All that glitters is gold with this group of riders

Glitter Girls and other women ease women into the sport of mountain biking

Sarah Rarick/courtesy photo



women riders

Sarah Rarick/courtesy photo

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Ride contributor Josh McDaniel lives near the Lunch Loop and enjoys getting on his mountain bike as much as possible.



Josh McDaniel

Ride contributor Josh McDaniel lives near the Lunch Loop and enjoys getting on his mountain bike as much as possible.

QUICKREAD

Tips for the beginning woman cyclist:

1. Get a bike that fits. Don’t ride your boyfriend’s bike. Even an entry level bike can be good enough as long as it fits. Don’t be intimidated to ask the bike shops to work with you.

2. Learn to fix a flat. This will help you feel confident on the trails and you will be more likely to get out there.

3. Find friends to ride with.  Talk to the other women at the trail and in bike shops. Look for established groups (check out the Single Track Sisters Facebook group for info on group rides and other bike-related social events).

4. Get out there. Don’t be afraid to go on your own if you don’t have a group. Trails are well marked and there are plenty of beginner trails to start on. (Pet-e-kes at Lunch Loop, Rustlers at Kokopelli, Prime Cut to Kessle Run at 18 Road). Bike shops also have maps and guide books.

5. Go to a clinic (sponsored by local bike shops – see below), go to the Fruita Fat Tire Festival and test ride a bike.

6. Get involved with groups such as the Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COPMOBA)

Women’s Mountain Bike Clinics

Trek Dirt Bike Series – http://www.dirtseries.com

Better Ride – http://betterride.net/mountainbikeclinicsandcamps 

Ranchstyle Mountain Bike Festival women’s downhill clinics – Check with Grassroots Cycles – http://grassroots-cycles.com



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.

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