Social media is great sometimes! A few weeks ago I was flicking through Instagram when I saw that Rach-Elizzabeth was putting on an event at Whinlatter – the Lake District Lasses Launch Party. The day after my race at Keswick Mountain Festival (read more about that here), this was perfect timing as I would already be about fifteen minutes away. So, of course, I signed up straight away and waited excitedly…
Arriving at Whinlatter, I am not sure why, but I felt a tiny bit nervous. I think it was because I had the usual worries of ‘what if everyone is faster than me’, ‘what if I hold people back’, ‘what if I forget how to ride a bike’ – entirely logical as you can see! But as soon as I headed up to Cyclewise to register and hear the plan for the day I calmed down. Everyone was just so friendly, and there was a great mix of ages and abilities, both pro and beginner.
The structure of the day had been organised well and was broken down into two halves – one part was a skills session in small groups and the other, a social ride with everyone who was not doing the skills session at that time. Cyclewise had also put on a bike demo day which worked well for any accompanying blokes who were not taking part in the day (great to see this was thought about).
I was down for the social ride in the morning and skills in the afternoon, so after a lovely welcome from Rach-Elizzabeth we all set-off. Although I love riding in a mixed group, it was great to head out with so many awesome female riders, and we just had so much fun. The chosen route was wicked, with something for everyone. It was fast and flowy, but there were nice gaps in between each section which gave us a chance to chat and giggle. We also had Mattyy – Mattyy Simpson Photography – strategically hiding behind bushes along the trail to get some snaps of us along the way. This was a lovely idea and has given me some great memories of the day.
As the ride went on, I found my confidence increasing. It was great to meet so many women of a similar ability and be able to share tips and experiences – there were a lot of laughs.
After an epic descent down the Red North trail, it was time for lunch. Rach-Elizzabeth had had the fantastic idea of bringing cake to ensure we didn’t all disappear back to our cars and ate lunch together. Of course, I thought this was great (there are very few circumstances I will ever turn down cake!) and it gave us all more time to chat and get to know each other.
Refuelled it was time for the afternoon skills session. I was in a group with five others lead by Dave from Cyclewise. First off Dave wanted to nail down exactly what skills we wanted to get out of the session. The unanimous opinion seemed to be jumps, which was fine by me as I have never had any tuition of any sort so learning anything was a bonus!
From here Dave broke things down into the necessary skills needed to jump and focused on refining each of the individual elements for each of us. Having watched so many YouTube tutorials for manuals and rear wheel lifts, and failed miserably, time and time again, his explanation was a revolution! I have been trying to get my back wheel off the ground for the past six months and finally got it – it was a great moment.
Soon I was even trying to combine the two together to try and do a bunny hop! After this, we had a bit of time left to work on cornering, which again totally changed my riding. I couldn’t believe how much faster (and more controlled) I was with better technique. The whole session left me fired up to get out and practice even more.
Before I knew it the session was over – I couldn’t believe how quickly the day had gone and soon it was time for everyone to head their separate ways. But before we went we were treated to a fab goodie bag from the event sponsors Bell Helmets. Amongst lots of great things, they had also included a car air-freshener – perhaps a little random but much appreciated after a weekend of camping in the rain and mud with all the kit and the bike in the car!
Thanks so much to Rach-Elizzabeth, Cyclewise and Bell for putting the weekend on. It was well structured, and I came away from the day totally inspired and having learned so much. Driving home all I could think about was how I could make sure I didn’t forget anything I had learnt! I really hope there are more days like this – if so I will certainly be back. Great riding, excellent company and a fab weekend!