I attended the Dirt Series Camp in Sun Valley, Idaho this past weekend and had a great time despite the few brief downpours and thunderstorms and one pretty crazy hailstorm. In fact, the soggy weather didn't deter any of the group of 30 or so women of all ages and abilities from learning basic skills like straight line riding, manuals, quarter punches, front wheel lifts, switchback negotiation and how to tackle obstacles like teeter totters and bridges. My personal favorite was learning manuals. It's a skill I've never been able to master, but by the end of an hour-and-a-half clinic, I was able to manual off a a pretty decent sized jump (and land, incidentally).
Whistler, B.C. rider Candace Shadley started the Dirt Series nine years ago and her program has helped thousands of women, as well as men, push their riding to the next level. The series takes place in about 20 locations—mostly from the Rockies west in both the U.S. and Canada—and an average of 40 students show up for each camp.
Even with people scaling back on vacations and discretionary spending due to the economy, Dirt Series hasn't seen a drop in enrollment this year.
"We're sold out except for this camp," said three-year instructor Julie Gamache, noting that the date fell on Father's Day weekend, and that the Ketchum/Sun Valley area has had one of the wettest springs on record.
For more information, go to dirtseries.com.
A student practices navigates a box after practicing her braking technique before approaching an obstacle
A little rain, er a lot, isn't going to stop this group of hardcore ladies!
Todd Byle, manager of Ketchum's Sturtos Bike Shop, which provided demo Rocky Mountain bikes for the group, explains the intricacies of limit screws and rear derailleurs to the group. Part of the Dirt Series includes basic instruction on need-to-know mountain biking tasks like fixing a flat tire and general bike maintenance, as well as information on suspension systems, gearing and brakes.
The ladies started off the second morning with a yoga/stretching session to loosen the muscles after a long day 1.
A rider rounds the bend at the Hailey Community Bike Park. The recreation area for motorized and non-motorized recreation is the location of a former BMX track that was reopened two years ago after several local nonprofits competed extension renovations. Plans are the works to add new trails, a shelter, restrooms and a beginner rider area this summer.
Dirt Series founder Candace Shadley picks students' names out of a bag for prizes. Each camp attendee walked away with a pound of free coffee from Kicking Horse Coffee and swag from sponsors Dakine, Maxxis, Fox Racing Shox, Sugoi, Crankbrothers and Bell.