By Mario Carr EBS CONTRIBUTOR
Liv Ladies AllRide, an all-women mountain bike camp, first made an appearance at Big Sky Resort in 2016. After being gone a couple of years due to the pandemic and the construction of the new Swift Current 6 lift, the camp is making its return to Lone Mountain on July 8-9.
Based out of Bend, Ore., Ladies AllRide has 15 camps in seven different states across the country. Lindsey Ritcher, the founder of Ladies AllRide is very fond of running this camp here in Big Sky due to the great variety of terrain. With the camp being open to riders of all abilities, Ritcher hopes that people understand that Big Sky has terrain that works for all levels of riders.
“We love that Big Sky will push the more intermediate riders a little out of their comfort zone, learning on a little steeper terrain,” Ritcher told EBS. “But what we love about Big Sky is the steep terrain isn’t mandatory.”
Ritcher explained that the beginner trails at Big Sky are great for less experienced riders, and that she really enjoys the fact that the resort’s steeper, more difficult trails don’t come with the added danger of cliffs.
Ritcher also explained that many women aren’t exactly sure what they’re capable of when it comes to mountain biking, and that through these experiences many women learn more about themselves while becoming better mountain bikers.
“It is a little intimidating to come into a mountain bike skills camp, especially if you don’t know what you’re getting into, so we like to be really obvious and call it out openly that learning mountain biking is vulnerable… We’re all human and we’re all here because we love bikes. No one’s here to prove they’re the baddest-ass in the world,” Ritcher said.
‘Keep the wheels rolling’
Right out of the gate on Saturday morning, Ritcher says the coaches address the mental health aspect of mountain biking. The intimidating and exciting sport provides women with the opportunity to face their fears and learn what they’re capable of. She started Ladies AllRide to help women find a place where they fit in.
“We have so many women that have told us that they met their best friends at our camps.” Ritcher said.
Tallie Lancey has done Big Sky’s Ladies AllRide camp every year. She has kept in touch with the women she’s learned with for years and built lasting friendships. She says when she started the camp, the bike was in control, but as her confidence grows, now she takes control of the bike. One of her favorite bits of wisdom she has gleaned from the camp comes from Ritcher always telling the campers to “keep the wheels rolling.”
“Keeping the wheels rolling over rocks, through creeks, over drops is a helpful way to think about maneuvering board meetings, friendships and stumbling blocks that occur in life,” Lancey said.
More than 60 women signed up this year. Riders will split up into groups with 9 different coaches leading the way. One of Ritcher’s favorite parts about this camp is giving women a sense of community through biking and providing them the opportunity to make new and long-lasting relationships.
Starting with skills and drills on the grass Saturday morning, groups will progress to the trail to test those new abilities. At the end of the day on Sunday, the camp will have “education stations” giving the groups opportunities to learn essential skills like fixing a flat tire and suspension setups. Coaches teach their campers basic maintenance to their bikes, and what to carry in their packs to help them stay safe out on the trails. A psychologist is even part of the program to help teach women how to manage fear.
“Our camps are meant to help women feel more comfortable in the mountain bike world… More independent and capable,” Ritcher emphasized.
Lancey told EBS that her favorite takeaway from participating in Liv Ladies AllRide is the confidence that she now shares with other female riders.
“Lindsey and her incredible staff are so good at demonstrating leadership, it makes it easier for me to do the same when the camp is over,” Lancey said.
That’s Ritcher’s favorite part of running these camps.
“When you see a woman do something that she didn’t think she could do and the joy, and the spring in her step, and that newfound confidence that she walks away with, that’s something special,” Ritcher said.