— by Susie Murphy, Executive Director of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association
What is purple, has over 300 participants, over 100 bike demos, and has invaded Malibu Creek State Park for the last three years?
Why, it’s Rocktober and Girlz Gone Riding! This event is organized and promoted by the dynamic Wendy Engelberg, who is also a board member of CORBA (Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association) in Los Angeles. Wendy founded Girlz Gone Riding, a women’s mountain biking group, five years ago which has since grown to include an Inland Empire and a San Diego Chapter. These three chapters have amassed a following of over 1300 women who ride mountain bikes in and around Southern California. Girlz Gone Riding is closely connected with each respective IMBA chapter, CORBA, SDMBA (San Diego Mountain Biking Association), and IVMBA (Inland Valley Mountain Bike Association) and promotes membership at every opportunity.
For this year’s event, which was held on Sunday, October 18, Wendy lined up an amazing array of demo bikes including Liv, Specialized, Trek, Rocky Mountain, Turner, and Bulls Bikes USA, allowing a lot of women to test ride bikes in actual trail situations. Other sponsors present included Jenson USA, Petal Power, Go Girl Activewear, ZOIC, Bulls Bikes, Kali Protectives, Kenda Tires, FloraVelo, CLIF and many more.
Representatives from SoCal League Racing (NICA), were in attendance also as well as the CORBA and SDMBA tents ready to sign up members.
Women signed up for various cross country rides led by GGR ride volunteers from all three GGR chapters, G2 Bikes, Girls Ride 2 and the amazing “Trail Males.” The groups headed out to ride the grasslands and hills of the Santa Monica Mountains. A highlight was visiting the site where "M*A*S*H" was filmed.
Coaches Leigh Donovan, Christine Hirst, Kris Gross and Ericka Phillips showed the beginner women basic skills and shared a lot of skills and smiles.
All the women returned back to the venue after their adventures to engage in an amazing prize drawing that defied the imagination—lots of people left with amazing prizes!
This is a movement with momentum to be reckoned with. Wendy and her crew of capable volunteers have created a community of women riders that are engaged in the club and their local IMBA chapters. It is a win-win for everyone!