More young women joining San Ramon Valley Mountain Bike Club

Mountain biking is growing in popularity for young women across the country and one team from the East Bay shared its story of how they’re gaining more female members.

The San Ramon Valley Mountain Bike Club rides trails around Mt. Diablo, participates in races, fosters a community of inclusion. The team is made up of students from San Ramon Valley High School and local middle schools. They meet three days a week in Danville where they practice skills like bike-body separation and drops. Out of more than 100 members, 13 are girls, which is double the number of girls that were on the team last year.

Tatum Roberts, a team captain, has been a member since she was in middle school.

"It’s really fun," she said. "It’s got a really great community and atmosphere about it. This sport is everything to me. It’s really fun. It’s really helped me grow as a person."

Historically, women have not participated in mountain biking, but more females are taking up the male-dominated sport in recent years. The latest data from NICA, The National Interscholastic Cycling Association, shows 22% of student athletes are girls and 25% of coaches are women. NICA’s program called "Girls Riding Together," or GRiT, is an initiative to increase those numbers and to foster personal growth and development. The Bay Area is home to dozens of mountain biking teams in the NorCal league that are adding more females.

"It is a snowball effect," Roberts said. "You get one friend on a bike, they get their friend, and they get their friend. It just keeps growing from there."

Coach Carina Bilodeau is a coach and GRiT ambassador focused on shredding misconceptions.

"A lot of what I hear is… it’s too hard. I don’t want to do anything too scary or there’s just no one here that looks like me," she said. "The difficulty level is literally up to you. If you are riding a mountain bike on dirt, you’re mountain biking. That’s it. There are women here, you just have to look around."

Bilodeau said she wants the environment to be inviting, welcoming, and encouraging for young girls.

SEE ALSO: How Moms 4 Housing challenged Oakland's housing crisis and won

The group wants the popularity to keep climbing with the goal of getting more girls on bikes because everyone has a place to ride.

"It really it’s more than just a sport," Roberts added. "The community around it is huge and amazing and I love it so much."