By Jamie Leary

VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – A nonprofit in Colorado’s high country helping victims of trauma from sexual abuse heal through mountain biking is expanding programming this year and hoping to reach even more survivors across the state.

(credit: CBS)

“We do know that the numbers of assaults have increased due to the pandemic and for us we know in the mountain towns they also increase based on the ski season,” said Clare Herfferren, Executive Director of Sacred Cycle.

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Scared Cycle was founded in 2016 by pro-biker and therapist Hannah Russell.

“She realized as she was riding, that she was healing herself and she wondered if she could do the same for others,” said Hefferren.

Through a unique combination of therapy, mountain biking and community support, the model worked.

“Survivors disassociate from their bodies meaning that due to the emotional trauma they emotionally step away,” Hefferren continued, “when you ride a bicycle, you need to be present to address the challenges, a rock or a root in the road. It’s about learning to work through your challenges both on the bike and then it comes off the bike into your life.”

CBS4’s Jamie Leary interviews Clare Herfferren. (credit: CBS)

The thought of getting on a mountain bike can be overwhelming for some but Hefferren says it’s not about going big … all levels are welcome.

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“We are not about higher, faster steeper, it’s all about beginning level and intermediate riders and welcoming and getting more women on bicycles. So when we are on our rides, we do not identify survivors it is all about just community and we have a lead guide and a tail guide, so no one is ever left behind. It’s called a no drop ride.”

(credit: Scared Cycle)

Following the pandemic, the need for healing is greater than ever and this season, Sacred Cycle is expanding.

“This year we are going to deliver the program into two regions — in the Roaring Fork Valley from Glennwood Springs to Aspen, in Eagle County; the Eagle River Valley from Glennwood Springs to Vail.”

Hefferren says they are also laying foundation in the Denver metro area.

“That means that we will have a program of participants riding from May through October, as well as weekly community rides that are open to both men and women and free to attend as well as events that are free to attend.”

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If you’d like to help or participate, you can find more information about Sacred Cycle here.

Jamie Leary