WOMEN OF DIRT, RAIN, WIND & FUN!
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