‘Tis the season for dusty smiles and mountain biking. For the second year in a row, we’re teaming up with bike/ski/snowboard shop Crow’s Feet to bring together women on bikes throughout the Bend, Oregon area.
Over the years, Crow’s Feet has been a staple supporter of SheJumps. Since last January, Sarah “Eddie” Edwards took the lead of their events and community outreach, spearheading multiple SheJumps endeavors, including the ever-growing FTW (femme/trans/women’s) Mountain Bike Group Ride.
Eddie on FTW bike ride!
“I felt a big need for some women's group rides,” said Eddie, who grew up biking in Bend and recently moved back. “It kind of snowballed into all these other SheJumps events between the four of us–myself, Marissa Hirst, Tanya Gephart, and Christa Nash-Webber.”
The result is a local collaboration that goes far beyond a mountain bike group ride. The shop has hosted a Speaker Series with AdventurUs Women, bike and ski maintenance clinics, a women’s ski film showing in January, and donated raffle items from their shop sponsors.
Still, the heart of the mission to build community is seen in the mountain bike rides.
“I was super fortunate to have a really good group of women and friends to ride with when I was just learning to bike,” said Eddie. “That is such an important part about learning a sport is having that supportive, excited, happy and fun community.”
With this series, she wants to create a space for women to progress and create friendships with others to ride with. So far, the community it’s built has transcended the event.
“At the first one, there were probably 40 to 50 people,” said Eddie. “Since then, it's been pretty consistently between 40 and 60, which is awesome. The last ride in June was probably the biggest one we've ever had.“
The series started in April 2022 and continued throughout the summer for the next six months. This year, there are five rides planned on the last Wednesday of each month until September.
“I hear a lot of times that gals are going out for their first mountain bike ride with a group who is a lot better than them, who maybe don't wait for them, who take them on trails that are way too hard,” Eddie said.
To combat this occurrence, the ride splits into different groups based on skill level and pace - mild, medium, and spicy. The group leaders and sweeps are sure not to leave anyone behind with a no-drop policy on the trails. Eddie noted that even the more experienced riders in the spicy group have benefitted from this.
“On one ride last summer, when I went with the spicy group, we chose to drive to a trailhead that's pretty technical and a little more challenging,” she said. “A couple of the gals told me, ‘Whenever my friends go and ride it I do a different route because I know that people won't wait for me. And I've never even tried these rock features because I didn't think I could do them. But when I'm riding with all of you guys and we stop and session it, it's a lot easier to try.’”
For every past ride, Crow’s Feet has also donated their rental fleet for women to borrow for free, creating a major access point to mountain biking, an expensive sport. While that program is currently on hiatus due to logistics, Eddie is confident it will return, potentially with the help of other shops.
“If we're getting nine women on bikes that wouldn't have otherwise been able to get out and ride, and that’s been done for the past 10 events,” she said. “That's a lot of folks who wouldn't have otherwise gotten out.”
At the end of each ride all the women are offered a beverage through donations by 10 Barrel Brewing Company and Montucky Cold Snacks. A handful of times in the summer heat, the series does an early morning ride instead and starts at Thump Coffee Brewery who are equally as generous with coffee.
“Everyone is always super happy at the end. We hang outside the shop, chat and drink beers afterward. It’s a fun vibe. It's always really fun,” said Eddie. “There's like a lot of friendships that have grown out of the rides, which I think is so cool. For me as well, with all these other women.”
Going forward, Eddie hopes to continue growing the series by collaborating with other local bike shops to provide free rentals. “It’s important to get women out on bikes and give them an opportunity to have a space to ride that feels safe and fun,” she said. “In a perfect world we’d have these rides every night of the week.”
To hear about the upcoming rides, check out the Eventbrite. The current dates, subject to change due to weather, are as follows at 5:30 pm:
May 31, 2023
June 28, 2023
July 26, 2023
August 30, 2023
September 27, 2023