Briana Swanson, second from left, President of the Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance, speaks before leading a women’s mountain bike ride at Dredge Lakes on Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Briana Swanson, second from left, President of the Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance, speaks before leading a women’s mountain bike ride at Dredge Lakes on Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Blazing new trails: Ladies bind together for mountain biking adventures

Biweekly trail rides help further women’s interest in sport

As president of the Juneau Mountain Biking Alliance, Briana Swanson wants to stoke interest in mountain biking. One goal of the group, she said, is to develop new mountain biking trails in Juneau.

Today, though, she’s more than happy to be setting out on a pre-existing path: Dredge Lake Trails. It’s a cool and dry Thursday evening, as good of Juneau biking weather as you’re going to get. It’s also one of the select times she gets to ride with an all-ladies group. For the past few summers, Swanson has organized ladies trail rides a couple times a month to help grow the sport among women.

[Serenity in the dark: How Auke Lake became a go-to swimming destination]

“I have always ridden mostly with all the men in town,” Swanson said. “You go out and you see ladies and you’re like, ‘Oh, there are ladies riders.’ So this is a good way to bring us together because I feel like we all have our own little groups but we all don’t know each other.”

Deborah Reid attaches the front wheel to her mountain bicycle after arriving for a women’s mountain bike ride at Dredge Lakes on Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Deborah Reid attaches the front wheel to her mountain bicycle after arriving for a women’s mountain bike ride at Dredge Lakes on Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

At first, the physical nature of the sport may seem daunting, Swanson said. That’s why she purposely invites all levels of riders.

“It can be fun, but it can also be a little bit scary and everyone has different levels that they’re willing to push themselves on,” Swanson said. “So I try to use trails that are most accessible and allow everyone to ride on, but can also challenge you if you want to try to ride some of the more technical parts of the trails.”

Sheila Good is a longtime mountain biker in Juneau, and one of the eight that came out for the evening ride. Good said it’s difficult to keep up with some of the men in town, and she’s able develop more skills by riding with other women.

“We handle our bikes different,” Good said. “We don’t necessarily muscle over stuff as much as the guys do.”

Mountain biking has historically been a male-dominated sport, and the mountain biking alliance strives to help break through that barrier, and encourage women to join.

“I think it is so important for us to get together because it’s not as intimidating when you’ve got a group of girls that are encouraging you and helping you through,” Good said. “So if there’s something you don’t know how to do, they’ll stop, they’ll say, ‘Well, try it this way,’ whereas the guys sometimes, they’re just like, ‘Later.’”

Tana O’Leary, left, rides her mountain bicycle with Nicole Dwyer during a women’s mountain bike ride at Dredge Lakes on Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Tana O’Leary, left, rides her mountain bicycle with Nicole Dwyer during a women’s mountain bike ride at Dredge Lakes on Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The “Ladies Trail Ride” is publicized on Facebook, which is how first-time participants Nicole Dwyer and Michelle Warrenchuk found it. Both riders arrived to the trailhead early, clicking on their helmets before introducing themselves to the other riders.

Warrenchuk said she put her bike down when she started a family. Now that her son is 10 and quickly advancing on his own mountain bike, she said it was time to take up the hobby again.

“I was kind of in retirement as my son was growing up, and now he’s really into it so it’s kind of fun as a family to get back into it,” she said. “I feel like I better get caught up and get back into shape before he gets too much better than I am.”

Dwyer moved to Juneau about year ago and works in the tourism industry. She brought her mountain bike when she moved to Juneau, and is still learning the trails. She sought out the group in an effort to feel more comfortable while trying out new terrain.

“I just like to be outside and go faster than a hike,” Dwyer said.

FYI

To learn more about the ladies riding groups, go to juneaucyclingclubs.org or facebook.com/JuneauMTBAlliance.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


More in Sports

The Thunder Mountain High School Falcons girls basketball team comes onto the floor Saturday. (Klas Stolpe / For the Juneau Empire)
Falcons girls soar over North Pole in final home court game at Thunder Mountain High School

Team at top of conference entering playoffs for last time, as merger with JDHS set for next year.

Hydrologist Heather Best rides her fat bike in the White Mountains National Recreation Area north of Fairbanks. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Wet overflow a winter hazard in Alaska

While following a snowmachine trail recently, my dog and I came to… Continue reading

As a teenager, shooting hoops was a major stress reliever for the author. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Lund)
I went to the woods: The reward of risk

One of the easiest things for athletes, coaches, former athletes, former coaches… Continue reading

Sapsucker wells on willows attract hummingbirds as well as insects. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Willows and the ecosystem

I recently found willow catkins just emerging from their bud covers, getting… Continue reading

Thunder Mountain High School’s Thomas Baxter and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Alwen Carrillo embrace at their end of Saturday’s game at JDHS that may have been the final local game between the two schools due to a consolidation of them tentatively approved by the school board starting next year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
In Juneau’s potentially final crosstown basketball showdown, both schools win

TMHS girls and JDHS boys prevail on night filled with dual-school spirit as consolidation looms.

Thunder Mountain High School seniors for the boys’ basketball team, their families and other supporters fill the Thunderdome for a Senior Night recognition before Friday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. It was possibly the final home game for the Falcons team due to a pending decision to put all high school students at JDHS starting with the next school year. The Falcons girls’ team will play their final home games of the season — and possibly ever — next Friday and Saturday against North Pole High School. (Screenshot from NFHS Network)
TMHS boys prevail in possibly their final home game ever against JDHS, with merger of schools pending

Girls play final home games next weekend; both local schools play each other again tonight at JDHS.

Iditarod winner Brent Sass poses for photos with lead dogs Morello, left, and Slater after winning the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska, March 15, 2022. A second musher has been disqualified from the world’s most famous sled dog race. The governing body of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race said in a one-sentence statement late Thursday night, Feb. 22, 2024, that it has withdrawn 2022 champion Brent Sass just days before the start of this year’s race. (Anne Raup/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Assault claims roil Iditarod sled dog race as 2 top mushers are disqualified, then 1 reinstated

Claims of violence against women are roiling the world’s most famous sled… Continue reading

Forest Wagner visits Kanuti Hot Springs, located in Interior Alaska not far from the Arctic Circle. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Alaska hot springs, far and wide

After a few hours of skiing through deep snow, Forest Wagner and… Continue reading

A female varied thrush pauses to look around during her foraging bout. (Photo by Helen Unruh)
On the Trails: Early signs of spring

The ground is heavily blanketed with snow. The snow berms in my… Continue reading

Most Read