Video: The Flying Squirrels & Radical Rippers - Bellingham's Incredible Riding Club & Development Team for Girls

Nov 5, 2020
by Transition Bikes  


Bellingham’s premier riding club and development team for junior girls. Transition Co-founder, Kari Young, started the Flying Squirrels to complement all the afterschool ride programs in Bellingham, WA and create a space for girls to ride together. After a few years and heaps of success and momentum the need for a “next step” arose. Kari reached out to Angi Weston, owner of Radical Roots MTB Instruction, to collaborate on making it a reality. So in 2019, the Radical Rippers program was started and offers professional coaching and group rides for girls ready for the next level of progression and instruction.


A group of Flying Squirrels stop to plan their route at a Galbraith Mountain trail map kiosk. The Flying Squirrels is a volunteer-led after-school ride program for girls through the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC). These girls are learning how to ride in groups, navigate the mountain, and find other girls their age who ride.


The Radical Rippers program is led by a powerhouse team of professional coaches through Radical Roots MTB Instruction (RRMI) and when the ramps come out - a mega progression session ensues.


Nothing beats following another rider down the trail, especially one of similar stature and age, to show you what is possible.


Because if she can do it...


Skills and drills lead to more thrills and less spills! Coach Angi is seen here leading some wheel lift drills - a foundation for sending it.


Kari Young and Angi Weston - the fearless leaders of the Flying Squirrels and Radical Rippers, also just a couple kids at heart themselves.


Coaches gotta play too.


Snack breaks are an essential part of any ride and these candy connoisseurs never miss an opportunity. Luckily for us in Bellingham, most snack breaks also have breathtaking views.


CANDY!


With almost 60 girls in the Flying Squirrels club and 40 girls in the Radical Rippers program - there are girls of all ages, interests, and wheel sizes given opportunities to ride and have fun together.


There is certainly an advantage to learning how to get your wheels off the ground at an early age. Confidence grows as skill grows and these riders get loads of opportunities for that.


These programs are growing some incredible riders and mentors. The riders who have been in the program for a few years now take great pride in being a source of inspiration to the younger and newer riders.


"Boosty" Bridgette knows how to send it


These programs are an outstanding example of what a community can accomplish when they work together to grow the next generation of mountain bikers. Many thanks are due to all the parents, volunteers, coaches, assistants, and the WMBC for their part in making this happen. All of the support, stoke, and skills don't go unnoticed. Thank you!

Words: Angi Weston
Photos: Oliver Parish
Video: Skye Schillhammer


50 Comments

  • 33 0
 Holy crap. The teachers, the students, the trails, the concept... If you were looking for a bright spot today this definitely qualifies. My ten year old daughter and I are hitting the pump track this weekend. Keep it going into the next generation!
  • 24 0
 That is so awesome! I wish there was a program for my daughter near me like this one. Hats off to those coaches for volunteering their time.
  • 5 0
 I'd like one near me too! Its awesome to see kids on bikes. My son has been working through a few lessons and I'd like to find a crew just like this for my daughter.
  • 1 1
 do you feel like your daughter would have more friends to ride with if the cost of goods were lower? Or do you think that most of her friends that could be riders steer away due to assumptions about cycling being a male sport, rather than the entry cost?
  • 3 0
 @TotalAmateur: neither of my kids have any idea what it costs to ride a bike, they're too young. I was more thinking about the comments in the video about how inclusive and positive these rides are. I'm a grown man and find it uncomfortable when a friendly bike ride gets Strava'd to the point that it's a race.
  • 2 0
 @husstler: I actually meant for that to be directed at @Dtwillow but that's good input! But ya screw tracking your rides, just go out and enjoy yourself.
  • 2 0
 Don't wait after other people to materialize your ideas. Build it and they will come. Do nothing and it won't never happen. Few people organize stuffs, too much people dreams about it without doing nothing.
  • 2 0
 @husstler: My oldest has been doing littlebellas.com for a couple of years and it's fantastic. Check the site to see if they do sessions near you (I have no affiliation with them).
  • 1 0
 @dolface: looks good! None in Canada though ... I will keep looking. I have plenty of time to figure it out
  • 1 0
 A coworker of my dad started a MTB kids group two years back. He made a Facebook-Page (www.facebook.com/search/posts/?q=kidsbike%20schwarzenburg), got in touch with riders he already knew from group rides, and sent flyers to the local school. In the first season we only did 4 trainings, last season we added more trainings and a day-long ride, and this season we had about 15 trainings (due to Covid) and a solid crew of 15 to 20 young rippers (boys and girls).

Just some things that I feel this group does very well:
- They do their rides on Saturday not on a weekday. Most kids around here have some sort of training on weekdays, and shouldn't have to choose which one they do.
- The trainings are 2 hours and not 1.5 hours which makes it a lot easier to get from your "meeting point" into the forrest and back.
- They've got custom made shirts (as seen in some of the posts on Facebook) and they always do a 10-15 minutes break where the kids get like chocolate bars and a bun to eat. That doesn't make them faster or stronger on the bike but it bonds them together a lot, they loose the "fear" of trying stuff in front of the other kids (especially the girls).

So, if there's no such programm near you, try it yourself.
And, most importantly, get some of your riding buddys involved. Even if it's just a one time thing, it should be fun for you too.

Sorry for the long post, but i hope you get some inspiration out of it and get your kid/the kids from your area into riding bike, cheers!

#ridesafe
  • 1 0
 @TotalAmateur: LOL, no my daughter would have more friends to ride with if hockey wasn't so popular with her buddies. If people can afford hockey gear and playing costs, they certainly can afford to grab a 400 entry level bike at their LBS. Fortunately, her and her athletic friends don't seem to care what is a "male" or "female" sport.
  • 14 0
 Props to those coaches and transition for supporting this program and creating a space for young girls to learn and have fun; but also to progress, push boundaries and learn from women another as well as excellent female coaches. So important for the progression of women in the sport.
  • 2 0
 I think it's great for the progression of the sport in general. More riders, more biking advocates, more trails! Locally interest has spiked and everyone's voice has counted as we've chosen to expand trails and access in the area through some big community projects. Hope to continue seeing programs like this!
  • 16 0
 Hands down one of the coolest things I've ever seen on Pinkbike.
  • 10 0
 Amazing! Well done to everyone involved.
  • 10 0
 Couldn't stop smiling at this.
  • 5 0
 I'm lucky enough to have a daughter who was able to ride in this program and can say its one of the best experiences she's had on a bike. I thank for entire crew at @TransitionBikeCompany for creating and supporting something that encourages girls to get out and ride!
  • 6 0
 My daughter loved being in the Radical Rippers this year and the coaches and ride leaders are fantastic role models for the girls. @ridegreene , I saw a little Anja cameo in there, bud!
  • 5 0
 I have 2 daughters that get to do this . The instructors not only know how to shred, but how to teach bike skills, and have fun doing it. I really can't think of a better group of role models. It's no small task to organize these groups, massive shout out to Kari, Angi, Em and the whole crew for their time and effort to put smiles on the faces of these next generation rippers. Seeing kids having fun, gaining confidence, making friends, all while having fun in the woods really is a special thing. 2020 didn't ruin everything
  • 7 0
 This is so awesome from the idea and execution to the insane level of riding for those girls' age.
  • 5 0
 These programs and what they stand for is incredible! I am grateful to be able to lead a Squirrels group and it's amazing to see the girls ability and confidence grow throughout the season????
  • 3 0
 This is awesome! I'm sure there are plenty of similar clubs out there but shout out to the Little Bellas in Minnesota:

littlebellas.com/about

I'm not involved in the organization in any way but I see them out on the trails quite often and it's so freaking cool to see that many girls shredding at such a young age. Makes me so optimistic for the future of our sport.
  • 6 0
 Everything about this is brilliant! Well done all!
  • 2 0
 Wow. In my home town, too. It's always nice to see articles that people all over the world will see and it's (almost) right outside my front door. Unfortunately as a guy I can't join... but it's great to see other young folks getting training. Thank you Teachers!
  • 5 0
 WMBC has a lot of youth programs open to anyone interested.
  • 1 0
 @agmin: Well then... I will go poke around. Thanks
  • 2 0
 You all are awesome! Especially in covid times, mountain biking is going to be great for the youth. You can distance, go alone or with a group, be competitive or not, hit hard features or not, all the while getting exercise and being outdoors.
  • 5 0
 Angi is the BEST! A superhero for girls and just an overall amazing human!!
  • 2 0
 Yeah she is! ????????

Love everything about this program. Thanks for all you do!
  • 2 0
 Wonderful getting the kiddos on bikes like this with some proper coaching.

Side note, we need to get with the program like BMX has. FF for the kids is such a no brainer, especially outside of the hot desert areas. I know two of my kids friends that were in the ER this week, talented riders on mellow terrain...stuff the kids/me thought would be cool without. Then it wasn't, 0 stiches on one, serious brain injury on the other. FF would have helped greatly. That was just last week...it happens all the time. The new FF helmets are light and airy too. They fit longer than a kids bike does as well so an easy investment. You can do like we did and wait till your kid wrecks their face, or do it before that lol. Fwiw, it really starts with the parents/coaches too. Being able to point to our coaches using their FF and encourage the kids/parents to do the same makes it way easier as they grow and get even more sendy.
  • 1 0
 Couple comments
1) The girls only riding groups are such an awesome idea.
2) I watched this with my 7yo daughter and she kept saying 'I think I could ride that' hahahaha
3) My town needs a similar program running pronto!
4) @schilly Skye - I think my daughter really liked the outtakes the most. Hearing other girl's impressions of what they like about riding bikes. It was a nice addition to the video. More of this please!
  • 3 1
 This awesome! Major kudos to all involved. It's a good thing Transition is sold out of everything in my size or I would buy a bike immediately.
  • 4 0
 This is fantastic! Keep up the great work everyone!
  • 4 0
 Just brilliant.
  • 3 0
 Well done! I shed a tear or two...or more.
  • 3 0
 This is so rad and inspiring! what a crew! Go Angi go!!
  • 2 0
 This is absolutely awesome! I can't wait until my little girl is old enough to give riding a go.
  • 3 0
 Nice work, Girls !!!! Angie Weston, I want to be a Radical Ripper!!!
  • 2 0
 So good to see this kind of content. Photos put a smile on my face Big Grin
Go get 'em kids!
  • 3 0
 Angi, you're so cool. What you do is awesome.
  • 4 0
 Coach Angi Rules!
  • 3 0
 Awesome job ladies way to pass on the gift, way to go Transition..
  • 3 0
 What an awesome concept, keep up the good work !
  • 3 0
 Very cool!
  • 3 0
 Great to see!
  • 3 0
 Nice work ladies.
  • 2 0
 Bravo! Need more stories like this these days
  • 3 0
 Fantastic! Smile
  • 2 0
 Thanks to all for this and being a part of this for our daughters!!!
  • 2 0
 so good!!!

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2020. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.010316
Mobile Version of Website