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Flow MTB women’s trip to Sierra Nevada with Pure Mountains

Flow MTB women's MTB trip with Pure Mountains to Sierra Nevada

Women’s mountain biking trip, Thursday 16 to Tuesday 21 April 2020

Join us for a five night trip of adventurous riding and fun in an inspirational environment with Pure Mountains in Sierra Nevada.

In addition to four days of superb riding with supportive guides, Land Rover back-up, farmhouse accommodation with good food, beer and wine, great company and Málaga airport transfers, you’ll enjoy:

  • A special price of €720/£635 per person including full board (except two dinners out)
  • 15% discount code with Flow MTB for all your kit essentials, valid from booking until three months after the trip
  • A Flow MTB goodie bag
  • Free cava for all

Bike hire is available.

Contact us at for more details.

Pure Mountains Sierra Nevada
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Ladies Social Rides, Woburn Trails 2019

Flow MTB women's social mountain bike rides at woburn / aspley woods

Join us on one of our monthly social rides around the Longsdale trail at Woburn/Aspley woods. This is an off road red graded 10km route.

Meet at 1.45am for a 2pm start at Church Road, Woburn Sands, MK17 8TS. The carpark is at the top of the hill, beyond the residential properties. Parking is free but you’ll need £5 for a day pass.

Pace will be as fast as the slowest rider to allow for all levels of ability, no one will get left behind.

View all our social rides and MTB skills courses

We hope to see you there 🙂

longslade trail woburn aspley woods
Longslade Trail, Woburn/Aspley Woods
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Women’s specific MTB skills courses – 2019

Flow MTB and MTB Instruction womens specific MTB Skills day May 2017

Flow MTB are pleased to announce we will be running women’s specific mountain bike courses run by MTB Instruction again for 2019.  Their mountain bike skills courses are available for all levels of rider from beginners right through to advanced riders who want to push their skills to the next level.

These skills courses proved really popular last year and we received lots of positive feedback from the ladies who attended these courses.  We spoke to Mark at MTB Instruction about what his women’s specific courses offer.

We meet lots of women who are happy to venture off road but become uncomfortable when things become steep, technical or gnarly. We’ll teach you the physical skills required in controlling your bike in any situation and you’ll also learn how to think about your riding. By the end of the course you’ll be feeling confident on your bike and gain the ability to ride your bike and not just be a passenger on it.

2019 course dates are below.  To book your place on any of the courses listed below click on the course date.


Ladies Intro/Intermediate Skills

9am – 1pm £35

Ladies Introduction/intermediate skills sessions will cover:

  • body position and bike dynamics
  • brake modulation
  • confidence at speed; learn how to alter your perception of speed and ride faster
  • dealing with trail obstacles; how to get over, through and up things
  • cornering techniques; from switchbacks to flat corners and berms


Join us in the afternoon for a Flow social ride and put the skills you learnt in the morning into practice.


Ladies Advanced MTB Skills

9am – 3pm £80

Ladies advanced skills course will cover advanced MTB skills including:

  • confidence at speed; learn how to alter your perception of speed and ride faster
  • dealing with trail obstacles; how to get over, through and up things
  • cornering techniques; from switchbacks to flat corners and berms
  • drop offs
  • tables
  • gaps

Adding trail techniques into your ride like pumping, pre-jumping, drifting, manuals, gaps, table tops, drop offs, being loose on your bike, slow in – fast out will all enhance your ride portfolio.


[products limit=”40″ columns=”4″ category=”543″ orderby=”date” order=”DESC”]
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Bike Park Wales Women’s Weekend – 25% OFF

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Enter code BPW at checkout between Wednesday 3rd and Monday 8th October 2018 for 25% off your entire order, including sale items.

Shows are important to us it’s a great opportunity to meet our customers and get first hand feedback on our current range of styles and sizes and find out what you’d like to see us stock in the future. We had a great time meeting so many of you at last year’s women’s weekend at Bike Park Wales but unfortunately, we can’t be there this year so we’re bringing our show discount to you.

If you have any feedback please email we’d love to hear from you.

Happy shopping x


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Ladies Social Ride, Woburn Trails – February 10th, 2018

Flow MTB ladies social MTB ride Woburn Trails February 2018

It’s our first social MTB ride of 2018 on Saturday, 10th February.

Join us for a ride around the Longsdale trail at Woburn/Aspley woods. This is an off road red graded 10km route.

Meet at 9.45am for a 10am start at Church Road, Woburn Sands, MK17 8TS. The carpark is at the top of the hill, beyond the residential properties. Parking is free but you’ll need £5 for a day pass.

Pace will be as fast as the slowest rider to allow for all levels of ability, no one will get left behind.

You can join the event on our Facebook page

We hope to see you there 🙂

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Air Maiden Coaching, Chicksands Bike Park

In women’s mountain biking, group coaching doesn’t come with a better pedigree than Air Maiden. After several years living and biking in Canada, Lynne Armstrong returned to Scotland with a desire to bring some of the Canadian women’s MTB culture to our shores: Air Maiden was born. As a DH racer, Crankworx competitor and coach, Lynne Armstrong’s Air Maiden was never going to be a ‘pink’ version of coaching but there is something special that happens when you bring a bunch of women together and really push their comfort zones. Teaching them different skills and giving them the confidence to do new things. Having established a reputation for great coaching, Lynne wanted to bring Air Maiden down South, cue the latest coaching day at Chicksands Bike Park. Being near Bedford, this bike park is well located for riders in central and southern England. In coaching terms, it offers a broad spectrum of challenges to suit all abilities, from small jumps through to 20’+ gaps, a pump track, dual slalom track and a variety of drop offs to perfect.

If you’ve never been before, Chicksands doesn’t look much from the road. It’s an area of woodland on one side of a country lane with a dirt car park opposite. The only clue it’s there is a board with details of the bike park rules and a blackboard sign in the trees reading ‘Thai food here’. For those in the know, the Thai food van held a lot of promise come lunch time and was also a perfect landmark while trying to find the location! Lynne would be coaching alongside champs from the worlds of DH, 4x and BMX: Jess Stone, Katy Curd and Joey Gough. Pretty quickly the car park filled up with women, much to the surprise of a couple of blokes who’d arrived for a Friday morning blast round the trails. United by our love of MTB we were a pretty diverse bunch of riders. We must have ranged in age from 20s to 50s, with some people having biked from childhood and others starting only a few months ago. Judging by helmets alone there were DH riders, Enduro and XC riders in our midst.

The day started with an hilarious group warm up, practising manuals – roughly 20 riders weaving round a sandy plateau amongst Scots Pines working on sliding their bums back, powering down through their legs/heels and lifting up the front wheel – all whilst trying to avoid each other. Suffice to say the sound of laughter was soon ringing through the woods (maybe it was just me, I am pretty loud!) When we’d all had a chance to check our technique, we split into equal groups with those who were more confident with drop offs starting with Katy and Jess, while the rest of us headed over to the pump track with Lynne and Joey. Joey’s BMX background meant that she was a dream to watch on the pump track while Lynne explained how to weight and lighten the bike to create speed. I’ve tried a few pump tracks now and this one was great. It had a mix of fun whoops and berms giving you speed and confidence before you turn into a run of very tight rollers. Several coached laps later it was time to move over to a downhill trail to practice cornering. Using the skills from the pump track to weight the bikes we worked on controlling speed through the turns and using the solid berms of the trail to suck us round and spit us out. With tips on the attack position: keep your arms out like chicken wings and your chin over the stem combining with ‘show the berm your bum’ to remind you to involve your whole body, cornering became a whole lot easier and far more fun.

Half way through the morning the groups swapped over and it was time to tackle drop offs with Katy and Jess. Drop offs are a real weakness of mine (as you’ll know if you’ve been reading for a while) and I was equally excited and nervous to see that we were going to be practicing on a sharp lip that resembled the bomb holes I play in on my home trails. We started by rolling the drop, keeping our weight far further forward than we usually would, enabling us to remain in control of the bikes and not simply be drawn along behind them. After moving on to a basic pump at the lip, unweighting the bike and lifting the front wheel we progressed to a full manual-based drop off. Before long we were all heading over the edge with increasing confidence.

After lunch we returned to the plateau to destroy our pad-thai-induced-comas with bunny hop practice, before heading over to the dual slalom track to focus on jumping. I’ve never been able to get much air on jumps and had pretty much zero expectations for this part of the day. However, I LOVE slalom tracks and with a few tips on technique I was soon getting air over the table tops! It was such a relief to finally start progressing in this area – and it should really help benefit my riding as a whole. We were then honoured to see Katy sending it over some big jumps for the first time following an 18 month break due to injury! Following Joey, they flew effortlessly over the table-tops and gap jumps, while we all stood and watched, enormous grins plastered across our faces. After their little demonstration we were all fired up and so we split back into two groups. Those who were able to tackle dirt jumps staying put and the rest of us heading for a section of downhill track to build our skills on a couple of jumps and doubles. We all joined up again about 3pm for playtime on the dual slalom course. Just like kids, we spent the rest of the afternoon racing down, walking up and racing down again until it was time to go home.

In my experience, MTB girls are particularly good at pointing out and reinforcing the positives in each other’s riding and you soon realise that everyone’s got different strengths and weaknesses. But it was the combination of this and the skills of four of the country’s top female coaches that meant many of us saw results we hadn’t anticipated and so, if you ever get the chance to go on an Air Maiden coaching day, do it. As for me? Well, it’s a case of ‘please come back down South again next year, Air Maiden, because I want be first on the list to sign up’!

Thanks to:

Our amazing coaches Katy Curd, Jess Stone, Joey Gough,  Lynne Armstrong
Vicky Balfour for the words and Tony Lovatt for the photos

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Tweedlove Enduro & Festival

Tweedlove 2017 womens podium 1 Tracey Moseley 2 Katy Winton 3 Andreana Nadeau

Enticing cyclists from all over the world, the Tweed Valley is renowned for their efforts within the cycling industry and award winning trails.

Just an hour outside of Edinburgh the Tweed Valley is home to some of the greatest trails in the UK thanks to the passion and hardwork of the local cycling community. And so the Tweedlove festival began to celebrate the sport and the community. Including a large number of events including Skinny Tweed, a road cycling event, the Family Ride where riders and their families take to the streets of Peebles and the International Enduro which sees the likes of EWS & Downhill legend Tracy Moseley participate in, along with a number of family and kid friendly cycling events. The Tweedlove festival celebrates all disciplines of the sport, for every age.

Each year the festival concludes with the International Enduro and “Tweed on the Green” and this year the organisers put on the biggest event to date. From 9th – 11th June, the small Peebles town saw the largest exposition to set foot on Tweed Green, with over 250 bikes on hand available to demo, as well as rider signing sessions where the fans got a chance to meet the likes of Trek Factory Racings Tracy Moseley, Katy Winton and Lewis Buchanan, along with Cube rider Greg Callaghan. There was also live music, craft beer and plenty of other brands on site showing off their newest kit giving the riders and spectators plenty to keep busy with.

The International Enduro course was a long day out in the saddle, with long climbs, seemingly longer descents and tight transition times, the International Enduro was one to test all riders, regardless of their experience. Comprising of 5 stages over a 50km course, the tracks had everything, with pedal heavy stages on stage 3 being over 9 minutes long, and some very technical yet fun and flowing stages like stage 2. All eyes were on previous years winners Tracy Moseley and Greg Callaghan as the riders left the event stage Sunday morning and with local pros Katy Winton and Lewis Buchanan going for the top step it would be interesting to see how the local advantage fared.

Despite summer showing it’s face in Britain throughout May, the weather gods decided that having a dry June was too boring, and with that, the tracks which had been sprinkled with dust just a few days before the race, now had a lining of slick mud. However, with the majority of the racers on the weekend being British, many of them welcomed the mud as British winter training left them with more experience of wet and muddy riding.

In the womens race for the top step it was Tracy Moseley that took the win of the weekend, however, unlike previous years race, she only won 4 out of the 5 stages, with Rocky Mountain rider Andreane Lanthier Nadeau took the win in stage 2. Local pro Katy Winton put down consistent runs throughout all 5 stages that landed her in 2nd place, just under a minute behind teammate T-Mo.

Keep an eye out on the Tweedlove website and social media for when they release dates and details for next year’s event as it is certainly one for the bucket list! Even if you think the International Enduro would be beyond your skill level, then the team at Tweedlove also put on events like the “Enjoyro” to give people a taste of Enduro and what the tracks are like.

You can also check out the 7stanes website which consists of a number of MTB Trail centres throughout Scotland.

Words and photos Samantha Saskia Dugon @saskiadugon

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Welsh Gravity Enduro, Dyfi

Stage finish Welsh Gravity Enduro Dyfi

A year after the British Enduro Series at Dyfi, Welsh Gravity Enduro pitched up camp and brought another enduro race to the doors of Machynllech. But this wasn’t a standard enduro race, Charlie (Welsh Gravity enduro organiser) had pulled out all the stops and had made this race not only an EWS qualifying round, but also put the title of welsh national enduro champion up for grabs.

Still wanting to accommodate to all types of riders, the Welsh Gravity Enduro put on two categories; the Sport category where the riders would do a smaller 32km loop riding only 3 stages and the Open category pushing riders to their limits with tight transition times aimed at preparing riders for EWS transitions and over 45km of pedalling over 5 stages.

Featuring 5 women’s categories and 19 women racing, there was a great atmosphere among the girls as they ventured out to tackle the tracks ahead of them. A surprise for everyone at the enduro was the appearance of downhill world champion Rachel Atherton, who had decided to give her new Trek Fuel X a try at a whole new world of enduro racing. Could this be the start of another winning streak?

The weekend began in damp conditions, with the occasional glimpse of the sun giving the riders some hope of the dry and dusty tracks that were there just a few days before. By midday on Saturday, most of the riders had convoyed over to the other side of Machynlleth where stages 2-4 were situated and had begun the grueling climb to the top. Given the early morning rain, the majority of the tracks were running slick, leaving the riders struggling to keep rubber side down.

Come race day riders wished for drier tracks and grippier terrain and their prayers had paid off with sun greeting the riders as they headed off for a long day in the saddle.

With the sun came some drier ground which was much needed and appreciated for stage 2, however it was stage 3 that caught people off guard on race day as some of the riders found themselves constantly crashing their way down the track, attempting to weave in between the trees without knocking their handlebars and experiencing mechanicals. Once making it through the timing gate the girls were happy to have a quick break before heading up to stage 4’s ‘Climax’ trail.

The Climax trail is one of the tracks with the most flow. With hard packed ground and plenty of places to get your wheels airborne, it was a track where the riders could really run wild on, if they weren’t distracted by the views over the surrounding hills.

Don Skene rider Katie Wakely took the win in the elite women’s category.

Nicki Moore took the lead in the 30+ womens category, closely followed by 2nd place Lucy Follett just 11 seconds behind.

Young rider Caja Parks took the win in the U19 women’s category.

Rachel Atherton continued with her winning streak and took first place in the Sport category by over 4 minutes.

Elite women

RankBibNameStage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5TotalTime Diff
1 227 Katie WAKELY 3:24.929 (2) 3:55.559 (1) 2:54.656 (1) 4:10.461 (1) 3:16.523 (1) 17:42.128
2 228 Emma WAREHAM 3:24.379 (1) 3:59.047 (2) 2:59.434 (2) 4:15.473 (2) 3:28.457 (2) 18:06.790 24.662s
3 225 Claire BENNETT 3:40.828 (3) 4:07.879 (3) 3:14.457 (3) 4:31.293 (3) 3:45.375 (3) 19:19.832 1:37.704
4 229 Sophie HALHEAD 3:45.207 (4) 4:31.394 (4) 4:27.902 (5) 4:42.531 (4) 4:16.570 (4) 21:43.604 4:01.476
5 226 Melanie ALEXANDER 4:21.011 (5) 5:12.215 (5) 4:05.250 (4) 4:53.183 (5) 5:40.996 (5) 24:12.655 6:30.527

U19 women

RankBibNameStage 1 Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5TotalTime Diff
1224Caja PARKES4:09.390 (1)5:20.574 (1)4:17.762 (1)27:07.457 (1)4:51.106 (1)45:46.289

19-29 women

RankBibNameStage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5TotalTime Diff
1219Francie ARTHUR 3:37.512 (1) 4:18.656 (1) 3:33.937 (1) 4:32.852 (1) 3:36.817 (1) 19:39.774
2 221 Becky JORDAN 3:52.981 (2) 4:47.027 (2) 3:52.390 (4)4:45.746 (3) 4:07.785 (2) 21:25.929 1:46.155
3 222 Rebecca PARKER 4:09.067 (4) 4:54.313 (4) 3:46.722 (3) 4:44.777 (2) 4:10.223 (3) 21:45.102 2:05.328
4 223 Jess ENLUND 4:06.460 (3) 4:49.168 (3) 3:42.195 (2) 5:08.039 (4) 4:11.898 (4) 21:57.760 2:17.986
5 220 Laura GRIFFITHS 4:22.863 (5)5:25.531 (5) 4:22.965 (5) 5:38.930 (5) 4:58.187 (6) 24:48.476 5:08.702
6 255 Emily WALLACE 4:50.371 (6) 6:23.351 (6) 5:31.496 (6) 5:59.067 (6) 4:42.633 (5) 27:26.918 7:47.144

30+ women

RankBibNameStage 1 Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5TotalTime Diff
1 216 Nicki MOORE 3:41.766 (1) 4:17.308 (1) 3:26.875 (2) 4:40.156 (2) 3:59.602 (1) 20:05.707
2 213 Lucy FOLLETT 3:54.465 (2) 4:27.996 (2) 3:19.082 (1) 4:32.586 (1) 4:03.102 (3) 20:17.231 11.524s
3 218 Jennifer RENNIE 3:57.750 (3) 4:44.195 (3) 3:27.484 (3) 4:48.531 (3) 4:01.192 (2) 20:59.152 53.445s
4 217 Helen WAINWRIGHT 4:02.766 (4) 5:38.570 (4) 4:17.137 (4) 4:49.160 (4) 4:58.004 (4) 23:45.637 43:39.930

Sport women

RankBibNameStage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5TotalTime Diff
1 253 Rachel ATHERTON3:04.277 (1)3:59.101 (1)2:58.809 (1)10:02.187
2 212 Katherine GOODEY 4:26.977 (2) 4:54.558 (2) 5:04.488 (3) 14:26.023 4:23.836
3 214 Leanne HIER 4:39.098 (3) 5:26.090 (3) 4:42.844 (2) 14:48.032 4:45.845

Words and photos Samantha Saskia Dugon @saskiadugon unless stated otherwise

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Enter our competition to WIN a free ladies MTB Weekend

flow mtb instruction girlbikevan womens mtb skills weekend

Flow MTB, GirlBikevan and MTB Instruction are pleased to offer you a chance to WIN a place on a women’s MTB weekend. The weekend will take place on 15th/16th July, 2017 and includes

Saturday 15th July, Woburn/Aspley Woods

  • am: Core skills and coaching session with MTB instruction
  • pm: 2-3 hour ride putting core skills into practice

Sunday 16th July, Chicksands Bike Park

  • warm up on the XC loop
  • downhill skills area: pump track, drop offs, steep descents for anyone who wants to progress Saturday’s skills
  • dual slalom race with prizes

To enter our competition please complete our entry form

Deadline for entries is Friday 16th June at midnight.

Winners will be chosen by Monday 19th June at midnight and contacted by email in the following 2 days.

Places are limited and the number of places is at the discretion of GirlBikevan, Flow MTB and MTB instruction.

Contact details will be used for general marketing purposes by GirlBikeVan, Flow MTB and MTB instruction. We will not pass your details to 3rd parties.

Images and video footage taken on the day will be used for promotional purposes on social media. Copyright laws associated with the use of images and video will apply.

Competition entry is for ladies only who have a good level of skill and general fitness already and want to push the boundaries. This is not a weekend for beginner mountain bikers. If you can ride red trails and all of their features confidently and at a good pace this will be the weekend for you.

You are responsible for ensuring your bike is in working order, booking your own accommodation, traveling and paying for your own meals. Full itinerary with accommodation suggestions will be sent to the winners.

Please email the following if you have any questions:- – Sandy, GirlBikeVan – Anita, Flow MTB Limited – Mark, MTB instruction

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Guest Blog – The Hamsterley Beast

The Hamsterley Beast – A 40 mile non competitive mountain bike ride in Hamsterley forest, Co Durham raising much needed funds for the Great North Air Ambulance Service. The 2016 event sold out and saw over 350 riders descend on the forest to tackle the beast and raise an incredible £17,500 for the charity.

This year the event was opened up to 500 competitors one of those was Julie-Ann Johnson, here’s how she got on.

Still full of beans after the Redbull Fox Hunt in 2016, my first ever MTB event which was a competition win, I vowed I’d set myself a few MTB goals for 2017. Those goals were The Ard Rock and The Hamsterley Beast 40 miler, two very different events but both still challenging. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time but as those ‘beans’ finally disappeared as I thought to myself “what the heck have I let myself in for”. My fella (Lee) and friends (Mat, Jo and Lisa) who I’d persuaded to enter weren’t full of confidence either!

The run up to event day was interesting to say the least. I enjoyed a ‘new bike day’ receiving my YT Capra at the end of October and set about shredding as many downhill parks as I could in the meantime. Possibly too much shredding as the rear shock blew and needed some major TLC back in Germany… hmmm, so no bike I hear you say? Thankfully I didn’t have the heart to sell my little pocket rocket Specialized Myka.

Did I train before the big day? I would like to call it a sociably relaxed training programme comprising of lots of MTB outings with the fella and friends always ending in a pub/cafe with a pint or a piece of cake. Through the joys of social media I found Café Adventure in the Hope Valley run by a lovely couple Rachel and Billy who are also keen mountain bikers, arranging midweek outings which start from their café. Rachel arranges ladies only rides and by attending many of these I’ve met some amazing ladies along the way whilst adding mileage to my ‘training programme’.

My so called training came to an abrupt end when my Myka didn’t feel quite right. Only thinking it needed a new bottom bracket it turned out to be a lot more; new bushes in the suspension set up… ah crap! So I had a poorly Capra and Myka.

The Friday before event day was a happy day. I received the shock for my Capra and I got a phone call from the bike shop to say my Myka was ready to go, talk about cutting it fine! Even though I was so happy to have both my bikes up and running again I was mindful that I’d not been on a bike for about 2 weeks.

Event weekend.

We stayed in a lovely B&B in Hamsterley, Ladywell House B&B, and took full advantage of the full English breakfast and about 4 coffees. Nerves started to kick in slightly, or was that the coffee, when we arrived at the car parking area and everyone getting ready with some beautiful bikes on show. We had a short walk to registration and in passing I had a look at the 40 mile map and immediately wished I hadn’t because just as I approached the rather large map a guy was saying to his mates “and this bit here is f@&king awful”, it definitely wasn’t the coffee!

I made the decision to use my specialized steed because she’s a good climber and I needed all the help I could get. Riding up to the starting area to meet my friends and seeing so many other bikers the nerves went up a notch, I’ve never appreciated a port a loo like I did at that moment. The atmosphere was amazing and seeing the air ambulance helicopter fly overhead really put things into perspective for me… you’re doing a 40 mile MTB ride for charity and you need to complete it!! I’m not a confident person and it was the first time it really dawned on me, what would happen if I didn’t complete it? Thankfully we set off promptly allowing me no time to dwell.

The 40 miles in my head is a bit of a blur and I can’t fully remember what came first… ah, oh yes I do, a fire road heading up, it’s all coming back to me now! I remember thinking to myself that a lot of people were passing me and I was already starting to overheat now the sun had broken through. The pace felt quick and again I started to doubt myself. Already our group was breaking up and the boys went ahead whilst us girls stayed together.

I enjoyed the first decent through the trees. It was still wet from the rain we had through the night so in places the ground was muddy, boggy and slippery. To add to the carnage the trail was still busy with fellow bikers and a mountain bike conga line was soon formed. The conga continued to the next climb which was steep and rocky. I managed to glance a smile at the photographer but inside I knew this was going to be a slog. There were a lot of people pushing their bikes mid-way and I have to say I joined them, it was nice to chat to others which helped to take my mind off the pain the push up was creating in my calves.

This is where things get a little hazy but what does stick out in my mind was the very rutty descent through the trees, which would have been totally un-rideable if it was wet. Thankfully it was dry, fast but technical in places and a track you needed to think quickly on because of the amount of lines to choose from. This was followed by another steep rocky climb through a gate where a lot of people stopped to refuel and remove various items of clothing, it had turned out to be a glorious day. Jo was just behind me but we’d lost Lisa… sorry Lisa.

From this point it went out onto moorland. The views were stunning and the ground was dry. The heather was thick and at times the trail was narrow so I had to really concentrate not to get my pedals caught. The elevation through the moorland was mentally and physically draining. The climbs on the gravel fire roads seem to go on forever and the head wind made it even more difficult to keep pace. At times I felt my legs were going round and round but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Jo was struggling with lower back pain and together we weren’t feeling optimistic. We stopped at the first station where we enjoyed some lovely short bread but unfortunately they had already run out of water. I just hoped I had enough water in my camel back until the next stop.

When we reached the tarmac road I felt relieved. We met Paula, who I’d met on a MTB holiday in the Lake District in 2016, who thankfully had some pain relief that Jo could have. After a quick refuel and catch up we carried on. I was thankful for the long gravel fire road descent, taking care on the corners. I laughed to myself remembering earlier in the ride a guy going way too fast on a gravel bend skidding off, clipping a Hamsterley beast sign and finishing up down a grassy ditch… he was OK!

We had visited Hamsterley three weeks previous to the event to get an idea of what to expect and when we dropped down a fire road to a bermy section I recognised I couldn’t contain my excitement. Jo let me go ahead and I didn’t argue. It was as much fun as I remembered the first time I did it. The little rock drop off leading to another big berm section felt amazing, whooping as I went getting a return whoop from the photographer. What made it even better was the next section was open also. At times I felt a little out of control on the big table tops and fast berms and I needed to reign myself back in. I could tell I was tired and I didn’t want to make a silly mistake this far into the event.

The beast took in some of the fun descents of the Hamsterley red trail and again knowing what was ahead of me lifted my spirits a lot. I stopped to say hi to Michelle and Dawn who formed the MTB Chix and Trails Facebook page. I felt I knew them really well but they didn’t know me and I had to introduce myself. If it wasn’t for their page and the fabulous ladies who share their experiences on there I wouldn’t have known about the Beast or the Ard Rock events so a big thank you goes out to them.

We still had a few climbs to conquer but we were never alone and for a while we rode with a couple of guys who said they’d entered the beast last year. We laughed a lot as we pushed our bikes up another brutal hill about being abruptly introduced to one other when one of them went over his handle bars, crashing into us when we moved over to let them by.

Hearing the music, the hustle and bustle of the finish line from the top of last descent was lifting and Jo and I couldn’t help but smile at one another. I was so exhausted and the final descent felt so challenging but as it spits you out at the bottom I couldn’t help but laugh. That final right turn over the line to the main area was a mixture of emotions for me. Exhaustion, relief, happiness and pride. I’d never ridden 40 miles on a mountain bike before but today I achieved it and for a great cause. Lee and Mat had done well and were waiting for us at the finish line.

All I could think about once finished was food, fizzy pop and alcohol. Jo treated us to a lovely veggie bean chilli which we enjoyed sat on the grass in the sunshine. The alcohol had to wait as it was back at the B&B, poor organisational skills on my behalf! Lisa came in not long after us and the first thing she said was “you didn’t tell me there was a 20 mile option” oops! I think she enjoyed it really. After a hot bath and a couple of ciders we reflected on our day. At times I thought I’m not doing this ever again but once refreshed and our batteries partly recharged the thought of entering next year didn’t seem so bad.

What have I learnt from this experience? Better fueling for definite. If it wasn’t for Jo having a bag full of energy gels I think I would have flaked. I had some energy bars but it wouldn’t have been enough. Should I have taken my training more seriously? Possibly, but I do believe that if you push yourself too far and the training becomes more of a ‘must go out’ rather than a ‘want to go out’ the enjoyment disappears and so does your motivation. At the end of the day we all have bikes because we enjoy being out on them, making great memories and meeting great people along the way. My mountain bikes are my emergency escape routes in life and I don’t ever want to lose sight of that.

Finally I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the Hamsterley Beast, from the organisers to the Marshalls. Everyone was so helpful and those smiles helped so much along the way. Here’s hoping to see you all again in 2018


Great North Air Ambulance Service – Providing emergency medical cover for the North of England, North Yorkshire and Cumbria an area of approximately 5500 square miles with a population of 3.5 million people, the Great North Air Ambulance has time and time again established the need for an Air Ambulance. It is their aim to provide the best quality of care to the people in their region

If you’d like to make a donation to the GNAAS  you can do so at Julie-Ann’s Just Giving page.

@hamsterleybeast / @gnairambulance / @julesjohnson81