Every time I ride with other women, the buzz of endorphins and estrogen leaves me stoked. Something about seeing other women take on challenges, people my size, shape, and strength, empowers me. If they can do it, I think, there’s a chance I can too.

So naturally when I found out Eva Surls, co-founder of the Bike Farm and mountain bike guide extraordinaire, was one of the organizers of the Pisgah Mountain Bike Festival, I knew I’d be attending.

We met up at Crank Coffee and over green smoothies Eva told me about the festival.

“It’s a weekend all about celebrating, playing, and welcoming everyone into the fold,” Eva said.

The Bike Farm teamed up with Oskar Blues to host Pisgah Mountain Bike Festival on October 29th and 30th. The festival offers guided rides, bike demos, a pump track/ dirt jump jam, and a barn party. To top it off, the event is kid-friendly and kids under twelve pay no admission.

“I’ve benefitted so much from riding with other women and I want to share that. Most of the women get out on the trail and love mountain biking, they’re surprised by how comfortable they feel,” Eva said. “Women often tell me that they are intimidated by getting started and have so many questions – from what do I wear to is my bike good enough to how do I figure out where to ride.”

Eva explained that the festival embraces everyone and will personally vouch for a lot of female faces – from women checking in mountain bikers at the gates to reps from women’s biking company Juliana and LIV, the women’s specific line of Giant bike. Both days offer women-specific no-drop rides that welcome beginners and intermediates.

I leaned over the table and whispered to Eva. “So I have a confession to make, I feel so embarrassed by this, but I don’t even know how to fix a flat tire.”

Sometimes I get the bike shop jitters. More often than not, I open the door and scan the floor, it’s a sea of beards greeting me. All the bike lingo I ought to know but don’t make my eyes glaze over, so I smile, I nod, buy whatever it is I need or drop off my bike to get something fixed and then get out of there.

But I’m beginning to see the value in lingering, of asking the hard questions. Without knowing simple roadside maintenance, I’m playing a dangerous game of bike roulette every time I go for a ride. My ignorance limits my riding – I worry about going to far or riding close to dark out of fear of getting stranded with a flat.

Eva sipped her smoothie and looked me in the eyes. “We all start off not knowing. There’s no reason to be embarrassed, there’s not anything embarrassing about learning something new. Everyone was a beginner at some point and all of us are learning.”

She told me about a female-taught trailside maintenance clinic both days of the festival and then assured me that even I can learn to change a flat tire.

We hugged good-bye and I marked my calendars for both maintenance sessions, mostly believing that I can master this new skill too.

For more about the Pisgah Mountain Bike Festival and to purchase tickets, check out www.pisgahmountainbikefestival.com.

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