‘GRiT’ event gives Dane County girls a chance to learn mountain biking skills

MADISON, Wis. — More than 50 girls ages 12-18 got a chance to learn something new Sunday, a sport coaches say can often be too intimidating to try.

A lot of girls are afraid,” said Beth Ross, who serves as the head coach for the Madison West Mountain Bike team. “They think that mountain biking is what they see on TV – big jumps, big down hills, they just think maybe they’re not brave enough or not strong enough to do it. We’re here to tell them they are absolutely strong enough and brave enough to do it.”

Sunday’s event was titled ‘GRiT’, standing for ‘Girls Riding Together’, and is part of a larger effort from the National Interscholastic Cycling Association to increase female ridership to 33% by 2023. 

I think that mountain biking, especially girls, is about grit,” said Madison West team director Nikki Schram. “It’s about trying something new, doing something hard, and making lots of mistakes. But then, it’s still getting on your bike after making those mistakes because that’s what makes you better, that’s what makes you stronger, and makes you into a rad mountain biker.”

Local cycling partners lent a number of bikes for Sunday’s event, ensuring even girls without one would be able to participate. Ross says some first time bikers fell in love with the sport in a matter of minutes.

That’s the best,” she said. “When they’re timid and they’re not really sure how it’s going to go, then you take them on that first trail and they’re smiling the whole way through and you ask them if they want to do it again and they’re like ‘Yes!’ That is absolutely the best feeling.”

Sunday’s event included learning basic skills before moving onto the trails at Blackhawk Ski Club. 

Future events and ways to get involved can be found on the West Madison Area Mountain Bike Teams page, here.