Ride Like a Girl
“Ride like a girl”
Not only a phrase, but also a compliment, with an engrained sense of pride in the statement. The women’s mountain biking community is a tight one, especially so in Crested Butte, where many outdoor and adventure loving folks come to live and ride.
So it’s no surprise then, that Sarah Stubbe, the performance services and professional teams manager for Griggs Orthopedics, told me there are more lady-riders in Crested Butte than places she’s ridden in the past. To get the low down on women’s mountain biking, particularly here in Crested Butte, I spoke with Sarah whose watched and participated in the evolution of women in mountain biking in her 10 years in the sport.
Sarah didn’t really get into mountain biking until she moved to Crested Butte full time, and started riding with her now-husband. She started doing casual races, and eventually found what draws many people to the sport—“the ability to explore on two wheels, enjoy some really great exercise. . .and teach others how to enjoy the same lifestyle.” Particularly her 5 year old son, Henry.
Nature, a solid cardiovascular workout and bonding with friends and family—all the key ingredients to an idyllic Crested Butte adventure.
When Sarah first started riding bikes, she didn’t have any girlfriends that rode, so she went with the guys instead. Upon moving to the mountains, she found that the area attracts more adventurous and outgoing personalities, particularly women, and noticed there were more lady-riders here than other places.
Mountain biking can be an intimidating sport to get into, just like any gravity fed pastime. But finding a good crew of women to learn with? The payoff is priceless, and as Sarah explains “Crested Butte has such amazing people already, of course the ladies in this community are none other than supporting and encouraging.”
Having started mountain biking last summer, I can attest that what you expect when you start riding bikes, and what actually happens can be two very different things (ahem—falling sideways into a mud bog, while clipped in was NOT what I had in mind). But with time and the right crew teaching you, mountain biking quickly turns into a way to push yourself, and see the world from two wheels—and a way to find a sense of humor about yourself, especially covered in mud.
As Sarah puts it “I think like minded girl friends are always more encouraging and fun, especially when you’re just learning something new or want to get better at it. Mountain biking can be intimidating, but in the end learning and having fun will only make it more enjoyable (and empowering).”
Mountain biking is an incredible tool for women to build confidence and healthy habits, especially when started at a young age. From women’s bike maintenance clinics at Double Shot Cyclery in Gunnison, to the Griggs Orthopedics women-only rides, learning alongside other women takes the intimidation factor way down—you’re all there to learn, after all.
Griggs Orthopedics offers a free gOgirl program on Wednesday nights in the summer for girls ages 7-14 years old, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers girls-only mountain biking days in the Mountain Adventures program—both of which are awesome ways to build self-esteem and healthy habits at an early age. And as Sarah says “the educational component is super fun to pass on to these young girls, the knowledge helps them grow and hopefully becomes a foundation for them to be leaders on the trail (and in life).”
Tackling a sport that has traditionally been left to the boys is a great feeling, especially when you’re surrounded by friends. But finding that balance of ability levels in a big group can be challenging—newer bikers might feel like they’re holding up the whole group, and advanced riders might be chomping at the bit, waiting. That’s why women’s only no-drop rides are a great answer.
No-drop rides are just what they sound like—they’re typically community organized rides (last summer a rad group of ladies got together every other Thursday for no-drop rides), in which no rider is left behind. Advanced riders know that they’re participating in a mellower ride and thus beginners don’t feel like they’re holding anyone back—and beginners are surrounded by women who are willing to take the time and teach them, and wait while they work through obstacles.
“No-drop rides are great because they provide for a much better learning and supportive environment. Fitness certainly helps with any sport, but there is also a lot of skill that can learned from others which will only help you become a more efficient and confident rider, which only adds to the overall fun factor.” It’s also a great way to meet like-minded women in the community, especially over after-ride drinks on Elk Avenue.
Much like any challenging sport, mountain biking adds so much to the lives of its participants--
“Learning how to ride efficiently and correctly, taking advantage of the amazing technology out there, and ultimately just getting out and riding really makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery.” Women need not hold themselves back from reaping all the benefits of mountain biking, especially with the industry and community of lady-shredders expanding every year.
And as Sarah says, “the ability to ride my mountain bike out my front door onto some of the most amazing singletrack in the state and lead a fun, fit lifestyle—it’s way better odds than the Powerball!”
Isn’t it time you bet on yourself, and give mountain biking a whirl?
Crested Butte Mountain Resort also offers mountain biking lessons for all levels, which is a great way to learn all the tips, tricks and tactics for your success and progression on the trail from our professional guides. For more information, click here.