Women’s mountain biking is experiencing a massive boom with Women’s bikes and products being a huge growth market. We grow in confidence every day but taking the step to enter a big race is still intimidating, Will I get in the way? Will they start taking down the tape before I even finish? Women’s only races attempt to put the fun back into racing, removing the fear factor and welcoming everyone from their first enduro onwards.
Air maiden, a women’s coaching and skills company run by Lynne Armstrong, hosted their second annual Enduro Maiden event in Innerleithen, Scottish Borders. The event welcomed more than 60 women to drop in and ride the trails, get some coaching on the technical bits and have the chance to stand on the podium receiving some incredible trophies.
It wouldn’t be a UK race if we didn’t talk about the weather, and it definitely deserves talking about. The residents of Innerleithen will talk for many a month about ‘that Saturday’. They’re used to rain up there but infrequently do the trails turn to streams with such speed. Despite the moistness, the trails retained grip for those that believed and once waterproof jackets were soaked through everyone stopped bothering to shelter under trees which only served to condense the rain into larger, heavier droplets anyway.
Spirits remained high and were probably heightened by the ridiculousness of pedalling through the clouds. Incredible, fully pinned riding went hand in hand with the politest overtaking you can imagine, “if you don’t mind, it would be great to get past, but only when you’re ready”. Everyone was beyond stoked and the joy of racing abounded, especially when the free beers were handed out at the end. Fantastic trail choice meant the trails remained as ‘all-weather’ as possible, offering tech without terror.
You can check out the winners on the Facebook site, special mentions go to Melody Fife, winner of the under 21 category in a swift 13:27. Samantha Pickard with the fastest time of the day 12:44 in her second ever enduro – expect to see more of her. Also Ellie Forgan for smashing an incredible 13:33 time on a hardtail that she had “dug out of the shed” at her dad’s house. Goes to show it’s not all about the bike – well done Ellie.
Like a lot of mountain bike races, Enduro Maiden struggles to make ends meet. “It’s a grassroots event and while we are proud of being able to talk over 70 women into taking part, we struggle to make it work financially. The costs are so high and if we charged a lot we just wouldn’t get the numbers so it couldn’t run”. “The amount of time that goes into the preparation for an event is not reflected in any financial gain. It really a labour of love for me, as I do get a kick out of watching the progression and stoke levels increase over the course of the weekend. But with a young family and bills to pay, I’m just not sure how sustainable it is”.
Everyone who took part this weekend would be sad to not see Enduro Maiden return in 2018.
PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away an exclusive Trek Slash 2018 in top spec! Click here to take part now!