Clinic teaches women the basics of riding the trails on a mountain bike
Deven Meininger made it over the first split log on her mountain bike, but hit the second. Her bike stopped abruptly, and she crashed.
The 31-year-old Durango woman was down on the grass before she could process what happened.
Meininger, though, smiled and laughed, thankful her crash took place Saturday at the Fruita Civic Center Veteran’s Memorial Park instead of out on a mountain bike trail where bigger dangers, like cliffs and cactus, await mountain bikers.
“Sometimes you have to go slow, and things (logs, rocks or other trail obstacles) are going to shift. What are you going to do and how do you respond?” Meininger said.
“I fell, but it didn’t hurt and I was fine. You get up and just go, ‘Oh, that’s moving and I’m now down.’ It helped it was in the grass, too.”
Meininger was one of 35 women who participated in the Keen Rippin Chix mountain bike clinic during the 16th annual Fruita Fat Tire Festival.
“I was blown away (with the number of participants),” clinic organizer and instructor Alison Gannett said. “Osprey was coming here for the event, so I said let’s work together and get more girls out on the trails.”
Gannett, a former world champion extreme skier, offers mountain bike clinics and camps for women across the country. Her web site is http://www.alisongannett.com.
“I think girls learn differently than guys,” Gannett said. “They want to learn the toolbox, then go out on to the trails. Guys tend to want to get out on the trails and learn how as they go.
“Girls want to learn the toolbox, which gives them the confidence to go out on the trails.”
The women were divided into five groups of seven, with one instructor for each group. They learned how to do everything from where to look while riding to how to grip the handlebars, when to shift gears, brake and how to balance their weight for climbing and descending.
They participated in five different skill sets — bridge, logs, bunny hops, switchbacks and curbs — on makeshift obstacles, using plywood, wood pallets, split logs, traffic cones and hoses.
Gisele Pansze couldn’t help but smile and laugh after riding over the makeshift ramp of a plywood and a pallet with success.
“If my kids saw me do that, they would say, ‘I can’t believe you did that, Mom,’ ” the 45-year-old mother of three boys said. “It was a confidence builder. Learning the right technique helps you build confidence.
“Normally I go off (jumps) slower and drop my front tire first. I learned getting some speed and landing. It feels good.”
Kristy Holland, 31, of Boulder had an embarrassing moment when she lost control of her bike and went off the edge of a makeshift bridge of plywood and pallets.
“At one point, I was on the bridge and fell off and wasn’t able to get back on,” Holland said. “On the one hand, I was embarrassed because it’s always embarrassing to fail when everybody is watching. On the other hand, it’s safe. By the end, I was able to do it.
“My favorite thing is the visual progress. You can see improvement. I was able to do things I didn’t before.”
Jenn Moore, 27, and Nina Pinette, 24, of Grand Junction participated in the clinic for the first time despite having some experience riding the trails in the area.
“There’s a lot more to riding than just going out and riding,” Pinette said. “There are technical skills involved that you really have to practice off the trails. It really helps having somebody give you pointers. I got a lot out of it.
“For me, riding drops (coming off a ledge) and staying up in the air a little bit more. You have to pull your wheel up instead of just riding up over something.”
Moore was apprehensive climbing a tall step (rock shelf), but believes she is ready to try it after the clinic.
“You should always keep your chin up and look where you want to go,” Moore said, “and not where you don’t want to go.”