With August being women's month and a celebration of all things women, we are bringing you our weekly guide to some of the best all-women riding groups from around the country. Everyone needs a riding buddy or three...
Finding your mountain biking BFF's isn’t always easy, especially when you first start out. Many of us women initially get into mountain biking when a guy introduces us to the sport, and though guys can be fun to ride with, there’s just a different vibe when it comes to women who mountain bike.
I was lucky in that I was first introduced to the sport by a very good friend. That first ride I was nervous and hesitant and positive that I wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t want to look like a total wimp in front of said friend, so I tried it. She stayed with me the entire time, patiently riding the easy loops with me, explaining tips and tricks, and encouraging me when I crash.
We all know about the safety issues of riding alone etc and there’s something about riding with other women that makes it way more fun (and often I push myself harder than I otherwise would). It took some time, but with a little persistence I have finally have found a little tribe of mountain biking women who love riding as much as I do. They’re some of my best friends and favorite people: smart, confident and unfailingly funny (let’s face it, women mountain bikers are some of the best people in the world).
So how do I find my "tribe"?
Women’s cycling in general is growing every month, and chances are a quick search on Facebook will lead you to your local women’s cycling group. Simply use Facebook’s search bar with variations of terms like “women” “cycling,” “biking” and “mountain biking” see what’s available in your area.
On a related note, another way to use Facebook to find your mountain biking bestie is to simply mention that you mountain bike — or even better, post your trail selfies. Chances are one of your lady friends is already an undercover mountain biker herself, and will see the pic and say, “Hey, I didn’t know you rode!” (Either that, or she may have always wanted to try but never had anyone to go with, and that’s just as good.)
Sign up for a race
My first race was a real eye-opener for me. I was blown away at the camaraderie among the women at the race in all heats, not to mention the men there who supported their mountain biking ladies. I met a ton of women there, of every shape, size and age. The funny thing was, when I rolled my bike up to the start line right before the race, there was a whole chorus of women encouraging me to get ahead of them because they thought they were too slow or old or new and didn’t want to slow me down — which was funny because I was just as slow and old and new as the rest of them.
Your local bike shop
Stop in and read the bulletin board or talk to the sales reps at your local bike shop. Chances are there will be a lead or two on other women who also enjoy being on their bikes on the trails. This might require you to get out of your comfort zone a bit and approach a stranger about riding together. Do it. What’s the worst that can happen? She says no? She says yes and turns out to be weird? But more likely — what if she says yes and turns out to be AWESOME?
On the trail
This is my favorite place to meet other women mountain bikers, because there’s nothing like physical activity and blood (which let’s face it, is fairly common on mountain biking trails) to bring people together. Plus you can check out other bikers’ skills and get inspired, or alternately, teach someone else a few tricks — an intensely satisfying activity. If you see another woman who looks interesting, ask her if you can ride with her. Barring some previous engagement, I bet she’ll say yes to at least one loop. If things go well, get her email and make arrangements to do it again soon.
Finding other women who share your passion for dirt, mud, the outdoors and bike riding is imperative. Without a crew to back you up, or to plan mountain biking weekends with, you’ll never get better, and you’ll never fully enjoy what it means to be a mountain biker. Finding the right women might be harder than say finding a movie to go to on Saturday night, but I think we can all agree that it’s a quest worth investing in.
This women's month we will showcase a few of these awesome riding groups , from around South Africa, who are dedicated to getting more chicks on bikes and having a blast doing it.
First up, the Rocky chicks from PTA in Gauteng.
Location: Pretoria East and Surrounds
The group was created in March 2016 and the main focus is to get ladies involved into MTB’ing,. Mainly to attract beginners and create a safe environment for them to ride, learn, experiment and be encouraged. No one judges here and everyone is patient and understanding with each riders abilities. All the riders here realise everyone started at the beginning and knows what it feels like to be the newby crashing, oblivious of bum cream, putting helmet the right way around etc….these are the moments we look back on and have a good chuckle but we know we all have been there.
The aim also is to meet new people, finding the right group for your level and join in on the rides. We ensure everyone that joins the group feels welcome and when they pitch up for a ride it’s a team effort to hang out with the new rider and find out more about them. We look out for each other, and most importanty we NEVER leave anyone behind. The group has a whatsapp group and a Facebook group and combined we have about 170 ladies. The whatsapp group is the busiest and more banter goes on there.
Ladies advertise sales, ask who is riding where, who is doing what race, and sometimes we have the odd “awkward” conversation that no one dares to ask in public and I find this is what makes it so close knit because we can trust each other to deal with these questions or discussions with respect and discreetly. We are very big on congratulating riders on completing races and wishing everyone a happy birthday! If I forget a birthday I am quickly reminded by one of the other ladies.
Overall we are here with our own personal goals, some are just here for the fun to ride and interact with other like- minded Ladies, others are more race orientated and enjoy going out for hardcore training rides, but one thing we all have in common, is stopping for that quick selfie or pic and definitely the beers afterwards. A true Rocky Chick loves herself a good hard earned beer!
GROUP RIDE DETAILS
Wednesday mornings 6:30 , we start at Aroma Shere, usually a loop of about 25/30 km at a pace of 15/16km/h Thursday Mornings 8:30 we meet at Hazeldean Valley Bike park aka Cowhouse, this is a beginners ride, distance and pace based on last rider or max what riders can ride, we usually have a coffee (sometimes we hippies and have beer) and muffin social. Friday Mornings 6;30 we start at Aroma Shere, a loop of 40/50km at pace of 18/20km/h Over weekends we sometimes have fixed rides, if not then the Ladies arrange on the group rides and they form their own little groups they ride with depending on what distance or pace they feel like. I would also like to give special thanks to Hazeldean Valley bike park for always accommodating us on our rides.
With beginners I do have one on one session to give them basic tips on how to stay on the bike and do bridges or take corners etc, but we do offer skills workshops hosted by professionals, we just started with skills workshops and will have a next one in beginning of the new year.
We are not a club so do not charge any club fee’s, we are a social riding group where anyone can fall in and join, we pay fees with a warm welcome and big smiles.
GET IN TOUCH
TEL: 082 410 5377
**Photo Credit to Turksvy Adventure Photography**