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OC Women’s Month Profile – The Wild Bettys

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The Wild Bettys is a women’s mountain biking club celebrating 15 years this season!  The club is for women of all ages and abilities who love to mountain bike.  Club rides are fun and non-competitive and provide an opportunity for women to grow as mountain bikers.

The Wild Bettys offers support and guidance out on the trail as everyone faces unique and personal challenges. All rides have a ride leader and a sweep. Ride groups are separated each week based on skill, speed, distance, and trail choice, ensuring that every member finds their ideal ride for that night.

The club meets weekly from April to September. There are currently 3 chapters: The Toronto group rides in the Don Valley, The GCC group rides in Guelph, Cambridge and Cambelleville and the Dufferin C-Group rides in the Dufferin Forest.

In addition to weekly rides, the club offers skill development clinics for club members, destination rides, amazing socials and has a race team.

We asked some of their members to share what the Wild Betty’s means to them!

Izabela Minnes

 

How long have you been cycling?

I’ve been cycling all my life really, but MTB became my passion around 2008.

 

How long have you been cycling with the Wild Bettys?

I joined the Wild Bettys in 2015.

What made you start cycling? 

In 2008 I was prepping for yet another bodybuilding contest when I was hit by a car and lifting weights was out of question for months. Once I recovered well enough, I needed an outlet for my energy and a new passion. One day when my husband and I were walking in a park, we saw kids riding features in a bike park, I was fascinated so we came back with our bikes a few days later. That was really the beginning of my love for riding. 

 

What is your favourite type of ride?

MTB, the more technical, the better. 

 

What keeps you coming back year after year as a Wild Bettys leader and/or member? 

The incredible sense of belonging, the camaraderie, and friendships. It’s not just a biking club, it’s a sisterhood which is a huge part of my life. It’s a place where I can grow as a rider, MTB teacher and as a person.

 

What do you think is the most important thing that cycling has given you?

Extension of my youth, both physically and mentally. I am 60 and going strong. I can keep up with younger riders of all genders. Being in nature is healing for me, and going to the forest for a ride solves most problems, well, gives me an opportunity to take a break from them for sure.  

 

What would be your wish for the future of cycling?

More MTB trail systems within the city’s gullies and ravines that are safe and well maintained. 

Melinda Davie

How long have you been cycling?

I’ve been riding a bike since I got my first trike when I was three, but mountain biking started when I was 40. Of course, as a kid I loved to ride in the ravine on my banana bike, but trail riding wasn’t a thing. I started mountain biking when my daughter came back from a sports camp in 2001 having learned how to mountain bike. As an alpine skiing family, I thought mountain biking would be a great family sport. And it is! We were all hooked, and we started taking family trips to Quebec, Vermont and further afield over the next few seasons. In 2004 I took my first multi-day trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on a guided trip, and I was hooked after that. I entered my first race, the Autumn 8 hour at Hardwood, in 2006 and participated in the last O-cup of that season at Hardwood before the snow flew. I loved the racing, dfl but so fun. I had a new goal!  I started training over the winter and registered for the whole O-cup series for 2007 and continued to do so until 2017, with a few seasons cut short due to some injuries lol.

How long have you been cycling with the Wild Bettys? 

We started Bettys in 2010 after the FlyGurlz folded. Flygurlz was the race team I had joined in 2008 and had led some rides in the Don for them for a couple of seasons before they ended. The goal of The Wild Bettys was to expand on what we had in the city (a very small group of six women riders) to be an inclusive all ages, all abilities women’s urban club and race team. We’ve done that over 14 seasons now. We also hosted a women’s only urban XC race in the Don for 5 seasons before covid. 

 

What is your favourite type of ride? 

I love any ride in the woods. My favourite is technical singletrack meandering through the trees, some ups and some downs, old school cross country is my jam. It requires a combination of strength and fitness and power and finesse to smoothly ride the roots and rocks, twists and turns and the punchy ups and downs. Every ride is a challenge, but gives an exhilarating sense of accomplishment, physically and mentally, when I’m on it, even on those rides when the ‘on it’ parts are fleeting, haha. 

 

What keeps you coming back year after year as a Wild Bettys leader and/or member?  

The community and personal connections with such a variety of strong women of all ages and professions who are truly inspiring. After sharing that sense of challenge and thrill of success, either my own or someone else’s, on the ride It makes you want to do it again. There’s always something new to learn and share. The support of the Bettys is bar none. 

 

What do you think is the most important thing that cycling has given you? 

Again, the community. As the coordinator for the club there’s always a to do list. It’s a hobby that is truly so enjoyable it has become the main act over the years in my life. 

 

What would be your wish for the future of cycling? 

I really can only speak to mountain biking, but if we could have more public trails where all users; hikers, bikers, horses, and e-motorized bikes, could co-exist cooperatively that would be a success. Volunteerism is terrific but volunteers tend to give it their all and then burn out or go rogue with building and risk trail closure for us all. If there were more public funding and true public stewardship it would benefit more people in the end. For many places development has already gobbled up the urban park space that would be suitable but if we plan appropriately sized parklands in the growing settlement areas of the province, which are being developed now and in the near future, that would be a dream come true. More people in the woods on trails, those that haven’t tried it don’t know what they don’t know. 

Ashley Sirko

 

How long have you been cycling?

I’ve enjoyed being on a bicycle since I was a little kid – I vividly remember the exact moment my training wheels came off. For many years I was a kid biking around my suburban neighborhood, then a young adult commuting by bike around my university campus and in Toronto and finally at 30 years old decided to start mountain biking. 

 

How long have you been cycling with the Wild Bettys?

I joined the Wild Bettys 5 years ago. 

What made you start cycling? 

I joined the Wild Bettys and started mountain biking after the end of a serious long-term relationship. As corny as it sounds, I wanted to rediscover myself.  I wanted to meet a group of like-minded people who loved being outdoors.  This all came with being a member of the Wild Bettys. 

 

What is your favourite type of ride?

Big hill climbs and fast and flowy runs without too many obstacles in the way (roots, rocks, narrow passages)!

 

What keeps you coming back year after year as a Wild Bettys leader and/or member? 

The female camaraderie and mentorship from women at different ages and stages of life. Building on skills and strength each year and striving to push myself in new ways. 

 

What do you think is the most important thing that cycling has given you?

Joy and freedom.

 

What would be your wish for the future of cycling?

I would love to see more young women on the trails and joining our club. I know there are women out there in the city like me who want to find a balance of nature and an urban lifestyle in Toronto. 

The post OC Women’s Month Profile – The Wild Bettys appeared first on Ontario Cycling.

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