Women on Bikes Series: Dina Klancir

Currently I am an Account Manager at a Fitness Education company. I’m a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Model, and athlete! I also have a Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling and enjoy volunteering.

When did you first start riding a bike?  
Any bike?  Around 4 or 5 years old. A mountain bike- September 6, 2013.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
“Over the years” has been a year and a half for me. I really didn’t ride a bike much from about the time I could drive until fall of 2013. Then I rediscovered how fun it was- especially mountain biking.
Mountain biking always intimidated me just a bit when I first moved to Illinois from Chicago.
However, all it took was one try and I was hooked! I am motivated by fitness and being competitive in races.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
So far my favorite event was the 12 Hours of the Wild West. Although I raced XC my first year, I think endurance events are really where it’s at for me. I enjoy competing because it makes you focus. I ride at a completely higher level when I’m racing- faster, smoother, more aware- and that feeling totally hooks me into competing more.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Oh yes, because it wasn’t that long ago for me! I was a combination of excited and very nervous. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, especially in front of the guy who had been racing for years that agreed to take me on my first ride.  I realized that years of being involved in team sports, tennis, skiing, hiking, etc. kept me in shape, but being in mountain biking shape was a completely different level of fitness. The post-ride feeling was exhilarating, and within a couple of weeks, I started training to race.

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
Yes, I use CrankBrothers Candy and Eggbeater pedals. I started on them about 2 months after I started riding, which I feel was probably too soon. My advice would be that someone have solid foundational riding skills before they try clipless pedals. Then, the first few times, try them on fairly flat, non-technical trails to get used to clipping in/out. I had problems at first deciding if/when to clip out when I encountered obstacles, and I realized as I became a better rider that my trepidation would not have existed had I known how to ride the obstacle well, let alone ride it and try to decide if I wanted to be attached to my bike as I did it.  Many tip-overs had to happen before I learned that lesson.

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Any? LOTS! One in particular, though, was a crash that happened last summer. I was riding on a very familiar, easy flowing trail that I had ridden hundreds of times before. I let my mind wander a little while my speed was way too high. The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of the trail calling 911. All I knew was that I hurt everywhere, my helmet was cracked all over the place, and I had no recollection of how it happened. Luckily I just had a mild concussion and bruised ribs. The EMT’s think I hit a rock that was jutting out from the side of the trail and it caused me to hit the ground- and my bike- very hard.  Physically I recovered just fine and did a 40+ mile ride the weekend after. Mentally, I was a wreck. I was already not a strong downhill rider, and because speed was such a big part of why I crashed (I was going 18 mph around a tight singletrack corner), I started becoming a real granny on the downhills. In all honesty, I’m glad the crash happened. It taught me that I really need to know my fundamentals before I approach anything with that kind of speed.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Getting up and over water bars, rocks, etc. on climbs were (and still are) my biggest obstacles. I took a clinic about how to handle these- where my weight should be, how fast I should be going, etc. I learned that I was trying to power through these too much and mashing too hard. I learned to ride them slowly, and I saw my technical ability grow quickly.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding? 
The water bars, etc. still cause some issues for me when climbing and on switchbacks. I try to not overthink things, as there can be SO much to think about technically when you are trying to ride tricky stuff. I do my best to relax, as tensing on the bike will only make things worse, and try to ride it. If I miss it, I try again. I will try something up to 3 times; I find after that I get frustrated. If I don’t make it by the third time, I make some mental notes and remind myself that no athlete is perfect and if I knew how to ride everything, someone would be paying me to do it!

What do you love about riding your bike?
Pretty much everything. Mountain biking is the most challenging sport I’ve ever participated in. Every trail presents new obstacles and puzzles to figure out, both physically and mentally. I’ve seen more new places thanks to my mountain bike- places I couldn’t get to by car and that would take me a really long time to get to on foot. Mountain biking also has its own built-in community, and I’ve made some fabulous friends thanks to our shared love of dirt.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a Niner Jet9 RDO. I LOVE it. I demoed tons of bikes from Giant, Pivot, Rocky Mountain, and Juliana. None of them were “doing it” for me. The Niner had the smoothest ride, the ability to get up and over obstacles, and the right size frame (XS) for me. It had a package option that included everything I wanted, and for me, it was a no-brainer!

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love and am sponsored by Twin Six. Their tech gear is bomb-proof, super comfy, and true to size.  I would recommend them to any rider- woman or man, road or mountain.

You are a member of Dirt Divas, tell us why you joined the Dirt Divas club- 
As a new rider trying to ride with my boyfriend who has raced for many years, it was frustrating. He didn’t want to go my slow pace, and I couldn’t go his fast pace. I needed a group to ride with that was at my level, which is why I joined Dirt Divas.

What has been the best thing about having joined Dirt Divas?
Meeting new and like-minded women to ride with!

What advice would you give someone seeking to join a club for the first time?
Find a club that is non-drama and is at your pace (if you are a hard-core racer, join a hard-core racing team. If you are social, join a social club)

What is the best thing about being able to join other women with a common interest?
Exactly that-meeting women with a common love of mountain biking. That’s rare, so it’s an instant bond.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Fear. Intimidation from riding with mostly men.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Starting them out on the right foot from the beginning- not getting them on black diamond trails trying to follow fast men the first time they start, and giving them a supportive and encouraging environment for trail/error.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Knowing my initial experience as a rider- having no clue what bike to buy, what trails to ride, etc.
I was lucky and had a knowledgeable partner to help me through those things. Not everyone does, and this could lead women to a negative experience with riding if they have a bike that isn’t suited for what they are riding, their size, etc. or riding trails that are way above their ability level.
Knowing that I can assist women through the initial stages and get them hooked on such an awesome sport is super rad!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
In 2012, before I started mountain biking, I was a State and National 3.5 Mixed Doubles Tennis Champion!