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Trip report - Tough girls in dirt, MI
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“Sass was at my door 7:15 Monday with travel mug in hand as requested. After fumblings on my end we hit the road for Yankee Springs State Rec area near Grand Rapids, MI for our long awaited all women's mountain biking weekend. The drive seemed to fly by as we discussed our apprehensions as relatively new biker chics.
Upon our early arrival, we checked in with the hotel but couldn't take posession of our room until 2:30. So out for an adventure to find the nearest good coffee and back to meet the other women in a conference room. It turns out that 80% of these women are mountain bike racers. Oooops, but there are a few of us with relatively little experience and the Pro's that were running the show were so super nice that we all felt at home. After several hours of meet and greets, goal setting and general technical discussion (all geared toward racing) we had a nice healthy lunch and loaded up to go hit the trail. 12 miles of single track. This was intended to be the pre-ride to a time trial the following day. The weather was holding at about 80 with sunny skies and no sign of letting up.
The first 2-3 miles were nice and rolling everyone gaining confidence. The group broke in to beginners and advanced. Sass and I safely in the beginner group we really enjoyed that first couple of miles. Then everything got dicey. You know this when you see the caution signs with that little guy falling off his bike. Steep downhills with obstacls, tight turns and sandy uphills with bikers stopping/falling in front of you. We all learned to give extra clearance. (it was encouraging to me as a beginner to see these veterans having some of the same troubles as well as huffing and puffing) After several miles of what I later found out was deemed intermediate to advanced trail (Sass I looked it up in my mountain biking trail book) we came upon some relief. We had stopped so many times that some were short on water and we had to call and delay dinner reservations. (Sass and I had plenty of water
Sass is the toughest woman I know. 2 tumbles and a slipped chain times five and she arrived back at the trailhead in front of the remaining beginner group. Dang fantastic for being on her bike only a handful of time, and only once on a trail. (one of the women impaled her stomach on a branch, "good thing for the extra padding," she said)
We cleaned up and nursed our bruises, scrapes and swellings, dressed and went out to dinner for a "pre-race" meal. Sass and I had a wonderful greek chicken pasta. Yum. Then back to the hotel for an early night.
Up early (my fault, sorry Sass)and I was still deciding whether to ride the time trial due to a nagging swollen ankle and upcoming adventure race commitments. Sass due to a 1/2 marathon coming up next weekend. In the end we decided not to risk injuries that would conflict with previous goals we went to the trail to cheer on our compadres, bask in the glorious weather and drink Dark Horse Brews(a sponsor of our clinic) with the pros til it was time to drive home. Don't worry it was only two brews.
All was seemingly well until my bike just about fell off the rack on the back of my car! Hanging by the lock we pulled off the freeway twice to reattach the straps. Need more bungies! Home again in the late afternoon we determined that many lessons and skills had been learned. Friends were made and fun was had. A demented torturous type of fun, but we are "Girls with Bikes"
I'm not sure what Sass feels like this morning but I did an easy ride upon getting home last night, iced the ankle and planned out 3 mountain bike races to prepare for this summer!”
“that sounds cool dhutch.
I just got the first "mountain" bike I've ever owned but have yet to put it on a trail, maybe this next weekend - theres some trails close to me I should check out, need a couple of confidence builders for my old butt.”
“Oops, Monday I said the adventure started, it was Saturday. I've got Monday :-( on the brain today.”
“you GO grrrrlz! :-D mountain biking is my idea of pure hell, but i've gotta give you props.”
“Sounds like a cool race! Lyra's idea of pure hell? Ha! I pictured something a little different.”
“I'm with you, aero.
I would have pictured something involving wicked monkeys.”
“mtn biking, wicked monkeys, and no TT. :-)”
“well, i like mountain biking if it doesn't involve steep cliffs, big rocks and roots, and all that crapola. i went on a ride on a dirt trail yesterday that was by the C&O Canal (aka nice and flat, LOL!), so maybe that counts as mountain biking? hee hee. it was ON a mountain bike...”
“The C&O Canal can be a zoo on warm weekends.”
“we drove way out into the middle of nowhere (Darnestown) and got on the trail there! boo ya. it was practically deserted.”
You go girls!!!
“Very cool. Sounds like 'fun' and sounds like you guys made good decisions where previous injuries and future bike plans are concerned.”
You Go Tough Girls!
“We were too busy trying to survive to take pictures but were promised some by the orangizers. Will try to post when they are received. If our hair looks good :-)”
“Oh come on! You two cuties couldn't make a bad pix.”
“Sounds like you two had fun. It's not a mountain bike ride until somebody bleeds or someone cries. Have fun with your new adventures!
Lyra...canal trails...aren't they around flat terrain? Not really mountain biking, even though you are on a mountain bike.”
“FINE then, skiracer.
“i think that's awesome! Not sure if I am brave enough to get my butt on a bike. Thought about it, because I have a local bike trail that would really be great for it, but I don't think it'll will happen.
Pictures! We want pictures!!”
“Riding a bike in the flats ain't so easy.
There is almost no coasting and you must peddle constantly.
Go lyra, Go!”
“nah, it's easy, i'm a baby. :-D”
“I know riding with others helps build the skill level... perhaps also the overconfidence level. LOL, speaking for myself here.
Been riding mt. bikes since the early 80s. Went from novice to a low-grade intermediate and now back to novice again. Never did like the scary downhills (too scared of crashing)... too pooped to do the big uphills. I do recall biking with some others where I was gonna get ditched if I got off my bike for all little, minor dropoffs. So I did them. lol
Now I like singletrack with little, minor hairy stuff... small logs... double track... and I love stream crossings. One time I was doing one, had to put my foot down and disturbed a trout. That was cool!
I did f*** up my back on a spill over the bars once. Still bothers on occasion, sometimes when backpacking. That's the kinda thing that always made me think twice about going wild on the bike (well, that and I was chicken. Maybe it was the chicken manifestation that caused the wreck? mebbee... more likely stupidity and locking the front brake! lol)
So are you gals gonna race? More power to ya, if ya do. I've always admired woman mountain bikers. Marla Streb comes to mind, although I know she's had tons of injuries (as well as the really hot cover on some mag a couple years ago. LOL! got the guys talking)”
“Don't worry, lyra. Riding a mountain bike on flat trails is better than not riding at all.”
“I dated a mountain biker for a long time. She's a die-hard: she would ride even in the dead of WINTER! UGH! I was supportive of her efforts, and was her biggest fan. she often won trophies and plaques for her rides. there was even a time when she rode with a team, and did it in intervals for 24hours! i was the cook for everyone... but still had fun watching them ride. It's not easy, riding some of those trails. on more than one occasion, i had to fix up her boo-boo's, due to falling down the side of a steep hill/cliff! we parted ways, but i hear she's still riding!
i give you ladies credit! i KNOW it's not easy riding those trails! I've seen what damage they can do to a person, too! Congrats for all that you accomplished!
i'm about to get out there soon, myself. just changed my tubes and tires yesterday, as a matter of fact! looking forward to hitting some EASY trails first... might consider working up to something harder later in the year. we'll see!
“What a weekend! Dhutch wore me out, lol. That woman goes!
The conference was awesome. I learned so much and feel so much more confident on my bike now. Especially finding out that trail was intermediate/advanced!
My first crash was a good one, hit some sand wrong on a downhill and endoed. Landed on my shoulder and head. I remember thinking "wow, Birch was right, you do just let go of your bike and fly away from it". the second crash was a baddy. I somehow caught a small tree, got my front tire around it, my knee behind it and my bike frame behind my knee. It was an extremely tight fit, hurt like hell and I have a lovely black and blue leg now. Thank goodness someone was there to untangle me, I thing if I'd have fallen over it might have broken my leg. The best thing about the falls is that I had a few and I survived. I probably won't have another as bad as the tree tangle and endos aren't too horrible, almost fun for a few seconds, (you feel so weightless floating through the air, lol).
Dhutch is way too modest about her abilities, she was up there with the better group. I got one on one advice from one of the pros for much of the day, which was way cool. I learned soooo much. The second half of the course I got away from the group and was much more successful without people stopping halfway up hills in front of me, or falling etc.
It really was a blast, all sorts of women were there but almost all of them were great people and really helpful. I think the clinic was the best birthday present I've had in a long, long time! Thanks Dhutch!!”
“Great reports Dhutch and Sass, glad you ladies had a great time and no one got hurt.”
“Oh, we hurt a bit, just not hospitalized. But we're just that tough, lol. ;-D”
You go, Girls!
“I'm very impressed. What a great weekend you had!”
“You go girls!
Riding singletrack in the forest is one of most fun things I've done in the outdoors. Like lizs, I got into MBing in the 80s and actually had myself in decent shape at one point. Unfortunately my wrists just can't take the abuse anymore. Reino was always much more fearless on the trails than I was -- she said bombing through the trees was just like skiing slalom. So it was a natch for her to enter some MB races in the U.P. and here in northern WI, just like her ski racing days.
We're more rails-to-trails now, although even that gets my wrists aching.”
“sounds like a bear of a time, Kudos to you both! Yo bear!”
“Sounds like a great time!!
Thanks for the report!!”
No Matter What Kind Of Bike They Ride...
“Biker chicks are hot.”
“Sass failed to mention that there were turkey vultures watching her as she road.
I am so proud of Sass! She has spent more time on bike this year than all the 16 years we've known one another. She's got some guts.
Kudos to you DHutch! Thanks again for providing the opportunity for Sass!!!! You rock!”
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