cycling utah June 2000
By Nancy Cadjan
Living in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains has meant tackling sports I never dreamed I would try. One day, while having lunch at the Stein Erisksen Lodge, I was amazed to watch mountain bikers riding down the same Deer Valley runs that skiers enjoy in the winter. It looked like fun, but a little scary. Even though I have had a bike most of my life, I have never done serious single track or down hill mountain biking.
After a few ill-fated attempts to mountain bike without the right type of bike and without any skills training, I was ready to quit. That's when I began to wish I knew some mountain biking techniques.
One day, at Sundance Resort, I noticed a poster for a women's mountain biking clinic. I spoke with the instructor, Darce Trotter, for 30 minutes and was convinced that the Ladies Day Program was for me. Trotter had designed the program for his wife and he seemed to realize that having a class of just women would facilitate learning and reduce tension.
Some women are better riders with more experience, but they are willing to wait for riders who have more to learn. Being just women in the class eliminates the competition factor. Even though mountain biking is an aggressive sport, the do-it-or-die philosophy isn't present in class. Instead, women encourage each other through the tough parts. And Trotter has a very easy-going approach. If the class can't complete a scheduled lesson, he switches the plan around to meet the needs of the students. There isn't any guilt trip for not being able to do everything right on the first day.
Skills You Need
The Ladies Day Program turned out to be everything I expected and more. Trotter ran us through several drills to assess our capabilities and then quickly adapted the course of instruction to our needs. Trotter lets you know up front that the course is not about competing or doing better than everyone else.
The Ladies Day Program is designed to teach skills, practice them and then instill confidence. Skills like braking, turning, climbing, descending, and going over obstacles take place in the safety of the parking lot, a grass field, and other areas around the resort. Taking Sundance's beautiful single-track trails then reinforces these skills.
We were taught several Zen-like philosophies that help riders overcome fears. For example, the first rule is "Where you look is where you go." If you look at the space between two obstacles instead of at the obstacles, you'll make it. If you concentrate on the obstacle, you are inextricably drawn to it and will hit it every time.
Riders were challenged to face their fears and overcome them. One day, Trotter asked us to follow him. We rode around the resort for a while and then up a steep hill. Then, he led us down a set of 13 stairs. At the bottom, he said, "Now that you have done the stairs, nothing worse will happen to you on the mountain." He was right.
Even if you have been riding for a few years, the Ladies Day Program is a great asset. Trotter watches every rider and provides one-on-one training to improve skills and overcome bad habits. One of the women in the course rode about every day, but had some issues with descending. He concentrated on these skills with her and worked to overcome her fear of using clipless pedals.
After I finished the course, I took my husband to Sundance. His first words on seeing the course were, "No way." I told him I could ride it and I challenged him to a ride. He accepted and we took the lift up. I gave him a few pointers I had learned in the Ladies Day Program and we took off. He quickly learned that I knew more than he did about mountain biking and he listened to my advice. We enjoyed a full day of riding.
However, I will always cherish the moments when the skills I learned at Ladies Day allowed me to leave him in the dust.
The Ladies Day Program offers fun, non-competitive coaching in all aspects of mountain biking from riding techniques to trail-side repairs. Two sessions are held in June and September. The sessions are on Tuesdays and last 2 1/2 hours from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The price for Ladies Day is $180 and includes the rental of a full suspension bike. If you ride your own bike it is $120. Call 801-223-4849 for signup information.