If you've been on a Crank Sister's ride, chances are, you've met Rachel. She is one of the founding Crank Sisters, and now the ride leader director for Crank Sisters, as well as an Evergreen instructor. Rachel was my first Crank Sister ride leader when I started riding two years ago and there is no one I'd trust more to take me down any trail. I had a chance to interview Rachel and find out what she loves about Crank Sisters and mountain biking.
Shannon: So Rachel, how long have you been mountain biking?
Rachel: I’ve been riding 30 years. I got my first mountain bike in 1988. It was a Trek fully rigid, aluminum bike with v-brakes.
S: Wow! That would be a rough ride on the trails we have now. What do you ride these days?
R: Ibis Ripley for cross country riding, and a Trek Remedy for steeps. I have seven bikes in total.
S: What do you do when you're not on your mountain bikes?
R: I’m a small animal veterinarian, I also ride road and gravel bikes. I just bought a new Salsa Warbird gravel racer and I’m doing a 380 mile road ride in Big Bend, Texas in April; nine days of camping and riding the desert on chip seal. What could be better?
S: What is your favorite thing about Crank Sisters and why have you been so involved all these years?
R: Ladies and bikes just go together. I love riding, and with all these sisters, I never have to ride alone. I love leading rides because each time I'm reminded of how amazing it is to go out and play in the woods like a five-year-old.
S: What is your favorite trail?
R: Local: Tapeworm. Anywhere: Slick Rock in Moab
S: What is your favorite type of ride to lead?
R: Beginner-mediate Tiger Rides, because we take the long route and spend hours on the mountain enjoying the scenery. Also, it’s a big accomplishment for a lot of people, and I love to see newer riders doing things they never thought they could do.
S: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
R: To get at least 2 rides on the calendar each week, to recruit more active ride leaders, and to offer more advanced rides. Also, to have the best Sturdy Dirty Aid Station ever.
S: Last year was AWESOME! 80's Ladies was so rad. Sturdy Dirty is always a fun event for all skill levels of women riders.
S: Speaking of skill level, I have to mention this story. It was the moment I bowed down in awe of you and your skills. On one of our first rides on Tiger we were resting at the bottom of Preston when a group of guys came off the trail. One of them was walking because his chain was wrapped around a broken derailleur. In a matter of minutes you had snapped his chain, fixed it, strung up his derailleur with a zip tie, and sent him on his way down the mountain. Their jaws dropped to the dirt. He offered you money but you just asked him to pay it forward. I'll never forget that. You will always be a mountain biking Wonder Woman in my eyes. So I'll ask my last question. What would you say to a new female rider who's intimidated to get on a mountain bike?
R: Back in the day, learning to mountain bike meant going out into the woods with dudes and trying scary stuff over and over until you broke your bike, or got hurt. Now we have classes and group rides and clinics. You can learn it all without getting injured. You can advance at your own speed with lots of support from more experienced riders. And mountain bikers are the most fun, happy folks you’ll ever meet. So get out there!