There’s a lot going on in the mountain bike world for the ladies these days.
And we’re not just talking pastel riding gear and cute hashtags: women’s riding crews can be seen all over the local forests, sometimes rolling a dozen deep – and they don’t need a man to change their flat tires.
More and more opportunities for women to learn and get out on the bike are filling calendars year round, like the Elevated Rides program run by Jordan Salman, owner of The Hub and Pisgah Tavern. She started the program for ladies looking to enhance their experience and fuel the excitement for cycling among women.
Jordan is a Level 1 Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association instructor and says she really wants to give back to her community through the program. She has led whitewater paddling and climbing trips through local summer camps and she has a degree in wilderness leadership and experiential education from Brevard College. So, she knows her stuff.
“This is just tons of fun, you know. I got into mountain biking before a lot of the women did, and I chased the boys around and crashed a lot and just learned by making mistakes,” she said. “But there’s a much better way to learn that is more accessible so it’s not about eating the dirt all the time. For the same reason folks need a skiing lesson, some proper instruction goes a long way.”
Jordan says that many women are less willing to get out into the wilderness on their own, and are less likely to fiddle with suspension knobs and dials because they are afraid they will mess the fork or shock up. Through her program, she covers all the basics of suspension set up, as well as general bike set up.
“We help them with their cockpit set up, stuff like moving brake levers. Women have much smaller hands than the men – that’s not something every lady would think about. For example, a lot of women are using two fingers to brake, and a lot of women are riding suspension way too stiff for them or tire pressure that’s way too high. Simple things like that can make the experience that much better,” she said.
Her team at Elevated Rides consists of a former professional road racer, an acupuncturist, a chef and a Carmichael Training Systems coach who has competed in races all over the world.
“I think what I have created with three of my very best friends is what I needed to start out riding. I wish something like this was around here 15 years ago,” she said.
“It’s amazing how a group of women can be inspirational. If you see someone who is like you do it, then you’re more likely to believe you can do it too. I forever watched my husband, Sam, manhandle his bike up and down trails with upper body strength. But, once you see someone that is truly your peer, it seems easier and much more doable.”
Jordan has a few dates on the calendar this year already, and she also offers private instruction, which she says is her favorite because she gets to get right to the part the client wants to work on. Her Elevated Rides weekends are full of healthy meals, great trails, yoga to recover and stay limber, and the best mountain biking that western North Carolina has to offer. A typical weekend includes airport shuttling to a nice rental home, skills clinics, trail rides, laughing and making friends.
To learn more about the program, visit www.elevatedride.com.
Another opportunity to learn about more bike mechanics from a Hub employee started last year and is continuing through 2019. Shiloh Broadway has been at The Hub for a couple of years, and she is proudly the only female mechanic in Brevard. She has the experience too; she has taken suspension clinics from the folks at Fox Suspension, who set up an east coast office last year, and online clinics from Shimano.
It’s not just the locals hosting events for ladies either. This year both the Ladies All Ride and ROAM Festival are coming back to Brevard and will have their base camp at the Oskar Blues REEB Ranch, which borders DuPont State Recreational Forest.
ROAM Festival is the world’s first ladies-only mountain bike festival, and director Ash Bocast has a few stops around the country, but Brevard had to be on the list.
Ash describes the atmosphere at her festival as more of a summer camp vibe rather than a typical mountain bike festival. Mountain bike festivals are always held in popular riding destinations with vendors and bike companies setting up shop for the weekend with gear and demo bikes, so everyone can try the latest and greatest equipment. But Ash said hers are different in that she puts together workshops, film screenings and raffles.
“We try to avoid the cattle prodding that happens at larger festivals,” she said. “And we don’t do skills clinics. We’re here to shred and we want to make sure these ladies have shuttles and local trail leaders. We want them on the trails until it’s beer o’clock.”
This year, ROAM Fest is May 3 – 5 and will feature all the major bike brands on site with their latest and greatest gear. Ash said that she is offering day passes as well. To learn more about ROAM, visit www.roambikefest.com.
Women looking for intensive instruction on the mountain bike should also consider the Ladies All Ride clinics. Lindsey Richter, director of the program, chose Brevard, and specifically the REEB Ranch, as a stop for her business because she said it’s pretty much the perfect location.
“We have a pretty set formula that makes these camps really special. We need a large grassy area close to trails so ladies can practice intimidating skills in a safe and controlled environment first,” she said. “We love it when trails are easy to get to after we practice in grass, and DuPont is close by and only requires a few vehicles for shuttles. We like that it only takes a few minutes to get to each trailhead where we can spread nine groups of women out on trails that have good teachable features like roots, rocks, corners, drops, etc. DuPont has it all for us.”
Lindsey has been teaching ladies how to be stronger, fitter and work on their skills for years. She loves watching women progress with their bike skills, but, more importantly, she and her employees love witnessing women face their fears, start believing in themselves and learn to change negative thoughts into positive ones.
“We love showing them how learning to mountain bike also relates to life. We see them walk away with a little spring in their step, and that feels great. Seeing women gain confidence in themselves and their abilities is priceless,” she said.
Lindsey also hosts camps in Sedona, Ariz., Bentonville, Ark., Bend, Ore., Big Sky, Mt., Grand Targhee, Wyo., and Lyndonville, Vt. This year the Brevard stop is Aug. 26 – 27 and Aug. 29-30.
To learn more about the Ladies All Ride skills clinic, visit www.ladiesallride.com.
Locals and visitors to the Brevard area looking to join in on a ride and meet other ladies can also do that.
Charisma Arbogast has been leading the Sycamore Cycles ladies ride for about seven years, and each ride is a no-drop social event. From the first week in April through the first week in September, ladies can show up and expect to have a good time with no pressure to ride at anyone’s pace but their own.
“First and foremost, I like to ride, so I carve out that time because I make sure I can get out on the bike once a week,” she said. “I know when I started riding there weren’t lots of women on mountain bikes, so I rode with the guys. As soon as the guys could see me rolling toward an intersection they started rolling away, so I spent a lot of time riding by myself on group rides because I wasn’t strong enough or fast enough. I want women to have a better experience, to have that feeling of camaraderie.”
Charisma hosts the ladies rides during the week, but she is also hosting a ride on the third Sunday of the month. To learn more about the Sycamore Cycles Ladies Ride, check the Sycamore Cycles Facebook page for updates and weather cancellations, or email Charisma at firstname.lastname@example.org.