Women on Bikes Series: Kelsy Kellermann

Is mountain biking really a workout?

This is what I actually asked my husband as we were transitioning from running to biking 5 years ago. I had a legit comfort bike at the time. Our knees told us it was time to do something new.

My first ride proved to be much more than a workout. It was the beginning of a love/hate relationship. It has since bloomed to a passion and a deeper understanding of myself.

I’m Kelsy Kellermann and I have a privileged life. I’m so grateful for my stellar husband Noah, our kids Harper (9) and Alden (7), and my job as a Physician Assistant in OBGYN. We live in DePere, WI.

We travel frequently to Marquette and Copper Harbor Michigan to ride, but also enjoy our local trails (Reforestation Camp and Baird Creek).

I’m competitive by nature, so riding for fun, getting faster, and participating in the Copper Harbor Woman’s Weekend to improve my skills lead to dabbling in racing. I found my peak when I realized that I only wanted to spend 5-7 hrs per week “training”. Spending time with our kids is more important at this moment in my life. I now do a race here and there. Finding this peak was accompanied by something I hadn’t given myself before: grace. This came with biking and my other love, yoga.

Mountain biking makes me feel like a BA. Shredding down a chunky trail, nailing some feature it took me a while to get, racking up elevation and miles fills my soul and heals past wounds. I do most of this alone, as my husband and I switch with the kids. I don’t have many close female friends at this time in my life, but when I see another woman on the trail...we could be friends!

Tell us about your introduction to mountain biking, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
I love the challenges that come with each pedal stroke on the trails, conquering each with practice and determination. In addition, it's such a rush! Barreling down some gnarly section, feeling like you're floating on your bike, the "oh shit" moments that you nail, getting faster - there is nothing like it!

We've featured several who transitioned from running to biking, what about the initial transition proved to be insightful?
An open mind :) I didn't like mountain biking at first because I failed many times. Perseverance, just like life, is key.

Clips or flats? What do you use when and why?
Clips help me get up some steep climbs and provide power at all times.

Have you had any biffs (accidents) that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I'm grateful to have only sustained a few bumps and bruises. Every ride I "keep it upright" I'm grateful for, knowing that things could change at any moment.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Steep climbs with rocks/roots. I didn't have the leg strength or balance at first. Vinyasa yoga, practice (Baird Creek in Green Bay), and the Copper Harbor Women's Weekend has helped a lot.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Rock rollers and drops are still a mental block. I just accept that I'm not there yet, and it will come with time. I also remember all of the shit I couldn't do and now I can.

For folks who are nervous about giving mountain biking a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
I would ride with some women that are passionate about mountain biking. I had the privilege of taking 2 friends that had never been MTB biking out this summer. It was so fun to see them surprise themselves on what they could accomplish. I could see their buzz! Creating a positive experience - don't have any expectations of oneself.

What do you love about riding your bike?
My mind stops thinking about anything other than the trail. I also feel like a BA. I'm something to a lot of people being a Mom and Physician Assistant. On my bike, I'm just me, immersed in nature.

Tell us about your first mountain bike race! What was the experience like?
WORS! It was exhilarating, eye-opening, and a blast. I didn't fall and wasn't last, so it was all good!

Why do you feel should folks try at least one mountain bike event?
The vibe at events is electric. I've been fortunate to experience nothing but support from other riders and spectators. It's so exciting to ride with other people that love the sport.
What has been your favorite event so far?
It's a tie between the Bear 100 (km) and Marquette Trails Fest this year. I had this perfect balance of training, nutrition, and hydration for both events.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Trek Stache, Farley 9.8, Fuel EX 9.8, and Crockett. I didn't choose them, my husband is my buyer and mechanic. I am grateful. I look forward to when I'm interested in the mechanics of biking.

Tell us about your experience at the Copper Harbor Women's Weekend and why you found it beneficial?
I've been twice and it's SO rad! My technical skills improve exponentially each year and I get to ride with loving, supportive women. At this time in my life, I never ride with women (only my husband from time to time) due to schedules/kids, etc. I get so filled up at this event. It's unreal.

How do you balance spending time with the kiddos and cycling? What works for you?
This summer we traveled to a bike destination (mostly Marquette and Copper Harbor) every weekend, so I was able to ride a lot. When we're home, riding twice per week is a gift. When the trails are too wet, I spin. Our kids bike too! I could devote more time to biking, but my Fam is where it's at right now.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?

Possibly a lack of a connection to the sport. MTB biking - shit gets real - fast. The roots, rocks, climbs are not easy. The fall factor is present as well. Choosing to possibly get hurt may not be in the cards for some folks.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I'm not super plugged into the industry, so I can't fully comment, but what I've seen thus far has evolved in the 6 years I've been riding. Locally, more women-specific events.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I want anyone, who is willing, to feel the accomplishment and extreme fun that this sport offers. It's so fulfilling. Mind, body, soul.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I longboard too!