Finding suitable riding partners can be a daunting task. As a female rider, I’ve often found myself the only woman in the group. Fortunately, thanks to the internet and social media sites like Facebook, connecting with new riding friends has never been easier.
It’s even more difficult when moving to a new town. Leaving behind great friends and riding partners can be depressing, but change can be a good thing as well. A new region means new trails to explore and opportunities for new riding adventures. Eager to connect with new friends, I reached out to our local mountain bike club (the Northwest Trail Alliance) and inquired about group rides—specifically all female group rides. Kelsey Cardwell is the current president of our local advocacy trail group; we quickly connected, then met up to work on a strategy on ways we can build up the women’s MTB riding community.
Step one: Start with a regularly scheduled women’s mountain bike ride. <Editor’s Note: Inga is picking up from where prior ride leader and NWTA board member, Debbie Causey left off. She was leading and organizing the official NWTA women’s rides from 2011-2014. Debbie is still actively involved as a ride leader, and led a recent NWTA Women’s outing at Growlers Gulch.>
The group rides are scheduled the first Saturday of every month. Our goal is to ride a different trail each month. It hasn’t been easy though; finding suitable riding destinations during the wet winter months has been a challenge. With limited riding spots and not so pleasant conditions, we’ve kept the rides at intermediate+. Our fledgling community is starting to grow though; we’re already seeing more women riders, and soon we’ll be including a high-beginners ride as well.
Our first official NWTA women’s group ride reboot kicked off in October at Hood River, the Post Canyon trails. Since then, our little group has been growing as word spreads, and for our 6th outing we wanted to do something special. And what else do adventure seeking mountain bikers love most — Road trips!
Teaming up with Elaine Bothe from Wenzel Coaching and Evergreen Crank Sisters, we went for something completely different. Our destination: the Tiger Mountain Trails.
Our plans called for a full weekend of riding in Issaquah, Washington. Unfortunately, the forecast was looking lousy, with showers predicted all weekend. We considered rescheduling, but rain or shine, we were doing this, though many of us scaled our plans back to a one day session. Luckily for us, Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day.
After meeting our group at the upper parking area and making introductions, we set off and began the climb. Just short of 3.5 miles, the gravel road ascent had a few steep grades, shocking us awake.
After regrouping at the summit, we split off into two groups. Elaine had ridden here before, so she took point leading a faster paced group while the Evergreen ladies led a second group down.
Tiger Mountain is one of the most popular riding spots in Seattle, and we had a blast experiencing it for the first time. Elaine led us down a nice variety of technical trails including the East Tiger Summit, Preston Railroad, Iverson (Fat Hand), Silent Swamp, Fully Rigid, Joy Ride, Off-the-Grid, Bail-out, and Northwest Timber. The majority of those trails were rated blue square with challenging black diamond features. Wet roots, rocks and drops as well as tight and twisty sections kept us on our toes.
Our ending tally was 12.6 miles and 3,000 ft of climbing, and we were toast. For such a short distance, these trails are taxing. The fire road climb is steeper and longer than Sandy Ridge, but it’s the downhills that really wipe you out. You just never knew what was around the corner. I can’t wait to spend some more time riding here.
We regrouped post ride at the Sunset Alehouse in Issaquah for food and drinks. Tiger Mountain is an incredibly fun place to ride and for most of us, it was our first time riding there though certainly not the last.
For more information on the NWTA monthly women’s rides, check out nw-trail.org.
Read more about the Tiger Mountain trails at Evergreenmtb.org