Published 04 September 2013
The perfect summer weather experienced in the North of Scotland has offered ideal conditions for everyone to get out and enjoy riding their bike. There has been a host of successful events, on and off road, encouraging a range of participants and a general growth in the sport. One such event was the Munlochy Womens road race organised by Moray Firth Cycling Club on Sunday 25th of August.
(Photo copyright Ben Thorburn)
Penny Philips of MFCC decided it was time to give women in the north the chance to get involved and actively encouraged more experienced riders from the south to come up for the race.
“Women's road racing in Scotland has seen a surge over the past year with numbers of entrants for women's events rocketing. However, many of these races have been localised to larger cities where bigger clubs have higher numbers of female riders. This makes it difficult for female riders in the north to gain experience in competitive women's riding events due to the long travelling distances.”
Lee Craigie, who lives in the Highlands and is well used to travelling around the country to compete in bike racing was one of the competitors in this year’s road race. Having been victorious with the race, on roads a little closer to home, the British National Mountain Bike Champion reported:
"The Munlochy Women's road race was a display of the talent and potential that female riders have up here. 24 women were on the start sheet which is really great. The standard of rider was also excellent so the quality of the race exceeded all my expectations and I was delighted to take the win.”
The North of Scotland is seeing more and more women getting into the cycle sport for social rides or competition. When it comes to mountain biking, there are many natural and constructed trails that make this region a perfect place to get into the sport and develop mountain biking skills. Craigie explains that local people, organisations and clubs are also contributing towards this growth:
“There is a collective of inspiring women encouraging and supporting other women to ride up here. MFCC have an ever growing female contingent and some of the best female mountain bikers continue to come out of this area. I am very proud to lay claim to the title of British National Mountain Bike Champion this year but also keen to attribute much of my success to living and riding up here surrounded by these trails and these people. Female coaches, leaders and race organisers in clubs and organisations such as Petal Power in Aviemore, MFCC in Inverness, Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop and The Black Isle Mountain Bike Club all contribute to this swelling interest in women riding bikes in the Highlands. "
The 21st of September will see another women’s only competition taking place in the highlands. Ride Like a Grrl is returning to the beautiful surroundings of Glen Feshie in the Cairngorms National Park. This event attracted over 100 female riders last year, with a mix of novice and experienced competitors alike. Ride like a Grrl is the brainchild of Petal Power, a women’s mountain biking club based in Strathspey but with members hailing from as far and wide as Aberdeen to Fort William.
Bridget Trussell, Chair of Petal Power said, “We knew that women were looking for opportunities to meet and ride with other women - but we had no idea just how many! We are already have 80 members in less than six months and are hoping to hit the centenary before Ride like a Grrl”
Katrina Brown, the Club Treasurer added, “Last year we had a huge range of women riding the event in terms of age, experience, and fitness. Many women bought their partners and kids along and this year there will be a “Dirt Crit” kids biking event at Lagganlia on the Sunday. Make a weekend of it - there really is something for everyone”
Entries for Ride like a Grrl close on Monday 9th September and can be done through the British Cycling Events web page. The event starts at 12 noon and the entry fee is £35 (£25 for Petal Power members).
To find out more about Petal Power, visit www.petalpowerbiking.co.uk
Enter “Ride like a Grrl” https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/88399/Ride-Like-a-Grrl:-All-women-MTB-race
Check out Velocity Café & Bicycle Workshop http://velocitylove.co.uk/
Find your nearest club http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder