It’s been a long while since I last posted anything (and the majority of the words here aren’t mine either…). Anyway, the other week was a pretty big deal for the female contingent of the University of Sheffield cycling club. The club has grown in recent years meaning it is now possible for the women’s captain, Abi, to have any girls to captain… With a male dominated sport such as mountain biking it can be daunting for girls to feel comfortable riding with guys, especially when they’re new to it. Abi (my better half is one way of describing her relationship with me) has done an excellent job rallying them (plus, a special celebrity guest) together for a few laps of Parkwood Springs despite most being purely road cyclists and some not even owning mountain bikes. My job for the day was to take photos… I forgot my camera. Bollocks. Also, my air forks went pop on my 2nd lap. Bollocks again, but it did mean I was more inclined to stop riding and do the best I could with my phone.
So, over to Abi.
“I’m Abi, the Women’s Captain at the University of Sheffield Cycling Club. I’m sure that many people would agree that cycling, especially mtb, is a male dominated sport so getting together a group of girls together to do some xc at Parkwood Springs proved to be a challenge! My initial hurdle was that the other female members were roadies, with road bikes. Clara and Emily had xc bikes tucked away, however, to get the others out, I needed bikes!
With lack of bikes on the back-burner, I set about hunting down an inspirational, all round, female mtb pinner to lure in the roadies and give some coaching whilst on the track. I asked around and Paddy Baker (Dialled Bikes/Love Not Money 4X Team) put me in touch with Kim Bent (Team 9bar) previous British Champ, National Series winner and holder of 2nd & 5th positions at World Champs level. After being initially stoked that a rider of such high calibre and experience was willing to come help out on our little mtb ride, I got another surprise when Kim solved our bike problem, offering up the fleet from the school where she works.
Once that was sorted, a date was set along with the venue of Parkwood Springs and (after a few subtle reminders that you didn’t need to be a member for your first two club rides) we managed to get 9 girls signed up to the event – definitely a record for the club.
Unfortunately, due to conflicting schedules, 3 of the girls couldn’t make the ride, but we still had a good turnout of 6 girls, with 2 on borrowed bikes. Once at Parkwood, we split the group into two, with some of the girls coming with me for a steady loop and the two Megs receiving some basic mtb skills from Kim on the area near to the car park, before the group came back together to session the first bermy segment from the “start ramp”. This was great fun as it got everyone riding together on what I consider to be the best bit at Parkwood. It was good for me too as 2013 was not a great year for me on a bike with most of my year being consumed by a knee injury and a 3 month bout of the lurgy! Towards the end of the session, we managed to fit in a bit of manual and jumping technique coaching in! I was so happy as I can now manual – unfortunately my feat was not captured on film…
The progression the girls made under Kim’s expert eye was evident, with members of the group tackling fresh challenges with confidence. Unfortunately, the evening drew in and lack of light drew the event to a close. I was especially pleased that everyone had enjoyed it and the rain held off for the event. The highlight of it for me (being a food-centred waste disposal…) was that Kim had brought a box of 9bars to share out – awesome tasty good stuff and definitely a step up from those slimy looking energy gels that some people use.
I’m really looking forward to organising more events like this as everyone is really enthusiastic about doing another girls ride and its lovely to get people enjoying things that they have maybe not experienced before. Next event in the pipeline is Platt Fields BMX in Manchester so watch this space!”