CYCLING: Cyclists improve skills, find support at local clinic
Special to The Union
Men have historically dominated the world of biking, especially mountain biking. But in the past decades, more and more adventurous women have taken up the sport, becoming riders and racers alike, showing the world that cycling is not a one-gendered sport. From casual riders to weekend warriors to hard-core racers, women have made their mark on this exciting sport, changing the male dominated industry for the better.
And the world is listening — the bike industry has developed women specific frames, clothing styles and componentry. Women-only riding clinics and support groups are popping up right and left. And more opportunities are available for the new riders to be safely and joyously introduced to this exciting sport.
New riders are introduced to an expansive support group that helps teach them how to ride and encourages them in — whatever level they are on. The Nevada City Women’s Biking Clinic is one of those support groups. Started in 2015, the Women’s Biking Clinic is one of many women-only cycling clinics in the United States.
“(The clinic is dedicated) to giving women the opportunity to improve their riding technique and enjoy the single track experience more,” said Jet Lowe, founder of the Women’s Biking Clinic, Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County and Bicyclists of Nevada County (both Nevada County non-profit bicyclist clubs).
The clinic recently wrapped up its second annual event. Held at the Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, the clinic was taught by instructors Paige Ramsey, Asa Shoemaker, and Yvette Crockell. The clinic focused on basic skills like learning to handle the bikes on flats, downhills and rocky sections, and being able to “bunny-hop” over obstacles. In addition, more advanced riders were given the opportunity to expand their skills and abilities by riding through technical sections.
“I (learned to) confidently take on and go over a large boulder with the correct form,” said Shannon Lozano, one of the participants. “I also was pleased to learn what I was doing right while turning and how to improve my riding stance.”
Twenty-nine riders attended the clinic — a large amount considering the clinic is only in its second year. Despite its youth, however, instructors and participants alike have praised the clinic for its friendly, supportive, and playful atmosphere. In fact, the clinic was so successful in 2015 that some of the women drove several hours to attend it this year.
“I enjoyed the open, welcoming environment that the instructors and helpers created,” says Lozano. “I don’t think anyone felt out of place or uncomfortable. And, our instructors really knew their stuff.”
The instructors were all extremely helpful and kind in their lessons, working with each rider’s ability level and personal riding goals. When one of the riders flew over her handlebars in the bunnyhop drills, Paige Ramsey, the main teacher, helped her to her feet and then corrected her form.
“I love bringing women who have never ridden or those who are looking to improve and want to experience the independence of mountain biking together,” said Ramsey, who has been teaching cycling skills for about 15 years. This is her second year teaching at the clinic and she enjoys helping the broad variety of riders attending.
Assisting with clinic for her second year was rider Yvette Crockell, who coached the NorCal Cycling Development Team, Sacramento, for three years.
“My favorite part of the clinic was the camaraderie, getting to know everyone, and of course, seeing people get more comfortable on their bikes,” said Crockell.
She and Ramsey were two of the three head coaches and were praised for being amiable but very educational.
In between coaching sessions, the riders were able to hang around the Inn Town Campground, walk through the beautiful field they practiced in, or eat some of the food that was cooked for them by Lowe. There were also many post-skills training festivities, including group discussions, photos, and bonding moments.
Although the clinic ended after three days, the riders all became comfortable enough to translate the skills they learned in the clinic onto the trails. Lowe, Ramsey, and Crockell all marveled at how quickly the women’s sport was growing, and how popular their clinic had become. They added they hoped that when October rolls around in 2017, riders both new and old will attend the clinic and learn new skills, helping raise to raise the sport to new heights.
Mina Ricci is a member of the Nevada Union Mountain Bike Club and a Nevada County resident. She is a regular contributor to The Union.
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