Yukon Dirt Girls Run For the Hills

The first thing we did was introduce our bikes.

My favourite bike name was “Flipper”, so named because she likes to “flip her rider” on a regular basis.

Mine is named after my favourite super hero, Xena. Flipper’s owner wants to change that name, I just want mine to encourage my inner warrior princess and not be terrified riding down scary hills.

I saw the poster last Thursday while getting a coffee at Starbucks. Yukon Dirt Girls is a group dedicated to girls riding mountain bikes.

I checked out its website and found out that “girls” referred to women of any age and found that an introductory mountain biking clinic for adult girls, like me, was scheduled to start Friday evening.

After introductions, our instructors, Sue, Jane and Heather, had us on our bikes. We had a slow race to learn about balance – the last one to cross the finish line wins.

We practised riding using the “cone of balance”, moving our bodies forward, back, left and right of our pedals. We learned the names of all the parts of the bike and how the physics of gears work.

Before going home, we went on a short ride through Takhini North practising changing gears with the ups and downs of the terrain – a kind of follow the leader game.

You know, I’ve ridden a geared bike for several years now, and the geared mountain bike for a season. I can change gears, no problem. Why is it then, when someone explains the technical aspect of how they work I can’t figure them out?

I am reminded of a poem I learned as a kid:

The centipede was happy quite

until a frog in fun,

said “Pray, which leg comes after which?”

This raised his mind to such a pitch

he lay distracted in the ditch

not knowing how to run.

A couple of times, I mistakenly hammered the brake when I was trying to change gears. The Dirt Girl on my tail wisely decided to ride ahead to avoid any further risk of rear ending me.

On Saturday, we all met at Grey Mountain Primary for easy access to the Riverdale Trails.

The morning was spent on skills and drills. We learned stances for hill climbing and hill descents and proper braking techniques. I actually used my front brakes for the first time ever – that is except for Friday night when I mistook them for my gear changer.

In the afternoon, we went for a ride in the hills behind Riverdale. I said hills. The group split up into the hard core and daring … and the almost daring. All had a good workout and a lot of fun. For every hill you power up, you get a joy ride down.

Sunday, everyone learned how to corner and do front wheel lifts. I missed that, but Dirt Girls ride every Tuesday night so maybe I’ll catch up later.

With my new skills, I’m already approaching hills (up and down) with more confidence and, even better, less fear. That means way more fun riding and that’s what it’s really all about.

You can find out more about Yukon Dirt Girls and Junior Dirt Girls at www.groups.google.com/group/yukondirtgirls.

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