“It was great to spend a weekend riding with other women and seeing what they could do. The coaching sessions were friendly and supportive, and everyone had a chance to work on their personal weaknesses. By the end of the weekend I was riding features
I never thought I would have the confidence to try. I even hit the big jump - and landed it!”
Air Maiden Event Review
Whether it was a chance to get a front wheel off the ground for the first time or to practice their latest trick over a gap jump, the Air Maiden freeride weekend saw women from around the country come together to take their riding to the next level.
After a four-year hiatus, Air Maiden made its return to Glentress Freeride Park on May 14 & 15. And thanks to an amazing team of coaches with experience in every area of mountain biking and some glorious weather, it proved to be yet another legendary weekend.
Over 50 women travelled from around the UK to benefit from a range of women-specific freeride clinics lead by coaches Helen Gaskell, Jess Stone, Joey Gough, Tara Glencross and Lynne Armstrong.
It didn’t matter if Maidens wanted to learn the basics of jumping, berms, skinnies and drop offs or if they wanted to progress their more advanced freeride style, it was a chance to get tips from the best and be inspired by other women riders.
This year saw riders inspired to push themselves harder than ever before, so inevitably there were a couple of crashes (heal fast Mirren and Rebecca). But by the end of day one, everyone was buzzing, if a little exhausted, and keen to put their newly acquired skills to the test the next day.
Saturday ended with a pump track challenge where riders chased each other down in a cat and mouse-style pump-off. Perth’s Liz Law claimed a well-deserved victory in what was her first time on such a track.
The evening wound down with a barbecue (cooked by some long-suffering vegans) and refreshments from our friends at Tempest Brewery and Thistly Cross Cider! Thanks guys!!
The Air Maiden kicker is back
Day two brought more sunshine and a morning of coaching clinics before the focus turned to the Air Maiden jump – which for many was the moment they had been waiting for as it represents a rare chance to overcome the jitters and go big on a purpose-built jump.
“It was amazing to see so many women attempting this,” Lynne says. “Excitement levels were pretty high as we slowly pulled the kicker away from the landing to make it a little more challenging. Big shout out to Polly Harrison for leading the girls in so they could gauge their speed!”
After lunch, it was time to put newly found skills to the test in a relaxed competition where the focus was on personal progression.
“The girls did two routes through the freeride park, which included a jump line on the bigger set of tables from the top and a line that included skinnies, drop offs and wallrides,” Lynne says.
As is becoming tradition, a number of the women dressed up in fancy dress for this part, mainly as a tribute to the late Jackie McCloskey, an Air Maiden regular and avid costume wearer, who sadly passed away last autumn. Laura Downie took away the prize for best costume with her Teen Wolf effort!
The coaches turned judges and scored the ladies on amplitude, style, fluidity, flow and body position. They were impressed by range of shapes and limb removal from the bikes as the women pushed their limits. The coaches were even inspired to provide a quick demonstration of their own skills on the course.
As the scores were counted, the Jump Jam kicked off on the main Air Maiden jump. More women than ever before overcame their nerves to hit the infamous wooden kicker – with some impressive air seen beneath those tyres.
A prize freeride event
The level of improvement across the board was astounding – a few who started the weekend as beginner jumpers ended the weekend by hitting the fearsome Air Maiden jump – so organisers decided to recognise several riders instead of offering one ‘best trick’ prize.
The freeride comp saw Melrose’s Erin Maguire take the win from Helen Lowery, who had travelled all the way from Northampton, by just half a point, making Erin the first repeat winner at Air Maiden. “Not bad for a girl who has barely been on her bike in the past year!” Lynne says.
Third place was won by Julia McLean, aka Mario, with Shona McKinnon in fourth and Jo Bamborough in fifth.
“Well done to everyone who took part this weekend, what a great vibe and friendly atmosphere,” Lynne adds. “We are staggered at the progression of the riding across the board with everyone challenging their fears and giving it a go.
“Air Maiden has become known for its relaxed, friendly and supportive atmosphere and it was great to see so many women buzzing after nailing their first jump or drop off – and the weather didn’t disappoint either!”
And don’t forget…
Of course, Air Maiden would not be possible without a wide range of supporters and sponsors.
“Thanks again to our awesome coaches who inspired and led their groups with great enthusiasm all weekend,” Lynne says.
“And to our sponsors Bike Track People, Ride It Clothing, Elevation Cycles, Flotec Suspension, Mudhugger, Bawbags, Trail Divas, Shudwear, Source Design, Tempest Brewery and Thistly Cross Cider for the donations and prizes! And thanks to Tweedlove and the FC for letting us host this cracking event.
“I really have noticed not only a huge increase in the number of women mountain biking since I returned from Canada last year, but also the standard of riding is really high,” Lynne says.
“Women’s specific events are great for increasing confidence, meeting new friends and pushing each other in a fun, relaxed and supportive environment and we pride ourselves on being one of the first to start this in the UK. Can’t wait until next year!”
Hello and welcome!
Air Maiden, Scotland’s first freeride event for women, was launched eight years ago with the aim of helping women take their riding to the next level, especially on technical features such as jumps, drop offs and skinnies.
This year, founder and original ‘Maiden’ Lynne Armstrong takes the biking brand into a new cycling discipline with the launch of the Maidenduro.
“We will also be offering women-specific mountain bike skills clinics and private coaching across the Tweed Valley and beyond,” Lynne says. “Check out our site to see what we have on offer and drop me a line if you have any questions. Hope to see you out on the trails real soon!”
Enjoyed Air Maiden,
or wish you’d been there?
Air Maiden Events has a number
of projects on the go this year
including a whole host of
women’s specific skills clinics
in the Tweed Valley.
It will be hosting the first women’s only enduro race Maidenduro presented by Flare Clothing at Innerleithen on July 23.
A sister coaching event, Air Maiden Canada, will also be running in Pemberton BC on July 18th. So watch this space for more announcements for 2017, or visit our Facebook page for more information.