By Mark Muro
In May, Birmingham, Alabama's Magic City Cycle Chix sold out their first big event, a 2-day women's mountain bike clinic held at Oak Mountain State Park. In partnership with the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP), an IMBA-SORBA chapter, and Trek WSD, the clinic covered fundamental skills such as high-speed cornering, controlled braking, and maneuvering over and under obstacles. With the goal of building skills and confidence, the clinic started with skills drills in a low-risk environment--a flat, grassy field--then let riders practice those skills on the trail. The 33 participants ranged in age from twentysomethings to a fit grandmother who is learning how to mountain bike at age 70.
“I feel like a better rider already,” said one participant, who said the event improved not only her bike-handling skills, but her confidence. “I feel like I got to the next level.”
The Magic City Cycle Chix (MC3) was founded in January to build a community of women cyclists in Birmingham, a city named one of the worst cycling cities in the nation by Bicycle Magazine in 2010. In just six months, MC3 has grown to more than 300 members, and provides regular girls-only rides, social mixers, and skill-building events. The group includes mountain bikers, roadies, cyclocross racers, moms towing bike trailers -- anyone who wears a skirt, loves bikes, and has some connection to Birmingham.
"We're building courage, confidence, and community, two wheels at a time," said MC3 founder Kim Cross, who started the group to connect women in a non-competitive environment.
The May MTB clinic was a success thanks to BUMP, which lent support in the form of volunteers, promotion, and non-profit infrastructure. One BUMP member constructed log jumps, a bike limbo, a ramp, and skinnies to simulate obstacles on the trail. Other members helped by spotting on some of the more technical skills stations. BUMP even built the Oak Mountain trails -- recently added to IMBA's Epic Rides list and named among the South's best trails by Southern Living magazine. "
We're like BUMP's little sister," said Cross, who said that MC3 is a great way to introduce women to the sport before converting them to members of the co-ed IMBA-SORBA chapter. The next MC3 event is an intensive 2-day camp June 25-26 featuring instruction by world-champion Marla Streb.