Thursday, August 7, 2008

trolleys and trails

This past Monday, I took part in something I'd never before experienced: an all-girl mountain bike ride. Thanks to the efforts of the dudes at Footloose Sports here in Mammoth -- yes, women in the bike shop yet -- a gang of local ladies were treated to Trolleys and Trails: a shuttle up to Minaret Vista, your choice of a road, beginner MTB, or advanced MTB guided ride back to the shop, and on-trail instruction from Footloose employees along the way. Post-ride, a magnificent array of cheeses, fruit, crackers, and -- oh, yes -- wine awaited the hungry pack. You should see the pictures.

It's not like I have an aversion to all-estrogen fests; it's just that I normally ride solo, or ride with my dude, or, in the case of my first few on-trail ventures, with my almost-all-boy staff. And it's not like I don't have girlfriends here who ride. But it took Footloose's second-ever Ladies' Bike Night event a few months ago (the first having been held last season) to spur me into even talking to other women about riding together.

Why Bike Night? Because the first one was, honestly, awesome. I spun over to the shop and was surprised to see so many women packing the bike zone. The same delectable comestibles and beverages were on offer, and so were a few clinics led by the shop team -- how to fix a flat, for instance. The point was to get female riders in town comfortable with going into the shop and asking questions, primarily, but also to encourage group rides and all manner of bike-related camaraderie, choice of rig be damned. I saw friends of mine who race, who road bike, who teach clinics at Mammoth Mountain's Bike Park...and who I had no idea even owned a bicycle. I saw local Town commissioners, women from Bishop (40 miles south of here!), and mommies.

It was rad, and it was infectious. I left with open-ended ride dates and a deep disappointment at not being able to take advantage of the one-night 20 percent discount, having left my wallet at home. Guess I'll deal with a leaky bladder for a few more weeks.

(If you don't know, I'm not telling you.)

Monday night's event, though, was even better than I anticipated. From the second we loaded the trolley's bike trailer and turned onto Main Street, women of all ages were hollering at bystanders and swapping crash stories. The ride itself was sweet: sunshine, buffed-out trails with minimal climbing (though I do profess a masochistic love for grunts), and just enough pumice to make you appreciate actual dirt. It was impossible to lose sight of the pack no matter how far back you were (ahem), due to the frequent war cries from lead ladies bombing descents.

Did someone knock the wind out of herself on a brutal wreck? Yes. Did she laugh as soon as she got her breath back? Yes. Was that person me? Well, no, but I did begin to understand the magical release powers of clipless pedals whilst coming up short on a hill. Now that I've got that dialed, I think it's time to get dirty with some new friends.

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