I love a good winding hike in the forest or desert wilderness of Central Oregon. In addition, I relish the chance to get out on the road and ride to work or through town. As a seemingly perfect blend of these two activities, mountain biking began to pique my interest as soon as I stepped foot in Bend. It's a popular sport around the region and it's hard to chat with new friends without finding a mountain biking enthusiast in the group. Central Oregon is known for miles of unique trails; Bend Trails reports that there are over 900 miles of single-track trails in the region.
- Courtesy Ladies All Ride
- Lindsey Richter, one of the founders of Ladies All Ride, observes an attendee practice her climbing form.
Ladies All Ride is partnered with Grit Clinics to host group trainings for those, like me, looking to level up their cycling game. These two companies have been traveling the nation for years, teaching mountain bike skills and sharing their passion for bikes. They offer classes for beginners and for experienced riders who want to work on certain skills, like jumping and cornering. Having never been on anything other than a road bike, I signed up to join them in their Women's Foundational Skills class.
The clinic was as thorough as it was laid back. While we were all learning new skills, we were also laughing and chatting. We went through the basics of form and positioning on the bike. We practiced lifting the bars up for small jumps to get up and over obstacles and even propped our bikes up on a nearby picnic table as we practiced the feel of climbing a steep hill. Finally, we hit the trail. This was the most fun I have had on a bike with a group of strangers. We sped down hills, then practiced taking quick corners and conquering obstacles.
- Courtesy Ladies All Ride
- Riding over rocks and obstacles are the heart of the mountain biking sport, as practiced on a picnic table.
Corners were not my friend. Even as I struggled, the coaches and clinic members were supportive. We all practiced through the same bit of tough trail until we nailed it, with reminders about where to keep your gaze and arms, and of course, there were many cheers of motivation. Failing was not only allowed, it was encouraged. I quickly learned that most of mountain biking is not about how skilled or strong you are but about digging into your own reserves of power.
Lindsey Richter and Meredith Brandt are the founders for Ladies All Ride and Girls All Ride. For them, biking is more than just a fun sport. The duo created Ladies All Ride with the mission of helping "women see the symmetry between bikes and life." Stating that mountain biking can be "a catalyst for growth, change and connection with others and oneself." I was lucky enough to have Richter as one of my coaches for my clinic experience and chatted with Brandt before the clinic. Both of them are devoted to sharing the life lessons that accompany the skills you learn on the bike. Their courage and passion are infectious, and I can't wait to get back out there and fail again this summer.