Sea Otter GRiT Ride With Kate Courtney

May 11, 2023

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Nikki Peterson, Nevada North League Director, co-led a GRiT Ride with NorCal Coaches and NICA Alum Kate Courtney. It was a day dedicated to inspiring girls, making connections, and just having fun! Check out her story below.

Written By: Nikki Peterson / League Director - Nevada North Interscholastic Cycling League
Photos By: Briana Marie Photography

The Lifetime Sea Otter Classic is a weekend that everyone looks forward to. It takes place in beautiful Monterey, CA and it is the biggest mountain bike festival in the world! There’s racing in every discipline and category, a ginormous expo that has every brand you could ever imagine, and mountain bike enthusiasts from all over. I used to go to Sea Otter to race in the Pro XCT cross country mountain biking race, but this year my role was different. I got to attend Sea Otter as the League Director for the Nevada North league.

Being a League Director is an amazing job for many reasons, but being the League Director for a league that neighbors the NorCal League is “next level!” In just over a year, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with Vanessa, Hailey, and others on their staff on numerous projects, including a collaborative GRiT camp that we are hosting this summer. When Vanessa invited me to help be a ride leader at Sea Otter with the 2019 World Champion, Kate Courtney, I said yes before she was even able to finish her ask.

I have raced with Kate for years and it’s been really fun to watch her climb the ranks to become one of the top mountain bikers in the world. Even cooler? She started her career as a freshman in the NorCal League! The GRiT ride that NorCal put on was meant to create community amongst female mountain bikers in the league while riding with everyone’s hero, Kate. The ride consisted of around 30 girls who compete in the NorCal League. The event was free for high schoolers and filled up within days of registration opening.

The GRiT ride that NorCal put on was meant to create community amongst female mountain bikers in the league while riding with everyone’s hero, Kate.
NIkki Peterson

In the beginning, you could feel the nervousness in the air. Some girls knew each other, others didn’t know anyone. Within moments of gathering the girls at the SRAM tent, they started introducing themselves and sharing their love for all things involving bikes! Soon, the nervousness changed to excitement and the chatter kicked up, with laughter heard above it all. After getting everyone’s attention, Vanessa gave a quick intro, the coaches raised their hands to say hi, and Kate gave a quick pep talk. Then the time everyone was waiting for came: ride time!

As we went out onto the course, Kate mingled in different parts of the group. You could see girls’ faces light up when she asked a question, told a story, or shared a gummy from a bag she bought at a gas station on her way to the event. We stopped along the course to talk strategy, nutrition, and skills. The girls had some very insightful questions, too, and you could see them filing all of the information away to use for the rest of their lives.

Let’s just say the vibes were high! The ride ended up being a bit longer than expected, but everyone’s attitude was positive. We probably could have ridden all day! Near the end of the ride, other riders likely thought it was a team riding together that had been together for years. Everyone was so friendly and inviting! We made our way back to the Scott tent for a Q&A with Kate, followed by SWAG bags to send the girls off.

Adventurous, FUN, and rowdy!
Kate Courtney

At the Q&A, I asked Kate what three adjectives she would use to describe the NorCal GRiT ride that we had just finished to help get #moregirlsonbikes. Her answer?

“Adventurous, FUN, and rowdy!”

In my opinion, she nailed it. We had the best time and all came back laughing and sharing our adventures. We rode the first 15 miles of the Sea Otter course and so much happened during that time. Once again, we saw the power of bikes connecting riders to a bigger, more welcoming community. I bet at the upcoming races the girls will find each other and know they have new friends on other teams. That’s an incredible feeling!
We all know Kate is a fierce competitor and has an incredible work ethic, which made the day even more special. We got to ride with the Kate, who loves riding bikes, shares her gummy snacks from the gas station, and tells stories of her dog Monte’s love for cheese snacks. I am beyond thankful to have been a part of this wonderful experience that The NorCal league put together for the girls. I already can’t wait for the GRiT camp!

Our Partners are enabling NICA to reinvent youth sports and engage families in a thriving cycling community, for life. A special thanks goes to Terry Precision Cycling and Trail Trust for supporting GRiT and offering girls endless opportunities to push their limits and experience the pure joy of cycling.

This ride was presented by Scott Sports SA and supported by SRAM, LLC