A good thing shared is often a great thing, that’s a theory that women who ride bikes are putting to the test around the world and making a case for a solid fact. With the advent of events such as women only trail rides and female focused coaching sessions, the time to start biking with like minded and supportive people is now!

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Nelson in New Zealand, a small town of about 50,000 people, is joining the ranks of the ‘female only’ bike events to encourage ladies to have the confidence to participate, get involved and grab a slice of the enduro action! Nelson is pretty big on mountain biking, the local club, Nelson Mountain Bike Club (NMTBC) boasts a membership of 1,200 and is growing every day. There are some amazing local tracks tucked away in the mountains behind this beautiful coastal town, all of which have their own distinct character and flavor. The MTB club hold several events throughout the year, from cross country, to DH, to kids events but one club member, Mel, realised something was missing. “We see a lot of riders at these events, but mostly they are male dominated events with a handful of female riders who have the confidence to ride amongst the boys”.

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With this in mind, the concept of an event specifically for the local lasses came about. The idea was to hold a Super D style race (a mix of a DH and XC trail lasting about 6 minutes), but for women only, with the emphasis on having fun and taking part. The ‘Super V’ came as bit of a girly, tongue in cheek, take on, you guessed it – Super D. After a few casual chats with some locals around town the ‘Shred Like a Girl Super V’ was born and Mel also netted Juliana NZ as the major event sponsor. After deciding on a local trail to use, the Nelson MTB Trails Trust came on board to help with hosting the event in Silvan Forest. This is privately owned land that has been opened up to the public with trails created by MTB Trails Trust.

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At this stage Mel questioned whether she and the team would get enough female riders interested. Other clubs around NZ and overseas had held successful women’s only events, and they thought, why couldn’t Nelson? Once the event was publicised the entries came rolling in with many ladies deciding now was the time to give racing a go for the first time. There is nothing quite like the support of friends to help conquer fears, calm nerves and achieve something new!

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The event sponsors, Juliana NZ, provided Mel with local Juliana riders, including pro racer Anka Martin, to hold a pre race ride so that the ladies could pick up some riding tips from the coaches or get some insight into cheeky line choices. For those ladies who had never entered a race or event before, this was an awesome additional extra.
The week leading up to race day brought rain on and off, with torrential rain and a massive temperature dropped the day prior to racing. Panic stations were manned but fortunately stood down as the rain stopped overnight, the skies were cleared and by midday the Nelsonian sun was shining with the track looking great.

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A massive 74 women registered and headed up the hill to the start line on what was a pretty slippery trail, not ideal for the first timer who had practiced the race expecting fast rolling and dusty conditions. It was a testament to the tenacious attitude the ladies of Nelson possess as the persevered with racing in less than idea circumstances! The race drew in riders from 9 years old through to ladies in their 60’s, with the biggest class being the Legends, aged 40­49.

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As event organiser, Mel took the plunge and decided to ride out first hoping put everyone’s nerves at rest. She and all the other ladies racing received amazing support from friends and family all along the trail, with plenty of whooping and encouragement, the sidelines were packed out leaving every woman crossing the finish line with a grin a mile wide on their faces! For some of them this was their first ever race and the achievement of this was plain to see. Mel says the feedback from many people was that their confidence was given a huge boost and they had an amazing experience, just what she was aiming for.

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So much was the popularity it looks like Shred Like a Girl Super V will be becoming a yearly event. This race was all about women getting out there and having a go, putting themselves out of their comfort zones, learning new skills and achieving personal goals. Mel says she hopes that hope that this event has given the ladies the confidence to enter into other local events and give the local boys a run for their money!

You can find out more about the vent on the MTB Trails Trust Website or on the Nelson MTB Club Website.

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Words: Mel Schroder / Rachael Gurney Photos: David Chadwick