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SheJumps Mountain Bike Shuttle Day at Schweitzer Mountain – Recap

The crisp morning air carries the scent of moldering leaves with a nip in it unique to the season. The fall foliage on the mountain is a riot of color and the resort parking lot is full of chatter and the shifting of impatient feet. Thirty women anxiously wait to climb up in the saddle and start their day’s ride. The parking lot itself is loud with the rainbow hues and glitter of colorful tutus, leggings, and wigs and the bright sunshine reflecting off of glasses and full face helmets.

At the end of September, Eastern Washington hosted its second official SheJumps event this season. The women of Spokane and Northern Idaho made the drive up to Schweitzer Mountain (near Sandpoint, ID) to shred on their bikes via a private shuttle provided by resort trail-builder and overall rad dude, Mike Kirkpatrick.

Words cannot adequately express or capture the instant comradery and sense of community I feel from this group. Here we have thirty ladies of all backgrounds and skill levels, from age 17 to 40+, wearing tutus and crazy outfits ready to come together to shred down a mountain that 90% of the riders have never ridden before. The eagerness to get started and the anticipation of a great day of fall riding on sweet single track instantly broke the tension of meeting new people. With a common goal of getting after it on our bikes and doing so in the presence of other like-minded ladies these differences simply melted away and became the building blocks that forged new friendships.

I personally ride these Schweitzer trails quite a bit and I am inspired by the jumps, logs, skinnies, and various rock features that these women go after on their very first attempt! With all the shouts of encouragement and whooping as the next rider hits a gap jump with aplomb or navigates a long technical ladder bridge with confidence, nothing seems impossible today and everyone is willing to push it a little further within their own personal level and style of riding.

Don’t get me wrong, we also had our share of phenomenal crashes and bike maintenance issues! But we correspondingly had some tough cookies who walked off their bleeding elbows and skinned up legs as well as some experienced riders willing to help out where needed. The level of stoke that kept building throughout the day concluded in a crescendo of positive vibes and high fives at the end of a very fulfilling ride.

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We finished off our day with some Tachos (tater-tot nachos – shhhh, they’re not on the menu!) at Pucci’s Pub and raffled off nice bike prizes donated by some generous local businesses. After handing out the award and a Girafficorn hat for Best Crash (full on over the handle bars and then walked out of it – yeah Randi!), ladies left the raffle with some new handlebars, pedals, gloves, and more importantly new trail buddies and stories to tell.

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It is a remarkable experience to be part of a group of women with a singular goal: to simply have fun while pushing yourself. The communal energy of a day like today will stay with me for a very long time and inspires me to ride more and push my capabilities with other women who want to do the same. This dynamic is comprehensibly summed up for me by Elena Forchielli in her article Go Ride Bikes with Women: “Good friends make me happy, being happy makes me ride good, and riding good makes me more happy. It’s a fortuitous cycle.”

Anna Twohig

10/13/15

Link to article Go Ride Bikes with Women: http://mtbhome.com/go-ride-bikes-with-women/#more-1187

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