Another month, another wonderful weekend mountain biking in the Cairngorms! It’s pure coincidence that this month I was back in almost exactly the same part of Scotland as the last blog post I wrote.
This weekend I was at a wonderful event run by Petal Power Biking – a women’s only cross-country race/ride in the Cairngorms. Just in the last few weeks there have been discussions on Facebook groups about why more women don’t enter mainstream cross-country mountain bike races. I don’t really race, but I do enjoy a good mountain bike marathon (only half distance – 50k – so far) and I did enjoy the Glentress7 (mostly). I think the reason is that I just enjoy the experience of being out on the trails too much to want to bomb along at full pace 🙂
Ride Like a Grrrl was ideal because although it was a race, and the girls at the front were racing, the event info also stressed that we could take all day if we wanted. There were two courses – Adventure at 25km and Epic at 35km. Epic included two more climbs and more tricky descents than the Adventure. With the Husband up in Fort William for the truly epic Tour De Ben Nevis (too hard for me), I persuaded a couple of grrrl friends to sign up to this event and head up to Lagganlia Outdoor Centre in Feshiebridge near Aviemore with nearly 100 other entrants.
The ride set off at 10am so we stayed the night before in the camper van. The overnight temperature went down to about 2deg but we were warm and toasty with lots of sleeping bags and blankets. In the morning it was bright but cold. Perfect riding weather.
I have had a bit of a cold and a nasty sore throat all week so didn’t feel great at the start and we rolled out quite slowly. After the first big climb and really big descent, one friend had gone ahead and the other was struggling behind with v-brakes not very useful in the mud. The weather was spectacularly good but it had been raining all week so the paths were very boggy in places. I decided to wait for my friend and ride with her, partly because of my cold, partly because she has previous form for getting lost on rides like this, and partly just because the weather, trails and scenery were so amazing I wanted to enjoy every minute.
As the ride went on I got stronger and felt better and better, I think that exercise endorphins generally suppress cold symptoms. So I had a lovely day out. We finished last, but only just, we were with a group of three girls just in front and in sight of another two in front of them. It would be interesting to know how many people I could have overtaken if I had ridden at my own pace rather than waiting up… but I was happy to pootle this time. The fact you could race it or just treat it as a ride is the only reason one of my friends was willing to sign up, and if it had been a ‘proper’ race I might not have started due to my cold/throat. I think that this format is a real winner for getting more women into racing.
Well done to all the volunteers who organised this.