direction. Steph and I would add in a partial East Pine’s loop and take Little Big Horn down to a trail called Horsey, which takes us back to IPT.

When it comes to starting out leading a ride it takes me a few moments to get over being nervous over “What if I’m not (good enough, fast enough, slow enough, strong enough)?” after some pedal strokes I told myself “It’s like you told Steph, we’re out here to have fun! If you can’t make a climb it’s not a big deal. Stop pressuring yourself.” So I put a smile on my face and decided to just do what I do. The purpose of riding with these women isn’t to judge riding abilities and what one can/can’t do. It’s to be a positive and encouraging experience. We’re three women out on the dirt trails, having fun, conversation, and riding our bikes!

Once my tires hit dirt, I was all in and ready to go; no longer was I concerned over my worries. We made our way through IPT; I was in the lead and waited at the exit for Steph and Deneb. After we had a rest break we went up North 40, my only hope was I would make it at least partway up that climb! I did manage to make it up and over the root before I lost my momentum to keep going-I have no shame in walking. I waited at the flat part for Steph and Deneb; comic relief resulted when I lost my balance and tipped over. Classic Josie move. I just shrugged it off and kept on going and enjoyed riding down the rest of the trail.
When we made it to Little Big Horn I was pleased that I managed to get over the two logs I’ve finally accomplished riding over, which is a huge accomplishment in my book. Fred’s went great! I always say something in my head as I take the high corner turn, probably something like “Ride it smooth.”
I waited for Steph and Deneb to meet me at the bottom of the Death Valley area. It was fantastic to see other women ride down a hill that originally made me feel very nervous. Deneb is familiar with Fred and it was Steph’s second time riding down Fred’s hill. Smiles were had all around!

Rocky Road was going to be a climb and one that Steph didn’t fully ride, however that’s okay. I told her it doesn’t matter how much or little of Rocky Road you did, all that matters is you rode any of it. If you get a bike and start riding this trail regularly enough, you’ll build your endurance up. Rocky Road isn’t my most favorite trail by any means, but for climbing training it’s worth riding.
We hit the pines and made our way to Gunnar, Deneb had to get back to IPT as she had an afternoon commitment. I took the opportunity to take a turn that would have us come out closer to IPT as I was unsure if there was an alternate way.

We said our good-byes and made verbal plans to get together again sometime for more riding. I felt really good about the whole thing; we were a laid-back group of women out enjoying the trails together. I could ride them comfortably and not have any worries over the whole “enough” factor.
Steph and I went to tackle North 40 the opposite direction, which meant a lesson with the hairpin turn-using momentum to get up that hill! It took me a few tries to make it up, and once I did I road my bike to a flatter area and parked it off to the side. I came back to the turn so I could be a voice of encouragement for Steph as she sessioned the area. Sure, the hill was not climbed in one shot, but she worked the area and got her front tire over that root-and that is progress!
Strike a pose! You did good!

We decided to continue the ride a little longer, so opted to hit Dust Bowl and take it to Gunnar and do a partial loop in the East Pines and take the turn that would lead us along the prairie to the Little Big Horn entrance. We would re-ride the top section, but finish it all the way down to where you could either go down Dust Bowl or take a turn and go down Horsey. Going this direction would give us some switchbacks to ride down and an uphill that is difficult to accomplish.

I surprised myself with how I handled going down the switchbacks today! Much more smoothly than the first time and no foot-downs on any sharp corner turns. I had joked with Steph earlier, that the times I have to put a foot down on the high-side of a corner makes me think I’m keeping alive the tradition of the original mountain bikers aka Klunkerz who would ride with cruiser-style bikes (without handlebar brakes), using their feet to help them slow on corners/turns.
Ya know, somethn' like this.

Horsey was a trail I never fully road, just bits and pieces of it. I have a hard time calling some of it a trail! It’s basically a giant drainage gutter filled with lumps, bumps and rocks. The surprise is when you end up getting further down the hill, which turns into a fun downhill that leads you to the beginning of IPT. The best way to end a ride is with an adrenaline rush, well, at least a little one!

I love my solo rides but I also appreciate the rides you can share with friends.
I’ve had some wonderful people to ride with and for that I’m very grateful. Not only has it given me a boost of confidence with leading others out on the trails, and has provided me with the knowledge that I can have fun riding with other people!