This year's TweedLove Bike Festival programme (Saturday 26 May to Tuesday 5 June 2012) includes seven separate events for women. What's going on? Is there a vendetta against the biking blokes? No, this is purely a response to the success of last year's women's events and, more importantly, a reflection of the huge increase in popularity of women's mountain biking and cycling in general.
Though the TweedLove programme features over 30 different events, the women's events are significant in nature and number.
Festival director, Neil Dalgleish, said: “There was a hugely enthusiastic response to the women-only rides last year and we were asked for more. We had requests for a women's race for the Peebles Sprint – our full-on town centre criterium race in the centre of Peebles on closed roads. We also received several emails from women who said they'd like to take part in TweedLove events but lacked the confidence. This made us more aware that there's demand for biking events at every level and we've tried to respond accordingly.”
With an element of public funding together with some of the paid-for events helping to subsidise others, the organisers' intention has been to make these women-only events as attractive and inclusive as possible and they are all free-to-enter.
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland added: “Tweedlove has a hugely engaging programme, and the women-only events will undoubtedly attract large numbers of visitors. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and the festival has done a fantastic job of tailoring its programme to specific audiences, which will encourage more people to get involved with the sport.”
A series of women-only mountain bike skills sessions were the first events to be booked out this year and they now have a long waiting list, while at the other end of the spectrum, the Peebles Sprint road race has attracted top-level road riders.
Neil Dalgleish added: “Of all the messages we've put out through Twitter this year, there's no doubt that the announcement of the women's Sprint was the fastest and most prolifically re-tweeted and distributed of the lot. There's an army of female cycle fans out there. But it shouldn't be a surprise – you just need to look at the trails of Glentress on any given weekend and you can see what's happening in the sport. There are way more women riders now for sure.”
The Women-only events also include a series of free local ride-outs, where women who live in the Tweed Valley invite visitors to join them for friendly mountain bike rides round some of the valley's greatest hidden trails, away from the busy trail centres.
TweedLove volunteer and organiser, Susan Jarvis, said: “Girls enjoy these trips with other girls. People are keen to find out some of the locals' favourite places to ride, but it's also a lot of fun riding out with a group of other women – we have a good laugh. There's no risk of being stuck at the back of a pack of blokes as sometimes happens.”
As for the top end of women's racing, it's well covered too. One of the festival's flagship mountain bike races, the POC King & Queen of the Hill race, where competitors battle it out on timed stages throughout the forest, has attracted some of Scotland's top female mountain bike athletes competing to be crowned as Queen of Britain's most prestigious trail centre. Hannah Barnes from Fort William is among the favourites but there's likely to be some tough competition from local rider Katy Winton, a sponsored athlete and 2011 British Junior Champion currently on a training programme with a 2014 Commonwealth Games medal in her sights.
TweedLove is about to release a new promotional video featuring Katy Winton, who seems to be on a mission to show just how far girls have come in the development of their riding and abilities – http://tweedlove.com/tweed-tv (or http://vimeo.com/41755773). This is the third of four short promo films by filmmaker Calum Darling for the TweedLove Bike Festival, Tweedlove Stories, focusing on mountain biking in the Tweed Valley and featuring some of the country's best riders.
The TweedLove women's events programme includes:
ο 2.30pm Sunday 27 May – Easy/moderate Local Ride-Out – Kingsmeadows Road Car Park, Peebles
ο 7pm Tuesday 29 May – Peebles Sprint Women's Race – town centre. Book Online – http://tweedlove.com/events/peebles-sprint-family-ride
ο 10am and 12.30pm Friday 1 June – Women-only Coaching Sessions – Glentress (fully-booked)
ο 10am and 12.30pm Sunday 3 June – Women-only Coaching Sessions – Glentress (fully-booked)
ο 10am Monday 4 June – Easy/moderate Local Ride -Out – Kingsmeadows Road Car Park, Peebles
ο 2.30pm Monday 4 June – Moderate/challenging Local Ride-Out – Trail head Car Park, Innerleithen
Women who want to have a go at cycling can hire mountain bikes from Alpine Bikes at Glentress from £20 per day for a hardtail to £50 for a full suspension or demo bike – http://www.alpinebikes.com/shops/glentress-peel/.
Twiiter – @tweedlovefest
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/TweedLove/138953616122719
Paddy Cuthbert | Podge Publicity | M: 07968699636 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes To Editors
The TweedLove Bike Festival, in association with Alpine Bikes, is believed to have the biggest and most comprehensive programme of events ever seen at a UK cycling festival; all being staged across the cycle friendly Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders from Saturday 26 May to Tuesday 5 June 2012.
The extensive programme of free and paid events aims to reinforce the Tweed Valley's reputation as the UK's premier cycling destination. Some major new events have been added to last year's busy schedule of races, guided rides (both on and off road), and cultural events. Many events are free, and the choice is wide and varied, with events for children, families and beginners, right through to cutting-edge races for expert riders on fat or skinny tyres. Above all TweedLove is about getting out there and having fun on a bike.
TweedLove 2012 is sponsored by Alpine Bikes
TweedLove 2012 is supported by EventScotland
EventScotland is the national events agency.
EventScotland is working to make Scotland one of the world's leading event destinations. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland's international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org.
TweedLove 2012 is supported by Scottish Borders Council