“Trails aren’t just for blokes”. Not a strap line for a new chocolate bar but the words of Anna Astley, Finance Director of BikePark Wales.
Music to my ears.
As a father of 2 young daughters I want them to be excited about Mountain Biking, not put off by poor quality / non-specific mountain bikes (note to serious MTB manufacturers sticking pink flowers on a small frame doesn’t equal a ‘women’s specific’ MTB), selfishly I’m looking forward to family holidays exploring single track not searching for vacant sun loungers.
Whilst forward planning is everything, the BikePark Wales 1st Women’s Weekend was a little too soon for my daughters.
It was business as usual at the biggest MTB Trail Centre with Uplift Service south of the Border, with the addition of a £10 Women’s Pass that not only included admission and a Taster Uplift ticket but a well thought out package of events and activities designed to get women hooked on MTB:
- Skills Coaching – 3 women only MTB Skills courses were available
- Rides lead by multiple World Cup Enduro Champion Tracy Moseley, who was also available for advice and questions – as well as providing a large dose of inspiration.
- Emphasising the social side of MTB local women’s cycling clubs were also leading rides, giving the chance to meet other women riders (NB. BikePark Wales was open as usual – so there was the usual clientele around too as per any weekend but as Mountain Bikers tend to be a friendly, inclusive bunch there was nothing to worry about there!).
- Bike Maintenance Workshops (free to attend with the Women’s Weekend ticket) run by Shimano and Mojo suspension – designed to demystify as well provide practical skills like indexing gears and changing brake pads.
- Try & buy women’s specific clothing and kit – pop-up shops from leading MTB clothing brands (including Endura, Troy Lee Designs, Maloja) all stocked with essential MTB clothing.
- A demo fleet of bikes from Orange and Trek (lots of small and extra-small frame sizes and women’s specific bikes).
- That Taster Uplift Pass – where the hard-work of climbing is done for you whilst you sit in the minibus, your ride is hanging on the trolley all the way to the top.
(I know what you’re thinking – when’s the BikePark Wales Guy’s Weekend?)
You might also be asking why a women-specific event is required at all. BikePark Wales had analysed their gate receipts and the facts were clear – the number of women MTB-ers riding through the gates was disproportionally low. Why? To be honest, probably the same reasons anyone is reticent about trying out any new sport – it’s packed full of jargon, the kit is confusing (and often expensive!) or none of your mates are playing (male or female)..
Trails aren’t just for blokes
BikePark Wales should be applauded for not just throwing a few demo bikes and kit at the problem but for focusing on the social, educational and motivational enablers that breakdown barrier to entry. As a result, women MTB-ers from all over the UK attended.
Final words go to Hannah Myers, owner of Flare Clothing:
“Women’s specific events are an excellent way for getting women together who all share a passion for biking, but it’s also great that the men aren’t excluded either”.
Image credit: BikePark Wales Route http://www.bikeparkwales.com/trails
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