A mountain biking addict reflects on camaraderie and confidence

By Sarah Hansing

Sarah leads a group of women of varying abilities on a monthly shop ride. Photo courtesy Epicenter Cycling.

Sarah leads a group of women of varying abilities on a monthly shop ride. Photo courtesy Epicenter Cycling.

Do you know what makes for a great Saturday morning? A group of people, some of them strangers, astride their bikes and eager to hit the trails.

It was my pleasure again this past weekend to lead the Girly Ride from the parking lot at Epicenter Cycling, and into the trails that called to all of us. The instant camaraderie that forms just by pedaling your bike next to someone else is something that makes me smile, again and again. There were no splits into “fast” riders and “slow” riders. There was no segregation by value or expense of bike. And there was truly no doubt that everyone there was out to have a great time.

One of my favorite parts about this ride, is the riders I have seen returning time and again who have become obviously, deeply hooked on mountain biking. They may not be able to see just how much they’ve improved, how much stronger they are or how much more adept at technical sections and downhills they’ve become. These somewhat timid and unsure riders have now become leaders; encouraging the newer women, chatting and sharing their stories of when they first started riding. It’s a glorious thing to watch the passing of the torch and a great reminder that at some point, we were the ones thinking we would never ever carry it ourselves.

This is how our sport grows. Mountain biking is, of course, more fun than any of us could have ever imagined it would be. But it’s more than that; it can be a social experience of the best caliber. We encourage and are encouraged. We work harder to get better. We learn and we grow. And as we reach for the next level and the next torch, we get to pass along the one we were carrying. From the outside, it is a beautiful thing to see. And from the inside, it is a great ride to be on.


IMG_7165-625​Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to ​keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singlet​rack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)