Find out about a great initiative in the tropics that is getting more women on bikes!
Words: Cameron McGavin Photos: Phillip Warring
If you build it, they will come. Just ask the TNQ Women’s Mountain Bike Group, which is smashing through the wall of lagging female cycling participation with a grass-roots movement that’s transforming lives and adding another layer to Cairns’ vibrant MTB scene.
The TNQ Women’s Mountain Bike Group Facebook page has more than 300 followers and more than 100 women proudly wear its jersey. The group’s social rides can attract up to 40 riders and last year it joined with the Cairns Mountain Bike Club to establish a women’s enduro racing series at Smithfield Mountain Bike Park. Members are embarking on MTB-related businesses that are feeding the love back into the group. Things are snowballing.
“With a little bit of pushing it’s turned into this amazing community of women,” says Cass Abell, one of the group’s founders. “You’re at the trailhead, you’ll see someone and then suddenly there are 10 of you going out on this mission. Everyone’s so keen.”
So where did the group start, what’s it all about and what next? We met with Cass and two of the group’s other key movers and shakers, Jade Robinson and Jacinta Pink, to find out.
Jade: “When I moved here I had no girlfriends whatsoever, so pretty much anyone I saw on the trail who looked like a female I was like, ‘Let’s be friends’. I can honestly say that 99.9 per cent of my girlfriends here I’ve met through riding. And these are two of my best friends.”
Jacinta: “I was riding by myself one day at a race and so was Jade. She was like, ‘You should do it with the girls!’ so – I dunno – I just decided to start racing.”
Cass: “I was the mum who rolled onto the tracks in a set of lycra pants that I’d cut off myself.”
Jacinta: “I remember when I met you!”
Jade: “She was wearing a leopard-print singlet, knee pads, short cut-off lycra…”
Jacinta: “I’m like, ‘Who is this chick?’”
Cass: “I’d never ridden with girls before. I started off riding with all the boys and I’d heard about a couple of the girls riding, so I friended them on Facebook saying, ‘Can we catch up and ride?’. When we met they were like goddesses and I’m this dork… it took one ride before I went to the mountain bike shop and got cool!”