If you hadn’t heard of Irwin Cycles in Las Vegas before, it could be because they are one of the newest bicycle shops in town. Located an easy warm-up distance to the main trailhead of Bears Best, Irwin Cycles celebrated their one year anniversary, just last week. Owned and operated by Lifan and her husband Carl Irwin, the shop is warm, welcoming and is stocked with the favorite products that both Lifan and Carl prefer to use for cycling. One of these products is Devinci bicycles, and with Shine’s Devinci Womens Weekend Tour, this common ground is where we all came to meet. The Womens Weekend at Irwin Cycles included an evening of socializing, a Ladies No-Drop MTB Ride, and a FUNdamental Skills Clinic. A selection of Devinci Mountain Bike Demos were available to rent for the rides and were included in registration for the skills clinic. In addition to the Shine demo fleet, Irwin Cycles also has a great selection of Devinci demos to rent at anytime. Overall the weekend was a success, bringing many women together in one great bike shop.
Having ridden in Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park, located about 45 minutes away, for a little over 10 years, I had always wondered what other mountain biking trails there could be in the Las Vegas area. I’ve also been wondering where all the ladies are at. Not being the strongest of pedallers, trails that were described as “cross country” were very much off my radar, and most often not on my to-do list. These trails that I avoided were actually the trails I should have been riding with my strong passion to introduce more women to mountain biking. Less rugged and more forgiving then my best friend Bootleg Canyon, areas like Bears Best and Cottonwood offer more variety for all experience levels of riders. The trails are also in much closer proximity to the city of Las Vegas, making them a quick trip for riders needing a workout or creative riding outlet amidst the duration of a business trip.
After confirming a date with Irwin Cycles and describing how the weekend would involve an evening Shine Social, a Ladies No-Drop MTB Ride, and a FUNdamental Skills Clinic, Lifan and I began to ponder where to take the ride. A No-Drop ride needs to be fun and rideable for any ability or fitness level. There should be options to extend or shorten the length of the ride, after the ride has begun. The trail also needs to be close to the shop so we can ride to it. Bears Best fit the bill and Lifan offered to take me out for a spin to check out the trail.
I had been to Bears Best one time, with my boyfriend and his friend who lives in town a couple years ago. I remembered it being hot, the sun dead on top of us, no trees, lots of cacti, some cool features but… a lot of pedaling. I had a hard time because I could not keep up with the guys and was being burnt by the sun. It probably did not help that it was late spring and the middle of the day. Returning to these trails in the winter, with a nice carbon Devinci Troy, and a much more well-rounded riding lifestyle (yup now I too ride cross country for fun) I was pretty sure I would have a good time. I also had a strong feeling that Lifan would be fun to ride with, and she really was! Local rider Amanda Propst, who I’ve often seen on Strava and at a few races, offered to take me riding later in the week to show me even more trails at Bears. I was really impressed with the terrain and knew we’d have lots of fun on Saturdays ride.
On Friday, at the Shine Social, I taught a Trailside Flat Fix Clinic, and of course spent a good portion of the time… socializing! Lifan provided fruit, hummus, olives, and other delicious snacks and sparkling Guayaki tea was available on ice. About a dozen women turned out for the evening and we shared stories about our favorite places to ride near Las Vegas and how the ladies got into mountain biking and where they would like to go with it. I learned that Cottonwood is the most beginner friendly riding area with gentle trails and great views of the Red Rocks. Overall, the evening was a great opportunity to meet other female mountain bikers, get to know Irwin’s female owner Lifan, and see the nice products that she has in the shop.
On Saturday we met bright and early for the No-Drop Ladies MTB Ride. The shops 1 year anniversary was also being celebrated, so a co-ed shop ride was heading to nearby Bears Best as well. Overall we had 13 riders in our lady pack, which was agreed to be the largest ladies ride anyone had been on in Las Vegas. Local mountain biker Amanda Propst took the lead having the best sense of direction for Bears Best and where to take the group for the most fun. The ride was an excellent way to connect with other female riders and learn the local trails.
Nearing the end of the ride, we split into two groups to accommodate riders current fitness and ability levels. I heard a couple apologies coming from riders in the back of the group for “holding us up” and I reminded them that this is what a No-Drop ride is all about, and there is no need to even think to apologize. No-drop rides are all about sharing the ride, and helping other riders be comfortable in their own ability and fitness level. There is nothing worse than feeling guilty for holding others up or like you need to rush. We just want you to have fun and enjoy mountain biking.
When we arrived back at Irwin Cycles, a large chocolate cake was being placed on the counter. A huge jar of raffle tickets, a stack of prizes, including a Sram X01 Groupset, were waiting close by. The freshly pressed hot Guayaki Yerba Mate that I had brought was gone in moments, and the cans in the cooler did not last long either. Riders were quickly filtering back into the shop to join in the festivities.
Sunday’s FUNdamental Skills Clinic, sold out completely, and is the first step in training for the Shine Mountain Bike Skills School. The 6 hour curriculum that I have created from 3 years of mountain bike skills coaching experience promises to give riders the basic skills they need to stay safe and have more fun on the trails. We worked on everything from mountain bike anatomy and function, to body position, braking and cornering techniques and how to navigate over small obstacles.
While FUNdamental Skills Focuses primarily on skills drills that do not rely on having complex trail features nearby, the final lesson is for riders to successfully roll off a 12-24″ ledge. The lot behind Irwins had no such feature, but with my many experiences of building skills training features on the fly for the SF Bike Expo, Santa Cruz MTB Fest and my own Queen of the MTN events, I had no trouble piecing together some lumber from scraps and tools I found at a friends house. I’m glad I took the effort, because a couple of ladies had a desire to not only learn to safely roll a drop, but how to pop off the lip and stomp the landing so they can move on to bigger things. My first love and passion for mountain biking is of course freeride, and to finish up an amazing weekend of learning, relationship building, and celebration, watching my new friend Ashlie Watters get stoked and rad off my mini drop, was the best cake topper I could ask for.
To each and every women who came out for the weekend at Irwins, whether it was Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday, thank you so much for taking the time and making the commitment to come out. Whether you came to learn skills, or just to meet other riders, know that your presence on the trail will surely inspire the next woman or little girl to take positive pedal strokes towards enriching her life with mountain biking.
If you missed out on this amazing weekend, and would like to join us next time, our next stop of Shine’s Devinci Womens Weekends is in sunny Arizona. I hope to see you there!