Anyone who’s been up on Galbraith Mountain lately knows the gender gap in mountain biking is closing faster than a 10-foot drop. In what was once a male-dominated activity, women are now tearing up the trails in equal measures all over Whatcom County. And that includes a relatively new group of amazing female riders on the scene, the Kona Supremes.
Starting as a casual group of friends who regularly rode “lady shred missions” together, the idea of forming the official Supremes team was the brainchild of Amanda Bryan, who works for Kona as an inside sales rep.
“We had organically created this group of women that just loved the ride and left competition at the trailhead and brought pure stoke instead, and we thrive off of that. On the way up we would talk about a new gap we wanted to hit or a drop we wanted to send, and we would go and just do it,” says Bryan. “Bellingham does have a pretty amazing scene of women that absolutely shred on bikes and it’s growing really fast. I think we are more than a just another race team, rather, a group of ambassadors for the women riders in the world.”
Bryan discovered her affinity for mountain biking in 2012 on a third date with her now soon-to-be husband.
“I went over the bars five times and walked away from the ride with some open wounds and plenty of bruises,” Bryan says. “But I was totally hooked.”
Every member of the team came across the sport in her own way and each has acutely developed her skills, gradually evolving them into a true force to be reckoned with on the trails. The team is now much more than just their passion, as each member is an accomplished rider in her own right. Take for example the recent Cascadia Dirt Cup, where Bryan placed 9th in expert class (even with a flat to contend with mid-race), Hannah Bergemann took 6th in pro and the sport class saw Brooklyn Bell and Stephanie Ignell finish in 2nd and 4th places respectively.
But the Kona Supremes are taking their successes in stride, determined to stay true to their original perspective on riding together: They remain six women (Bell, Bergemann, Bryan, Ignell, McKaila Leytze, and Delia Massey) who share a common love of mountain biking for the enjoyment first and foremost. They’ve made it their mission to encourage others into the sport on all levels.
“Riding bikes is fun,” Bryan says. “And no matter what level you are at, you are a shredder.”
Bell, a graphic design major at Western Washington University, is a former trail runner who one day decided to give mountain biking a try. “Haven’t touched my running shoes since,” Bell says.
She realizes that the female cyclists of Whatcom County have got it pretty good when it comes to support and community. “Bike riding is an amazing way to spend time with my favorite people. We are always scheming up ideas and always encouraging each other to shred bigger and harder. We travel to other mountains, where the woman presence isn’t as strong, and you can definitely see the difference,” Bell says. “I wouldn’t be doing this without the help of some of the amazing women’s groups in town.”
Bergemann started mountain biking during her high school years, exploring the trails of her hometown—Hood River, Oregon—on a hand-me-down full-suspension bike from her dad.
“After a few months of riding, we did an enduro race together in Ashland, Oregon,” Bergemann says. “I think I got second-to-last place but had such a good time.”
Now going to school at WWU and working part time at The Kona Bike Shop, she is thrilled to be a part of the Supremes and their ambitions.
“We all share the same love for riding and having a good time on the trails. Our focus is not to have the fastest race times or best results, it’s more about being good role models for other ladies, kids and other members of the bike community,” Bergemann says. “We want to encourage more women’s ridership, empower riders to push themselves on and off the trails. Bellingham has a higher number of female riders having such a strong bike community, and we’d love to continue to see this trend increase in other areas by expanding that sense of community to other places.”
The Supremes have found a kindred spirit in WMBC Joyriders, a local organization that offers beginner group rides for women, providing them the opportunity to try things at a comfortable level while also connecting with others who have a similar skill set. Find out about their summer rides series online and stay tuned to the Supremes’ Facebook page for more information on upcoming events.