[Button]: Activate to skip repetitive navigation links. SASS, Sacramento Singletrack Scorchers, A Women's Mountain Biking Club

Picture of a women on a bike.

SASS History

Five years of SASSy Riding -- written in 2001 (see 2003 update at end)
by Lucy Barber

Five years ago, I walked nervously into a BBQ in Gail White's backyard in Davis. Chris Marney had told me there was a women's mt. bike club meeting that night. I had been on a couple of FATRAC rides, and got a nasty cut on my knee from the first one, but other than that I was a very novice mountain biker. Phrases like "technical," "Moab," "Hole in the Ground," "The Flume," "chain slap" went by as if another language. Nevertheless, everyone was friendly and very admiring of my nasty cut and the fact that I'd gone out riding again anyway.

On that night, SASS was formed and named. Cheryle Kerksieck had started a branch of WOMBATs (Women on Mountain Bikes and Tea Society) not long before; however, she and other club members had decided that it was time to create an independent club. One with lower membership fees and a focus on riding the trails of the Central Valley and the Sierras.

On that pleasant summer night in 1996, the most pressing business besides eating and talking (some things don't change about SASS meetings), was to come up with a name. Various options were thrown out. Some have become part of club lore: WOMB: Women on Mountain Bikes; BOMB: Babes on Mountain Bikes. At some point, Paula Buchanan (more about her in a moment) started playing with names combining Sacramento and Singletrack. Around the same time, I mentioned to someone that women -- like the one in the picture -- who rode fast in the late 1890s were called scorchers. It didn't take long for us to combine Paula's idea and my comment into the name SASS. And, in an overwhelming vote, the name was approved.

In the ensuing months, President Cheryle and other club members helped make SASS into vibrant group. Cheryle designed our logo and our first club jerseys (we are still looking for someone to make up another design and handle the production of another one). A regular calendar of rides got set up, more women joined. We experimented with a race club in which some SASS members took part enthusiastically. We scared riders by listing Salmon Falls as a beginner ride.

In 1998, Paula Buchanan took over as president, and we divided responsibilities among more people. Cindy Miglino began her wonderful job of editing the newsletter. Kelli O'Neill began working on the website and at some point became Vice-President. During this period, the club had many memorable rides and other activities. Paula initiated many a mountain biker by leading rides around Sugar Pine Reservoirs. Suzanne Sellers hosted a holiday party where everyone tried to avoid getting the old wheel that someone had brought for the gift exchange.

New traditions started to crop up at the same time as SASS overcame some challenges. We had the first SASS Mountain Bike clinic at Eagle Mountain in 1999 and sometime later that year began offering our own half day clinics to new members and beginning riders. Few people, however, were taking an active part in leading the club and we almost merged with FATRAC. In the end, we decided to keep our club separate, focused on women's riding. Around the same time, Paula moved to Bishop. Kelli O'Neill became president, with "CT" Tessa serving as her able vice-president for a number of years. Sue Fry launched her highly successful career selling advertising for us around this time.

Riding together remained our strong suit, however. There was the incredible SASS trip to the Flume Trail in 2000. President Kelli found this amazing condo with more bedrooms than anyone could imagine. Over 15 of us rode the Flume (Paula even came up from Bishop just so I'd have someone to ride with). Some of them rode some amazing number of miles and still had the energy to cook. At dinner, there was a running joke about veggie burgers, chicken necks, and steaks that left us all hysterical; now nobody can remember why it was funny.

There was another ride near South Lake Tahoe where the ride leader (who will go nameless) got temporarily lost and Kelli tried to save the day by using the compass on her fancy sports watch. Unfortunately, she couldn't find the right function. Fortunately, it didn't matter as we just talked our way back to the right trail.

As SASS starts another five-years of great Singletrack Scorching around Sacramento, we all need to thank each other for making this club possible, especially the three women, Cheryle, Paula, and Kelli, who have led the club as President. Together, we have given hundreds of women a safe and comfortable way to laugh together, to talk together and, most importantly, to ride together.

Update in Summer 2003

As usual, the people leading the club have switched around some. After Kelli decided in 2002 to step down as President, we’ve switched to a steering committee with different people taking key responsibilities. Some new changes: Cindy Miglino handed over newsletter editing to Linda Cochran. Ammer Baltzell is now soliciting advertising while Sue Fry just specialized in leading epic rides. She also keeps us on track on meetings!! Christine Johnson is webmaster, newsletter distributor, and general make-sure some things get done on time. Liz Strauss joined the club just about the time we were rethinking the structure and became treasurer. Checks still take a long time to get cashed. Liz West continue to keep track of rider hours with precision. And I maintain the membership database with very little precision.

Some cool new accomplishments include our very own website domain name and a new jersey with an excellent graphic design by Sheryl McKeown.

Most importantly, we still have fun, still introduce women to riding, and still laugh and talk our way up and down beautiful trails. Ride on!! And thanks to everyone who takes part!


I'm a historian so I have to have a footnote and some hedges. Some people think the club is SAcramento Singletrack Scorchers. I think the club is Sacramento Area Singletrack Scorchers. Nobody really seems to care. Also, in 1996, I thought it was only women who rode bikes fast in the late 19th century who were called Scorchers. Later, I learned that anyone -- men or women -- who rode fast were scorchers. By that time, we had already embraced the name and the acronym. Oh well. I'm also not at all sure about some dates, so correct me before our ten year anniversary.

Updated page content 10/25/03