Keegan, left, and Fiona Dolan of Scarborough have been excelling in mountain biking. Contributed / Stephanie Dolan

From Maine to Canada and back again, sisters Keegan and Fiona Dolan of Scarborough have been reaching great heights in mountain biking.

The girls race in highly-competitive Eastern States Cup events, which feature mountain bikers of all skill levels, from professionals to juniors. Keegan, 16, is in 18th place in the ESC Amateur Women Enduro standings out of 64 competitors.  Out of 42 competitors, Fiona, 14,  resides in 11th place in the ESC Amateur Women Intense Downhill standings.

Their impressive positions in the standings are due in large part to multiple podium appearances throughout their six ESC races to date, including a recent event at Sugarloaf.

While Keegan said she began racing in eighth grade with the Southern Maine Mountain Bike Syndicate, both girls got serious about the sport in 2019, when the family moved to Squamish, British Columbia, a town just an hour outside Vancouver that has 293 mountain biking trails, according to Mountain Biking BC.

“In Squamish, (mountain biking) was a big part of the community there,” said Fiona, in grade 9 at Waynflete. “Pretty much everyone did it, so I got really into it there.”

Keegan, in grade 11 at Waynflete, said that “the terrain was a lot more challenging” in Squamish and, as a result, her skills “improved drastically.”

Both girls began competing in Eastern States Cup races upon moving back to Maine. In September, they raced at an ESC event at Sugarloaf.

“It was a super challenging track,” said Keegan, who placed third in an endurance, or “enduro,” race. “It was super cool to be racing in Maine. Most of the ESC races are in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey.”

Enduro races, which are Keegan’s focus, normally consist of five stages and five transfers. The “stages” are the timed portion of the race, and the “transfers” are the uphill climbs to get the beginning of each stage, she said.

Keegan Dolan of Scarborough mostly takes part in enduro races, which tests mountain bikers’ endurance. Contributed / Stephanie Dolan

“It’s a really physically demanding race and some of the races take two days to finish,” she said, although most of the enduro races she has taken part in were completed in one day.

Downhill races, which are Fiona’s specialty, can take 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 that “it was a really fun track.”

“You’re practicing this track for a day or two, and then you just have to race down it the fastest you can,” she said. “Going down something 30 miles per hour but trying not to run into a tree.”

Both girls have had their fair share of injuries.

Fiona fell during a practice run 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 comes a lot of injuries,” said the girls’ mother Stephanie Dolan, a teacher and cross country running and skiing coach at Waynflete. “I just admire that they get back on the bike and keep going at it. I think a lot of people sort of throw in the towel.”

Fiona estimates that she has competed in 10 mountain biking races while Keegan has competed in roughly 20, including cross country races she started out with before moving to Squamish.

Both girls have competed in six ESC races since 2020, according to league racing results.

Fiona Dolan of Scarborough specializes in downhill races and especially likes the speed and jumps. Contributed / Stephanie Dolan

Keegan has reached the podium in three of her ESC races, including the 3rd place finish at Sugarloaf. Fiona, in addition to her ESC 3rd place finish at Sugarloaf, she has reached the podium multiple times, including an enduro race where she came in first

“In terms of long term and how they finish, that isn’t as much of a thing for me,” their mother said. “More that they’re just outside and active.”

In addition to mountain biking, Keegan runs cross country, skis and plays lacrosse while Fiona plays soccer and is on the swim team.

Both girls said that they enjoy being part of the mountain biking community.

“My favorite thing about biking is probably the people that I’ve met through the sport,” Keegan said. “I feel like I’ve met a lot of my really close friends, especially in Squamish. It was one of the biggest parts of the community.”

She said that she has met a lot of women she looks up to and that she hopes to get 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 enjoys the thrill of the sport.

“I really just like going fast and doing the jumps,” she said. “I really like the competitive side of it and competing with my sister.”

When asked who is better, the girls disagreed.

“Me,” they both responded.

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