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AirMaiden at Glentress

The sisters are doing it for themselves…Niamh Allum sent us a report on AirMaiden at Glentress which is the UK’s first ever women’s only freeride event. This is the second year of the competition and it looks like it’s getting bigger and better. Hopefully we’ll see more of these events.  Read on…

A Breath of Fresh Air

Words Niamh Allum

Photos Niamh Allum and Gordon Sheill

It was dreich, damp, wet, and miserable – none of which the weather man predicted. It could only get better I told myself. It was 9am in the half built car park in Glentress; I had never seen Glentress looking so glum.

But it didn’t take long before the girly banter was flowing and the weather cheered up. Boyfriends, husbands, fathers and brothers, stood at the sidelines, looking bored, watching us girls in the Freeride Park. Oh how the tables had turned, for two days only, boys were barred and girls ruled the park! It could only be one thing, the women only Air Maiden 2 Freeride Event on the 10th/11th October. I was excited to finally find an event that is able to showcase women’s freeriding talents. Sadly I couldn’t participate due to injury last year but this year, two rods and eleven screws in my back later, I was raring to go, and having never competed before, I was not really too sure what to expect.


Photo:Jayne Emsley

Saturday was a coaching day and there was a great atmosphere as soon as the group met at the bottom of the Freeride Park. By nine-thirty I had already learned and forgotten many names, with everyone being welcoming and there being a very informal air to the coaching sessions. With the guys being thrown out of the park, it was a very relaxed environment, with everyone encouraging each other and always willing to help each other to improve, without them showing off and fronting to impress us – I will add this happens around some guys, not all of you.

With the park newly resurfaced, the table-tops were in mint condition, with the usual fun and flowy style maintained. But a new addition especially for Air Maiden was an awesome trick jump built at the bottom of the park, which was covered in wood chippings to give a soft landing for those wanting to try new tricks or just generally crashing.  I can safely say after my second try at the jump, it really was soft, with my bike landing on top of me and causing me more pain than the actually landing.

I was lucky over the weekend with only two crashes, the one on the jump and another on Sunday during the competition in my run – I washed out on a wallride and took a photographer with me – I hope he is ok!  In general there were few crashes, usually due to the jump and from each crash but everyone got back up. Only a handful of us attempted the jump on Saturday, but Sunday brought a new found confidence with loads of “not thinking, just doing” and showing what us girls can do!

Moving to the competition on Sunday afternoon, from DH kit to Lycra, the Transitions to the Carrera, the girls were at the top of the freeride park.  All of us were ready for the first of 3 parts of the competition, each with two runs. I was number thirty out of forty six, so I had time to prepare myself as the others set off. I was able to see what the rest of the girls were pulling out the bag and with everyone raising the bar, it was great to see the development everyone had made, including me.

The competition and weekend in general was a huge success, and having never ridden with girls before, I have made some new riding friends! As well as finding like minded girls, I learned that if I messed something up there was always one of the girls around to tell me how I could improve and encourage me to do bigger and better things.

What I found great about the weekend was the encouragement and support for each other – however small one jump may been to some, it may be a huge stepping stone to another, and this can be something that doesn’t happen amongst some guys as egos can become involved (underline some – not all!)

The coaching sessions on the Saturday really helped everyone.  Well done to everyone who competed, I hope they are all more confident riders now – as I am.

1st Polly Harrison 225 points
2nd Dagmara Poláková 218 points
3rd Lesley Wood 214 points
4th Liz Law 213 points
5th Tara Lee 204 points
6th Joanne McCallum 202 points
7th Ellie Forgan 201 points
8th Adele Gorman 199 points
9th Niamh Allum 194 points
9th Sofie Matthews 194 points
11th Rhona Stewart 191 points
<a href=”http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/The-event-began-to-take-its-toll-on-some-taken-by-Niamh-Allum.jpg”><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-9003″ title=”The-event-began-to-take-its-toll-on-some-taken-by-Niamh-Allum” src=”http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/The-event-began-to-take-its-toll-on-some-taken-by-Niamh-Allum.jpg” alt=”The-event-began-to-take-its-toll-on-some-taken-by-Niamh-Allum” width=”650″ height=”488″ /></a>

I would just like to say thanks to: Lynne Aitchison, Andy Barlow from Dirt School, Tracy Brunger and Emma Guy from the Hub, the Kenny and Fraser from the Clan Stunt Team, Bike Patrol, Exoteric, the Forestry Commission, Lucozade, MB7, the Seven Stanes, Uplift Scotland, and Vice Bikes and especially to Richard Latimer

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