Article by Kelly Drewnowski, Southeast Region Director
It was a beautiful summer-like September morning when 10 brave women from the Southeast met at Massanutten Resort in Virginia to embark on a thrilling day of downhill mountain biking.
As the ladies were fitted for bikes, helmets, and pads, they received swag bags loaded with sunscreen, lip balm, coffee, wipes, and more, all donated by our great local and national partners.
The intimate group quickly became aquatinted and was ready to roll out and start the downhill lesson.
Once on the hill, Scott and Chad, downhill coaches for the resort, shared their knowledge while explaining proper body positioning, gearing, and disc brake usage. The experience levels of the group, representing four decades of ages, varied in from never-ever to advanced intermediate. Thanks to the great coaching, all were able to gather lots of pointers for their bag of tricks.
After a few demonstrations, the ladies split into two smaller groups as the coaches helped participants practice several drills to refine their stance and braking on the forgiving grass ski slopes.
Finally it was time to take this newfound knowledge to the trails! After learning to load the bikes on the lift, which was no easy task, the ladies made their way up to the top of the beginner trails, thankful for the help of friendly lift attendants.
The ladies cheered each other on all day…
even when riding down the lift ramp! As with any new sport, each accomplishment is to be celebrated.
Once out on the trails the coaching continued as Chad and Scott stopped their groups periodically to give demos and more pointers.
SheJumps provides the perfect supportive learning environment for women of all abilities.
Everyone was proud of each lesson learned as they went from newbies to being comfortable on the varying terrain and trails.
While stopping to learn a new skill participants could be seen taking in the beauty of the mountain and all it has to offer. Massanuten, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, not only has an excellent bike park, but is a breathtaking setting for getting outside.
Even the full face helmets couldn’t hide the smiles of each jumper as they stopped to regroup on the side of the trail. Everywhere you looked ladies were grinning under their gear!
As the ladies became more comfortable they moved on to trails of greater difficulty. Everyone made it through all of the lower trails and by the end of the day some even went up the advanced lift!
After a quick lunch outside on the lodge deck everyone was eager to get back on the trails. Several of the ladies headed up to the advanced lift for more of a challenge, while a few stayed down low to refine their new skills.
This crew drove over 3 hours to spend the day riding together and was excited to head up to more difficult terrain.
Once at the top everyone realized things were going to be a lot more challenging…Jump Skills Required wasn’t exactly what they had in mind…
but it ended up being a blast!
As the difficulty greatly increased, so did the height of the berms, which helped teach how to bank turns.
The best part of the day was seeing the constant smiles as everyone was truly having a blast with the wind in their hair and the dirt under their fat tires!
After almost 6 hours of riding it was time to call it a day, turn in the rental gear and gather at Base Camp on the ski lodge deck to rehydrate and support SheJumps with a raffle.
The raffle prizes, including plenty of women’s bike attire, were a huge hit and everyone happily took home a raffle prize and some even scored new SheJumps Girafficorn gear!
For several of the participants this was their first SheJumps event, but hopefully not their last. They plan to join us this winter for our annual Get the Girls Out at the Nut ski day and mentioned they’d love another downhill day!
The Southeast Jumpers representing with pride in the new Girafficorn bike jerseys by DaKine, hot of the presses! Get yours here before the sell out in the online store.
We’d like to give a big thanks to the staff of Massanutten Bike Park for helping SheJumps put on this thrilling Outdoor Education event. We’d also like to thank the crew at Base Camp for feeding the hungry riders at the end of the day! And thank you to our national partners EcoLips, Treeline Coffee Roasters, Essential Wipes, SunSki, Coola, Mountain Khakis, Wild Rye, and Krimson Klover for all the great swag and raffle prizes!
Without each of these partners we wouldn’t be able to host such awesome events. Please support them as they have supported each of us in our endeavor to learn something new!
A special thanks to all the ladies who came and tried a fun new sport with SheJumps. It was an amazing day full of stoke and we’re super appreciative of everyone supporting this awesome organization! As always it was fun to learn new skills, meet new friends and have a great time with fellow female outdoor enthusiast while spreading the word about SheJumps! We can’t wait to see each of you at future SJ events!