I warn you this is a long blog. With me in Big Bear for 4 days for this event, there is a lot to cover! I hope you enjoy the journey.
This year was by far the most successful women’s weekend to date. I saw the most smiles, heard the best feedback, saw a lot of new friendships being formed and even I myself received an enormous surprise!
Let me bring you behind the scenes of my favorite GGR event which is now 3 days instead of two.
Day one This event for me started on Thursday, August 9th, one day prior to the actual event.
According to the registration numbers, (we were at full capacity at 100 + riders. I cut it off at 100 riders to keep it intimate and manageable), I needed a few more volunteers for Sunday, so I juggled a few things around to make it work. One of these things was to have Tamara, one of my besties and an extremely talented athlete and rider, take my place at Rim Nordic/Intro to Enduro, and have me go to Fawnskin and lead one of the XC rides.
So, in order to do this, Tamara needed to learn the routes and pre-ride Rim Nordic as well as both of us pre-ride the DH runs at Snow Valley. This was more about giving me piece of mind knowing I was comfortable sending our ladies on these new runs, so we both really needed to ride the DH runs ourselves at Snow Valley. Snow Valley was actually closed on Thursday. Bev, that runs both Rim Nordic and Snow Valley took the day to actually shuttle Tamara and I, so we could pre-ride all the runs and the dual slalom. She took her 4-wheel drive on the steep, rugged fire road and shuttled us! Thank you Bev!
Tam and I did 3 runs at Snow Valley and decided only one section was a NO GO due to the poodle bush hanging over the trail which Amy Rambacher had sent us a text early that morning warning us about it and sure enough…we found it.
Next up was to pre-ride all 4 Enduro stages across the street at Rim Nordic. Heidi Kanayan, one of GGR’s coaches and pro DH rider, already pre-rode all the stages and shortened the climbing up to make it a more fun day for all attending. Knowing that I may not be able to participate in the Intro to Enduro day since we were shorthanded, I put Heidi in charge of the Enduro day to handle everything for me.
Now if you know me well, you know I’m a disaster when it comes to maps and directions, so Tam handled the maps with Bev, and her and I went to ride the 4 stages of Enduro. WHAT a blast we had! I had so much fun I was still trying to locate a volunteer who knew Fawnskin well enough to lead one of the XC rides, so I could still join the Enduro day.
Now it was time to head to Big Bear, pick up our house keys and get settled in. Leah Dilbeck, another GGR leadership team member, located the GGR host house for us. It was a big, beautiful house with everything we needed and was in riding distance to the lifts. Since we have our annual ride volunteer and pot luck dinner meeting on Friday night’s, we needed a house with a big enough great room to hold our 35 volunteers. Tam and I settled in, went to the store to pick up food and waited for Leah to get to the house.
This year was something new we were trying. In past year’s we have only offered a DH skills clinic on Friday at Snow Summit for a very limited number of riders. With how popular Skypark has become, and me myself loving it, I decided to eliminate the DH clinic and have an open day at Skypark. No guided rides, just a day to get together and enjoy the Skypark experience. Any rider wanting a guide, there were plenty of us!
I started the day by getting there early around 8:15am expecting to get the GGR booth up and running. Well, our IE chapter Director Jackie Reseigne who now works at Skypark already had the booth up and there was a team of girls getting things ready. We are a well-oiled machine for sure!
Girls were starting to arrive early. They were to check in at the GGR booth, get a GGR bike plate, then purchase their ticket or season pass at Skypark’s admission center. At the GGR booth there were bike tees for sale and Shilo from the Squeaky Wheel Bike Shop in Palmdale made these super, rad custom bows for our helmets! I now have one for both my XC and DH helmet.
Seeing that there were some Greenie riders that had never been to Skypark, I offered to take them up and lead them down the Green trail. I bailed out at the end since we decided to move the GGR booth to behind the pub after 10:30am, so I needed to be there to help.
Well, when I got to the bottom, our amazing volunteers already handled everything. I didn’t have to do anything but walk over to the new location which was busy with women checking in and talking up a storm on the runs they just did and which run they were going to ride next.
At 1pm, we all met in front of the tent for a group photo.
I spent the rest of the day between working the booth and squeezing in a few runs with friends. WHAT a blast! We started breaking down late afternoon, so our host house could get ready for the 35 volunteers coming over for the ride meeting and pot luck dinner.
Extra special thanks to Cammie Brinkman and Tracy Jones both being injured, not being able to ride, yet they still volunteered the entire weekend to run the GGR booth! Thank you! I can’t being to tell you how much help you both were!
This has been a tradition every year. Our ride volunteers come over to the GGR host house for a pot luck dinner. After dinner, we discuss the 2 big days of the women’s weekend where all the volunteers are working the event. We review all the routes, trail etiquette, conduct on the trails and at the bike parks, safety, announcements, we discuss the awards we need to decide on, volunteer assignments, and more. Basically, we are prepping for everything coming up, socializing and a wee bit of party-ing!
Saturday Snow Summit Day:
This is always our busiest day with so much going on. Around 7am, I drove into the old tennis courts at Snow Summit where we are always stationed for the day every year. The 1st thing I saw was our GGR banner hanging over the ledge of someone’s condo. It immediately lifted my energy and got my spirits heightened for the crazy day ahead.
I started to unpack my car with everything GGR that could fit. One of the Snow Summit guys drove in and delivered 3 tables that we needed for our booth, so I didn’t have to drag them over 100 miles each way.
Cammie then drove up with the booth and everything else we needed.. Cammie was such a life saver all weekend. Her arm is in a cast (GGR purple of course!), and yet she didn’t cancel her reservations, she stayed for the event and volunteered all weekend. Thank you Cammie!
Tracy Jones also stayed almost the entire weekend while she was injured to volunteer. Thank you Tracy!
A few of the volunteers started showing up and UP the booth went. Kevin from Grizzly Cycles in Bakersfield drove in who was working the event for the 2nd year wrenching on our bikes all day, then Holly Cass from Snow Summit Real Estate Group drove her rig in and brought TONS of Starbucks coffee for everyone! And last but never least the Rambachers pulled in with their new rig…..(I think it needs a name!)
Riders started arriving. They were greeted at the booth by our friendly ladies helping check everyone in: Tracy Jones, Cammie Brinkman and Tamara Napier. Riders picked up their bike plates and received any info they needed on the different guided XC rides and DH runs that were going on. I was also walking around filming everyone for a Facebook live feed.
Around 9:15amish we got the day started. I welcomed everyone and described how the day and evening was going to work. We then took photos of all the ride volunteers, the chapter Directors and finally a big group photo.
Now it was time to get down to business and ride! We split up into groups: Intro to DH, DH Blue, DH Black Diamond, XC Greenie 2, XC Blue. I teamed up with Amy Rambacher and lead one of the XC Greenie 2 rides. We split the groups up since there are so many riders. We had 3 groups of just Greenie 2 riders. I named our group of 10 women the REBELS.
As we were getting ready to leave, I watched each group start to make their way to the lifts. It was a pretty amazing sight. I teared up remembering how far we have come from our 1st event to now and knowing how much fun these women were going to have, all the new connections they were going to make and so much more.
Amy and I took turns leading and sweeping our group. I of course also got ahead to take action shots of everyone. We did a few runs, then I had to come back and work the booth and relieve the volunteers. Amy kept the group going. We keep the booth open all day, so the girls can come down and chill as well as someone is always available to answer any questions.
Throughout the day we also had a handful of husbands that came up to our booth to get info for their newbie wives to join us. THAT was rad! They ran into our ladies on the trails and loved how friendly everyone was and wanted their wives to be a part of everything.
It was getting late in the day and it started to drizzle a bit. We needed to break the booth down and put everything into Sylvia’s van since she was taking everything for me to store at Desi’s. We started breaking down and then came the down pour. I heard many got stuck up on the mountain and the lifts were now closed. The day was done. We had to empty the water from the GGR tent, then pack it up.
Now it was time for our annual big group dinner which has now turned into a banquet it’s gotten so big.
We’ve been having our annual group dinner at Nottingham’s restaurant for a long time now. They put us in the bar upstairs which can handle up to 115 people, so it’s perfect for our big group. I get there just after 6pm to check the room set up, and of course have some champagne to take my nerves down a little and relax for the evening ahead.
Cammie and Lauren were already stationed at a small table ready to take cash for dinner, stamp hands and have a few cocktails! Barb from Kingman Fruit Creations was putting her amazing treats on every place setting as was Zoe, Holly’s daughter placing the flyers for Summit Real Estate Group.
I just started to go over my agenda for the evening, chat with Holly at my table and then start to mingle. The dinner buffer was ready to go at 6:30pm. I got to chat with riders about their experience so far while waiting in line.
After everyone was pretty much done eating, but def not done drinking….it was time for me to get everyone’s attention and start the evening agenda.
The weekend’s theme was BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER. The feedback I received in the last 2 days was off the charts positive from not only GGR club members but the bike parks and other riders AT the bike parks. So, I really didn’t need to say much or remind anyone to be kind, respectful and compassionate to each other, they already were. I thanked everyone for being such great ambassadors of our club and sport.
I reminded everyone of our club’s grassroots sponsors who offer discounts year-round to GGR members
Ride Like a Ninja
We also talked about upcoming events.
One of my favorite parts of our group dinner are the awards. Each year during this event at the group dinner, we give out 3 awards. This year’s winners were all incredible as they always are!
Best Bad Ass Bomber award: This went to Donna Newlin with an honorable mention going to Laura Ring. All the ride volunteers for these 2 ladies couldn’t have been more impressed by them.
Best Come Back: This was presented to Heidi Kanayan by Tamara. Heidi lead our Black Diamond DH ladies with Tamara as her sweep. Heidi had a bad crash the 1st part of the day, smashed her phone really bad, yet still continued to lead the ladies all day never quitting.
Best GGR Spirit: This was hands down an easy decision. Sarah Crawford! After starting the event with bad news, she came back and made the very best of her weekend. She is always positive, cheery and a great representative of GGR.
I then moved onto present our 4 guest speakers:
Derek Hermon: Owner Bear Valley Bikes: Discussed the Grizzle 100 Race & Grand Fondo he is putting on September 29th in Big Bear
Jackie Reseigne: GGR’s IE chapter Director and also marketing manager at Skypark talked about Skypark
The Mojave Chapter Leadership Team: Told us about their Route 66 Rattler race in Kingman, AZ October 20th
Holly Cass: Discussed her business Summit Real Estate Group, her racer daughter ZOE who races DH and riding bikes as a family
I then thanked everyone, ended the evening agenda and was ready for another drink, some more mingling and relaxing. Little did I know what was about to happen next…………
The Big Surprise: Liz Kurtz came up and took control of the podium. Now I was worried…what is she doing? Did I miss something? Is she going to behave herself? All I could do was hang back, trust Liz and hope for the best.
Now those who know Liz know that she doesn’t hold back and has zero filters....just part of her charm. She is also one of the best riders, best ride leaders and incredible human beings you will ever meet. She is the ultimate story teller and always makes everyone laugh…I mean belly role laugh….
She started reading off her phone asking everyone in the room questions like: Have you met new friends through GGR? Have you taken advantage of one of the many coaches available through GGR and so on….I still had no clue what was going on at this point except whatever it was, it was going to be big and I think it was about me….yikes….
She continued on and said more beautiful things about myself and the club that just brought me to tears. I was getting all verklempt!
Liz then told me and everyone in the room that she and everyone had a thank you gift for me. They were gifting me a vacation! Julie Betrand then comes up with this enormous check with my name on it for a bike vacation. Not just a bike vacation....A ROAM RETREAT! I still couldn’t really believe that this was for real. Then in the back of my mind…things started to click. Liz always asking me to get away for a Roam event, how awesome they are. Ash talking to me at the IMBA International Women’s Summit back in March and had invited me as well. I just have not been able to get away for personal reasons.
Then I realized these two sneaky women and a bunch of other club members had gotten together to make a Roam Retreat bike trip possible for me as a gift. WOW!
I truly was speechless. I couldn’t believe that not only so many people chipped in to fund a bike retreat for me, but that they kept it a secret from me! VERY impressive! I accepted the gift, cried and thanked everyone. It’s been a tough year and a half for me personally, so I’m grateful and thankful everyone thought of me this much to gift me something as insane as a Roam bike retreat! Thank you!
I stayed for a while after to catch up and chit chat with people, then I drove back to the GGR host house where everyone was wildly playing pool and table tennis. They played just as hard as they ride!
So, Sunday riders have 2 choices for organized events or they can do whatever they want. We were a few short of volunteers with the numbers that were registered for XC, so Tamara took my place at the Intro to Enduro event so I could lead one of the XC rides in Fawnskin ensuring the guided rides were fully supported.
We met at the usual spot, the fire station in the middle of Fawnskin. There was a Renaissance fair going on and AMTR also was meeting for a ride at the same location. Only a few ladies wanted to ride all the way to the peak, so Ali, I and Susan split the rest of the ladies up into smaller groups and we all rode Hanna Flats and Grouts Bay. Desi and Anne rode up to the peak.
I love this route except it’s just too incredibly short. However, I enjoy showing others and taking lots of pictures.
We had a nice small group of 10 in my group. Ali lead, I floated, and Ojai Ruth swept. Was a super fun time until it started to down pour. Yet I always love an adventure! It wasn’t a cold rain, so I was fine with it raining and it was at the end of the ride, just more concerned about the other riders still on the trail. I sent a bunch of riders ahead to get out of the rain and ride back to their cars. Teresa and I waited under shelter for Ojai Ruth, Carrie and Temra. Then we all rode back together. (Carrie had taken an earlier turn and was already at her car). I hadn’t heard back on the radio from Ali, she had taken a turn I didn’t know about that brought you to the road faster. So, she started riding back to check on us since she had not heard back from me either. This is what great ride leaders do.
Everyone seemed to be content yet tired from 3 days of riding and socializing. Most wanted to get going and make the long drive home. I had only done a short ride and was hungry, so Ali and I decided to have lunch/breakfast at the only restaurant in Fawnskin which serves the best breakfast evah!
We were also still waiting for riders from the other groups to get back. Sarah, Susan and Monique came into the restaurant shortly after.
It was still early enough that I thought on the long drive back I would stop off at Snow Valley and Rim Nordic and see if everyone was still riding. What timing! Just as I pulled in, everyone was wrapping up their last run at Snow Valley. Kathy Tebben took a bad crash on a jump, so I drove to the medic area to see what happened and how she was doing. OUCH it’s hard to watch someone after a crash! She was in pain for sure! Luckily, everything is just badly bruised.
I then went across the street to Rim Nordic and talked to Bev, Heidi, Tamara, Amy and Thomas to get the skinny on the day. Sounds like everyone had a wonderful time! They did 3 Enduro stages at Rim Nordic, then took the lifts and rode Snow Valley. WOW! What a fun day!
My job was now done. I had checked in on everyone, completed all the events, did my thank you’s and now it was time to make the long drive back to reality. I again was in tears. I didn’t want to leave. I really think I will be retiring in Big Bear I love it so much. The camaraderie, friendships made, all the amazing riding, catching up with friends, a bike retreat gifted to me from the club…memories that will last a life time. I don’t know if I can wait another year to do it all again…..
I have so many people to thank for making this 3-day event a success. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes for ANY GGR event. We make sure all rides and events are 100% supported by volunteers ensuring everyone always has a great experience. Our volunteers are what makes the experiences golden and riders wanting more.
I’d like to recognize and thank these people who made this event possible, I really can’t pull it off without you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to you all! Each of us contribute to making our women’s mountain biking community better, bigger, safer and louder!
Bev and her team at Rim Nordic and Snow Valley
Bear Valley Bikes
I’d like to recognize two of our ride leaders for this event. I received the most positive feedback on these two specific ride leaders. ALL the ride leaders had wonderful feedback. However, I received many great compliments on these two leaders:
Ladies, well done! What a great job you did and I thank you for making the experiences for these women an outstanding one. You did us proud and I’m so very grateful to have you on our leadership team!
A very extra special thanks to the incredible people below and every single person who contributed to the Roam Bike Retreat. I thank each of you most sincerely. I was truly humbled and honored.
Until next time…I wish all of you muchness and epicness! Be your fabulous selves and spread the love. Let’s all continue the GGR mission of getting more women on bikes and ensuring they have a great experience every single time!
Mwah! GGR Girl Wendy E