#moregirlsonbikes

About

The GRiT program is NICA’s national initiative to recruit and retain more female-identifying student athletes and coaches in NICA programming. It is the NorCal High School Cycling League’s mission to partner with NICA to participate in this initiative and increase female participation in the league. 

GRiT provides a space for these female-identifying student-athletes and coaches to enjoy the sport of mountain biking through racing, riding, and other events and activities in a way that is different from participating with their male counterparts. 

The GRiT program is an opportunity to experience equity. Equity is providing the tools needed to have equal opportunity to succeed. Whereas, equality is treating everyone the same, which in turn, does not allow equal opportunity to succeed. Although NICA has been successful in providing equal opportunities to all once participating in our programs, we can only be truly equal when we address the fact that many females need specific things and have different needs than boys and men to feel welcome and invited into the sport of mountain biking and into NICA and NorCal League programs.

Our overarching goal of our NorCal GRiT program is to grow, and sustain, female participation in the sport of mountain biking. With your help, and the help of our generous sponsors and donors, the future of cycling will look more diverse, equitable, and awesome.

GRiT Ambassadors

Annie Hyatt

There’s a feeling that coaches described to me, but I didn’t entirely understand it until I started racing. A moment after the count-down ends and the send-off begins- you get rolling and all of those unfavorable feelings go away – no nerves, no jitters, just the sense that it’s time to race. I’m not thinking about what’s going on at school, or what I ate for breakfast, or what the final results may be – just me, the bike and a sense that I am in control. This feeling and the community of teammates and other riders are what make the months of training worth it.That feeling is so incredibly awesome that I would love the opportunity to share it with as many girls as I possibly can. My name is Annie Hyatt and I feel fortunate to have had this experience while racing in the NorCal League over the last two seasons with the Granite Bay Grizzlies.

As for my hobbies and interests, I enjoy drawing, listening to music, and hiking when I’m not riding or racing on my mountain bike.

I am excited to be a GRiT ambassador because I want to see the amount of women in mountain biking grow and for those in the league to experience a true race. In 2012 I was an eager eight year old chasing my dad around race venues. It was the first race of the season and I remember a whirlwind of whistles, cheers and excitement as the freshman girls race was about to begin – in the starting chute there were a few girls lined up that were much older than me, but who looked pretty nervous. Little did I know, in six short years I would be in that very position, except there would be one major difference- we would still be all timid and jittery but there would be a sea of us. I find it amazing that every year that I race, there are more girls. It’s awesome!! Here’s to getting more girls on bikes!

P.S. Did you know that it’s illegal to fish from the back of a horse in Utah? 🙂

What are your pronouns?

My pronouns are she/her/hers.

Favorite trail snack?

My favorite trail snacks are dried mango and Honey Stinger lime chews.

What is your dream bike?

My dream bike is any bike with two wheels.

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

A simple pleasure that I enjoy is walking in the rain.

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

One of my hobbies outside of mountain biking is going fly fishing with my dad.

Where is your favorite place to ride?

I love the trails all around Whitefish, Montana.

Avery Daubert

My name is Avery and I have been racing in the NorCal League for one season with Ponderosa High School Bruins. I decided to join the mountain biking club during club rush at my school. Before then, soccer was the only sport I knew. I made the life-changing decision to continue mountain biking and not soccer because of the community. Everyone I have met is so uplifting and supportive, so I am constantly reminded how amazing this sport is.

Outside of mountain biking, I really enjoy art of any kind. I just finished a painting of my sister that took me a couple of months. I also like drawing, and some 3D arts such as working with clay, and paper collages. Art is a great hobby because of its calming nature. Mountain biking and painting balance each other out. I can get my adrenaline going, and physically exercise on my bike, while on the other hand, I can relax and mentally/emotionally exercise through my artwork.

As a GRiT ambassador, I am excited for the opportunity to share what an amazing experience I’ve had through mountain biking with other girls. I want people to be inspired and encouraged to join and I am looking forward to meeting new people. I can’t wait for the new season to start, and team bonding to begin.

What are your pronouns?

My pronouns are she/her.

Favorite trail snack?

My favorite trail snacks are Clif Bars.

What is your dream bike?

My dream bike is the Trek Supercaliber 9.9

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

A simple pleasure of mine is being woken up by my dog.

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

One of my hobbies outside of mountain biking is painting.

Where is your favorite place to ride?

My favorite place to ride is Hole in the Ground.

Cali Carson

My name is Cali Carson and I have been a member of the Oakland Technical High School team since freshman year but raced my first season sophomore year. I started mountain biking when my dad recommended it to me and I quickly found a great community and challenging fun sport. My mission as a GRiT ambassador is to leave my team with more girls that are lower classmen as I exit the league. 

When I am not  mountain biking, I am participating in my interests surrounding STEM, particularly math and engineering. I participate in other extra curricular STEM activities often such as Keep Oakland Beautiful, ACE mentoring, Engineering Academy, and my internship at Fallingwater.

As a NorCal GRiT ambassador, I am excited to talk to new girls and help them grow their skills and passion for biking through my GRiT ambassadorship in 2020-2021. My recent month-long conservation work in the Sierras where I developed a leadership listening skill set, I think will be a great asset while being an ambassador. I hope to see all you ladies through GRiT and beyond soon.

What are your pronouns?

I use she/her/hers pronouns

Favorite trail snack? 

Dried mango

What is your dream bike?

My dream bike is the one I have. I just like that I can ride. I have the Santa Cruz blur.

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

I love to listen to podcasts about economics.

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

I really enjoy hiking, sewing, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)

Where is your favorite place to ride?

I like riding wherever my friends are.

Gwen Crowley

Hello! My name is Gwen and I am a member of the Trojans High School Mountain Bike Team and I have been racing for one season with the NorCal League. I previously raced in the SoCal League and while living there I found a love for dirt biking in my free time. I first got into mountain biking because my friend was on the team and encouraged me to join which has led me to where I am today. I decided I wanted to be a GRiT ambassador because I have been extremely passionate about making the cycling world more inclusive and welcoming to female cyclists. Being an ambassador for GRiT would help me to further that goal by showing other girls, who may be interested in joining a team, that this is more than just a guy’s sport. I’m most excited about GRiT because I will be working with and meeting other girls both within and outside of the NorCal League.

What are your pronouns?

My pronouns are she/her. 

Favorite trail snack?

My favorite trail snack is Salted Watermelon GU, it always keeps me going!

What is your dream bike?

My favorite bike brand is Canyon!

 What is a simple pleasure of yours?

A simple pleasure of mine is getting ice cream after a long day.

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

My favorite activity outside of mountain biking is playing guitar.

Where is your favorite place to ride?

My favorite place to ride is Vail Lake, that’s where I first discovered my passion for biking, so it will always have a special place in my heart.  

Kiera Ramirez

I have raced one season in the NorCal League with Salinas High School. Go Cowboys! I initially got into mountain biking after an injury during a fall sport and my dad encouraged me to try something new, being mountain biking. It was rather intimidating at first, but I quickly fell in love with this sport. Many weekends of extended hours on the saddle with my dad, teammates, and coaches has made my first year riding a memorable experience that I’ll hold with me for the years to come. 

As fun as mountain biking is, I really enjoy hiking, spending time with my family and animals, while also being a part of school clubs and organizations such as FFA.

I decided to apply to be a GRiT ambassador to inspire females to join a sport they’ve may have considered, but were too intimidated to do so. Being able to put myself into a position that could guide young girls into such a male-dominated sport is a dream of mine- Breaking the walls that may surround females’ ambitions, can lead to hundreds or possibly thousands of athletes around the US  to at least attempting to hop on the bike and get an overall feel for this incredibly rewarding sport. I am excited to have the opportunity to achieve this dream through the GRiT program. I look forward to being able to advocate for novice riders while building an environment that females feel safe, supported, and most importantly feel comfortable in. From personal experience, having girl teammates assuage any discomfort or nervousness before a race, practice, or simply just, in general, has made me want to go out and ride countless trails with their endless support. When I found out about this program I was so incredibly content that there was an organization that promotes female-identifying athletes. It is truly remarkable that GRiT is and will become such an impactful part of many females’ lives. I am looking forward to helping create a community that empowers females as a NorCal GRiT ambassador.

What are your pronouns? 

She/her

Favorite trail snack? 

Tahoe bars 

What is your dream bike? 

Santa Cruz Highball

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

Spending time with my family and animals. 

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

I enjoy playing beach volleyball and hiking with my family. 

Where is your favorite place to ride?

17 Mile Drive

Lila Hoeh

Hi, my name is Lila and in 2021 it will be my fourth season racing for San Rafael High School. My first experience riding a mountain bike I have a friend to thank for. That friend convinced me to go to a meeting for the girls mtb team freshman year, and surprisingly I said yes. I was already planning to run track that spring, but after watching the “NICA: The New Normal” video, I became very interested. Seeing Emily Batty so passionate about grassroots development and listening to the girls describe situations where they felt empowered by the bike was so inspiring. I decided to scratch my plans to run track and try mountain biking instead. My parents were quite surprised when I told them this, but my dad (especially) was super excited. He had mountain biked recreationally for years, but never pushed me to do it. This ultimately allowed me to find a love for the sport myself, and I cannot thank him enough for that. Going into my first race I had only attended two team practices because I spent my winter playing varsity soccer. I knew nothing about how bike racing worked, but I went out on the Fort Ord trails and loved every second of it. I finished the race with a smile on my face as my teammates greeted me at the finish. I could not wait for my next chance to get between the tape. I was hooked on mountain biking.

This year I decided I wanted to apply to become an ambassador for GRiT because I want to help other girls learn to love this sport as much as I do. The community this sport has is unlike any other sport and I think it deserves to be shared with other girls. If it weren’t for my friend who had a slight interest in the sport, I would have never started mountain biking. I want to ensure that girls all across the NorCal region are introduced to the sport and given the option of being part of such a special community. I have stayed in the sport and the community of mountain biking because of the NorCal League. I love racing my bike and the atmosphere at the NorCal races, but this time in quarantine has allowed me to truly develop a love for just riding my bike without racing on the calendar. I would be so lucky to work in a program like GRiT to help other girls find joy in not only racing their bike, but riding it too.

Outside of mountain biking, my favorite activities are running or hiking. I love the outdoors and if I can’t explore it on my bike, I love to explore by foot with friends and family.

For this coming season, I am excited that NorCal will have an official GRiT program that will be hosting rides and events for girls to cultivate their stoke and make them feel at home in the mountain biking community. I am so honored to help foster a community that would help girls learn to love this sport as much as I do.

What are your pronouns? 

She/her

Favorite trail snack? 

GU strawberry chews 

What is your dream bike? 

Trek Supercaliber

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

Making pancakes 

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

Skiing. 

Where is your favorite place to ride?

Bend, OR

Lily Green

Hi, my name is Lily! Mountain biking started for me when I was 9 when my dad would take me to our local state park, Annadel. Since then, I have been riding with family friends and my new friends from A-Team. When I started cycling more, I decided to widen my field and try out road biking. Since I started cycling, I have joined many charity rides. 

Outside of cycling, I love rock climbing, Judo, dance, and working out. If I’m not in the park, I am generally at the gym.

I have been a part of the NorCal League for one season with the A-Team in Santa Rosa. I remember when I first started cycling, there were no girls in the park or on the road. I always wanted to ride with girls and have fun and make lifelong memories. Sadly, it was not until this last year that I met female cyclists my age and since then, I have loved biking with them. This experience is why being a GRiT ambassador is important to me. I want to bring more girls into the sport so they never feel left out like I did and I look forward to working towards the mission to get more girls on bikes.

What are your pronouns? 

She/her

Favorite trail snack? 

Clif Bars!! They are so tasty and really help me get my energy back. I also love Clif shot blocks when I am getting super tired. 

What is your dream bike? 

I don’t really have a dream bike. Last year I got a new bike and I’m really happy with my Trek Fuel EX 8. If I did get a new bike, I would love to get a downhill bike.

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

A simple pleasure of mine is jamming out to music with my friends. 

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

One of my favorite hobbies is rock climbing. I love it so much that I got a part time job at a local climbing gym! 

Where is your favorite place to ride?

My favorite place to ride is probably by the ocean. Though, I would love to visit mountain bike park and do a ton of downhill.

Linda Kong

I have been racing with the NorCal League for one season on the Albany High School team. I got into mountain biking when I noticed flyers around school and wanted to give it a try. I am excited to be a GRiT ambassador because I see  this program as a very good opportunity to bring more girls into this sport in my school. My school does not have many female riders and representation and I feel like that’s why many girls don’t want to join. I want to use this program to help more girls in my school and more, to see that girls can also be a part of this Community.

What I am most excited about in regards to GRiT is being able to interact with fellow GRiT participants through shared experiences and to be inspired and inspire others. I am honoured to have the position of GRiT ambassador for the 2020-2021 season!

What are your pronouns?

She/her

Favorite trail snack?

Clif bars

What is your dream bike?

Haven’t decided yet

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

Ramen

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

Tennis

Where is your favorite place to ride?

China Camp

Marisa Sundu

Hi my name is Marisa but you can call me Risa, I have been racing in the NorCal League since my freshman year (2017) with the Berkley High School team. I didn’t race sophomore year because I was studying abroad in Spain during the season, but I continued mountain biking there and did race once in my BHS MTB jersey! Mountain biking began for me when my dad always took my brother and I mountain biking when I was younger. In middle school I was part of the Oakland Composite DEVO team. At first, I wasn’t so sure about it, but once I got into high school, I met a ton of amazing people who were on the mountain biking team, which sealed the deal for me.

Being a girl who is passionate about mountain biking and STEM, I know all too well what it feels like to be one of the only women in a male-dominated realm. I have long been aware of the norms, expectations and culture of mountain biking that make it extremely unwelcoming for women and girls. I want to help change that culture and make an environment where everyone feels like they belong. Mountain biking has been amazing for me throughout high school. It gave me an incredible community of people as well as self-confidence and growth, and I want to spread that experience to as many other girls as possible.

In addition to mountain biking, I love to make things. I make jewelry, collages, and more. During quarantine I taught myself to sew, and I have been enjoying making tops to add to my wardrobe. I also taught myself to crochet, and I became very obsessed with crocheting scrunchies.

I have a lot of hope and ideas for GRiT for the 2020-2021 season. I am excited to meet new people, especially other women who have so much in common with me. Maybe I will meet some rad girls that mountain bike and like to crochet and sew too through GRiT. I look forward to seeing what we will be able to accomplish working together towards such an important goal of getting more girls on bikes. I also hope to be able to use my creativity to come up with new ways to recruit girls, especially with the restrictions due to the virus. 

What are your pronouns?

She/her

Favorite trail snack?

Stroopwafels

What is your dream bike?

Santa Cruz Blur

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

Watching stars come out as the sun sets

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

Making clothes and earrings

Where is your favorite place to ride?

Santa Cruz flow trail

Sonya Koltchev

I decided I wanted to apply to be a GRiT ambassador because mountain biking is a sport that I have such massive respect and passion for that I want to share with others. The community mountain biking or any cycling has created is filled with respect and empowerment which I enjoy being a part of. Outside of the community, the experience of riding to a beautiful outlook or finishing spot and feeling accomplished at the end of a long ride is a feeling that I’d love to let others experience. The feeling of completing a long race where you gave it your all and feeling proud that you were able to finish with all these other women is absolutely incredible. By being a GRiT ambassador I want to be able to share all these amazing experiences and emotions with other women who haven’t been introduced to that yet. I would love the opportunity to accomplish something like that.

Mountain biking began for me early on. Both my father and my sister were both active mountain bikers when I was young. My sister, Alice Koltchev, also raced during her high school years and really enjoyed it. I joined the mountain bike club at my school when I was in 6th grade and made a lot of friends, which made me develop a love for the sport. After trying racing and getting involved in local events, I realized that there was a lot more to the mountain biking community than a couple of trails behind my school. Since then I decided to start racing in the NorCal League on and off with Kibery School and Santa Cruz Composite since Freshman year. 

Outside of mountain biking, I enjoy a lot of other sports and hobbies. I play tennis outside of mountain biking and do Bulgarian folk dancing. Both tennis and Bulgarian folk dancing have been hobbies since I was little, now reaching an 8 year anniversary with my current dance group. During the current pandemic, my dance group and I also worked on hosting live sessions over zoom, which made me happy to have a cultural outlet even though we can’t meet in person. As I mentioned earlier, art is a big hobby of mine as well. I’m currently exploring some new digital mediums like digital art and animation while also continuing to improve my skills in traditional art mediums. I have some possible plans for the future to major in animation in college as well, but time will tell how that develops. You can check out my creative side on Instagram @skoltchev_art or @ifhtmemes to view my mountain biking meme creations. 

As a GRiT ambassador, I’m really excited to get more girls to join the riding community! Sophomore year was the last year I had any girl team members, which was unfortunate. My current team has only one female student-athlete who rides or races, which is me and I desperately want to change that. I currently work at a bicycle shop in Santa Clara, where all my coworkers are male. Many of the customers are male rather than female, which I wish was different. I believe that cycling is an incredible sport no matter if it is mountain or road and I am hopeful more girls will be able to experience this. I’m excited for the opportunity to encourage female cyclists to try mountain biking and experience the beauty that I see in it as well, through GRiT and beyond.

What are your pronouns?

My pronouns are she/her

Favorite trail snack?

The ProBar Pink Lemonade Energy Chews are absolutely amazing. The Coconut Almond Kind Bars are pretty good too.

What is your dream bike?

My dream bike right now would be Trek’s SuperCaliber 9.9. I’m pretty big on climbing so the IsoStrut works great. I love a good descent too, so it works both ways. I’m also pretty stoked about the Juliana Joplin. It’s definitely on my dream bike list as well.

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

Chocolate Milk is good ALL the time. I don’t know how they do it.

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

I’m pretty passionate about art and animation for the moment! It’s even a career prospect for me right now. I really love reading graphic novels and sci-fi as well. Memes are definitely up there as a favorite hobby too. 

Where is your favorite place to ride?

Whistler (British Columbia), for sure. Whistler feels like home to me, and the riding is absolutely incredible. It always finds a way to push me out of my comfort zone, but I always know that the easier trails are right at my fingertips if necessary. If I had the chance to live there I probably wouldn’t hesitate.

Sophia Woehl

I’ve been surrounded by bikes from a young age, since my dad introduced them to me. He shared his passion with me, and we rode our bikes to school everyday starting in kindergarten. I never raced though, just did it for fun, and never considered myself that great. Every summer since I was little, I went to a bike camp and eventually began working there. At the camp, I became friends with two sisters on the San Francisco Composite team and it was the summer before my freshman year when they convinced me to check it out. I had never been mountain biking at that point, but I gave the team a try and loved it!

Outside of mountain biking, I enjoy having a creative outlet. I am very passionate about arts and crafts, like painting and doing fun projects. Thankfully, I have actually been able to incorporate this into my mountain biking life, after being nominated the Spirit Captain of my team to coordinate the race themes! I helped make signs, gather our costumes, and create cool decorations. For the Aloha race last year, I made 30 grass skirts out of recycled plastic bags. You could count on me to transfer this spirit to the GRiT program!

As a GRiT ambassador I am very excited to interact with more girls in the NorCal League outside of my team. SF Composite is a pretty small team, with only a few girls. At all of the races I have been to, the girls I have raced against, and interacted with are such kind people with the same passion as me. I want to meet more girls like that, who are already in the league, as well as recruiting more to become part of this awesome community and can’t wait to work towards this goal.

What are your pronouns? 

She/her/hers 

Favorite trail snack? 

Peanut butter Clif bars 

What is your dream bike? 

It’s constantly changing. Right now it would be a Juliana Maverick 

What is a simple pleasure of yours? 

Eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream 

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy? 

I do a lot of arts and crafts 

Where is your favorite place to ride? 

I love the trails right outside my house in Pacifica 

Vivian Gerstein

I hail from Humboldt Composite High School Mountain Bike Team and have been racing in the NorCal League for three seasons. I first found a passion for mountain biking while attending a summer girls camp away from home. My family has always been involved in the sport but I truly fell in love with the sport while attending that camp. I was able to have fun riding as me, in a supportive environment with other girls my age, and realize it wasn’t just something I did because my dad wanted me too. I decided to apply to be a GRiT ambassador because I love mountain biking and I want to share that with others, particularly other girls. I’m not just saying this but I feel like racing and riding with HCMTB was the best part of my high school experience so far, it provided friends, competition, and encouraged me to work hard to achieve goals in racing, technical skills, and life in general. I love that we all get to be outside pushing ourselves, no matter what the trail conditions are or how big our goals are. We only have three or four girls on my team but I wish we had more. I feel like it is an uncommon sport but it is one that everyone can love: it is both a team sport and an individual sport, it is a sport that can be done for the rest of our lives, and we get to spend a bunch of time having fun outdoors. Though it may seem selfish, it would just be nice to have other girls to ride with. 

Outside of mountain biking,I love to cook and bake. Trying new recipes and using healthy ingredients is always fun, especially after a long ride 🙂 I run another Instagram account to share meals I have made (@ilovefood.verymuch). I also love trail running and am on the cross country team for my school.

Overall, I am excited to join other girls across the state in helping to spread the love of mountain biking. I am also excited to have help in planning events to try and recruit more girls as I have been wanting to, but was not sure where to start.

What are your pronouns?

I use she/her pronouns. 

Favorite trail snack?

I eat ZBars most often on rides but the Banana/Chocolate/Peanut Butter Clif bars with Katerina Nash on them have become a recent favorite. 

What is your dream bike?

Though not for racing cross country, my Juliana Maverick is my dream bike right now: it’s a really awesome red color, I can ride it uphill, and I have gained so much skill on the gnarly trails recently because it has enough travel to give me confidence. 

What is a simple pleasure of yours?

A simple pleasure of mine is the point in a baking project when you can first start to smell what is in the oven. I also love when you are finishing a ride and the sunset is beautiful as you ride out of the trees. 

What is one hobby or interest outside of mountain biking that you enjoy?

Outside of mountain biking I try to spend most of my time doing just about anything outside in the sun or making a new recipe in my kitchen (mostly desserts to be honest). 

Where is your favorite place to ride?

I love riding my bike just about anywhere but locally, I love to ride in the Hatchery Ridge trail system.