River City Bicycles launches “Low Pressure” mountain bike program for women

Unlike many bike shops, River City Bicycles in southeast Portland has long had a reputation as a place where women feel safe and welcome. In 2008 the shop was named the most “female friendly” in the nation and they have sponsored many top women racers.

Now the shop wants to use mountain biking as a vehicle to help women build confidence — both on and off the trails. Their “Low Pressure Women’s Mountain Bike Series” is described as, “A stress-free, female led mountain bike event, clinic, and ride series through which we hope to build, educate and inspire a supportive community of women in our sport.” The series will include weekly practice sessions at The Lumberyard’s indoor bike park, on-trail clinics and weekly rides. There’s a launch party at the shop tonight (4/20) from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

With help from Elaine Bothe of Wenzel Coaching and shop staff, River City is opening this LGBTQ+ friendly initiative up to all levels and all ages (sixth grade and over) of riders.

River City’s Lisa Luna told me this week that she put this together to encourage “positive self-talk” and to build women up from the inside.

“Women are different from men. Emotions for women are typically an inseparable part of our experiences, especially when we’re pushing the limits of our comfort zone.”
— Lisa Luna, River City Bicycles

“Women are different from men,” she shared. “Emotions for women are typically an inseparable part of our experiences, especially when we’re pushing the limits of our comfort zone. When women ride together, we use the emotional element to build each other up, to support and encourage each other. When we ride with a mixed group, or with our male counterparts, there is often this layer of “I have to keep up, I have to rush, I’m holding the group back.” This can give way to negative self-talk, and before you know it, the ride isn’t as rewarding and becomes a bit more stressful or anxiety-provoking.”

Luna says this program will give women a way to build skills in a comfortable, supportive environment. At tonight’s kickoff event the skill-building will start before any trails are ridden. It’s not just about riding for Luna. When women learn to tune their suspension and dial in their disc brakes, they become more self-reliant, and as a result, happier with their experience overall. The trail riding part of the program will visit “flowy” and fun trails at places like EasyCLIMB in Cascade Locks, Gateway Green, and Sandy Ridge.

Another part of Luna’s inspiration is her own high school-aged daughter. Luna has become a certified coach in the newly formed Oregon Interscholastic MTB League and she’s actively recruiting members for a Portland-area co-ed team.

“I’m so grateful to River City for letting me take this and fly with it,” Luna says, “because I want to see how big and wonderful and inspiring and rewarding it can become for women in the beginning stages of their mountain biking, as well as women who have already been mountain biking. We always stand to gain from each other.”

Learn more on the program website, by emailing lisal [at] rivercitybicycles.com, or stop into the party tonight at River City Bicycles (706 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd). There will be some education, some wine tasting, a speed raffle with great prizes.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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