About us

Our team, the Jack's Bicycle Center Queens of Dirt, launched in 2016 with the aim to encourage more women and junior girls to get involved in mountain biking and cyclocross.

The founding members, Javon Smith, Kirsten Jensen, and Leah Kiviat, have been riding mountain and cyclocross bikes, and building trails in the Bellingham area with Jack's Bicycle Center and its co-ed race team (Homegrown Racing) for years. These women started organizing women's mountain bike clinics and events, and were blown away by the interest from the women's cycling community.

To support the continued growth of women's cycling--and with full-on support from Rhonda Van Nus and Kent Devries of Jack's Bicycle Center, one of our title sponsors--they created a local all-female mountain bike and cyclocross race team, the Queens of Dirt (QOD), that would continue to run cycling events and rally local women and junior girls to hit the trails. They brought on five additional women (Kari Wright, Claire Ralston, Hilary Braun, Cortni Thrasher, and Corina Cheever) and five junior girls (Rose Wakeland, Drew and Marin Wheeler, Sage King, and Ainsley McBean), and secured title sponsorship from Liv Cycling, and the support of many other companies and organizations on a local and national level. Since then, we've offered more than a dozen off-road cycling clinics, encouraged women and girls of all levels to get on their bikes, offered scholarships to junior girls to attend our annual Women's Mountain Bike Clinic (led by pro-level racers and instructors), helped build trails, and supported our local race organization. Interested in being a member of our race team or club? Check our our Queens of Dirt application.

Our Women's Race Team

Kirsten Jensen

Kirsten, a Liv Cycling USA Ambassador, has been mountain biking for more than 12 years and has a passion for promoting the development of more women in off-road cycling. She co-founded the QOD, helped launch a women's cyclocross clinic series, started the QOD Junior Girls Development Team with the help of Leah Kivat and Javon Smith (both QOD members), and has helped organize trail-building and trail-maintenance days. She loves cross-country and enduro mountain bike races, and has been competing in cyclocross for four years. This year, Kirsten and fellow QOD team member Leah Kiviat won 2nd Place in the Open Women Team of Two Division at the BC Bike Race, a mountain bike stage race, covering about 180 miles (and 30,000 vertical) in 7 days, and placing in the top 200 out of 600 teams in a field with 90 percent men!

Leah Kiviat

Leah grew up competing in Nordic ski, rowing, and cross-country running races. She became an avid road biker during medical school and residency, and soon tried road racing. After the whole peloton went down during her first race and she broke her wrist, she decided maybe racing bicycles wasn’t her thing. Five years later, after the birth of her second child, and a move to the Skagit Valley for work, she and her husband discovered mountain biking and the local cyclocross race scene. “One day we were out riding in the mountains together and we looked at each other and said, 'Why did we waste so much time on road bikes?!'” Her zeal for riding and racing on dirt grew, leading Leah to join Kirsten and co-found the Queens of Dirt, as a way to encourage more girls and women to get out and ride. Leah can often be spotted on local trails trying to coax her two little girls along with various gummy and chocolate treats.

Javon Smith

Javon, a public affairs pro who specializes in community outreach for controversial land-use projects, serves as our trail-building guru and is always boosting her skills. This year, she attended Builders Academies through the North Shore Mountain Bike Association, Crew Leader Training run by the Outdoor Stewardship Institute, and cross-cut saw training at the Pacific Crest Trail Skills College. She also earned her ICP-Level 1 Coach and Guide Certification from the International Mountain Biking Association and helped to coach junior girls at the QOD Women’s Mountain Bike weekend. Javon recently completed her first-ever bike race at the Bellingham BMX cyclocross event. "I'd been 'cross-curious' for a few years and finally decided to give this silly sport a go. The only things that hurt more than my legs were my cheeks from laughing so hard.”

Kari Wright

Kari embraces mountain biking and cyclocross during the triathlon off-season as a way to keep fit, gain strength, challenge herself, and boost her bike-handling skills from hanging with many of the area's amazing cyclists. She also hopes to inspire her son (age 5) and daughter (7) to get out riding -- to help them build confidence (for the trails and life), learn how to fall, climb back in the saddle, and roll on, and above all have fun. Kari has mountain biked on trails from New England to New Zealand, and has documented these and many other adventures as a freelance travel writer and photographer.

Hilary Braun

Hilary started riding mountain bikes after a friend told her it was "just like snowboarding, but in the summer." She actually thinks it's way more fun! Hilary has been riding for six years now and started competing in 2015 with a downhill race at Dry Hill in Port Angeles. Downhill racing wasn't quite her thing, though. -- one run didn't feel quite as satisfying for her as spending all day on the bike with multiple stages of downhill fun. So began Hilary's love of Enduro racing. Her favorite things about mountain biking are the community and camaraderie it creates, the opportunity to play in the woods, and the fun and challenge of trying new trails.

Claire Ralston

Claire started riding mountain bikes a few years ago after burning out on trail running. Then she hit the bike trails for a mud-filled ride on her old clunker "Ned the Norco" with teammate Hilary, and she was hooked! After graduating from WWU with a degree in Kinesiology, Claire decided she loved Bellingham and its outdoor community too much to leave. She loves having Galbraith in her back yard and a supportive crew of gals to help her find her pain cave at CX races (of course with a smile). She's determined to improve her bike-handling skills and fitness, and extremely excited to get more races under her belt next summer.

Cortni Thrasher

Cortni may be an Aviation Electronics Technician on the job, but catch her at a cyclocross race and she'll be flying around the course on her singlespeed, smiling and grabbing hand-ups along the way. She started riding bikes in college, mountain biking with her boyfriend-now-husband, Brad, in Florida. After moving to Oak Harbor, she would watch Brad racing cyclecross but, she says, "I didn't like letting the boys have all the fun, so I bought a thrift store mixte and jumped on the course during a Bellingham BMX tag-team relay race." She's been racing singlespeed ever since. "It's satisfying to have to switch my internal and mental gears instead of my bike's gears. And it's not nearly as hard as people think it is! A lot of riders are more hardcore than they think they are -- they have just forgotten what they are capable of doing!"

Corina Cheever

Corina started bike touring in college and discovered mountain biking about four years later. She joined a weekly women's group ride and never looked back. "It has been incredible to learn to mountain bike from local women and to be a part of our community. This is my first season riding cyclocross, and it has been the ultimate adventure attempting to match the grace, speed, and agility of some of the other riders. I was hesitant to try cyclocross because I only had a mountain bike, but don't let that stop you. You can ride a mountain bike and have just as much fun!"

Sabrina Hendrick

Sabrina discovered cyclocross in 2011 and was instantly hooked by the muddy chaos and exciting atmosphere. She started road racing the following spring to stay fit until the next cross season, and by 2013 she had picked up track and cross country racing. These days her road and track bikes are collecting dust while her mountain bike is getting all of the attention. She loves the adrenaline and sense of accomplishment felt from tackling a new challenge. With her recent move to Bellingham, she is looking forward to meeting, riding and racing with the great community of people in the area.

Alyson Indrunas

Alyson Indrunas loves cyclocross and cross-country mountain bike races. She named her 1987 VW Vanagon after her race hero, three-time women’s cyclocross world champion, Hanka Kupfernagel—because just like her van, Hanka is a tough, older frau who always shows up for races and still throws down. Alyson loves to be in the mountains, riding bikes, drinking beer, and watching movies while knitting. A perfect day is when she can do all of the above in Bellingham, WA. She lives with her husband, Scott, and their Boston Terrier, Elroy.

Suki Henry

Suki grew up in Acme, Wa biking around the town’s three streets with a wild pack of neighbor kids. “We ruled those streets. Having a bike equaled freedom.” When she grew up and moved to Bellingham she found more “wild kids” who liked riding bikes. Suki still enjoys the freedom cycling gives her and she bike commutes to work when she can, bike-packs in the San Juans as often as possible, shreds up on Galbraith rain or shine, and loves dressing up at cyclocross races. In 2016 she placed 3rd overall in the women’s single speed division in the local Cascade Cross cyclocross series. Suki and her partner Josh have 4 rowdy boys between the two of them who support her and fill her life with love and laughter.

Carrie Eller

Racing since 1998, 2017 will be her 19th consecutive season of bike racing. Carrie has competed in road, cross country mountain bike, track and cyclocross. For several years, Carrie competed in regional and NRC road racing events with a focus on multi-day stage races. These days, Carrie spends more time on the trails than in the past and is working to transition endurance of a roadie to cross country mountain biking while trying to develop technical skills. Carrie has enjoyed cyclocross racing for many seasons and still competes currently. With a recent move from Seattle to Bellingham, Carrie balances being a mom to 2 young girls, working as an independent digital marketing consultant, and fitting in time for training and racing. As part of the QOD team, Carrie looks forward to contributing to women's and junior race development.

Laruel Peak

Laurel fell in love with the challenge of mountain biking almost immediately. She first learned to mountain bike on deeply rutted jeep roads that connected powerlines in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire. Rather than learning how to bike, she would just jump off when things got too scary. Laurel has always loved how bikes can take her to gorgeous places, and this love has only deepened since moving to the PNW. When laurel isn't teaching, playing with her dogs, gardening, foraging for mushrooms, or scheming an adventure, you can find her trying to find steep, loamy trails and fixing her bike on the side of the trail. Laurel is enthusiastic about getting more humans on bikes, and can't wait to further this mission with the QOD. Plus, she is pretty competitive and looks forward to racing enduros for the team!

Our Women's Club Team

Nicci Thomas

I was born in Bellingham but raised in Michigan where mountain biking wasn't a conceivable thing. During many vacations to the PNW my Bellingham native Aunt & Uncle taught me the sport and I have been hooked ever since! Now a 2.5 year resident of the area and working as an environmental specialist by trade I try to get out whenever I can. My goals are to get into Enduro racing as well as try my hand in Cyclocrossing - Now with the fellow Queens by my side I can make that a reality!

Kerri Love

Kerri’s love of cycling began as leisurely road cycling and rapidly developed into Ironman Triathlons, time trials and hill climbs. Looking for year round cycling options she bought a single speed and began mountain biking and soon found camaraderie amongst now life-long friends. In 2016 she tackled two new challenges: bike packing and cyclocross racing. It was love at first sight. That’s where she met the QOD Team: “How great is it to be passed by someone who not only cheers for you, but offers you pointers on how you can succeed?!” Kerri strives to improve her mountain bike skills, bravery and fitness to tackle challenges at higher speeds! “I love it when people say yes to fun and adventure and things that scare them just a little bit.”

Kristen Mason

Kristen started mountain biking while living in California as a way to explore the outdoors with her husband. Mountain biking excursions soon led to adventure racing as well as triathlon. Over 16 years and four kids later, she enjoys racing cyclocross, competing in triathlons, and riding the local trails as often as she can. (Though with four kids around, she definitely wishes it were more often!) She especially loves the camaraderie and skill development that comes from riding with other women. "It is important to me that my daughter (and my sons) grow up seeing girls and women enjoy and succeed in all variety of active sports.

Vanessa Haycock

British, Mum, partner, world traveler, entrepreneur, advocate for strong young women AND I LOVE TO RIDE MY BIKE! Ive ridden human powered and motored powered bikes all my life but only in the last year have I fallen in love with mountain biking! Its not just the athletic challenge for me - I adore the woods, trees, the light that sparkles through the leaves and the little critters that snitch up a tree as I pass by. I'm an advocate for us all to raise strong, independent girls that will become happy, fulfilled, confident and compassionate leaders in the future, "The Queens" is a great way to go about this. I'm thrilled to be a part of this group.

Jennifer Byars

Jennifer Byars is a certified noob to the trail and mud scene. Her first and only experiences cycling were her family's rides along the manicured trails of the Black Forest when she was a child. While she treasured those memories she didn't ride a bike again until it became a necessity. During the time she commuted the 15 mile to her job as a pastry chef, cycling went from being a means to an end to a pleasure in it's own right. It only took three years of watching and cheering for her fiance at local cyclocross races for her to work up the courage to buy a cross bike and get on the course herself! "It wasn't the elite riders who inspired me to get out there, but those honorable cabooses. The men and women struggling just to hang on, refusing to quit regardless of how far behind they were or how miserable they felt. They were and still are my heroes. I go into every race with one simple goal: no quitting." 2016 was her first cross season but in that short period of time she and her Surly Straggler competed in and completed 11 races and, much to her surprise, even snagged a couple podium spots!

Our Junior Girls Team

Sage King

Sage is a 6th grader at Shuksan Middle School. She was born in Bellingham in 2005, and like many locals has developed a great love of the Pacific Northwest outdoors. Sage began biking at 3 years old, and is looking forward to the challenge of racing and contributing to the Bellingham biking community. When she's not riding her bike, she can be found doing gymnastics or shredding the white stuff in the mountains with her family.

Marin Wheeler

I’m 15 years old and have been biking for as long as I can remember. I enjoy mountain, road, and cyclocross biking. Racing with QOD pushes my body like nothing else, and is also a great way for me to get outside and get involved in Bellingham’s great biking community. In addition to biking, I enjoy skiing, running, wake boarding, and spending time with friends and family.

Drew Wheeler

I was born into a family of bikers and have been riding as long as I can remember. Although I have been biking for most of my life, I only started racing cyclocross about two years ago. It has taught me how to push myself to be the best I can be. Sometimes it’s a little discouraging when I'm the youngest kid out there by a long shot, but it always keeps me so motivated and determined to do better in the next race -- and have fun. In addition to riding, I also play soccer, ski, and run. I love hanging out with family and friends, and being outdoors.

Rose Wakeland

Rose, 14, loves to ride! Bikes or horses, she spends most of her free time between the two. This is Rose's second year participating in the Cascade Cross Series, and she would love to see more junior girls out there on bikes! Rose is in 8th grade at Fairhaven Middle School, and plays the flute in the band and with Bellingham's North Sound Youth Symphony. She has five chickens, two cats, one dog, two bikes, and a horse named Denali.

Grace Wright

Grace is 8.5 years old, and has been biking since she was 3 years old. She loves mountain biking because it “gets me out of the house and into the fresh air,” she says. “It’s really fun because you can go faster on a bike than running, and I like going along trails and on jumps. I also like meeting new girls and being with other people.” Grace also really likes skiing, swimming, hiking, and doing somersaults and gymnastic moves on her bed at home. She completed her first triathlon in 2016, and will someday become an Xterra queen!

Natalie Ruthford

I have been mountain biking since I was four years old. Galbraith Mountain is where I ride the most, but I have travelled to Utah, Colorado, Oregon and British Columbia to mountain bike also. My favorite trails are Unemployment Line, Atomic Dog and SST but I like to ride all kinds of trails. Biking makes me feel good and strong, and I like the challenge of climbing uphill and speeding downhill. I also run, dance, and ski. Living in the PNW is very special because there are so many fun things to do outside!

Stella Bessler

My name is Stella. I am 9 and in Fourth Grade. I started racing cyclocross when I was six years old. I raced many of the MFG and Cascade cyclocross events last year. I like cyclocross because of the mud and the speed when I go down the hills. I think that the Hodala Corner is intertaning and fun but sometimes it can be distracting; I almost crashed there at the Woodland Park race. I look forward to racing and training with the other Queens of Dirt ladies.