Rad People Who Ride: Kat Sweet and Sweetlines
27 January, 2014
Photo Credit: Karen Johanson
Kat has dedicated her life to making a positive impact through coaching female riders, volunteering with local trail stewardships, and founding Trips for Kids Seattle, teaching inner city youth to mountain bike. This is all true. But let's back up a sec. First and foremost, Kat has ab-so-lutely owned it. Pro skier? Yep. Mutli-year X-Games competitor? Sure. Gravity Games? Uh hunh. That's just for skiing. Did I forget to mention shamelessly ripping downhill bikes and subjecting the Pacific Northwest to the terror of her tires? NW Cup Champion 2010, Crankworkx Giant Slalom AM Gold Medalist 2010 and 2011. Throw in kicking butt (yeah, truly kicking butt) in TaeKwonDo and it's pretty easy to get intimidated... or at least nervous.
But there's no need for alarm, Kat is soooo approachable. I first met her while perusing the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival a few years ago with Quoc. Quoc owns Tam Bikes and knows everybody. Tagging along with Quoc at any sort of bike event involves a lot of head nodding, smiling, and shaking. "Ahhh, so you two know each other from that far back, ahaa, wow." I usually have to go home and ice my neck from head nodding and take a nap from how-do-you-do talk. Regardless, Kat Sweet was coaching a clinic at the cordoned off pump track, mid-festival. She recognized Quoc from across the track, lit up in bright smile, and before I knew it, I was being introduced to a very warm and friendly Kat Sweet. It's reassuring to see friends in the bike industry, makes it feel like one big family.
Coming over Mt. Tam this morning, sure enough there was Kat Sweet unloading her bike from back of Quoc's car close to the top of Tam, early in the morning. It made me smile. Kat's recovering from a serious ACL surgery and spending some time in Marin where she's from before heading back up to Seattle. Some people just love to ride and you can't stop them. And Kat just plain gets it. She's from an area wrought with trail conflict and she painstakingly (but lovingly) fosters positive trail etiquette back in the Northwest with the riders she coaches and the youth she turns on to the sport. Then she rips a downhill series and puts in trail work time. Pretty hard to argue that Kat's not rad. And she gets more people riding - so she's got that going for her, which is nice.
Enjoy Kat's fun responses and wish her a speedy recovery, even if there's some singletrack between now and fully healed, ha.
Name: Kat Sweet
Home Shop and City: Tam Bikes when I’m in Mill Valley where I grew up and GHY (Go Huck Yourself) or Gregg’s Cycles in Seattle where I live now. ABS (Another Bike Shop) when I'm in Santa Cruz, Olympic Bike Shop when I'm in Tahoe, and Fanatik in Bellingham, WA too.
Favorite WTB or Freedom product:
Or, favorite WTB or Freedom related memory (please elaborate):
Vigilante tires all the way! Those things grip and rip!
I love flow trails with lots of jumpies so Dirt Merchant at Wiz, Semper Dirticus at Duthie, ATM at Black Diamond, E27, Brown Pow, Unemployment Line at Galbi, Half Nelson at Squamish, and I’m diggin the Flow Trail at Tamarancho.
Kat isn't joking around when she says flow trails with lots of jumps. Photo Credit: Jack Anderson
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
Pops bought me my first fully rigid 21” frame in ’97. That first ride up Railroad Grade on Tam got me hooked. Or should I say the wind in my hair, tires skidding sideways, on the edge of destruction as we flew back down, that’s what really shot the arrow through my heart.
Tube or Tubeless, why?
Tube. I might be a wee bit lazy about doing too much mechanical work. I did got to UBI but I like quick fixes, no time for slime.
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
Wrist brace, knee brace (thanks to double surgeries this year), and a big fat smile!
If I’m coaching it’s cones, a multi-tool, and cookies (for cookie circle at the end)! My students get pissed if I forget the cookies!
Kat loves to ride, plain and simple, it's impossible to not see. Photo credit: Walter Yi
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
Hauling down A-Line at Whistler, I almost rear-ended a black bear and fishtailed to a stop about 10’ away from furry crack! Talk about how crack can kill!
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
Respect your hikers! Having grown up in Marin I teach all of the kids in my programs the IMBA Rules of the Trail and specifically about how you should be nice to your hikers because they might have money to close your trails down like in Marin.
Believe it or not, purpose built trails like this exist through stewardship and community trail work that Kat promotes and lends a hand in through Team Dirt Corps. Photo Credit: Karen Johanson
Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
After breaking the crap out of my arm in January and snapping my ACL in October, I‘m leaving that sucker in the truck. Who wants to buy me a drink? (And where is El Segundo anyways?)
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
We’re making a documentary this year about the Sisterhood of Shred, following the Sweetlines Sugar Tour! Ladies come shred with us!
Come shred with Kat, she's not kidding! Photo Credit: Meg Valiant.
Sugar Showdown Lumberyard March 1-2
Sugar Showdown Santa Cruz as part of the SCMBF, April 5-6
Sugar Showdown Seattle, July 5-6