WOMEN OF DIRT, RAIN, WIND & FUN!

Mountain Bike for Her - - Front Page - Words by Meagan Robert­son

Even the strong­est tree needs a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment to flour­ish at the start and bur­geon­ing women moun­tain bik­ers are no dif­fer­ent. Cre­at­ing this type of en­vi­ron­ment was the in­cen­tive be­hind Re­volve, a “down to earth” women’s cy­cling club that caters to women of all skills lev­els who want to ride a bike!

Founded in 2009, Re­volve was the brain­child of two lo­cal bike en­thu­si­asts – Ash Burgess and Mar­jolein (MJ) Cook – who found there was a se­vere lack of women rid­ing the trails and rac­ing in lo­cal events. So, they de­cided to do some­thing about it.

“What started as ca­sual weekly ride quickly grew and, as more and more ladies started to turn up, we thought… maybe we’re onto some­thing…,” says Ash.

With the sim­ple mission to get more women on bikes – be it moun­tain or road – Re­volve’s pop­u­lar­ity grew quickly and cap­tured the hearts of many – both guys and girls. By 2012, over 1000 peo­ple had signed up the the ‘Weekly Re­volver’ e-news­let­ters to stay in the loop with the weekly rides, events and skills and main­te­nance clin­ics.

“Given the re­sponse and com­mit­ment we’ve re­ceived over the years, it’s hard to be­lieve there wasn’t a club be­fore,” says Ash. “They say ‘build it and they shall come’ and, since Re­volve’s in­cep­tion, I’ve had count­less women re­it­er­ate this say­ing – whether they were too ner­vous, un­ac­quainted with the trails or not keen to ride with their part­ners, th­ese women were look­ing for an out­let and are now stoked to have a club to call their own.”

The club also or­ga­nizes trips away, movie nights, a yearly ‘bike bits’ sale, so­cial events and much more. How­ever, it’s two most popular an­nual events are the Women of Dirt – a six-hour re­lay – and the Su­per V (you de­cide what it stands for!) a ped­ally down­hill race, Mission com­plete… and con­tin­u­ing Women of Dirt was the club’s first event, and has ar­guable be­come its most no­to­ri­ous. Sim­i­lar in in­cen­tive to the club it­self, Ash and MJ came up with the idea for the in­clu­sive six-hour re­lay to en­cour­age women to try their hand at rac­ing.

“Af­ter at­tend­ing sev­eral six-hour events around the coun­try, we no­ticed a sim­i­lar pat­tern – great race course, heaps of com­pe­ti­tion and amaz­ing prizes. But one thing was miss­ing.... women,” says Ash.

“We asked around and the re­sponses from

women were al­ways the same: ‘I don’t know if I could do that’. Af­ter many cups of tea we de­cided that this needed to change, and so a women’s only six-hour moun­tain bike event was born.”

She says it’s fit­ting as it re­it­er­ates Re­volve’s mission.

“Re­volve is a fun cy­cling club for women of all abil­i­ties and skills lev­els. From first time rid­ers to women rac­ing ev­ery week­end, we are all stoked to ride our bikes,” says Ash.

“Women of Dirt is the event that en­com­passes that awe­some blend of fun and com­pe­ti­tion. With girls aged 9 through to women who are 50-plus – some that have rid­den a hand­ful of times and oth­ers that ride a hand­ful of times per week – it’s a chance to get to­gether, ride our bikes and meet like-minded ladies.”

She says it’s been in­cred­i­ble to see the event grow over the past four years.

“In 2010, a women’s re­lay race was an en­tirely new con­cept that we had to ex­plain in de­tail to any­one and ev­ery­one – now it’s rare to find a Welling­ton moun­tain biker who hasn’t heard of it!” Women of Dirt 2014 Rac­ing means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, and Women of Dirt is no ex­cep­tion. Whether you’re out to win top prize for your speed, your cos­tume or your bak­ing, ev­ery­one brings some­thing to the ta­ble on the day. More than ever, this year’s event proved that re­lay rac­ers won’t let much stop them from hav­ing fun – even be­low av­er­age weather!

Look­ing out the win­dow on the morn­ing of Women of Dirt 2014, it looked like it might be Women of Dirt, Rain and Wind – but the fore­cast wasn’t about to de­ter the 92 women who turned up ready for a day of rac­ing, bak­ing and en­joy­ing the hub of women’s moun­tain bik­ing in Welling­ton.

Run by Re­volve, the six-hour re­lay con­tin­ues to be an un-miss­able sta­ple in the cap­i­tal city’s lo­cal rac­ing scene. Held at Makara Peak moun­tain bike park, the event has a unique at­mos­phere that com­bines the fun and in­ten­sity of rac­ing with cos­tumes, good­ies and plenty of so­cial­iz­ing.

“It’s a truly unique event to be part of,” says this year’s event or­ga­nizer and Re­volve com­mit­tee mem­ber Shailie Pid­cock. “Women of Dirt seems to bring out the best in ev­ery­one – there’s a great

Photo: Re­becca Ste­wart

Photo: Re­becca Ste­wart

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