Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY SADIE-RAE WERNER

Bi­cy­cle New­found­land and Labrador has seen a clear dis­par­ity be­tween the num­bers of men ver­sus women cy­cling in the prov­ince. New ef­forts to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion are be­ing made by en­cour­ag­ing more women to par­tic­i­pate in moun­tain bik­ing.

Bi­cy­cle New­found­land and Labrador is the pro­vin­cial body re­spon­si­ble for recre­ational and com­pet­i­tive cy­cling.

Chris­tine El­liot, ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber and women’s cy­cling rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Bi­cy­cle New­found­land and Labrador ex­plained that in the past, women were of­ten pushed to­ward road cy­cling, and many would re­port back feel­ing un­safe around the cars or un­sure of where to go.

El­liot, along with Kai­ley Pauls and Ju­liah Wight be­gan a youth moun­tain bik­ing group, where they live in Cor­ner Brook, for girls aged five and up to get them en­gaged with the sport at an early age.

Many of the girls’ moth­ers ex­pressed an in­ter­est in hav­ing a chance to hit the trails as well and, rec­og­niz­ing a lack of groups available for older women, the three started an ad­di­tional group.

“They’re cer­tainly en­joy­ing moun­tain bik­ing … you can hear them laugh­ing and hav­ing a re­ally good time,” says El­liott about the re­sponse to the women’s moun­tain bik­ing group.

Ef­forts to grow women’s moun­tain bik­ing across the prov­ince have been slow mov­ing, and Bi­cy­cle New­found­land and Labrador has of­ten been faced with a lack of in­ter­est in tak­ing on women’s cy­cling ini­tia­tives in dif­fer­ent re­gions.

De­spite this, rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Grand Falls-Wind­sor, Gan­der and St. John’s are work­ing hard to in­tro­duce more women to moun­tain bik­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to road cy­cling.

“It’s taken me a long time to get com­fort­able with it,” says Caro­line Swan of the Cen­tral New­found­land Bik­ing As­so­ci­a­tion who started moun­tain bik­ing in 2007, shortly af­ter she moved to New­found­land.

“I re­ally liked moun­tain bik­ing in New­found­land be­cause the trails are so rugged,” says Swan who fell in love with vis­it­ing dif­fer­ent places on her bike.

Swan is an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in the ef­fort to grow women’s moun­tain bik­ing in the prov­ince. She rec­og­nizes that one of the key el­e­ments of grow­ing the sport is help­ing cy­clists to build con­fi­dence on dif­fer­ent ter­rain.

Swan will be teach­ing moun­tain bik­ing classes in St. John’s on Satur­day, July 7 to try and get more women in the city moun­tain bik­ing. With her classes, she aims to start on wide, open trails be­fore mov­ing the groups to nar­rower trails with more dif­fi­cult ter­rain.

Swan hopes that women who come to the classes, with the help of Bi­cy­cle New­found­land and Labrador will form reg­u­lar moun­tain bik­ing groups.

“New­found­land is the per­fect place for moun­tain bik­ing be­cause our land­scape is so won­der­ful and rugged,” says Swan.

“It’s the best adren­a­line rush you’ll ever ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Swan who de­scribes her­self as timid but has found free­dom through her bi­cy­cle.

Swan’s classes will be tak­ing place at Pippy Park for those aged 10 and up at 9 a.m. and those aged 19 and up at 2 p.m. Par­tic­i­pants will need their own bi­cy­cle and hel­met.


Caro­line Swan hits the trail on Al­len­dale Road near Pippy Park in St. John’s.

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