Mountain biking is my favorite way to pass the time until the snow falls. Despite the many miles on my cross-country bike, I’ve never been on a downhill bike, nor have I ridden at Northstar California’s mountain bike park. I left that to my boyfriend and his group of friends, adrenaline loving guys who had learned to repress their self-preservation instincts and fear of heights, big rocks, and potential injury.
So the opportunity to ride with other women, on downhill bikes, in a much less testosterone fueled environment appealed to me. Enter Pumps on Pedals, a new weekly event designed for women mountain bike riders of any skill level to hone their technique. For two hours every Friday evening through Labor Day, women ride together and receive free instruction from some awesome (often female) bike coaches. It sounded much more inviting than tagging along with a group of guys, and I figured I would learn some skills and see if I could manage any of Northstar’s trails. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with downhill mountain biking.
I’ve taken a lot of ski lessons in my lifetime, but not much in the way of mountain bike clinics. The bigger, beefier bike and the decidedly advanced trails were daunting. The coaches in my intermediate lesson demystified techniques related to braking, jumping, and descending steep terrain well outside my comfort zone. And riding with a group of fellow women mountain bikers made for a fun, motivational, and supportive environment.
I didn’t expect to catch baby air off a jump and ride a steep wood feature the first time out. But I did – and loved everything about it, from the rush of adrenaline (and the small scream I maybe let out) to the feeling of success you get from pushing yourself to try something new and more than a bit scary.
I’m hooked. Suffice to say, I’m already planning to return for a few more Friday evening rides at Northstar. And you should too.
If you go:
Pumps on Pedals
The group meets every Friday (through September 4) at 4:45 p.m. at the bottom of the Big Springs Gondola. From 5 – 7 p.m. there is a group downhill bike ride that’s broken down into various abilities. After, the Pumps on Pedals group is invited to head over to the bike wash for an après Bikes & Brews social hour until 8 p.m., where they can enjoy $3 Bud Lite and chicken wings specials.
Tickets, Rentals & Supplies
Women interested in joining Pumps on Pedals should wear comfortable sneakers and active wear. Water fountains and sunscreen are available at the top of the Big Springs Gondola. Downhill mountain bikes, protective padding, and helmet rentals are available for $30 and all instruction is free of charge. Lift tickets for Pumps on Pedals are $25, valid until 7 p.m. each Friday and available in the Tickets & Season Pass Office from 4:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. or at the Rental Shop in The Village at Northstar after 5 p.m. Women looking to rent should arrive at 4:15 p.m. to be outfitted with all the necessary gear before heading to the gondola at 4:45 p.m.
Photos: Northstar California Resort
Posted by Jenn Gleckman