Girls Just Want have Fun (on a bike) !!!!

Posted by Sov Atkinson at

This weekend, rather than riding or racing, I spent it helping my mum run a girls-only event at Gawton Gravity Hub called Girls@Gawton 2016.

This is not a new concept, as in the last couple of years my mum and I have been to girls only events such as The RedBull Foxhunt with Rachel Atherton and Girls@Moelfre (organised by Lucy Buckeley). From these events, we met some lively ladies who are into bikes as well. They have wanted to come down to my local riding tracks, Gawton Gravity Hub, as they have heard it in magazines etc, but it is in Devon, which can be quite a few hours to drive just to ride. So, my mum (volunteered in the Gawton Gravity Hub as club secretary) and Laura (Membership Officer for Gawton) decided to organised an event, packed with activities in order to enticed these ladies down.

My mum did a lot of work behind the scenes and they had 36 girls turned up and signed in on Saturday. Before the weekend, mum organised:

  • Souvenir T-shirts (everyone likes a good souvenir tees;)),
  • Prizes (donated by Trek Factory Racing, curtesy of Gill Harris (Atherton Racing PR), and Madison Clothing, curtesy of Manon Carpenter (the former Ladies World Downhill Champion),
  • Campings - she also set up base camp with the help of Chaz and Chris Lamey, other Gawton Committee members.
  • Uplifts – she booked the whole day for the ladies
  • Racing Plates – which I helped laminated and hole punched!
  • Trophies – made from the woods from our local tracks and stained by me!! The best looking trophies I have seen!
  • Coaching - 3 sessions.
  • The weekend’s program.

The base camp was set up on Friday and mum was on hand to welcome everybody. The base camp is located 5 mins drive from both sites, Saturday at Gawton and Sunday at Taviwoods, consisted of 6 gazeboes tied together in the middle, so that we can socialised together in one spot, and we all camp around the central area.

Our base camp, The Old Rectory Campsite.

I arrived on Saturday at Gawton and everybody split into groups, coaching session 1 group, never ridden at Gawton group and group who were just going to go down the track blind! They were just keen to ride! It was strange to see so many ladies at Gawton.

Coaching session with Tony Williams from EvolveMTB (Photo: Chris Davison).

My mum introduced me to a group who never ridden at Gawton before and I was the guide. I took them down slowly on the easiest track, HSD, and stop at appropriate spot to tell them what the next obstacle might be. They progressed really quickly after that. We even went down SuperTavi, a super technical track. Everybody seemed to really enjoyed the tracks and had a great day! Alex Norgan from Hammoon Cycles also joined us on the day!!

Uplift day and girls just wanna ride...


Girls who took the SuperTavi challenge (Photo: Chris Davison).

End of day photo (Photo: Chris Davison).

.After a whole day of riding, we went back to base camp and we had yoga lesson on the grass and we had a panoramic view of Dartmoor, which was pretty cool!!

Outdoor Yoga with a fantastic view.

We had dinner in the central area with music in the background and Derv, one of the ladies we met at the Fox Hunt made some pancake mix and we had a pancakes bake off. Mine was the best, as I put sugar in my mixture, so it’s like a cake mixture really. After everyone had their share of the pancakes, we had some left over and we had an impromptu pancake tossing competition, or Pancworx in honour of a mountain biking competition called Cransworx. It is awesome festival as it has downhill racing, freestyle competition, dual slalom, whip-off competition and all the coolest riders are there! I would like to attend and even compete in one of these events in the future.

The next day, my mum and I headed out early to put direction signs up and tape the track for the timed run. This day was design not to be a race, but a timed run day, as some ladies are scared of races and we would like to encourage them that it is not so bad. So, track is taped like a race track, everybody had racing plates and everybody also had at least 3 practice runs before they are timed. My mum was doing the timing, again Chaz Lamely, Gawton’s racing Officer helped mum set all the timing gears up.

 The track was chosen very carefully to accommodate all abilities and this means that multiple tracks were chosen and linked together. There are some steep and technical sections, but they have alternate lines to go around. I was to act as the guide again for the track walk, as most have not ridden these tracks. I did not participate in the ‘race’, as I have other jobs to do such as: handing out race plates for those who arrived late, cow-bell ringing when riders go pass to create ambience and making sure that the fire road crossing is safe for riders, walkers and spectators.

This timed run day is extra special as my mum decided to make it a fancy dress day and there is also a prize and trophy for best costume on the day, but they must have their costume on during the timed runs. Even though, it started to rain, the timed run went smoothly and by the 3rd run, everyone improved their time!!! It was really great to see!! The fastest lady/girl on the day was Ellen Flewitt, 2nd fastest was Sarah Bedford and 3rd fastest went to Emma Braithwaite. They all received the beautiful and natural trophies that my mum designed and I helped with the finishing touch. Liz Prokpowicz got the Best Costume and the rest of the prizes were for Best Crash, went to Helen Whitton and most improved, Emma Roberts.

Winners of our time practice runs.

Left to Right: Most Improve - Emma Roberts, Best Costume - Liz Prokpowicz and Helen Whitton - Best Crash.

After all the prizes were presented, unfortunately, it was left to my mum and I to pack the timing gear, timing cable and de-taped the track. The winding of the 1km of timing cable took us forever!! Then we went back to base camp and pack all our tents up, as well as all the gazebos. This was hard work and it took us 3 hours.

What I learnt from this weekend:

  • It is A LOT of time and work to organise an event.
  • It is stressful for my mum on the day as she has to make sure everything runs smoothly.
  • My mum and I can make a good team!
  • Girls just want to have fun on a bike!!

Thank you for reading!


Maya Atkinson


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