Mid Week MTB’s Women’s Mini Enduro meant to build participation
Mid Week MTB is hosting its first ever women’s-only mini enduro race on Wednesday.
Race director Jackie Baker said the event, which was created with the help of Bingham Cyclery and Women MTB, a nonprofit that promotes women’s involvement in the sport of mountain biking, is meant to give women an access point into the sport by making it less intimidating.
Baker said the first-come-first-serve registration for the mini enduro series always fills up quickly, mostly with men’s names filling the spreadsheet.
“We wanted to be able to give women a better understanding of what the event is and also give them a better venue to try it out for the first time and really be able to have time to practice and get clinics in, so we can showcase the type of event it is in the best possible light,” Baker said.
Baker suspects that enduro races may be more intimidating because of their format, which isn’t as straightforward as other races. Instead of a mass start, enduros use a staggered, individual start. Each racer can take on the challenges of the course without having to contend with competitors. Cyclists compete over stages, with only their downhill sections timed.
In the case of the upcoming women’s mini enduro, competitors will race down Bad Hombre and Whip It, two intermediate downhill directional trails at High Star Ranch — the commute between the sections will be untimed.
“We call that mini enduros because we do them after work and we usually can only do about two stages,” Baker said. “With the number of riders we tend to get, it takes until dark to get them done.”
Though the enduros are a series of downhill races, Baker said their level of difficulty doesn’t mandate the protective wear or specialized bikes that a full-fledged downhill race would.
“The features are such that you can roll over them slowly or you can launch over them quickly, depending on your ability level and style of riding,” Baker said.
Women MTB facilitated the race by hosting clinics, including one that specifically focused on the trails that the women’s enduro race will be held on.
“They are sessioning sections of the stages with their instructors to show how to approach maybe what might be perceived as a tricky obstacle, how to corner better, how to carry speed better,” Baker said. “That way people are showing up with a good idea of exactly what the race looks like, and exactly what they need to do to have a successful race.”
The clinics were taught by former pro racers Joy Brinkerhoff-Patten and Christine Dern.
Rae Sutherland, executive director of Women MTB, said the clinics were not only meant to help prepare women for the race, but to help them build a community.
“The biggest thing I would love them to take away from the entire experience is to feel accepted, like they have a place — no matter how fast or slow or good or bad or how much experience they’ve had,” Southerland said. “I would love to make sure there’s a support system (for women who ride).”
Baker said they also were meant to help give riders a better idea of what to expect — not only from the course, but from themselves.
“The perception is always that you have to go all-out all the time,” Baker said. “But the reality is, you’re just trying to ride this trail on your own the best that you can, and that results in a quick time.”
At the end of the women’s mini enduro, Baker hopes to see smiles at the finish line, a boost in the participants’ confidence, and more women’s names on the next enduro race’s spreadsheet, scheduled for July 31 at Snowbird Resort.
For Southerland, a greater turnout at subsequent races would mean a healthier race community, with richer lives for the riders.
“I think women in general flourish when they have other women to talk to, to be with,” she said. “And really the more places women can find acceptance and love, I think the better our whole world is going to be.”
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