After a day on the trails around Meyers, advocates of mountain biking toasted the sport with an inaugural celebration.
The Meyers Mountain Bike Festival drew enthusiasts of the sport, from beginners to professional riders, Sunday to the parking lot of Divided Sky in Meyers.
Event hosts also conducted a fundraiser for the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association, which raised about $300 in membership dues, and the association’s trails director Ben Fish said proceeds from food and still were being tallied Monday.
Professional downhill racer Adrienne Evans didn’t let her injury, which confined her to a back brace, bring her down during the festival.
Evans crashed about a month ago in Europe, which compressed three of her vertebrae when she landed on her head.
“It had rained and hailed the night before,” Evans said. “So it made everything like butter, so it was a super steep course. My front tire just dug in and I went over (the handle bars) and probably launched about 15 feet.”
Evans said she was in pain and a little frightened. Her fiance couldn’t find her at for about an hour. Not knowing how severe her injuries were, a language buffer between her and the doctors did not help the anxiety.
Evans, who has been a mountain biker for about 17 years and has ridden in other disciplines since adolescence, is no stranger to injury. Her right knee has a few scars from surgery.
For people who want to try mountain biking, she said fitness is a critical practice.
“Be in shape, not that it was an issue at all (during the crash), but the more in shape and flexible you are, the less likely you are to get injured,” Evans said.
Like Evans, Gretchen Johnson knows the pain mountain biking can dish out. She said this was her first consistent year of competition because she had two bulged cervical discs in her neck from the accident.
Johnson has an almost flawless smile, except for the one missing tooth she knocked out after crashing into a tree on her bike. Starting out when she was 25, now 32 she has pedaled her way to the upper echelon of mountain biking. She placed third at her first professional event.
She said she got into it in college with a friend just riding around Denver, Colo. She is primarily sponsored by South Shore Bikes in South Lake Tahoe.
“My first pro race was China Peak,” Johnson said, adding it was one of the most undulating and challenging rides for her. And as for turning pro, “It’s just been a dream of mine. I saw these girls racing up at Keystone, and I thought, ‘that looks like fun.’”
Johnson said she would like to see some new trails constructed in the area, as some have been removed for erosion control.