Friends, with benefits

Ladies take to the trails in weekly Post and Pinot ride

Post Canyon offers ample opportunity for Hood River locals and visitors to enjoy nature, and while there are plenty of groups taking to the trails on bikes, foot, and horseback, the weekly Post and Pinot group ride brings an energy and exuberance to the forest like no other.

Post and Pinot is a weekly all-ladies mountain bike ride that cruises the trails of Post Canyon on Wednesday evenings (when weather and daylight cooperate). If you’ve ever been in Post Canyon after work when the women are riding, it’s possible you’ve heard the spontaneous whooping or even seen them cruising around with big grins on their faces.

Post and Pinot was born in response to the popular Thursday evening coed ride Post and Pint, hosted by Dirty Fingers Bike Shop. Some women did the coed ride and realized how fun riding in a group was, but thought that making an all-women’s version would provide a more supportive and relaxed environment.

Heather Pola, one of the group’s leaders believes what makes the ride unique is “the friendships made and company to be had on a weekly basis along with a good energy that permeates the entire group.”

She says the women are simply there “to hang out and have fun playing on bikes. We hoot, holler, and giggle. We egg each other on to try a jump we thought we’d never dare and ask each other how to turn better going fast downhill.”

It’s a very supportive atmosphere where riders push each other to improve, but is also a no-pressure environment.

The group has had over 20 riders on occasion, but most often consists of about a dozen women. Rides don’t have specific routes each week, and the group often splits up based on what trails people want to ride and by rider ability. Each group has a sweeper to ensure that no one gets left behind or lost, making sure that the experience is positive for everyone.

“With the sweeper, we eventually are all together at certain checkpoints,” Pola explains. “The ability range is very diverse. We have the I-just-like-to-play-on-my-bike-and-ride gals to pro-level riders. We ride in this group to have fun and inspire each other.”

Pola admits to having been a little nervous a few years ago when she decided to try it out. “I had only had a mountain bike less than a year,” she said. “Regardless, they encouraged me to show up. I admit, the first ride I was nervous as to whether or not I could keep up since I was pretty new on my bike. I was so relieved when I realized how chill and fun it was.”

After riding, the group reconvenes back at Dirty Fingers (corner of State and 13th streets) to chat, sip on beer from the shop and wine from Naked Winery, and take part in a raffle drawing that has prizes from many local and national businesses.

“The guys at the shop are at least a little entertained by the giddy post-ride crowd mingling in the shop,” Pola admitted. “It also gives us all an opportunity to learn more about our bikes and that more than lip gloss should go in your hydration pack.”

One of the regular riders, Lorri Epstein, says “It is great for riders of all different skill levels. There’s always someone to ride with whether you want to push yourself or just go for a mellow ride. Everyone is super friendly and just there to have a good time. I meet someone new every week and many of the women I’ve met have become good friends.”

n Join the fun: To join the group, simply show up with your bike and gear on Wednesday evenings. The women leave for Post Canyon on bikes from Dirty Fingers at 5:30 p.m. sharp, and a second meeting place is at the Post Canyon trailhead at 6 p.m.

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