Exciting March Updates and a Salute to Women in Mountain Biking
Attention all mountain bikers and trail lovers!
The Edmonton Mountain Bike Alliance is excited to share some thrilling updates with you as we gear up for an epic spring season. But first, we'd like to take a moment to recognize International Women's Month and the invaluable contributions of women to the sport of mountain biking. From the past to the present and certainly in the future, we salute the women who help make mountain biking what it is here in YEG. To celebrate, we spoke with representatives from three women's ride groups - Cassette Collective, Women on Wheels, and SheShreds - to learn more about their experiences and why they love mountain biking. Scroll down to read their inspiring stories!
March 2023 Updates from EMBA
EMBA's 2023 AGM: EMBA held our Annual General Meeting on March 18. We elected our 2023-24 Board of Directors, approved an amendment to our bylaws allowing for additional directors to be added to the board between AGMs. Great turnout with great dialogue as well as meeting new enthusiasts.
Check out our new website: We're excited to showcase our updated online presence and networking capabilities to the mountain biking community. Our website has been given a facelift, thanks to the hard work of Devon and the team at Oxburger Studios. Head over to edmmtnbike.ca to see the new look and stay up to date with all things EMBA!
Ribbon of Green: Our team is dedicated to ensuring that the single-track trails in Edmonton remain open and accessible to all riders. We're continuing to collaborate with the City of Edmonton to maintain and improve these trails, so you can enjoy your next ride or trail adventure on the best possible terrain.
Drafting EMBA's Trail Strategy Plan: Our team is hard at work drafting a comprehensive trail strategy plan that will shape the long-term vision for the single-track network in the River Valley. This plan will be our roadmap for maintaining and evolving the much-loved trail system, and will allow us to work closely with the City of Edmonton and other landowners to ensure the trails remain sustainable and accessible for generations to come.
Edmonton Bike Park: Get ready to shred with our Bike Park Committee! We've completed all necessary steps, and a business case has been submitted to the city with recommendations for funding in 2024. Plus, our bike park website has recently been refreshed, thanks to the hard work of Devon and the team at Oxburger Studios. Head over to edmbikepark.ca to check out the new look and stay up to date with all things related to the bike park!
Fort Saskatchewan Trail Alliance: We're excited to hear that our friends at FSTA recently held their AGM and elected a new board. With fresh funding secured from the City of Fort Saskatchewan and a renewed focus on Ross Creek, there's never been a better time to explore the trails in the area. We encourage you to check them out and add some variety to your trail adventures!
Join us for Trail Days: Our Trail Day coordinators are revving up for the season, with exciting new plans in store. We hope to see you at one of our many upcoming Trail Days where you can join us for an unforgettable day out on the trails and help maintain our natural playground for generations to come.
EMBA Member Discounts: Shop and Save! EMBA members can enjoy discounts and special incentives at a growing number of local retailers. Check out our list of participating stores below and be sure to show your support!
Don't have a membership yet? Get one today: https://edmmtnbike.ca/memberships
Meet your 2023-2024 EMBA Board of Directors
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S MONTH
The Edmonton Mountain Bike Alliance would like to recognize the women who help make mountain
biking what it is here in YEG. From those past to the present, and certainly in the future. Thank you.
She and a Few of Her Friends will "WOW" You
She was terrified. Making it down a mountain bike trail was no easy feat. Not knowing how to brake, turn, lean into corners, or other basic skills, and doing this on a very old GT iDrive which cost seventy-five bucks. Natalie Rix didn’t really know how to ride a mountain bike when joining friends in Kamloops almost 18 years ago. The group taught her some basics and encouraged her at every turn. Loving the experience, Natalie has never looked back.
Mountain biking opened Natalie’s world to freedom and fun. Riding around to get used to trails and taking part in a casual afternoon learning “sweet skills” with Michelle, whom she met on the Kamloops trip, remains a solid friend to this day. Eventually, the confidence came for Natalie, and she couldn’t get enough of this sport. After trying to get into Dirt Girls a couple times and not being successful (it filled up so fast!), she and Amy MacKinnon cooked up an idea to develop a social ride group for beginner level women. Hardcore Bikes supported the idea, and in 2013 Women on Wheels YEG (WOW MTB) was born.
Now in its tenth year, WOW MTB continues to go strong. Transitioning from a casual ride group to an Alberta Bicycle Association (ABA) affiliate club about six years ago, Natalie would become certified to coach through Professional Mountain Bike Instructors (PMBI) in 2019 offering lessons to WOW Riders. Fast forward to 2023 and WOW MTB has proudly taught hundreds of riders sharing the love for the sport through collaborations and community events. She continues her mountain bike certification now with the Bicycle Instructor Certification Program.
When asked what her first memory is of the Edmonton Mountain Bike Alliance, Natalie said, “it was a trail maintenance night with Hardcore Bikes!” Now her time maintaining trails is with Women on Wheels YEG at trail maintenance evenings in MacKinnon Ravine. When it comes to the newly proposed Edmonton Mountain Bike Park, she is very excited about it. “It is going to bring together new (green) riders, families with kids, and others who really want to send it and challenge themselves to improve.” She really looks forward to seeing WOW MTB clinics there next year. “I am very proud of the EMBA sub-committee to get it going.”
Mountain biking here in YEG has evolved over the years and its popularity grown. “On a mountain bike you can explore so much more of the river valley and experience it in new ways.” Then there are the multiple mountain bike groups and clubs to choose from. Natalie believes the groups and clubs offer a sense of belonging and that one night a week to escape stressors of life. Maybe it’s the one night a week for a parent to be on their own or for a friend group to get out together. “Even if you are a part of a ride club or EMBA itself, not only will you have an awesome time in the river valley, but you are also going to get a ton of knowledge on the trail system. There is always something to learn or experience.” Natalie is about to embark on the next chapter in her adventures, moving to a mountain bike mecca, the Crowsnest Pass.
She will continue her love of coaching with Sweet Riders. which specializes in cycling clinics and tours for all levels of mountain bikers throughout the Crowsnest Pass. Natalie and Karey have been hosting the Sweet WOW MTB Skills Camps for four years; a collaboration they created after meeting on Instagram. Natalie will continue with Women on Wheels YEG behind the scenes and looks forward to seeing the WOW Team’s success with WOW Riders, the clinics, and private lessons. “I will miss the single track in Edmonton a lot. I always find something new on a known trail, like a different way to climb or a new line to smooth out a section. I also love seeing all the people out enjoying the trails, by bike or on foot. It’s important that city council recognize the importance of the single track and the incredible health benefits being in nature brings. The work EMBA is doing to impress that point (and many other points) is heartwarming and easy to support, even now from a distance.”
Natalie Rix loves mountain biking. Even though her intro to it was rough, she fell in love with the incredible sport. The friendships formed, and memories created over the years are priceless. “The absolute happiness on a mountain biker’s face is contagious. It’s just the best!”
From Dee to Jodi: SheShreds MTB
Jodi Dahl, is one of the new owners of SheShreds MTB right here in Edmonton. She has been coaching with SheShreds for the past four years before taking it over with Tamara McKenzie. Jodi is from the Okanagan and has been in Edmonton since 1995. Before it was a dog park, you could find her riding in Terwilliger with her husband whom introduced Jodi to the local trails.
“I was absolutely amazed with how many trails there is in Edmonton. The quality of the trails, and how they keep getting better.” This is one of the first things Jodi noticed or remembers when first mountain biking here in the city. She has always been impressed on where one could go on a bike too. That always blew her mind, and where in the mountains you could get to on a mountain bike opposed to hiking or jogging.
Mountain biking in Edmonton continues to evolve and Jodi has noticed this too. She definitely sees more riders and how the trails are starting to get used a lot more. She recognizes EMBA with doing a really good job getting the word out about mountain biking, and in result that it is being more accepted because of it. She also loves that the city will finally be having our own bike park. She says it is needed. “It feels like Edmonton is so far behind (compared to smaller towns like Edson or Devon). Though we have come a long way here, there is still a long way to go.”
Another thing that has seen change in Edmonton is how bike groups have become more popular. When Jodi started coaching for SheShreds MTB it was very small, but it has grown so much. As a coach who is certified with PMBI, she is very geared towards beginners. As SheShreds MTB continues to evolve they are trying to move to more advanced riding with more advanced coaches. “The main goal for us is to get more people on bikes, and we really really push bikes for every body.” Jodi wants everyone to try and love biking as much as they do at SheShreds. Their rides are geared towards everyone who gets involved. “Comfortable, safe, and a good time!”
SheShreds also does camps in Valemount. There is a lot of riding as well as coaching there, as well as other places like Golden and Crowsnest. SheShreds even collaborated with Sweet Skills in Crowsnest to be doing a ride there this year too. In Edmonton, you will see them coaching on trails all over the city. The groups meet at different trails throughout the season, and all rides are pre-planned. Bike schools are Tuesday nights where they meet at the trails they plan to ride. This is based on the riders’ levels. There is also a Shredders ride on Wednesday evenings which have two different groups. This allows for the shredders to split into two groups to keep trails more open for every one to ride. Fat Bottom Girls was a clinic ran for the first time by SheShreds this winter, and they plan on bringing it back as it was pretty fun with the girls liking it.
None of this would be even possible or even a business today without the strong leadership, mentorship, coaching, managing, and countless hours of hard work Dee Turner put into SheShreds. Dee is the founder of SheShreds who has been riding in the river valley since 2008. She is also the 2019 National Downhill Master’s Women Champion. Selling the company after seven years of growth, Dee poured blood, sweat and tears getting SheShreds to where it is today. Organizing weekly rides, retreats, day clinics, and getting instructors certified. Not to mention securing insurance and maintain waivers, creating and implementing a training program for the coaches and group ride leaders, obtaining sponsorship as well as equipment,
Dee really did all this while coaching elsewhere along with her work with Trek Bikes. Jodi states that Dee has moved on to focus on new endeavors and that “Dee is still coaching with us and we tip our hats off to her. None of this would happen without her and her support. Very well-established!”
As a certified Level 1 Coach through PMBI, Jodi is looking forward to this next season. She hangs on to the memories of past seasons and knows that new memories will happen here in 2023. “My favorite memory with SheShreds is at the end of every season, that coaching really fills my cup.” She refers to watching the women progress. Watching them go over a root or a drop in a park. Then watching these women explode with happiness and confidence. This brings so much joy to Jodi and pride in seeing this. Every one leaves with new friends and a brand new sense of confidence. Though it is sad that the season ends and it will be missed, Jodi and all the coaches at SheShreds cannot wait to do it all over again.
Cassie talks about Cassette Collective
Offering instructional rides for beginners who are new to mountain biking or those who may have one or two years riding on the trails, Cassette Collective (CC) is another women’s mountain bike adult club based here in Edmonton. They welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and other riders such as non-binary that are comfortable in a women-focused environment. The name, Cassette Collective, is a non-gendered name so as to be inclusive, and though it started out fairly small, it has grown since its first year in 2021.
A community-focused mountain bike club affiliated with the ABA, every one is a volunteer and no one is paid. It consists of six board members giving Cassette Collective the structure to keep running long term. It also brings a sense of community where it is not just one person’s club, but every one’s club.
CC is a group formed during covid, as Crankys decided not to run in 2021 with their women’s mountain bike club. Taking on the task, Crankys supported CC and even fund a ride. Cassette Collective does not just consist of rides for beginners, but there are pro groups who just go out and ride too. At the beginning of the year when registration begins, it does tend to fill up fast. CC does not really do clinics nor workshops, have never done a camp nor retreat neither. However, when coaching during rides there is a charge as it helps cover costs like insurance as well as training materials.
Mountain bike riders here in Edmonton may be familiar with a trail just west of Groat Road on the north side of the river near MacKinnon Ravine. It actually starts up over by Government House at the top of Government Hill off of 102 Avenue NW. Wonder Woman. Though Cassette Collective has not worked nor partnered with other women’s rides in the area, they did do Wonder Woman as a joint trail build. A joint effort with WOW and SheShreds.
Cassie Budd, who has lived in the Edmonton area her entire life, is the current president of Cassette Collective. Her father was actually the president of the Fort Saskatchewan Bike Club in the late 90’s before the Fort Saskatchewan Trail Alliance was formed. Cassie took some lessons at that time and learned through the youth lessons held by the bike club. This is a big memory of hers when learning to mountain bike as there was a woman coach who would coach all the girls in a group together.
She loves to ride in Terwilligar, especially Corkscrew. “There are so many good trails and hard to pick just one to be my favorite.” Riding in Terwilligar, Cassie identifies that she loves to ride in this area because of so many options to branch out to other trails. Whether it is towards GO Trail, River Run, or down to Mustang and Mooseknuckle, Cassie says it is a fantastic trail network. Yet like every one else including those on the EMBA Board of Directors, she too would like to see trail signs. “Makes it easier to navigate trails other than using an app like Trailforks.”
Cassie hopes that she can be one of many who works with the city to ensure mountain bikers have a good set of trails to enjoy and continue lessons with CC. “It really is our sense of community. Mountain biking allows us to get out and meet new people, make new friends.” She, like many others, is also excited to see a Bike Park finally in Edmonton and cannot wait. Cassie acknowledges it will be used by a lot of people as well as clubs, and the community in general. “The bike park will be a great way to learn the sport of mountain biking. It’s a good place to develop skills in a very controlled environment.”
Also excited for the 2nd annual EMBFest and then getting involved with some trail days, Cassie has done this before. It actually is where she first got involved with EMBA. Cassie was biking with Crankys, and brought up as a pre-season planning with Cranky’s to do trail days. She stepped up to connect with EMBA about adopting some trails ending up on the board back in 2017. Since then, it has been more with Cassette Collective.
The 2023 season for CC is expected to have close to 100 riders registered. For the women’s community, it seems like every year the women’s ride groups fill up. Cassette Collective sees it as a challenge to increase their capacity especially when clubs are full and women do not know where to go. She hopes to see more options come available including in the winter, since there is fat biking. Until then, expect to see another group of riders on the trails and be sure to say hi! Or you can always just check out their facebook page.
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