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It is an incredible feeling to be so excited to sit down and put into words how an event made such a positive impact in the lives of so many women this weekend. The Wheel Mill, located in Pittsburgh, PA, brought together an amazing group of six coaches for the Ride Like a Girl Women’s Weekend, January 7-8.
The Ride Like A Girl Weekend was developed to help women and girls become comfortable in the park and, more importantly, better educated about the fundamentals of riding a bike. By closing the park to the public, the coaches were able to split participants into small groups to work on a variety of skills, free of distractions and in a supportive environment. Small groups let the coaches see that “ah hah” moment in each student’s face!
Each day was structured to make the best use of the time. Fundamentals came first, to get everyone warmed up and on the same page with the building blocks of bike and body positioning. Next came two sessions focusing on different skills relevant to both mountain bike and BMX riding. Our morning sessions included Bike Handling, Balance, Cornering, Introduction to Pumping, and Jumping. Our afternoon sessions took skills to the next level, with Lifts and Logs, Drops and Rises, Line Choice, Advanced Cornering, Pumping, Jumping in the Woods Room, and shredding the Park Room.
Between sessions, all of the ladies were treated to a delicious catered lunch thanks to Nick at Fischer Nutrition. He closed our lunch break with a talk about nutrition and answered interesting questions.
Once the lessons were over the coaches spread out into six different areas of the park for the Challenge Hour, an opportunity for the ladies to show off what they learned. It was fun to hear the roar and screams coming from each room as riders accomplished challenges in different areas of the park!
Coach Kathi had the ladies in the beginner jump line getting rad and forming endless lady trains. Some worked on rolling through the line and others showed Kathi their sweet new jumping skills and tricks.
Coach Karen challenged the ladies to do the whole pump track without pedaling, to manual sections, or to try riding the pump track for the first time. Warning: it’s addictive!
Coach Nina brought the stoke by having the ladies conquer the legendary The Woods Jump Room. While some were working on getting through for the first time, others were working on throwing tricks and blasting jumps.
Coach Carley set up a bunny hop bar on the resi ramp and pushed the girls to improve their jump skills. Each time they cleared the bar, it continued to rise until there were no more pegs for the girls and all that was left was to jump over Carley.
Coach Hillary invited the girls to test their balance skills on the skinnies, then build up enough confidence to try the skinny foam pit. The highlight of some riders’ weekends was getting over the fear of trying that technical MTB room.
Coach Cory motivated ladies to take the plunge into the foam pit for the ultimate challenge of the day. Dropping into a 10-foot roll-in and then hitting a 4-foot lip into a pool of foam had ladies scared at first, but stoked as they threw their hands into the air once they landed.
If you are reading this feeling like you missed out on a coaching experience of a lifetime — you should trust your instincts! This weekend inspired, motivated, and educated ladies from all cycling disciplines. We redesigned this year’s event based on the feedback given to us last year: ladies asked for fewer riders, more personal instruction, and to have the park closed for more comfort. As the ladies were leaving the park with their goodie bags, challenge prizes, and brains full of six hours of education each day, they all agreed that this years event was the best yet.
Photos from the weekend were provided by The Wheel Mill staff Michael Potoczny and Chris Squier. We also had a passionate father by the name of James Pennucci who captured some amazing moments throughout the weekend — his photos are available for purchase. Please visit his Facebook page to view (Day 1 & Day 2). James was kind enough to put this rad video of the girls together — please check it out on the Ride Like A Girl YouTube Channel.
ABOUT THE COACHES
We would also like to thank Hannah Roberts for coming out to be a guest coach and build the stoke of the more advanced girls. Hannah Roberts is the first UCI Women’s BMX Freestyle Park World Cup Title winner. While some were conquering fears of just trying new things, girls like Hannah were getting riders to throw barspins and try backflips and tailwhips into the foam pit.
We would like to thank The Wheel Mill for being supportive of women on bikes by closing the park to the general public on a busy weekend. Thanks to Harry Geyer and Michael Potoczny for their efforts to make the Ride Like A Girl Weekend a successful event. Thanks to all of our sponsors who helped market and promote, and who donated prizes and cash. Without a strong support system events like this are not possible. Sponsors include: The Wheel Mill, Ride Like A Girl, Aero Tech Designs, G-Form, Ink Division, Shadow Conspiracy, Subrosa, Dan’s Comp, Over The Bar Cafe, Fischer Nutrition, Profile Racing, Spawn Cycles, Jaunt, Pro Bikes, Fox Head Inc., Empire, Dirt Rag, Answer BMX, The Herbal Athlete.