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2018 VIRGINIA OFF ROAD SERIES


2018 WOMEN'S COLLECTIVE

We'd love to see more women on the starting line in 2018! So we're working on A Women's Collective this year. Over the years, we've seen some incredible women racing their mountain bikes. Well we're going to work with some of them to get their insights to help more women get out and have fun racing their mountain bikes.... These women have faced the competition, the nerves and challenges.. And come out on top! Stay tuned as the story will continue to unfold!





CONTRIBUTORS

  • JILL JOHNSON
  • Kendell Ryan
  • Carmen Hamlin
  • Marin Lee Campbell
  • Jessica Langford Coco
  • Kelly Hazlegrove


  • LADIES RACE SPECIALS!!

    VORS 10 FAT TIRE WEEKEND - Cinco de Mayo SPECIAL
    All ladies registering on May 5th will receive Cinco Dinero (20%) OFF regular registration fees




    EXPERIENCES
    ATHLETE : Kelly Hazlegrove

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    Short Bio & Story (age, city, etc)
    Age 41 Town: Lynchburg VA
    I have been an avid mountain biker since 2006 after being introduced to the sport by my now-husband, Blackwater Bike Shop owner Davy Hazlegrove. Since those early days I have done a bit of racing, always for fun and to support our mountain biking community. I am not one of the fast ladies, so I just go out there and treat it like a big group ride. I like the physical challenge of racing, but mostly like to ride my bike and rehash the event afterwards with the other racers. Everyone bonds after a race and it’s fun to share stories and enjoy some food with each other. I am always very anxious before a race, then I think to myself that in the grand scheme of things racing bikes is pretty unimportant. This calms me so that I can go have a good time and get in a great workout! I have done many VORS races, some XXC races, a couple downhill races and enduros, and I have finished the SM100 twice. The first time I had only been seriously riding for maybe 1.5 years and it did not go well! I was almost last, but I dragged myself across that finish line because I didn’t want to be a quitter. When I crossed the finish line and entered the pavilion, I got a standing ovation that brings tears to my eyes to this day. Most of those people had been finished for hours, but they took the time to cheer on those of us crawling in way after dark. What a fantastic community to be a part of! My second SM100 was in 2012 and there was a hurricane that made it so crazy riding in a downpour and being absolutely covered in mud. My endurance days are over for a while now that I am a mother, but I am focused on quality over quantity when it comes to riding.

    When I was a beginner, I had a few friends who were instrumental in teaching me skills and patiently waiting for me while out riding, and I am eternally grateful for their patience! I took my first clinic in 2010 and was blown away. I have always loved sessioning features and trying to become a better rider, so the clinic inspired me to become an instructor so that I could teach other women these critical bike handling skills. I became an IMBA ICP level 1 instructor in 2014, followed up with a Level 2 certification right after having a baby in 2015, and recently took the Level 3 advanced instructor course, which I will complete after I dial in a couple more skills (it’s a tough course!!). I have enjoyed coaching at women’s clinics and doing private lessons, in addition to founding and coaching a NICA team. I look forward to helping many more women dial in their skills in the future!

    I am coaching at several women’s events in 2018, and I strongly encourage women to sign up. You won’t regret the investment!! Check out the Michaux MTB School of Hard Rocks (April 2018), Massanutten spring women’s weekend (May 5-6 2018), Snowshoe women’s weekend (July 2018), Bryce QOM (August 2018). Also see http://www.blackwaterbikeshop.com/instruction.php for private lessons.







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    EXPERIENCES
    ATHLETE : Jessica Langford Coco

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    Short Bio & Story (age, city, etc)
    AGE: 34 TOWN : originally from Florida. I have been living in Lynchburg for 5 years
    --->“Quitters never win, Jessica! Be careful and don’t fall off the side of the mountain!” My dad’s voice boomed through my head as I pushed my bike up the zillionth hill at Carvin’s Cove, a beautiful mountain trail system just outside of Roanoke, Virginia.

    At that point in the game (or should I say race?), it was October 2013, I was at mile 8 of 15 of the XC option mountain bike race called “The Rotor Meltdown”, had only been riding my mountain bike for a little more than 2 months (and not even steady), a little overweight thanks to grad school, AND I was exhausted as well as discouraged and mofo-ing hangry! My mind went on the journey to how I had gotten to this point in the first place. I had started my mountain bike curiosity when I was an undergrad at Lynchburg College and my favorite Mathematics professors would talk about their adventures on their mountain bikes, and then when I started dating a badass mountain biker named, Mike Coco, who is now my wonderful husband, I started to really become curious about it and even asked that he take me on the trails to see what it was all about. He of course was gentle on me and even borrowed a small frame mountain bike from his buddy to take me on the bunny trails located in the inner city of Lynchburg and at a state park in Georgia after we attend the Bike Festival around Atlanta. When he found out that I loved to ride the trails, he bought me my first mountain bike. At that time, I thought it was fun to be out in nature in a more unique way other than just walking/running and I loved that it was challenging, and man, did I LOVE challenges! I was an ultra-trail runner who had completed half marathons and even a 50k on the trails on Carvins and Iron Mountain.

    When Mike told me about a three day women’s Mountain Bike Clinic that our Lynchburg mountain bike club, GLOC, was having, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I needed some guidance on how to ride my bike because my research and intuition was telling me that having instruction was the best way to go especially if it was from another female mountain bike instructor. It was at the clinic that I was introduced to Kelly Hazlegrove, the skills instructor, Robin Clifford, Casey Bailey, Heather Seal, and Sarah Hewes. These women would help shape my mountain bike experiences, get me into racing, and teach me invaluable bike handling skills as well as provide support to help my skills grow as a mountain biker. They would encourage me to try riding new features on the trail and would cheer when I would cross a wooden bridge, my achilles heel at the time.

    With these wonderful ladies by my side, I started riding every week at the GLOC women’s ride and started to gain confidence on the bike. I even was talked into going on a mountain bike trip to attend the SVBC Mountain Bike Festival located at the Stokesville Campground in the Shenandoah Valley area. That is where we had been the previous day before Mike and I attend the Carvins Cove race.

    The ladies I rode with, always talked about doing races and how much fun they would have as well as the beer and food that would be consumed after. I knew that Mike Coco raced as well and loved it. I would even go to the mountain bike races and watch everyone, the women looked like they were having so much fun. I knew from my experience, I loved going downhill and felt amazing when I was able to ride over things I never thought a bike could ride over. I wanted to experience that type of fun!

    Needless to say, I said a big “Hell Yeah” when someone suggested I try riding The Rotor Meltdown at Carvins. My confidence was pretty high as I thought I was in pretty good shape from running the trails and riding a bit on the bike even if I had a couple of pounds extra around my waist. Looking back, I realized I had only been riding beginner’s trails and not even riding that far (or even uphill that much!). What the heck was I thinking coming and doing this race!

    My mind clicked back into the present when I realized that the XXC riders of the race had been passing me to complete their second round about the 15-mile loop around the cove and watching their skills was inspiring and somewhat intimidating!

    “Woah! That dude just rode that ridge with sharp rocks without hesitation. I want to do that like a BOSS!” I thought to myself when a male mtn biker cleared an area of the trail that I had just pushed my bike through. “He’s a guy though, of course he can do that. They are taught to be good at physical stuff.”

    Right as I was thinking this VERY limiting belief a fellow female XXC racer, who I now know as Denelle, passed me, nicely saying “Passing on the left! Have a great race, girl!” and also cleared the ridge rock garden, I was amazed, excited, and reminded of what girls could do on the bike. I wanted to be that girl who could do that! One who had the confidence and skill to ride her bike through obstacles and make them look flawless! Girls can ride bikes! I can do this SHIZZLE FO REALIZZLE. I felt renewed and excited. I ate some food, stretched my legs out a bit, jumped on my bike, smiled, and completed my race, not without struggle mind you. I was the last XC female to cross the finish line, I placed first in my category as I was the only beginner woman AND I had an end in mind. I was going to become a Badass Mountain Biker Chick and my own hero!







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    EXPERIENCES
    ATHLETE : Marin Lee Campbell

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    Short Bio & Story (age, city, etc)
    AGE: 38 TOWN : BOULDER --->Front Royal; Over the 20 years I've been riding, I've valued my relationships with male friends and boyfriends who ride--I'm lucky to be surrounded by a lot of talented athletes. Riding with whoever is available, whether they're faster, stronger, slower, or less experienced has built me into the rider I am today. But I have been so fortunate to have some close female friends who just rip—and they push me differently than when I ride with the boys.


    I volunteered with a women's MTB clinic for a couple years, a skills clinic where we'd work on something different each week. And I found that a lot of women really blossomed when surrounded by supportive ladies--it's an environment where failing is okay and even celebrated because it allows you to find and push your boundaries. Doing endurance races with other women has also been very rewarding, since functioning as a team is motivating in a different way than solo events.


    Specific stories that have stuck with me: fixing a busted chain trailside in Sedona with just my girlfriend and myself, accidentally riding 10 extra (hard) miles on the Divide Trail in Steamboat (don't nominate a directionally challenged friend to be navigator), winning the women's 12-hour duo (and beating all the coed teams and half the men's) at the Steamboat 24 with a teammate who had bronchitis, an epic girls' trip to Moab.


    Now I'm all jazzed to ride! Just got back from Tucson where the riding is perfect right now...can't wait to check out the trails in Virginia. 🙂






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    EXPERIENCES
    ATHLETE : Julie Tashner

    Mountain Bike Racing Experience: I'm a newbie racer! As of February 2018, I've been in exactly two MTB races.

    Short Bio & Story (age, city, etc)
    AGE: 37 TOWN : RICHMOND; started mountain biking in 2016 with her, then, 25ish year old mountain bike. Her first trail ride was Gillies Creek - in the dark, in February. And it was AMAZING. Months later, that same bike broke mid-ride. Living with a mentality of "I think I can", Julie began biking after a friend asked her if she would participate in a non-competitive 24 hour adventure race with The Project Athena Foundation, a foundation who strives to help survivors of medical or other traumatic challenges reach new athletic goals. Julie, looking for a life change, jumped at the opportunity!

    Experiences. Short stories. Etc. I had gotten to the point in my life where my physical activity level was super low. So low that my dog was lucky if she got a walk every day. Not only did training for my first adventure race in 2016 change my lifestyle by getting me out and active, it also introduced me to many new people all around the country. Mountain biking, with much credit to the biking community, is the activity that stuck with me the most. My favorite riding “rules” are: look where you want to go, ride in ready stance, and commit, don’t quit. Flashforward to 2018 - - my dog gets a lot more walks, I am an ambassador for The Project Athena Foundation, and an adventure ambassador for Adventure Enablers. I thrive on getting people involved and active. While not overly competitive, I’m more of an “in it for the experience” kind of gal, my favorite words of wisdom are from my 90-year-old grandmother, “You can’t ever win, if you don’t even try.”






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    EXPERIENCES
    ATHLETE : Carmen Hamlin

    Mountain Bike Racing Experience: Intermittent & Sketchy

    Short Bio & Story (age, city, etc)
    AGE: 43 TOWN : RICHMOND; lifelong resident of RVA. I’ve been riding since 2013 and prefer spontaneous, no-pressure riding. In 2014, I raced so many VORS races as a member of Women’s Multisports of Richmond that I placed somewhere for the series despite finishing each race close to last place. I really enjoyed the opportunity to ride a variety of trail systems in the state and meet more women riders. Erica was a main race buddy of mine, and we would frequently ride a lap or two together and maybe stop for photo ops. Another time Brenda and I stopped riding laps in a timed event and packed up our campsite, then decided we would ride another lap after all!

    In the past couple of years, I’ve enjoyed helping as a ride leader with Bell Joy Ride and RVAMore, and I just got my PMBIA Level I Instructor certification. I’m passionate about getting more women involved in the sport, building confidence, and having fun!






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    EXPERIENCES
    ATHLETE : Kendell Ryan

    Short Bio & Story (age, city, etc)
    AGE: 42 TOWN : RICHMOND; I have been riding mountain bikes for about 8 years. I ride mostly for enjoyment and exercise with some occasional racing thrown in. I'm thrilled to be a part of a great local Women's team, River City Women's River City Racing. I am passionate about getting women on mountain bikes and spend a lot of my time as an ambassador for Bell Helmet’s program ‘Bell Joy Ride’. In this role, with the help of other kick-ass women and local bike shops, we are getting a boat load of women in Richmond on the trails. This also motivated me to get certified as an IMBA and PMBA level I Instructor. Seeing women progress and build confidence is what drives me. This year I would love to get more women of all levels out racing, whatever their reason (get in better shape, challenge themselves, aim for a podium, etc). I was so nervous doing my first race a few years ago. I was surprised how supportive most of the racers were, and how proud I was after finishing it (even after dropping my chain twice). I love to push myself during a ride and a race, but it’s about doing my best. I’ve landed on a few podiums, though I’m not sure if that’s a result of a shallow women’s field, or I just had a good season. If you pass me in a race I’ll likely be hollering ‘good job’ to you, unless I am dying and can’t get the words out.





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    EXPERIENCES
    ATHLETE : JILL JOHNSON

    1. Mountain Bike Race Experience
    I have been riding/racing mountain bikes off and on for 29 years

    2. Name & short bio (age, city, etc)
    Jill Johnson; born in Akron, OH, June 5, 1970; first learned to mountain bike in Pennsylvania spring of 1989 on a homemade frankenbike - no suspension, toe cages; first race was in Edinboro PA winter of 1990?, did terribly; over the years did tons of one day events, seven 24hr races, 2 18hr, a few 6hrs - the latest being Scout Camp after a 12 year hiatus; countless bikes and two kids later I live in Richmond and ride around with some of the best ladies ever; despite my age and brokenness, I prefer to ride a hardtail or a hardtail singlespeed and I don't like to leave the house for less than a ten mile ride. Oh and my temperature threshold is 42 degrees F.


    I like to be an ambassador of the sport so anything I can do to encourage people to get the hell outside, I'm going to do it. I'm not super competitive, but if I feel like I'm doing it for someone else (ex: if someone loses a teammate to injury/illness), I'll kill it for them. My favorite advice is "The Three I's": Eyes up, I am relaxed, I trust my bike. There are some Vannah White-esque hand gestures that go with it that really drive the idea home. Another is "If you don't want to hit it, don't look at it." I still have trouble following that one.



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    EXPERIENCES