Recent Articles From Participants of our wonderful Ride Like A Grrl
I am a mountain biker. There, I said it. And it’s all thanks to Ride Like a Grrl. I’m 42 years old, and up until about 2 years ago hadn’t ridden a bike in about 20 years. I was a complete chicken, terrified of falling off, going round corners, you name it. Then I had children, and through them, started hanging round with People Who Rode Bikes. And bought a mountain bike. And then my friend came off her bike really awkwardly, had a horrible injury to her knee, and a year later, thanks to her, there were 4 of us tucked in at the back of the starting line of Ride Like A Grrl 13, wondering what on earth we were doing there.
It’s 4 days later and I’m still on a high. I don’t think I’ve had so much fun since I was a child. I was very worried to start with – I’d had a horrible cold the weekend before, and my ears were still so blocked I could barely hear, and I was still coughing like a 60 a day smoker – those near me on the first couple of miles can testify to that. And I have to say the first couple of miles still had me worried – cold and stiff on my bike, I crawled up the road, wondering how I was going to back out of it all. Finally turned off-road, onto the Path Of Doom, made up entirely, in my recollection, of Indiana Jones-style boulders leaping into my wheels. But there was no turning back, and then there was a river. The lovely marshal said “Any way you can!” in answer to my look of bewilderment. So I got off and walked. And got wet. And suddenly it all became utterly brilliant.
The rest of it is a lovely blur as I merrily hammered my brand new bike (white, so trying to get it as mucky as possible) over some gorgeous singletrack, ace downhills, lovely undulating stretches of track and one hairy downhill, where the marshal said “it’s a bit steep” and had I stopped to really think, I’d have chickened out. As it was, I remembered my lessons, hung on for dear life, and screamed “I DID IT!!!” as I turned the corner at the bottom.
Why is Ride Like a Grrl so Special? Because it allows me to say “I’m a mountain biker” without feeling like a fraud and an idiot. I came nearly last in the adventure race and fell off 4 times. But all those women, many of whom are real athletes, and just amazing bikers, made me feel really part of their community, and never like the incompetent fool I sometimes must have looked like. Holding up the lovely second-place Epic person, I said “Sorry” – to which she said “no, you’re doing really well – keep going”, as she hared off onto an epic loop. I met her again on the Really Mean Hill just after Feshie Bridge – I’d got halfway and finally got off – was quite relieved to see that even your serious biker sometimes does the same (she got a lot more than halfway…). Then there were my fellow adventurers, with occasional dark mutterings about how electric bikes are a Good Thing at the bottom of hills, and cheers of encouragement from marshals with babies, dogs, and, of course, cake.I cannot wait for next year. And next time I’ll go faster. Wearing fancy socks. (Claire MacLean)
And this one from Sarah Burton:
“Well, wasn’t that just the funnest of fun September days?!!!! It was so, so, soooo brilliant that I want to do it all again please It was a great atmosphere from start to finish and a brilliant way to try out mountain bike racing. There was tea and coffee and cake and cake and cake and cake too! The start of the race was fun – it was a mass rolling start a la Tour de France with the Petalpower marshals keeping us all in order for the first 500m and then they pulled off to the side and the race was on! Well, for some, I was still riding through some asthma but once I’d done that, the race was on! Again. And then we pulled off the road onto some stony-heathery single track. Yay! And then the race was off again because I collected some heather in my gears. So I spent a bit of time taking it out, whilst receiving about a billion offers of help, and then the race was on! Again. There was a froody-zippy little downhill followed by a stream crossing and then it was up hill to the first course split. I was quite near the front so all the mega-riders turned off onto the Epic route leaving just a few of us scattered on the Adventure route. By the time I got to the first feeding station I totally needed that cake! Then there was some forest road and then the most beautiful, singletrackiest piece of singletrack I ever rode. It was even skinny singletrack, just a tyre width wide. Which was hugely funny cos I couldn’t really see where the track was supposed to be going – lol!! Then just as I was slowly puffing and wheezing up a hill that I thought had no right being where it was, another rider overtook me. Yikes! The race was on. Again. So I overtook her right back. But then a little later, on another hill, she overtook me right back back again. So one lesson from today is that I’m quite good at technical downhills but rubbish at uphills!! I spent the next what turned out to be 10km looking for the second feeding station but, not long after a nearly fatally steep descent, just when I thought the second feeding station couldn’t be far away, I found myself about to cross the finish line. Hahahaha! I’d missed the feeding station by 6km! It’s a wonder I finished at all given that I couldn’t even see a white van with tables, water and cake. Anyway, finish I did, and my official time was 1hr 39mins 10secs for 26km. And best of all, I finished 13th out of 54. I was well happy with that. As I crossed the line they called out my name and everyone cheered! How funky is that? I met some other peeps local to me too, so we might meet up for some rides over the winter. Brilliant day! Loved it to bits!”
Check out some pictures from the day.
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