SF Composite Mountain Biking: Getting More Girls on Bikes

Our Women Bike SF program is all about supporting and encouraging more women, trans* and femme people biking in San Francisco, and one of our fabulous members is helping lead the way in doing just that. Heather Pugh (member since 2010) is a coach for the SF Composite Mountain Biking Team who is supporting more high school age girls to get rolling in the program. Learn more about the SF Composite Mountain Biking and see how you can help encourage more young girls to get on wheels below.

Guest Blog by Heather Pugh

The SF Composite Mountain Biking Team is an all-inclusive group, all genders, races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds and riding abilities are welcomed, and is made up of students from local San Francisco High Schools. The team rides and races as part of the broader NorCal High School Cycling League. To ensure that every student has an opportunity to race, the team doesn’t have “try-outs” or “bench” anyone, and there are scholarships and loaner bikes for students interested but not financially able to commit. If a student is interested in riding, the team will support them to make it happen.

The SF Composite Mountain Biking Team is committed to getting more girls involved. Within the Northern California League only about 20 percent of the athletes are female. Working with female student-athletes over the last couple of years, we’ve seen how mountain biking helps girls to develop leadership skills, build confidence and increase self-esteem. It requires mental strength to perform; there’s just no getting around it. Being on a team with coaches and fellow riders provides a safe environment to work on an array of things in the psychological and physical arenas. Female student-athletes involved in this sport get recognition and support from their peers, both female and male, which lends to improving self-image, too.

It’s important that the sport of mountain biking gets more women involved. There are terrific, positive male coaches with loads of experience, but women coaches are especially important in working with female teens because they are the role models that the girls can look up to. We know that female coaches can encourage girls to do things by demonstrating and showing in a way that’s like, “Hey, I’m a girl, too. We can sweat, climb steep mountains and conquer just like anybody else can – and we will.” The SF Composite team currently has three driven female coaches who are there to support all girls who join the team.

You can help more girls get involved. Most of the girls on SF Composite have found their way to the team through word-of-mouth, be it through their sibling’s involvement or another rider that has invited them to try it out. The team welcomes girls with no previous mountain biking experience to show up and encourages them to commit to racing a whole season. It’s incredible to see that determination, and a joy to help foster their dedication and obtain personal success.

If you know a high school student that might want to join the team, encourage them to come and ride with the SF Composite Mountain Biking Team! The team usually practices in Golden Gate Park during the weekdays and does longer rides in the Marin Headlands and around on Mt. Tam on the weekends. We have a lot coming up. There’s a team campout in mid-February in Bolinas, and we’re attending races in Monterey, Folsom, Lower Lake, and Petaluma from February through May.

Email me at hp@norcalmtb.org and let’s talk about upcoming rides, races and other events. Both students and parents are welcome to ride along to see what the team does!

Want to support our Women Bike SF program, and help more girls get rolling? Become a member today!

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