The largest women’s mountain-biking club in North America, Girlz Gone Riding, was co-founded in 2012 by Wendy Engelberg and Kimberly Cofield. Starting with 85 Los Angeles-area members, today it boasts over 4,000 members as it celebrates its 10th anniversary in February. GGR now has 8 chapters in California and Arizona: Big Bear; Central California; Inland Empire; Kern County; Los Angeles; Mojave (AZ); Orange County; and San Diego.
“The friendships I’ve seen develop within our group and the positive changes to the industry we’ve helped initiate are the two things I’m most proud of,” says GGR director Engelberg. “I look forward to continued growth and changing women’s lives for the better through mountain biking.”
Among the highlights of GGR’s first decade:
- Consulting with key bike brands, such as Specialized, SheBeest, and Kali Protectives, on women’s riding preferences and needs. Engelberg herself has served as an ambassador for brands that include Hero Kit, IBIS, Kali Protectives, Kuat, and Specialized.
- Winning a $5,000 community grant for 2021-2022 from outdoor retailer REI in recognition of GGR’s role in encouraging more women to get outdoors through mountain biking.
- Organizing major women’s mountain-biking events, including 7 years of annual Rocktober festivals and 5 years of annual Women’s Weekends in Big Bear, CA.
- Building women riders’ skills and knowledge through clinics, including ones with former pro mountain bike racer and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Leigh Donovan.
- Creating a certification program to ensure volunteer ride leaders are appropriately trained.
- Supporting IMBA and local advocacy groups, including CORBA, through membership drives. CORBA, the Concerned Off-road Bicyclists Association, is an L.A. IMBA affiliate and advocacy partner for GGR's Los Angeles chapter. "CORBA is very proud of our affiliation with GGR since its inception. Thanks to GGR's success and popularity, there's been a steady rise in the number of women on mountain bikes on our trails,” said Steve Messer, president of CORBA.
- Volunteering for trail-maintenance days and providing rider support at events, such as Share the Road, the Grizzly 100, L.A. River Ride, 12 Hours of Temecula, and Tour de Fat.
- Forging friendships among hundreds of women who would not have met otherwise, but who have bonded over a passion for mountain biking and respect for the outdoors.
- Providing a lifeline to women mountain bikers during the pandemic. The San Diego chapter, for example, more than tripled its membership in the last two years, with many of the women being first-time riders.
GGR membership is free and the club is entirely volunteer-run. GGR emphasizes courtesy toward all trail users and adheres to trail-etiquette codes at all times. www.girlzgoneriding.com/