SARATOGA SPRINGS — In the Fall of 2018, mother of two, Anna Laloë was searching for ways to keep her two girls engaged in mountain biking.
“I started this selfishly for my then six- and eight-year-old daughters. When you hike and bike with your own children, they’ll often complain. But, as soon as other adults or kids join, the complaints stop,” Laloë wrote on her website.
The Saratoga Shredders began with 10 to 15 girls biking together at the Saratoga State Park. This past summer, the Shredders registered close to 90 girls, meaning 90 individual girls have showed up at least once to a practice.
“[We] couldn’t do it this past spring due to COVID-19, but once guidelines from Governor Andrew Cuomo were developed, we were able to start the Shredders up again,” Laloë said. “We had 25 girls show up the first night and it only grew from there.”
For this past season, the group has added two more trail systems to their weekly rides. Girls in the group can explore Luther Forest in Malta and Kalabus-Perry Preserve in the Wilton area. Because of COVID-19, the Shredders have been diligent about restrictions and social distance guidelines. When a girl shows up to participate, their family signs a release form and she splits off into her respective age level group.
“We have five groups organized by different bug names. The [Shredders] are always in pods of 10 to 15 girls and because we have a huge number of volunteer female mentors, we can break up into five or six girls per group,” Laloë said.
The group names are all inspired after insects and each represents a different age group and skill level, including young beginners to older intermediate and experienced groups. When a girl registers for a ride, Laloë needs to know their age along with their riding experience, which can range from neighborhood riding to trail experience.
“You don’t need a fancy bike or any experience trail riding…just come ride your bike,” Laloë says.
Laloë comes from a background in mountain bike racing. She spent five years racing at a high level.
“I pulled back on my racing career, went back to working full time, and was ready to give back to the community that had given me so much throughout my racing career.” Laloë said. “This was a big transition for me; going back to work and going from race to ride mode. It’s been a wonderful transition for me and my two daughters and this group of awesome girls.”
With only two more weeks of the summer schedule left, Laloë is already looking forward to the fall schedule. No date is set yet, but interested parties can visit online at www.saratogashredders.com for updates. While looking forward to the fall season, Laloë wanted to thank the volunteer mentors and sponsors of the Shredders. She continues to welcome other female mentors and volunteers.
“Thank you to the ones that have come. [They] hold this group together,” Laloë said.
As for her favorite part about Saratoga Shredders, Laloë answered it was seeing the Shredders’ reaction at the end of a ride.
“It’s towards the ends of rides…watching all the girls come back to the parking lot and seeing their faces lit-up and hearing each of their tales of adventure - it’s just mind-blowing to see and hear,” Laloë said. “To see that sense of accomplishment, sense of empowerment, sense of adventure that we are instilling in them just by going for a bike ride.”
The Shredders can be found online or on facebook. They can be reached at 781-879-3647.