All that glitters is gold with this group of riders
Glitter Girls and other women ease women into the sport of mountain biking
The Glitter Girls’ group rides for women only have a couple of rules. First, nobody gets left behind. Second, guys are welcome to join, but they have to wear a skirt (a small price to pay to ride with some of the area’s best women bikers).
The group was started 15 years ago by Sarah Rarick and Amy Agapito as a fun and inclusive way for women to ride and work on skills together. Careers and families have led the group to get together less regularly, but the group helped to nurture a strong group of female riders and is just one part of an active and growing community of women mountain bikers in the Grand Valley.
Besides the abundance of strong recreational riders, there are a number of top racers that have made the area their home. The list is long but a few notables include Jen Zuner, co-owner of Hot Tomato Cafe in Fruita and a top-level downhill racer. Cat Morrison, a Grand Junction endurance racer, who was the 2010 national champion in the women’s 24 hour, solo, single-speed category. Netana Hotimsky, a Grand Valley native, was a nationally ranked collegiate racer for Mesa State College and continues to race competitively.
The Mesa State cycling team is consistently one of the top teams in the nation, and a great deal of that has to do with the consistent strength of the women’s side of the team (as team prizes are for combined female/male results). The Mesa State College team has produced a number of female collegiate racers that have gone on to professional careers.
For most people, though, mountain biking is not about racing — it’s about being active, getting outdoors and spending time with friends and family. That’s the motivation for Jen Taylor and Agapito of COPMOBA who have been deeply involved in trail building and biking advocacy. Taylor spearheaded the effort to get the bike park built at the Lunch Loops and has been a tireless promoter for getting kids and families active in biking.
In short, there is a strong, supportive biking culture in the area as well as world class trails. Even so, it’s still not the easist place to get started in the sport. The same trails that have attracted many of the professional and competitive women bikers to the area can be an obstacle to beginners.
“Many of our local trails are technical and can be intimidating for beginning riders,” siad Anne Spalding, a competitive endurance mountain biker and collegiate cycling representative.
In working with collegiate and other beginning women riders, Spalding said she often sees the following scenario: A woman decides to try mountain biking. Her boyfriend or other male friend finds a bike for her that does not fit and then takes her to the Lunch Loops. They climb up Eagle’s Tail and come down Holy Cross, and by the time they get to the parking lot, the woman is done with mountain biking.
“Women need a good introduction to the sport,” Spalding said.
She recommends riding with other experienced women to start.
Kristina Kittelson, organizer of the Singletrack Sisters Mountain Bike Club, agrees that riding with other women is beneficial for beginning women mountain bikers.
“Women are A LOT more supportive,” she joked.
Kittelson said men will try to talk women into trying things that are way over their head.
“Women are more realistic about our abilities.”
So, if you are looking to improve your skills, get started in mountain biking, or if you are just tired of riding with the boys, find a group of women riders. According to our sources, they are more supportive and fun, and may even smell better too.