In the spring sunshine, triple enduro world champion Tracy Moseley gets ready to lead a ride, with 40 women lining up to join her. The team from Fox servicing outfit Mojo Suspension have just led a workshop demonstrating how to set up bike suspension to suit lighter riders.
Nearby, women browse through racks of bright, technical mountain bike gear in the pop-up retail village, and line up to demo the latest bikes and new wheelsets. At the end of the day, everyone gathers in the cafe with tea, cake and conversation to chat to Moseley about her impressive career and get advice and tips for their own riding.
This is the scene at the first BikePark Wales Women’s Weekend. BikePark Wales, one of the most popular mountain biking destinations in the UK, is for the most part is overwhelmingly male dominated. Over two days though, the event will transform the bike park’s customer demographic over from 95% men, 5% women to a whopping 38% women.
The BikePark Wales Women’s Weekend is part of a global wave of events and initiatives sweeping women’s mountain biking with a view to reducing the gender gap in participation. So what was it about the event that encouraged that so many women to come? And what do other successful women’s specific events, rides and communities have in common with it – apart from the obvious?
Challenging the gender mix
The bike park, which regularly attracts over 400 people in a weekend, is still a very male-dominated environment, and this is partly why BikePark Wales operations director and women’s weekend organiser Anna Astley decided to run the event.
“We noticed early on that not many women came to ride the park; just 5 to 6%,” she tells BikeRadar. “This is low even for the industry average, which is still too low at 10 to 15% in the UK. Whistler gets 35% [female customers], so there is interest out there! We asked ladies on Facebook what they would like to see and how we could help. We took all that feedback and tried to create an event that enabled women to meet other women in a relaxed and informal way and that took that feedback into account.”
Women’s-specific riding: the international picture
A more inclusive environment
Maintenance workshops and hard-to-find gear
Getting industry support
You can read more at BikeRadar.com