A global health crisis, stay-at-home orders, trail closures and social distancing, an overwhelming list of (valid) reasons for not taking part in this year’s International Women’s Mountain Biking Day. While we can’t participate in the group rides and events that traditionally mark the day’s celebrations, we can take time to reflect and share what we love about our chosen sport.
We invite you to connect with us and share your mountain biking story. How does riding your bike make you feel? Who inspires you? How do you overcome your fear? We want to hear from you. We’ll start off a month-long celebration of Women & Mountain Biking by sharing this guest blog from a group of stellar women who ride in Orange County, California.
Submit your stories, with a picture or two, via email: kristine.mccormick@IMBA.com. Please note that your submission gives us permission to share with our audience online. On May 31, 2020 we’ll randomly select three people who’ve shared stories with us to receive a sweet Hydro Flask hydration pack.
Trail Angels, a women’s mountain biking group in Orange County, California, is fortunate to have wonderful parks and trails close to home. We just celebrated our 20th year of encouraging women to step out of their comfort zones and experience the joy of nature, community, and comradery, while growing spiritually and physically, both on and off the bike. We certainly are appreciating the trails close to home during this Covid virus “Stay-at-home” period. Many of us are able to get out for a solo ride or ride with a family member at parks nearby and it has been a needed mental and physical outlet. We had to cancel/reschedule our annual Courageous Women of Dirt ride/clinic planned for May 9th at a local park. This makes us appreciate connecting on the bike for health and wellness and support of each other even more.
Our website (www.trailangels.com) allows us to post group rides, clinics, trail work and social events and have the ladies sign up to participate. We group by skill level, provide a lead and sweep, provide guidance/support and of course, “no one left behind." We have wonderful local parks (Aliso Woods, Laguna Wilderness, Whiting Ranch, Santiago Oaks, O’Neil, Caspers, San Clemente STs) as well as trails in the local coastal mountains including Saddleback and Cleveland National Forest. Fortunately, we can pick various trails for ride difficulty and distance.
But the group is so much more than a biking community. We provide encouragement and support in everyday living. Jacke Van Woerkom, one of the group’s four founders, has said, “we met on the bike but it is so much more than just the bike. We have made lasting friendships and support with the ups and downs of life. We pray for the group and each other before every ride.” We are Christian-based but everyone is welcome to ride and join in the fun.
Chris Taylor is one of the current leaders of the Trail Angels. This group has brought women together that are life time friends. We love the trails out our back doors and also organize trips to northern California, Arizona, Utah and Colorado to experience new dirt. Chris tries to lead or participate in a ride each week (except during the “Stay-at-home” period). Working with the beginners is fulfilling to see them grow and improve. It is wonderful to have this organization to allow women to leave family/other concerns for a while and play and laugh like a kid.
Jan Huculak, a group member and leader, feels mountain biking with the Trail Angels has given her confidence to take on technical downhill singletrack, ride harder uphill and ride longer trails. She loves meeting like-minded ladies that enjoy the outdoors, like to challenge themselves, and have fun. Through the Trail Angels, she has met those enthusiastic riders who like to encourage each other through difficult and sometimes scary trail features, as well as the ups and downs of everyday life.
Jody Marcon says “Trail Angels is an incredible network of crazy outdoor women like me. Living in southern California, I thought something was wrong with me. Was I the only woman who wanted to get out there and get muddy? Was I the only one who still wanted to exercise hard and be out in nature as much as possible? Clearly, something was wrong with me... until I met the Trail Angels. Here was a group of similar, crazy women who enjoy the physical challenge, the social hysterics, and the freedom of nature as much as I! Hallelujah! We have been mountain biking together for 20 years. We have worked through parenting, divorce, caring for parents, mountain lion attacks, and death... all while riding our bikes. It truly is dirt therapy! These connections run deep, and for them we are thankful.”
Trail Angels is partnered with a local bike shop, Rock n Road, which helps with clinics and gear. All our event proceeds go to Project Bike Love (projectbikelove.org) supporting women in need around the world through bikes.
Trail Angels is proud to provide tools, encouragement and support that are necessary to handle most technical situations and to help ladies have fun and feel more confident on the bike and out in their world while supporting and loving our local trails.