Lady shredding in a male dominated sport: Talking through the challenges

As a lady shredder I recognize that there are difficulties in the mountain bike world for women. I wanted to take a moment to point out some challenges and offer some tips to try to help.


Hoping on a mountain bike can be very intimidating to people of any gender, but can be especially intimidating to under represented groups in the mountain biking world. Questions like, “What if I can’t keep up?” and “What if I’m bad at it?” easily come to mind for new riders who don’t have unlimited amounts self confidence. Even the most confident people can feel self conscious at first. No one wants to be bad, even if they are new.

My tip for new lady riders finding themselves feeling a bit more self conscious than they prefer: remember that everyone was there once. We all had to learn to ride a bike, just like we had to learn to walk. Some people do it later and some earlier. If the people you are riding with can’t respect that you’re learning, then maybe you should find some new riding buddies. Also, don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism. It’s not suppose to hurt your feelings, it’s suppose to aid in your success on the bike.

Another tip I have is to take it easy on yourself. You took the leap to get on a bike. You dared to be a rad chick. You pulled on your helmet, tied up your shoes, and got ready to grind. This is something that a lot of girls would not even think they were capable of. That is something to be proud of.

Finding other ladies to ride with

Since we are an under represented crew in the mountain biking world (up and coming, but still under represented), sometimes it is hard to find other women who love riding as much as you. This has been one of my biggest challenges for the two years I’ve been riding. I have had a hard time getting away from the bro culture and finding ladies that also want to grind. Sure non-drop group rides have other ladies, but I was missing out on finding girls that I could train with. Girls to push my limits with.

My advice for finding other killer riders is to go to races. I met some of my best riding friends because we were always pushing each other during races. By the end of the season this year we were competing with each other, but also we were each others biggest support crews. Another way to find more gals to saddle up with is to expand the range of ages you ride with. Many of the women who have been riding for years (and are maybe a bit older) are screamin’ fast, and they have a lot that they can teach you about technique. You may find that some were even pros back in their prime.

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My wonderful bike friends and I after finishing our XC MTB season at the USAC National Championships. We pushed and supported each other all season, and now we will always be friends.  

The “you’re good for a girl comment”-

My advice to you for this is to reply “no I’m good. period.” You shouldn’t be afraid to call people out for discounting your accomplishments as a female rider.

Sometimes I feel guilty about people talking up my race results. They say, “you won! that’s amazing” and to myself I think, well there was only 4 girls… What I say to these thoughts is, “yes there were only four girls – only four girls who showed up, and only four girls were bold enough to try to race. You beat the other girls in the race, but you also beat every girl that didn’t show up. You need to give yourself the credit” This doesn’t necessarily need to be said out loud, and I don’t want it to come across as arrogant or cocky, but it is something that you can recognize and be proud of.


Joining the fat bike fad

It’s that time of year again- when it’s picturesquely snowing and all the fat bikers take to the trails. Oh what a unique scene; bikes with big bulky tires and joyous bundled up riders trying to shred the latest pow.

Up until this year I hadn’t joined in on the fat bike revolution. I never quite felt the need to N+1 for the winter as I had plenty of other winter sports to participate in. Last week that all changed. I excitedly found myself the proud owner of a new fat bike: the Rocky Mountain Blizzard 30.

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rhythm_houghton photo. Rhythm is the shop in Houghton, Michigan where I bought my new bike. It’s an excellent shop, with excellent service, and excellent people. 

It started with a job offer that would keep me in the Midwest for yet another winter. Against all my previous plans to head out west to the land of snow free single track, I accepted the offer. Don’t get me wrong, I was immediately stoked about the job, and I love the little Midwestern town I get to live in, there was just one problem with the whole picture… I was dreading spending eight long months spinning inside on a gym bike.

This wouldn’t normally be a problem considering that I like to mix it up in the winter with more skiing and rock climbing, however, this winter is different. I have some pretty big race goals in mind for the up coming mountain bike season. I plan on taking training even more seriously than I have the past two years, which means this winter I will need to dedicate more time to building fitness on the bike. Purchasing a fat bike seemed to be the best solution to my spin bike problem.

A good solution it is! The Blizzard 30 is a rad bike. It rides really well up and down hill, and the burly tires that come stock help tremendously with digging into corners. I’ve been out on the trails every day since I bought the bike, and I’m getting excited for more snow and more awesome rides. I love the smell of the winter wind rushing past my face and I enjoy the challenge of trying to climb slippery slopes.

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I think I can get used to the fat life… at least until summer roles around again. Then I’ll be back on my Rocky Mountain Element!!!

Are you planing on riding in a new place? Here’s some tips!

“How do I not get lost when I go somewhere new to ride?”

Don’t worry, you are not alone if you are asking yourself this question. This was a concern of mine when I first moved to Pennsylvania by myself. It was the first place I had to actually plan rides completely on my own. Not only did I have to locate the trail systems, and find a place to park,  but I also had to navigate my way around them. I was pretty terrified of getting lost and never being found again. Before I started riding in new places by myself, all the planning seemed incredibly stressful. It really doesn’t have to be scary if you are prepared! Here are my tips for lone exploration of new trail systems.

When I say big cup of coffee…. I mean it.

Plan Plan Plan. Get yourself a nice big cup of coffee, some good music, and a comfy place to sit – you may be here for a while if the trail system is tricky. Once I am situated- I like to look at a hard copy map of the trail system, and pull up the trails on either Mountain Bike Project or Trail Forks (most bases are covered on one site or the other).  Being familiar with the paper map will be extremely helpful if you get turned around while out on the trail. You can also draw out your route on the map if it is too intricate to easily remember. Carrying a map on the trail is easy, light, and practical, especially if your navigation device (phone or GPS etc.) fails. Its always a good idea to have a backup anyway.

The next step I would take is to download the MTB project or trail forks app to your smart phone if you have one. This will be very helpful when you’re finally out riding,  because your location shows up once you are within the parameters of the trail system. You will be able to double check to make sure you are actually on your determined route. This is especially helpful if the trails are not well marked, or if you don’t have cell phone service, because these apps don’t really require service to find your location.

Some other advice I have is to ask locals. This is very worth your while if you have no idea which trail systems around you fit your riding style. It also pays off to go to your local bike shop if there is one. Those folks will know where the best places to send you are for the type of riding you are looking for (Downhill, XC, etc.) and they might even know some people who would be interested in riding along with you!!

Some last advice I have – If you are really really nervous (like I was), plan out a very simple ride to build confidence. You could ride a trail system close to home, try a simple 2 mile loop, or ride all trails that are a level well in your comfort zone. There is no shame in doing this. Riding should be fun after all, not stressful because you feel pressured to plan the most epic route. Once you are comfortable planning smaller rides, you can build the complexity from there.

Finally……REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT! It will get easier the more times you go through the process. AND – always make sure to tell someone your plan if you are going out alone. This is a precaution I always take just in case I do get myself into some trouble. It is nice to know someone will have your back.

Hope that helps and happy trails,



How to stay fit for biking when winter means 4+ feet of snow!

I live in a place where staying motivated to ride all winter is hard because everything is under 4+ feet of snow for a large portion of the year. If you don’t have a fat bike your choices for riding areas are limited to slippery sidewalks and even more slippery roads. Even though I commute all winter (see this post) I still feel the need to get real training ride / alternative workouts in. These alternatives have worked great for me, and they keep winter fun. I hope you’ll try some of them this coming winter!

I’ll get the obvious out of the way first. I do try to go to the gym to ride a spin bike or trainer a few times a week. I feel this helps me keep base fitness and strength. However, if you have ever ridden a spin bike, you know this can get real old real quick. I also feel like a part of my day is missing if I don’t go out and enjoy the outdoors, so I supplement bike workouts with outdoor winter activities.

I like snowshoe, Nordic ski, and downhill ski – All three of these activities work a variety of muscles and keep the winter months exciting. I like to go out for more leisurely snowshoes to enjoy nice snowy days, but running with them is also an option. You will surely get in a great workout if you try a snowshoe run!


I enjoy 2 types of Nordic skiing – classic and skate. Having two styles to do keeps it fresh. When I’m bored with one I can simply switch to the other. Switching it up will also use different muscle groups which is great for being a well rounded athlete. When both of these become tiresome, I can always fall back on downhill skiing for a good time. All three of these winter activities are great to do with friends too! BONUS.

When I do truly want to stay inside for a day because it is blizzarding or just plain frigid I switch it up even more. Sometimes its simply nice to go run on an indoor track, so I’ll do that, or I will go to my schools indoor climbing gym. Climbing is low impact and it helps to build strength in you legs, core, back, arms, and it improves your overall structural stability – all things great for being solid on your bike!

At the climbing wall at my college

I hope this gives you a few ideas for what to do when the snow starts to fly!

Happy alternative trails,


The quest for people to ride with-Pt. 2: My first Pennsylvania Group Ride

My first group ride with LHORBA was an excellent experience! I met some rad (and very kind) people who were excited for me to join in on the fun of riding at a beautiful place in the Gallitzin State Forest called Buffalo Road  (link to our route)  This area was great for me to warm up to riding in PA. It wasn’t very technically difficult (except one expert DH trail we descended) and it had plenty of climbing to build up some endurance. We did a nice 18 mile ride that ascended about 2500 vertical feet. It was filled with great views, some fun switchback climbing, and many different scenery changes – from valley streams to mountain tops and everything in between – it was all there.

Scenic Lookout from Buffalo Road (Photo by Mark Wood)

I enjoyed this group ride so much that I went to the next one the following week. This time we road a totally different style trail at Laurel Mountain State Park (link to our route).  Here there was a fair amount of climbing but the biggest change was the abundance of technical riding. The trails we rode were littered with fun and challenging rock features which gave the ride a totally different feel compared to the first one. We focused on finesse over the rocks instead of speed, covering 10 miles and 681 vertical feet in about 2 hours. This ride was great because we stopped to project some of the more difficult features. The nature of the trails and wisdom of the group members allowed me to learn a lot about attacking difficult rocky trail sections.

Mark W. Sending it off one of the rock features! Way to go Mark! #toofastformyphonecamera

So far finding biking buds in a new place has been a success. It was slow to start, but with a little initiative and desire to find some pals to get sendy with, I have found my crew… oh yeah – and I can’t forget about Misty the trail pup.

Misty and the LHORBA Gang at Laurel Mountain State Park. (Photo by Rich Mahler)

LHORBA is GREAT and I can’t wait for my third group ride next week!

Happy Trails,


Going Further West: Oregon Mountain Biking

As soon as I left Montana (See my post: USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals: Missoula Montana) I was craving to be back in the mountains, so I planned a trip out to Oregon to visit my boyfriend Eric and his family for the new year. We planned to hit up a few trail systems while I was there and hike at some amazing places on rest days. This was my first time west of Montana, so there were a lot of amazing sites for me to see. Plus, it was a great get a way from Michigan winter.

When I arrived in the Portland Airport it was rainy, but I wasn’t about to be bothered. The 50 degree temperature and greeness everywhere was absolutely incredible compared to the Midwest US! I also could not stop geeking out about the HUGE trees.

The first day of riding was at Alsea Falls Trails System. Here we did two laps of the same loop. We took Mainline trail up to Dutchman trail and then descended on Highballer to Springboard. The climb was mostly gravel road with varying grades from 4% to 36%, and the descent was a well built flow trail.


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This was a great place for a first day of riding. It wasn’t too technically difficult, so it allowed me to get warmed up to riding again, and gave me a feel for the bike I was borrowing from my boyfriends mom (Thanks Jane). On our second lap we followed the exact same course, but the weather made for some extra excitement when it started down pouring.

Our next adventure lead us to Silver Falls State Park, a hiking spot featuring water falls – and a lot of them. I would highly recommend this area for a rest day (the hike was about 10 miles but it was not super strenuous).



The next trail system that we hit up was the McDonald Forest near Oregon State University. The five mile gravel climb to start out the ride was well worth the view at McCulloch Peak (the top of the trails).  I was really glad to have a tour guide for this system, because there was not much for trail markings. We rode two trails called Tin Can Alley and Lupine Letdown for our descent. This is a super fun area to go to. The descents of the trails are steep and can be slippery in places, but they are great fun if you are prepared for the conditions. These trails will keep you on your toes in the best way!


We did another day of hiking during my trip, because there is a must see spot called Mary’s Peak. It is the highest peak in the Oregon coast range, and from it we could see for miles into the surrounding hills and mountains. The hike to the top is a multi hour effort, and hikers should be prepared with snacks and plenty of water. It starts down inside a forest and ends way up in a field (there was even snow when we got to the top).


The last place we road for the week was Black Rock MTB Trails. This is the place to go if you are into free riding. The many features and trails of this MTB area vary in size and difficulty. At Black Rock you will find table top and gap jumps, drops, steep downhill sections, many wooden features, and so much more. There is a gravel climb that will take you all the way to the top, and it is up to you to decide how to get down. These trails are for riders who have a solid base in technical single track, as they have many rocks and roots to maneuver through. There is also a really great practice area at the bottom of the mountain for building confidence on trail features. Riding here was a great way to sum up my adventure to Oregon.

Black Rock Mountain Bicycling Association

I hope you enjoyed seeing my journey, and will ride these sweet trails!! I will definitely be back to ride in Oregon some day!

Until then – Happy Trails,






Tips for living in a new area and trying to find people to ride with (Pt. 1)

I recently moved out to Pennsylvania for the summer, and I found myself desperate for some people to ride with. Not knowing where to look for great trails to ride I was feeling a bit lost, so I turned to the web. I found some local trail systems on MTB Project, which was quite helpful with information and trail ratings, but I still didn’t have any people for  trail company. Riding alone can be fun, but some of my most favorite rides happen with groups, and its a good way to meet new friends. Also, there is safety in numbers – especially when you are in a new and unfamiliar area!

Finding a group to ride with on google initially showed potential, but after a great deal of deciphering what groups were actually close enough to ride with – I was still coming up quite empty handed. I eventually had the best luck when I did a “bike groups near me” Facebook search. Through this search the bike crews in my area were listed and I was able to figure out which was the closest. Luckily for me! I found a group that I am very excited about, Laurel Highlands On & Off Road Bicycling Association. I liked the page, and sent a message to the administrators about joining. They  allowed me to make a post to attempt to connect with some new people! Score.

Pretty immediately after reaching out I heard back from the vice president of the club offering to show me some trails. Our timelines for the day didn’t line up, but we were able to chat on the phone so I could get some info on where to bike near me, and when the next group ride would be. I tested out one trail system that they mentioned called, OMNI Bedford Springs, located in the Evitts Mountains of Bedford, PA. This was a fun place with a variety of trails for all levels.


The group leaders have been very welcoming and easy to contact which also helps with connecting with the group. I’m excited to go ride with them in a couple days at a place called, Buffalo Road, which is located in Gallitzin National Forest – Babcock Division,  without the group, I’m not sure if I would have the courage to venture out to these trails by myself. It will be great to have some experienced tour guides, and great company!

One other step I took was to find a local bike shop near me. Luckily there is one about 8 miles from where I’m staying for the summer. The shop, Fat Jimmy’s Outfitters, will be a great place for me to go to get bike parts and accessories necessary for hitting up the trails! Bike shops are also a great place to get knowledge on the local trails that are must rides!

I’ll keep in touch on how my pursuit for summer biking pals works out!

Happy trails!