It all started back in 2018 when Lindsay and Sarah did a few women’s MTB taster sessions which involved coaching, maintenance sessions and a group ride, as well as a few road focused Breeze rides. But it was 2019 when Lindsay and Sarah really got the hub going, with a beginners group and running a monthly Sunday afternoon MTB Breeze ride out from Afan Lodge.
At the start, the majority of the girls were very much beginners with limited or no experience of riding a bike off road, and some had very limited experience of riding a bike altogether. But over the months, the girls kept coming to the rides and even met up with each other to go out and practice in between sessions. These girls now have progressed from beginners and can now confidently ride blue trails and even ride entry level red trails; improving their skills and fitness with every ride.
The rides have proved really popular and with both Sarah and Lindsay leading them, taking up to 16 riders per session. For 2020 they are running two sessions; an intermediate group to carry on growing the skills and confidence of last year’s improvers, and they have now started another beginners group to get another group of girls to the start their MTB journey. During the race season, if time is short, Lindsay and Sarah plan to focus on the beginner rides.
The way they run both sessions is that Sarah tends to lead from the front while Lindsay rides at the rear, helping the less confident riders safely down the hill. Lindsay described how they lead the rides: “With really nervous and new riders I get them to follow me down to show them how slowly and safely they can ride the section and to get them to follow my lines - it’s not as scary as they think it is. It is so rewarding to see these girls grow and to remember where they started from.”
Lindsay also mentioned one lady, Emma Brackpool, who is the perfect example of why Breeze MTB is so important.
“Emma started with us last January aged 47 having never owned a bike as a child. She attended her first session with us on a step thorough hybrid wearing jeans, when she saw everyone else on mountain bikes and wearing cycling clothing she got all upset and wanted to go home,” Lindsay said.
Lindsay continued: “We managed to get her to stay and told her it didn’t matter what she wore and her bike was suitable for the ride we were doing that day. The next time she came out with us she had borrowed a bike that was a little too big for her but she managed.”
Lindsay and Sarah are on hand to help people like Emma through their MTB journey: “She struggled on the climbs so I walked with her a lot of the way, she struggled on the down, so I walked down the trail with her, I then sat on my bike and showed her how slowly she could roll down sections and eventually she was riding her bike more than walking, then when we got to the bottom she had the biggest smile on her face.”
Fast forward a year, Lindsay said: “Emma now has a full suspension mountain bike, she has a new group of friends who she rides with in between the Breeze rides and can now confidently ride entry level red trails.”
This week on ITV’s Coast and Country, the MTB Breeze group are being featured, so make sure you check the programme which will air on ITV Cymru Wales, this Thursday at 8.30pm.
The Afan mountain bike Hub is listed on Let’s Ride at: https://www.letsride.co.uk/groups/afan-lodge-mountain-bike-hub. This group is for female mountain bikers of all abilities. Sarah and Lindsay are both qualified mountain bike Breeze leaders. They ride the cycle paths, trails and off piste routes too. They take out riders who are at the start of their biking journey and those who want to try something a little more challenging.
There are also two other mountain bike hubs in Wales, one based at Coed y Brenin (North Wales), where the Breeze mountain biking programme was born back in 2016. The other at Nant Yr Arian (Mid Wales)
The Coed y Brenin bike hub is listed on Let’s Ride: https://www.letsride.co.uk/groups/breeze-coed-y-brenin. Rides at Coed y Brenin tend to run monthly, on Friday’s, but evening and weekend rides are also planned for 2020. Routes take in the Blue Minortaur/Yr Afon trails, plus a mix of some easier red trails. Two of our Breeze MTB Leaders at this hub are also MTB coaches, so you will get some great coaching tips thrown in whilst out riding.
Nant Yr Arian bike hub can be found at: https://www.letsride.co.uk/groups/breeze-nant-y-arian. Rides usual run one a month and demand is high, we have two Breeze MTB leaders here, who often work together to run larger rides on a mix of Blue/red trails and fire roads.
All rides usually cater for complete beginners up to more experienced riders, aim of the rides are to be inclusive, fun and social. We never leave anyone behind and there are always short cuts if riders don’t feel confident to ride certain aspects of the trails.