Scarborough sisters ride mountain bikes high
From Maine to Canada and back again, sisters Keegan and Fiona Dolan of Scarborough have reached great heights in mountain biking.
The girls race in highly competitive Eastern States Cup events, which feature mountain bikers of all skill levels, from pros to juniors. Keegan, 16, sits in 18th place in the Ranking Enduro Women Amateurs ESC out of 64 competitors. Out of 42 competitors, Fiona, 14, is in 11th place in the ESC Amateur Intense Downhill Women Ranking.
Their impressive leaderboard positions are largely due to multiple podium appearances throughout their six ESC races to date, including a recent event at Sugarloaf.
While Keegan said she started racing in eighth grade with the Southern Maine Mountain Bike Syndicate, both girls took the sport seriously in 2019, when the family moved to Squamish, B.C., a town just one hour from Vancouver which has 293 mountain bike trails. , according to Mountain Biking BC.
“In Squamish, (mountain biking) was a big part of the community there,” said Fiona, a 9th grader at Waynflete. “Almost everyone did it, so I really had fun there.”
Keegan, in Grade 11 at Waynflete, said “the terrain was a lot tougher” in Squamish and as a result his skills “have improved dramatically”.
Both girls began competing in Eastern States Cup races after returning to Maine. In September, they raced at an ESC event in Sugarloaf.
“It was a super tough track,” said Keegan, who placed third in an endurance or “enduro” race. “It was super cool to race in Maine. Most ESC races are in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey.
Enduro racing, which is central to Keegan, normally consists of five stages and five transfers. The “stages” are the timed portion of the race, and the “transfers” are the climbs to get each stage started, she said.
“It’s a very physically demanding race and some races take two days to complete,” she said, although most of the enduro races she’s entered have been in one day.
Downhill races, which are Fiona’s specialty, can last anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes and focus more on speed than endurance. Fiona, who placed 3rd in the ESC downhill race at Sugarloaf, said “it was a really fun trail.”
“You practice on this track for a day or two and then you just have to race down it as fast as you can,” she said. “Going down something at 30 miles per hour but trying not to hit a tree.”
Both girls have had their fair share of injuries.
Fiona fell during a practice session at a recent event in Mountain Creek, New Jersey, suffering a concussion and was unable to compete. Keegan has broken multiple bones throughout her career, including earlier this season when she broke her collarbone in two places, requiring surgery, she said.
“With mountain biking there are a lot of injuries,” said the girls’ mother, Stephanie Dolan, a running and cross-country skiing teacher and coach at Waynflete. “I just admire that they get back on the bike and keep going. I think a lot of people are throwing in the towel.”
Fiona estimates she has competed in 10 mountain bike races while Keegan has competed in around 20, including cross country races which she started with before moving to Squamish.
Both girls have competed in six ESC races since 2020, according to league race results.
Keegan has been on the podium in three of her ESC races, including 3rd place at Sugarloaf. Fiona, in addition to her 3rd place ESC at Sugarloaf, she has been on the podium several times, including an enduro race where she came first
“In terms of the long term and how they end, it’s not really a thing for me,” their mother said. “More that they’re just outside and active.”
In addition to mountain biking, Keegan rides cross country, skis and plays lacrosse while Fiona plays soccer and is on the swim team.
Both girls said they love being part of the mountain bike community.
“My favorite thing about cycling is probably the people I’ve met through sport,” Keegan said. “I feel like I’ve met a lot of my very close friends, especially in Squamish. It was one of the biggest parts of the community.
She said she has met many women she admires and hopes to attract more young girls into the sport.
“It can be scary being a young girl in a male-dominated sport,” she said.
In addition to the people she’s met along the way, Fiona loves the thrill of sports.
“I really like going fast and doing the jumps,” she said. “I really like the competitive side and the competition with my sister.”
When asked who was the best, the girls disagreed.
“Me,” they both answered.
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