By Michele Charboneau
The Little Big bike festival returns to the Truckee Bike Park in Truckee, CA for its fifth year on May 27, 2017. The event draws the world’s top female riders to teach its popular women’s skills clinic. This dream team of passionate IMBA ICP certified coaches from near and far empowers girls and women via two wheels, ample dirt, and loads of encouragement as they learn a wide range of skills. There is something for every ability level, including basic riding technique, pumping, cornering, wheel lifts, manualing, drops, and jumps.
The festival also includes competitions for women, men, and children, plus live music, food, and industry demos. Proceeds benefit the non-profit Truckee Bike Park. Learn more at truckeebikepark.org.
We asked some of this year’s coaches what inspired them to throw in for The Little Big’s women’s clinic.
Event Director and Truckee Bike Park co-founder Cortney Knudson of Tahoe City shares her reason for creating an event for women to develop bike skills: “So many women are fearful of bike parks. I want them to experience what a bike park is like without the worry about riders getting in their way while they’re learning the park.” Knudson is thrilled for the opportunity to teach alongside colleagues she rarely sees throughout the year due to busy clinic schedules. “We rarely find ourselves together all in one place. There we are, spreading the stoke all over the map in our own communities, then we get to do it together as a team at the Truckee Bike Park. Needless to say, it’s so fun to have women with the same passion for riding and pushing the limits on the ground and in the air.”
Former pro downhill racer Kat Sweet of Seattle, WA is the founder of Sweetlines, a popular mountain biking program. Sweet is honored to team up with fellow coaches at The Little Big each year. “We have a blast working together, learning from each other, teaching our students, jumping bikes, and being silly. I’m stoked anytime I can work with other coaches to get more women and girls into jumping bikes! It’s super rewarding to teach women and girls how to fly. Anyone can huck their carcass off a jump. Learning how to do it correctly, with finesse and style, makes it safer and more fun.”
Lindsey Richter – globe-hopping leader in the women’s mountain bike movement and founder of Ladies AllRide – says she will always put The Little Big on her schedule, “because I love Cortney, I love teaching at the Truckee Bike Park and I love riding in Tahoe. It’s a no brainer!” Richter, whose home base is Bend, OR adds, “I’ve watched Cortney turn a dream into reality. She’s put in countless hours shoveling dirt to build the park, plus marketing and promoting it. When she started The Little Big to encourage more women to enjoy riding in a bike park, I wanted to help her get the word out. My mission is to inspire women to face fears, believe in themselves and accomplish more than they think possible.”
Pro downhiller Cierra Smith of Reno, NV shares her inspiration for teaming up with other passionate coaches at The Little Big event: “The happiness I’ve witnessed our collective teaching and mentoring bring to women and girls means a lot to me. The confidence and joy we see from those we teach makes a difference. Together we are stronger and that’s something important I want all the women we touch to recognize.”
Former freeride competitor and Slope Sistair founder Stephanie Nychka of Calgary, Canada has many reasons she loves to coach The Little Big. “I see good friends that I’m only able to connect with once or twice a year. I get to promote riding to women who have not yet discovered love for trails and the outdoors. I enjoy helping to develop the next generation of riders.” She adds, “Beyond that, I feel there’s a need to bridge the gap between coaches or recognized female riders and recreational or up-and-coming athletes. Growing up as a multi-sport athlete, I am aware of the advantages that involvement in sport offers young girls and I want to see more lives enriched through riding. Teaching among such amazing coaches and riders promotes a creative environment with a real diversity in perspectives, approaches, and mountain-biking experience.”
BMX world champ Cory Coffey of Detroit, MI says of The Little Big, “It’s one of my favorite events of the year. You’re surrounded by beautiful scenery, a perfectly groomed bike park and rad coaches from all over. The weekend of fun is always one I look forward to because of the excitement we all bring and the encouragement we all give one another to push ourselves to the next level.”
Visit TruckeeBikePark.org for the full roster of this year’s coaches.
Badassery graduates chime in
Stephanie Ruff of Camptonville faced her fears in last year’s clinic. “I’d always avoided bike parks as they felt very intimidating. The Little Big clinic gave me the confidence to enjoy bike parks and push myself to new limits. The coaches were positive, insightful, and encouraging. Everyone in my group progressed and felt empowered – we were all glowing!”
Jeni Boltshauser of Grass Valley shares Ruff’s enthusiasm. “I’ve taken several clinics and even hosted my own skill building clinics but The Little Big is definitely a favorite. I learned how to jump tabletops and do drops. Lindsey Richter’s energy makes you want to go bigger and higher.”