Mid Week MTB draws 90 racers in its first women-only enduro
Mid Week MTB held its first women-only mini enduro in Kamas on Wednesday, drawing experienced racers and first timers out to High Star Ranch to race down Bad Hombre and Whip It.
All told, 96 racers competed across six categories under the hot evening sun.
Beforehand, Sarah Weippert, a newly minted board member of Women MTB, a nonprofit advocate to increase womens’ participation in mountain biking, prepared for her first-ever race.
“I wasn’t going to (participate), then two weeks ago I decided, ‘Oh, I don’t have anything else going on, I might as well throw myself down the hill,’” Weippert said, standing next to her bike in the parking lot, alongside Katie Saltsman, another board member and racer.
Since moving to Utah from Maine in search of more outdoor activities two and a half years ago, Weippert said she has started riding three to five times a week.
“It’s just easier to ride out here,” she said. “You can hop on a trail so much easier.”
She was riding so often that she felt like she should join a club that supports her love of mountain biking, which led her to Women MTB, which in turn, was her impetus for joining the enduro race on Wednesday.
“I’ve always been involved in using various clubs — showing up to their free events — but I had never given back to those clubs,” she said. “This is one that I see myself using in the future, so I wanted to participate in giving back and helping grow the organization.”
Looking around the High Star parking lot, Weippert said it was exciting to see so many women who shared her passion.
“I generally ride with my husband and his friends,” she said. “I ride with a bunch of ‘bros,’ so to go out and ride with ladies, it’s just a very different environment. It’s so cool to see ladies riding hard and getting out and pushing themselves.”
Back in Maine, Weippert said seeing a group of women riders would be almost unheard of.
“I don’t have any friends that ride bikes,” she said. “I don’t have friends that do much (of anything) back home.”
While she and Saltsman said women are fairly well represented among Utah riders, mountain biking can be a tricky sport for women to break into.
“It’s kind of scary to start without a support group,” Saltsman said.
She was getting back to racing after a long hiatus, during the course of which she got married and became the parent of a dog.
Weippert spotted a small girl riding a bike, riding through the parking lot before the start of the race.
“This is why we are here,” she said excitedly. “We have a — what is she, a nine year old girl — decked out in enduro gear, full face helmet, and she’s going to crush it. She’s probably going to do better than most of us out here.”
Lauren Bingham is at the other end of the experience spectrum. As a competitor at the regional level, she has seen her fair share of events, and said events like Wednesday’s help change womens’ perception of the sport.
“I’ve done one other all-women enduro before, and it’s got such a good vibe because women get into downhill or gravity racing and think that it’s a men’s sport and (that) they are just kind of visitors in it,” she said. “It’s so cool to have a bunch of women out here that can join together and enjoy the sport and realize they are prominent in the sport.”
Bingham finished fourth in the expert/pro division with a cumulative time of 5 minutes, 24.5 seconds. Raeshell Southerland finished first overall with a cumulative time of 5:14.3, followed by Joy Patten in second with a time of 5:20.5, and Ileana Anderson in third with time of 5:22.2. For a complete list of results go to midweekmtb.com
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