When I saw the ad for the Shred Sisters Ladies Kickstart Mountain Bike Retreat, I knew this was an opportunity to advance my biking skills and meet a lot of like-minded women in the process. The description talked about riding 2 full days with skills workshops, catered gourmet food, and yoga to wind down the day. All this and it was to take place in the picturesque little town of Invermere, British Columbia? I was in.
I asked my friend Michelle (who is just getting into mountain biking herself) if she wanted to come with me. Her response was along the lines of “Hell yes!” so we signed up and couldn’t wait for the weekend to come.
Michelle and I arrived in Invermere on Friday evening not really knowing what to expect for accommodation. Needless to say we were pleasantly surprised when we pulled up to a massive house that looked like a log cabin, with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Most of the women were staying here and it was a great chance to get to know everyone. There were others from Calgary, a few from Vernon, and one who came all the way from Vancouver. Such a great mix of riders!
After we settled in, Audrey (who is also a certified yoga instructor), led us through some gentle yoga and explained to us how the weekend was going to go. It would be guided meditation to start the day and set our focus, breakfast, a couple hours of skills sessions in the morning, lunch, then we would hit the trails in the afternoon. Sounded perfect to me!
The next morning I had my intermediate skill session with Becca who coached us through the basic parts of the bike and how to change a flat if (knock on wood) it should ever happen on the trail. We went over skills like Attack Position, Rock Dodge, and how to lift our front and back wheels over obstacles. We even practiced lifting both at the same time which is super fun.
After a quick lunch we headed out to the trail to put our skills to use. We rode the Grizzly Trail which had a super fun “rollercoaster” section where the trail snakes its way through a ravine in a series of steep loops. This was a blast to learn how to ride and it challenged our climbing and cornering skills. Our goal was to ride the whole section in one go. Only one of us made it….yay Vivian!
There was also a steep, rocky section we could try and Becca showed us the best line to take. Cheryl was the brave one to try it out and she nailed it on her first try!
Then it was time to head back for a feast of pasta and some incredible homemade chocolate cake. Michelle and I enjoyed some wine with our meal because really, what’s a ladies weekend without a little wine? Our only mistake was trying to do our evening yoga with bellies full of cake and wine. Definitely won’t be making that mistake again.
Another early morning of meditation, another fantastic meal of an egg and potato bake smothered in cheese (oh man, so good), and I think we also had homemade cinnamon buns (I would go back just to get me some of those buns), and then we were off to our skills session.
That morning my group was with Audrey which was nice because it gave us a chance to learn from both coaches. Audrey did cornering drills with us and showed us how to do drops and roll downs. Skills we would be putting to the test on the trail in the afternoon.
After our lunch of quinoa, tofu, and veggie salad (seriously, did I mention how good the food was??), we took off for the Johnson Trail. This is one of the nicest trails in the area and riders of all abilities can enjoy it. We rode some of the newer, more difficult sections and it tested not only our physical skills but our mental strength as well.
Fear plays a huge part in mountain biking and when you get to technical trail features that are a little out of your current skill level they can be terrifying. On a good day, you can push past the fear and try to go further. On a bad day, you accept that this is as far as you’re going to go for now, and you keep practicing until you learn to move beyond your comfort zone. It happens to all of us. The nice thing about a retreat like this is that you’re not going through it alone. All of us felt out of our comfort zone, and the encouragement from the other women and the comradery of the group helps propel you forward.
On the drive home, Michelle and I agreed that we made the right decision in attending the retreat. We learned so much and had so many new skills to take back home and practice that we couldn’t wait to get out riding again. The location, the ladies, the coaches, and the food are now fond memories that I carry with me. Especially those homemade cinnamon buns.
Are you interested in a biking retreat with Audrey and her Shred Sisters team? Check out her website at https://shredsisters.ca/ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a story about a retreat you went to or a great group experience you had on your bike? I would love to hear it, send in your comments below!