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ladies shop ride group June 18 2019

Ladies’ Shop Rides: Camaraderie & Community

For years I’ve been interested in mountain biking. As a hiker, rafter and backcountry skier it seemed like adding mountain biking to my arsenal of sports was not only mandatory to be considered a real Durangoan but it also looked like a whole lot of fun. But all of these same years I’ve been finding excuses not to go: I don’t have a bike. I have no clue where to ride. I have no one to go with.

Then I learned about Purgatory’s Shop Rides, and more specifically Ladies’ Rides. Going with a group of gals seemed somehow less intimidating to me, so I decided I would try out the first ride of the season on June 18.

It rained in the afternoon and I admit at one point I was secretly hoping it would be canceled because I was a little nervous. But the weather cleared and we met at the downtown shop (across from the rec center) at 5:30pm. For just $20 you can rent a bike during the rides, and while I waited for my rental to be prepped I met the other women I’d be riding with. I was psyched to learn that out of the dozen or so of us there was a good mix of ages and abilities, including a few first-timers. All I brought was athletic clothes, sneakers, and a water bottle, though I wish I had some sort of pack. Luckily someone was nice enough to lend me one!

Only a second-year biker (but already rocking it!), our main guide Liv corralled us in the parking lot and gauged our ability and comfort level before letting us know the plan. We set off for Overend Park and soon began climbing. From the get-go, the messages were always “don’t feel bad getting off your bike and walking” and “if you’re not comfortable, don’t do it, no sweat!” This definitely helped lift some of the mental blocks I had and every time I had to get off my bike I apologized just to hear a response of “don’t worry about it!” (One helpful tip I learned for climbing was “boobs to bar,” or leaning over the handlebars. Something you’d never learn on a ride with guys!)

At the top, my nervousness returned. Liv and some of the other girls gave us some super helpful pointers and reiterated that if you don’t like a section there is no shame in dismounting. With words of encouragement, off we went. The first few minutes I tentatively squeezed the breaks, but when we reached a rolling section I started to hear whooping and hollering from the ladies in front of me and I soon learned why: it was so fun!

girl riding a mountain bike

The author getting in her groove

Farther down the trail it made me smile that I wasn’t the only one making silly sounds as we all navigated the tight turns. At the first group stopping point I was met with cheers and high fives, and our guides asked how we were all doing. Questions were asked, more tips were given, and we finished out the ride in good spirits. Us newbies agreed we’d be back for more!

After the ride I wasn’t able to stick around for happy hour but the regular shop ride returned just after us and stories were swapped. Of course guys are welcome on the Ladies’ Rides, which are often geared toward beginners, and the regular shop rides for more intermediate/advanced levels are co-ed. Long story short, show up and there will be something to suit everyone!

Shop rides/ladies’ shop rides take place every other Tuesday, through September 24. Hope to see you there!