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Pro female instructors prompt Babes on bikes

Shauna Farnell

BRECKENRIDGE – Most people in the mountain biking industry would agree that the sport is one of striking male domination. But there are a few local pros who would like to even up the score.

Beginning this weekend, Babes in the Backcountry and Great Adventure Sports in Breckenridge are teaming up for a series of women’s mountain bike clinics to encourage more women to grow to love riding on dirt.

“Mountain biking is one of those sports that, if you don’t have some of those core (techniques) to think about, it can be really frustrating,” said Leslie Ross, founder of Babes in the Backcountry. “You can easily be like, “Oh God, I don’t want to do this anymore.’ For I while, I was hating mountain biking. It wasn’t until I had a group of friends to push it along that I really got into it. It’s nice to learn from women because we’ve all been through the process.”

The first of the series of clinics is 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and geared toward beginner to intermediate riders. The emphasis will be single-track riding, and the clinic will begin with skill demonstration in the morning, followed by a two-hour afternoon ride and a discussion on bike maintenance – changing flat tires, adjusting brakes, etc.

“It definitely helps to see other people do things first,” Ross said. “If you ride by yourself, sometimes you can come across an area of the trail and think, “I don’t think I can make that.’ If you see someone else ride it, you’ll be encouraged. I just want to get more people comfortable with mountain biking. There’s a lot of women who want to share what they know with other women.”

Instructors for the clinic will include local top female pro riders Monique Merrill, Heidi Anderson, Kelly Anthony and Kristen Downs. A voucher to enter one of the local Summit Mountain Challenge mountain bike races will also be included in Saturday’s clinic, and provide another opportunity for women to shorten their learning curve for mountain biking.

“Racing has really evolved for women,” Ross said. “I started about five years ago because my boyfriend at the time raced and said, “Come watch.’ Well, I’m not a very good spectator, so I decided to try one myself. It’s really helped my biking a lot and improved my technical skills. It’s a great supportive network. It helps boost your confidence.”

Although more women are getting involved in mountain bike racing, the gap between women and men participants is still wide. And, it is rare that women are ever found working in a bike shop.

“We like the idea of getting more female athletes into cycling,” said Chris Hart of Great Adventure, where the Babes clinics will take place. “Industry studies have shown that a lot of female (mountain bikers) get disappointed in the sport when they first get started. It’s a very male-dominated sport and a male-dominated industry. We always joke around here that when you walk into a bike shop, everything is all glitzed up – you have all your full-suspensions and your titanium stuff. For me, it can be intimidating at times. We want to make it really simple and enjoyable for everyone.”

Babes in the Backcountry mountain bike clinics:

9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Great Adventure Sports in Breck – Beginner-intermediate skills workshop, two-hour ride and tech talk. Cost is $70 per woman and includes a Clif Bar T-shirt, water bottle, SMC race entry, and Patagonia and Great Adventure discounts. Pre-registration is required by calling (970) 453-4060.

July 25 and Aug. 22 at Great Adventure – Three-hour clinic and tech talk for the seasoned rider. $30, or $10 for just the tech talk. For more information, call (970) 453-4060 or visit babesinthebackcountry.com.

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at sfarnell@summitdaily.com.


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