Jackie Kowalenko, Calgary Bike Instructor & Bike Mechanic.

Meet Jackie. Having barely survived some ‘surprise’ downhill runs with her brother at Fish Creek park while in Middle School—surprise meaning scary single sketchy tack lines—we can say she found the thrill in mountain biking. Not just one to simply enjoy the thrill of the ride though, Jackie took a job later on working in a bike shop and learned a lot about the more mechanical side of biking. Needless to say, she’s in love with all aspects of mountain biking.

Jackie is a pretty independent rider. She always enjoyed getting pointers and tips from friends, but often found their advice was confusing or she couldn’t quite grasp the technique. This led her to focus on taking matters into her own hands and learning a lot of the skills through sheer determination. “I wish I had started taking courses earlier,” she shared. When she found ways that worked for her, she was always quick to share her experience and learning style with others. She started her first steps towards coaching by riding sweep and has never looked back.

Working adventure summer camps which included teaching rock climbing, hiking, team building, and of course mountain biking was one of the starting points of her more hands-on coaching experiences. One of these camps led her to an amazing 6 months in the Transylvanian Mountains of Romania as the High Ropes course manager and guide. Her focus is her deep passion for experiential learning and facilitating growth through challenging experiences. She finds people always learn way more when they’re pushed just ever so slightly outside of their comfort zones, but more importantly they become empowered when they triumph in these situations. Jackie wants her students to come away from her courses with positive experiences and the skills to overcome future obstacles on the trail and off the trail. Her goal is to equip students with what they need to get themselves out of scary situations, much like the ones her brother used to set her up for! She works through these situations with easy and repeatable steps to conquer their fears and the terrain

An ambitious Service Manager, Jackie’s Service School at Calgary Cycle which started last year and helps teach all levels of maintenance from beginner topics like how to change a flat to more advanced topics like overhauls of suspension forks. “I wrote the curriculum with the mindset of learning from the ground up, something which is really lacking when experienced knowledgeable mechanics attempt to teach beginners anything new” Jackie shared, “Our brains process new information in a very specific way when learning hands on skills so it is very important to establish the ground work much like in mountain biking. This is even more so important when teaching different genders, women do not process learning hands on skills the same way men do. This is why I’m so excited to be offering Women’s Only Tech Clinics this year with Shred Sisters!” and we are so excited to have her!

The most valuable advice that Jackie has ever received was: Ride your bike and then ride your bike some more. Time in the saddle is the greatest teacher. For advice Jackie would give to her students, “It’s just you and your bike and the trail,” she says, “If you’re a newbie, don’t worry about the group or how slow you are or if you had to walk a section. Everyone returns back to the parking lot eventually so enjoy your ride and have fun. If it isn’t fun, then make it fun, a positive attitude goes a long way!”

Jackie Schedule 2020 in Calgary

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