Updated: May 25, 2020
It's that time of the year when Cycling Australia's She Rides programs begin to kick off around the country. For those of you that are new to Mountain Bike Riding or are unaware of the She Rides program, it's an initiative is coordinated by Cycling Australia to get more women involved in cycling, both on and off the road. The program is all about providing a way for women to learn key riding skills, improve their fitness and provide opportunities to meet and ride with other like minded women in a fun, safe and social environment.
You can learn more about Cycling Australia's specific goals by heading over to their She Rides Website. The great thing about the She Rides programs is that all of the coaches that are involved are required to develop structured skills programs that have to be approved by Cycling Australia. And given that each program is six to eight weeks long, you can rest assured that there has been some serious thought given to each program run by a She Rides coach.
Beyond the shared goals of what is required by Cycling Australia in delivering the She Rides programs, it's important to note that there are going to be differences between what are taught from region to region. The type of trails and terrain, the skills and style of the coach running the program and even the group of women that come together will all have an influence on what is specifically taught on a She Rides program. Just because you've completed a She Rides Confidence program in one region it still pays to check and make sure you'll be comfortable in another region's Together program.
What one mountain bike park classifies as an easy "Green" trail may be completely different to another region. And although Georgia, the She Rides program coordinator, knows us all pretty well and can answer most of your questions, for those of you on or near the Gold Coast I thought it might be helpful if you could see how some of last year's women progressed through the Confidence and Together programs.
Like the other programs around Australia the Gold Coast's She Rides program is specifically designed for women who have limited to no off-road riding experience. It doesn't matter if you've got the latest and greatest e-bike or something that dates back from the previous century - the Confidence program starts from the very base level and is all about giving you the skills to ride safely and confidently irrespective of the bike that you're on (that assumes that you have a bike that's in good working condition, but you get taught how to check that during the course as well!)
Another important aspect of the She Rides Confidence program is helping to improve your fitness. During the course of the program you're introduced to trails that increase in distance and technical difficulty to match your fitness levels and help you progress, while giving your the opportunity to challenge yourself.
As your basic riding skills, confidence and fitness increase you'll become introduced to some core technical riding skills. While it all looks like a bit of fun, learning these technical skills can really help you enjoy riding out on the trails a whole lot more by giving you the ability to negotiate trail features and obstacles without having to get off your bike.
There is of course the social aspect of the She Rides programs. Forming friendships and having people to continue to ride with are all part of the fun and enjoyment of riding - both on and off road.
You'll find that there is some flexibility during the course programs. Just because there might be a curriculum, it doesn't mean we won't adjust it to suit the group. If a group is learning at a different speed to the original curriculum, it can be adjusted to make sure everyone gets the most out of a course while having as much fun as possible.
The She Rides Together program on the Gold Coast takes learning of new skills up a notch. Because of the technical nature of Nerang's blue trails, it's important and necessary to learn the techniques to handles these challenges to continue riding confidently and safely. These are skills that generally require some repeition to become habit so like the Confidence program, the Together program's curriciulum is flexible depending on the needs of the group.
Things such as drops, roots and rock gardens are common place amongst Nerang's blue trails. Learning the techniques to handles these types of features not only helps you enjoy the ride more, it also helps give you the confidence to explore some of Nerang's out trails, providing you with more variety and the challenge of extending your fitness.
While Nerang's trails offer an abundance of challenges, the great thing about the She Rides groups is that you never feel under pressure to attempt a feature that you dont feel confident about. When it comes to riding the trails, staying safe is the most important thing. Still, it's always fun to challenge yourself to see what you can really do!
The last ride of the She Rides Together program is a trip out the back to one of Nerang's outer trails. This is the challenge session of the ride, tackling a 15 to 20km ride and attempting some new features. This particular ride tends to be an extended session and is a great way of bringing your skills and testing your fitness to see what you can really do at the end of the She Rides programs.
Completing the She Rides programs should give you the skills necessary to handle most of the blue trails in Nerang. Still, from last year a few women went onto challenging themselves a bit more and completed some extended skills training. Gaining the confidence to pursue more advanced skills to see what you can really achieve on a bike is part of what the She Rides program is all about.
So are there any reasons why you shouldn't join the She Rides programs? Well, the biggest reason not to join is the long commitment. Eight weekends can be a big commitment for some people and even though the She Rides programs represent great value, not attending a few sessions may mean that you miss out learning some key skills that might make the next class a bit more challenging. But really, that's the only reason that you might not want to join the She Rides Confidence or Together programs.
Hopefully that gives those of you that are interested a bit of an insight on the sort of journey you'll find yourself on as part of the She