Author: Valerie Pretzel
I had an awesome ride on the weekend with West Coast Trail Bike Safaris, probably my eighth ride with them over the last 4 years or so. Now as much as I’d love to be up to the harder rides, I have great rides at the Introduction level and the “Girls and Partners” rides. These rides still challenge me and importantly bring me home with a smile on my face and plans for my next ride.
There were 14 people on the ride on Saturday – 3 women and guys ranging from late twenties through to…well let’s just say, somewhere on the other side of fifty. They came from all different backgrounds and careers – some had been riding off road for a while and for some it was their second time on the dirt after riding road bikes. By the end of the ride those guys were planning which bike was soon going to have a home in the garage as they caught the trail bike bug.
This isn’t the usual picture the public have of trail bike riders – there wasn’t a 17 year old Crusty Demon wannabe in sight – some were old and Crusty but that was the closest it came ☺.
When lobbying the government for more and better trails, and a better image for trail bike riders – the first thing we have to do is break down the stereotypes. I can see the surprise in their eyes when they find out I ride. I started riding when I was on the wrong side of forty, I am five foot one and most describe me as “petite” – not the usual picture of a trail bike rider. I started riding because my other half had got back into it after a decade off the bike and my daughter declared she wanted to give up riding horses to ride a trail bike (much to her dad’s joy!) – so I figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em….and I haven’t looked back!
When Sport & Recreation people dismiss trail bike riding as not having any exercise value, I am able to confidently tell them that my upper body and legs certainly get a workout and my heart rate gets to the same level as when I do a Spin class. We get quality family time, some amazing adventures with our friends and we get to see parts of beautiful WA that I would never otherwise see.
There are still plenty of negative stereotypes to break down but we can see how far we have come in the last 4 years. We’d love to hear your stories, and remember, when you are out on the trails, do your bit to change those old negative stereotypes.