Jan 28 2011 By kieran westbrook
SUNDAY saw the first of three women only introductory sessions to off road cycling being run at the world famous 7stanes mountain bike trails in South Scotland.
The series of Women on Wheels events have been designed to encourage more women to take that first step into off road cycling in Dumfries and Galloway within the extensive 7stanes trails networks.
The event at Ae Forest was a huge success and the organisers said they could have filled the first course nearly three times over.
The Women on Wheels events are funded and supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland. Forestry Commission Scotland's 7stanes team organises and hosts the courses.
Ruth Asbery, one of the female tutors for the event, said: "We knew there were a lot of women out there who, for one reason or another, had previously felt a little put off on trying the trails for themselves for the first time.
"As a result we really wanted women who had never tried off road cycling at the 7stanes sites to feel comfortable signing up for the chance to experience off road cycling in a friendly and welcoming environment. The events are in the company of other like minded females with tuition provided by female instructors."
The event gave female cyclists the chance to learn basic mountain bike riding techniques and bike repair. In addition to this, local charity cyclist Mavis Patterson provided a lunch time presentation on her epic cycle across Canada which she undertook to mark her 70th birthday in 2008.
Demand for the Ae Forest event significantly outstripped the number of places available.
Forestry Commission Scotland’s 7stanes project manager Doug Knox added: "We were delighted with the take up of places on the event and we're really sorry we couldn't accommodate all of the ladies who applied. Forestry Commission Scotland is, however, looking at how we might be able to work with our other 7stanes partners to try and meet this demand through possible additional events."
There are only a few places left for the follow up half day events at Mabie Forest (February 20) and Kirroughtree Forest (March 13) so women who missed out on the Ae Forest event still have a chance to try off-road cycling in one of these events. The costs for each event are £15 with bike hire or £5 if bringing own bike.
Ruth Asbery said: "Hopefully by the end of these three taster sessions those ladies taking part will have enough confidence to sign up with their friends and families to take part in the British Heart Foundation's 10km charity cycle at Kirroughtree, near Newton Stewart, on March 26.
Potential applicants for the remaining two Women on Wheels events are asked to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Margaret Bryden on 01387 272440. Further information can also be found at www.7stanes.gov.uk/womenonwheels
A Women on Wheels Facebook group has also been set up at www.facebook.com/groups/womenonwheels