Why has this event reached the popularity it has?
It may only be three years old but Hopetech Women’s Enduro has become a firm favourite in the UK Calendar for the female MTB rider
Established by Hope’s own Rachael Walker, working in conjunction with enduro organisers PMBA, the event has quickly grown with over 330 ladies entered and this year the event expanded to fill a whole weekend.
The event originated as Rachael traveled around the country with Hopetech’s programme hearing time and time again that women wanted to race but didn’t feel comfortable with mixed events. Rachael explained that her aim was “to create an environment that’s super relaxed and helps bridge the gap into riding or racing”.
The expansion of the event to a weekend, saw the addition of coaching session and guided rides to the weekend’s programme. Coaching ranged from beginner to advanced sessions, with the likes of Tracy Moseley and Katy Curd on hand to offer their experience and advice. The guided rides aimed to give riders a chance to familiarise themselves with the stages in a relaxed, informal set up. At the same time brands such as Juliana, Hope and Cotic were offering demo rides on their fleets and Ergon saddles sought to make the whole weekend more comfortable for riders with demo saddles heading regularly heading out onto the trails.
Race day consists of three stages, combine some of Gisburn Forest’s classic trails including “Homebaked” and the “Hope Line”. Each stage had it’s own flavour adding enough variety to keep it challenging for seasoned racers while still being friendly enough for new riders. Twisty, darker trails were lit up by glowing strings of white lights, giving the forest a special glow for the weekend.
The event has a special atmosphere, with a sense of excitement and support flowing around the centre and trails. It manages to blend a mix of inclusivity with competitiveness. There was a fierce battle at the sharp end of racing between current and retired professionals including Martha Gill and Tracy Moseley, who couldn’t rest on their laurels as the next generation were pushing them all the way, with Tracy being beaten for the first time by her protegee Hattie Harnden.
At the same time the trails were awash with camaraderie and support for first time racers. For Jo Rogers she had spent plenty of time on the other side of the tape over the years watching her partner compete but after a few glasses of wine took the leap and entered. “It was great to be part of something that involved all women, a lot less intimidating and a really friendly atmosphere”.
The relaxed atmosphere extended off the race stages with Rachael Walker’s famous crepes on offer in the event village raising funds for charity initiative “Ride for Charlie”. As the riders tucked in around the firepit in the centre of the site it was clear to see why this event has reached the popularity it has.
Report written by Laura Bailey