If you haven’t spent much time with middle school girls, you would probably assume that they would
scoff at the task of collecting and moving rocks, for any purpose. However, during one of our trail
building days with Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, I got to witness firsthand probably the most excited girls I’ve ever seen moving rocks. The purpose of collecting and moving said rocks was to re-build a part of the heavily used Spruce Creek trail in Blue River. Our girls showed up to this volunteer activity completely stoked and ready to work together to give back to one of the trails in our community.
While I witnessed team building on bike throughout the year, I also saw an incredible amount of team building through our service projects. Perhaps because during service projects we are moving at a slightly slower pace I can really observe the interactions with girls. Nonetheless, during this project, I saw girls working intricately in groups to find the perfect rocks, devise a plan for moving said rocks, and rethink their plan together if it failed the first time.
These are skills we also used on bikes this year. If we came upon a difficult obstacle on the trail, we would often try it, stop and share our thoughts on ways to get over or around the obstacle, then go back and try again. While building tenacity and grit in individuals we also built a community in which teammates felt okay with failing and trying again. One of the most heartwarming things to me as a coach is the screaming, sometimes shrieking (cough cough Lucia), and cheering our girls received from their teammates when they got themselves back on their bike and on the trail after falling.
Personally, through coaching with The Cycle Effect I have felt more connected to the community here in Summit County, as well as the greater mountain biking community. I have built relationships with an amazing group of young ladies here in the county that I would have otherwise not gotten the chance to know. It seems that everywhere I go someone has heard of The Cycle Effect and are so supportive of our mission. To my surprise, so many people we encounter on the trail are so excited to see a giant (typically loud, maybe a bit squirrely) group of girls out biking, rather than annoyed about waiting for us to pass. Our girls have become some of the most polite trail users I’ve encountered. As a coach, I feel honored to be a part of building all of these communities through mountain biking.