This past weekend was Women’s Weekend at Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park, in Cleveland Ohio. Four women traveled up to the Friday/Saturday event; unfortunately Patrice was out with the flu, and Ginger with a banged up knee. This was my first foray to Ray’s, and it really did live up to the hype!
Jen picked me up from school on Thursday night, and Kathy met us at my house. It took quite a bit of finagling to get the hitch rack on my sister’s car to work well. The freeze/thaw/ice and snow of Ohio winter had frozen much of the mechanical pieces in place, but we finally managed to load the bikes in sub-zero temperatures. Soon enough we were on the road to Cleveland, and the miles flew by with good company. Anna pulled into the hotel right after us and we tucked in for the night.
Friday morning we headed over to Ray’s in time for the 9 am start. There was snow on the ground, but it was (mostly) dry in the warehouse. It is amazing what they’ve created in that space. Jen showed Kathy and I the ropes, while Anna reconnected with friends from last year. Immediately I learned lesson #1 at Ray’s: Use flat pedals and sneakers. The guys at the shop there were super friendly and helpful, and lent me a set of flat pedals. This was crucial for me to feel comfortable in the park, especially with the format of Friday, which entailed a lot of stopping and starting.
We were introduced to all the amazing coaches, and given a run down of where they’d be. You could go anywhere you’d like, and catch different pieces of coaching. I started in the beginner area, and Kathy, Anna, and Jen went over to the sport area. I was able to work on a few skills before lunch like riding berms and over a pump track.
Jen came to find me and let me know that Kathy had taken a spill. She was okay, but took a pretty nasty fall from about four feet up, and ended up with a bruised face and neck, and a fat lip. She needed a sit out for a bit, but eventually got back on the bike, and we worked some laps on the XC trail. Lesson #2: Get back up when you fall, and try again!
Lunch was brought in for us from Fat Head Brewery. We had delicious pork and pasta, and were able to sit by the fire and take a short break. We also could pick which prizes to drop in our raffle tickets for the afternoon drawing.
Post-lunch was more playtime. I worked for a while on some skinnys and then headed over to the sport area to try some more challenging things.
By 4pm we were all pretty tired, so we regrouped for the raffle drawing. Anna was our big winner, taking home some nice items from Fox. They raffled off a ton of great prizes, and everyone went home with a nice goodie bag. We headed back to the hotel for a soak in the hot tub before dinner.
The next day we were back at Ray’s after breakfast. Anna and I had signed up for a small group lesson with Lindsey Voreis in the morning. Kathy was also able to join our group. I’m really glad we took this lesson for two reasons. First, Lindsey’s personality and coaching style as well as her outlook on life really spoke to me as a rider. I’m so thankful we got to spend some time with her. Secondly, the small group format was really superior to the free format of the day before. As a small group we were able to focus on several skills together and actually get to practice things a couple of times. I also liked how within the group, we were at different level and they more advanced ladies were willing to help out those less advanced. Once of the last things we worked on was taking a drop. I was very nervous, but one of the other women in my group asked me if I would be more comfortable following her—and this totally helped! I was really proud of myself for riding the drop. Even after a few times, it wasn’t pretty, but I feel much more confident on this type of skill.
After the lesson, we met back up with Jen who had a blast all morning playing around the park and meeting other women riders. She even went into the foam pit!
Lesson #3: talk to other women and go ride with them! They show you new places in the park or help you try out a new skill!
We finished up our time at Ray’s with a few last laps on the XC trail before packing it up happy. I’ll leave you with some last words from Jen:
It’s always a great experience to see a group of adventurous ladies come together to help inspire each other to try new feats, skills and never-done-before accomplishments! And a BIG thanks to Ray’s for providing not only the incredibly fun environment for a variety of riding experiences, but ALSO for providing the opportunity for us to have a non-threatening environment all to ourselves without the distractions and intimidations of super-awesome male riders and kids. Even if just for a day and half…that was a unique treat! AND, the addition of having the arsenal of inspiring coaches available was awesome.