Lady cyclists of San Luis Obispo (pronounced SLO) are coming out of the woodwork. They are parents, students and career individuals. A few have ridden mountain bikes since its early beginnings, while others are just getting into the sport. SLO is a college town, so a lot of the ridership is cyclical (no pun intended) across the city college and university, and when they travel back home on break, it leaves a rawer, raggedy bunch of mountain lovers.
San Luis Obispo has several hundred miles of singletrack within about 25 miles of the city center so it is an accommodating mountain bike destination. The trails offered in San Luis Obispo are marginally intermediate to advanced. It’s a part of the dry and dusty trails of Southern California with rock, slate, and decomposed granite trailheads accessible from 700 foot to 2000 foot climbs. There are two beginner approved trails about a 30 minute drive from the center of town. They are three mile loops built by an IMBA chapter called CCCMB. There are intermediate areas with steeper climbs, couple wood bridges and a skills park on Cuesta Grade. Advanced trails are hidden, but I found and rode almost all of them with a guide. Those have infinity rock gardens, baby head singletrack, head high drops, and steeps.
And with access to this amazing network, there is no shortage of group rides to join in. Unfortunately, less than a quarter of the social rides are dedicated women’s rides. I am a firm believer in encouraging women to ride together so women support each other’s gear setup, encourage their diverse bike ideas, and motivate them to progress their skills.
Women on the forefront of bike ownership know a few things about what is important in a bike. Most of those leaders have initiated their own bike purchase and consider the bike’s geometry, suspension platform, and color.
I ride a Knolly Warden. It has an all-mountain suspension platform (150/160mm) with SRAM XO components that are both affordable and durable. It’s linkage gives me all day comfort on descents, and pedals up well enough for fun on the climbs. It held up to the trail demands going strong for over a year, and with a lifetime frame warranty, I’m rewarded with access to the outdoors.
Chronologically, bike frames have taken technical leaps since its first bike, and frame brands are competitively similar, so women pick out frames with small updates that are most compatible with their bodies and riding. “I love my current mountain bike. I demoed all sorts of makes and models for about 6 months before I decided which bike to buy. I decided to purchase this bike because it fits me well, it has all the attributes I like and need, and it is well-made.” -Claudia Callwood
The trails in SLO are among the most technical destinations and they have to know their bikes are not going to snap or crack in the middle of a rock garden. I will bike so far that, “no one is around for miles and miles, on single track way deep in the mountains for hours and hours.” -Danilu Ramirez The women of SLO look at bikes as an investment and like the added insurance of frame warranties as Ally Swain says. Their bike must be able to endure their riding and the rugged trails in SLO, and if something happens (hopefully not), they like to be covered.
They like to go up on the trails, decompress from the work day, enjoy nature, and consider a bike’s weight to provide all day comfort. “It starts out with a yummy breakfast and some coffee. Then, hit the trails with, say, 3-4 good friends. A good mix of challenging climbing, swoopy flows, technical rocks and features, all surrounded by beautiful views. Maybe stop for a snack at some point. Finish the day with a dip in a refreshing lake and probably some pizza and beer.” -Shaelin
Some want a bike that is a quiver killer, or a little bit of everything. “Depends on the day! Friends & beer is always preferred but having the mountain to myself is a great day of training.” -Alisha Anderson “I like how playful the bike is as well as it is a good fit.” -Liz.
Women share their stories and companies have started listening to women who have been using their purchasing power on bikes. They have come a long way from just adding more colors to frames and have advertised to women with real women riders and that’s been something to celebrate about the industry. We appreciate them!