Cafe Adventure is a cycle friendly cafe and mountain bike enthusiast hub in the heart of the Peak District. My partner Billy and I run the cafe and this is what we wanted to create. By fusing together our occupational catering skills with our love for the great outdoors we’ve managed to develop our business to fit our lifestyle – which is, luckily, the same lifestyle as many of our customers, who are outdoor adventure seekers. We feel truly lucky to be “living the dream”. Yes day-to-day cafe life is busy, hard work and tiring, but it is also so rewarding, especially when we can fuel our work with our passion for mountain biking.
I started organising women’s mountain bike rides from the cafe in November 2016. I was instantly surprised and overwhelmed by the amount of interest the rides were getting. From using social media you can reach a lot more people, and I was getting interest from women all over the Northwest and Midlands. Women have travelled from as far as Nottingham, Leicester, Leeds and Manchester (as well as many local gals too) to join our social rides in the Hope Valley, Peak District. That goes to show that there is a huge demand for women’s mtb rides and events.
I think our rides are popular because there are lots of women bikers who are just looking for other like minded females to ride with! That’s why I started the rides in the first place. I wanted to meet other girls to ride with. As much as I love riding with my boyfriend and going out with him and his group of friends I can sometimes feel a little out of my comfort zone and lagging behind!
I still do like riding with my boyfriend and other guys but there’s just something different about riding with a group of women. It’s way more relaxed and social and way less racey. We might not get as many miles in or do as many techy sections but we have lots more conversation and laughter! As cheesy as it sounds that’s what makes it so much fun.
Everyone who has come along has been so friendly, supportive and welcoming to each other in the group. We encourage each other when the climbs get tough or descents get a bit hairy! Between us we have enough maintenance knowledge and kit to get us through any minor trail side mechanical problem (but more on that subject in a later blog… – I organised a Maintenance Workshop for the girls and that deserves it’s own post!). The aim of these rides is to connect and encourage female mountain bike riders- to unite women riders in what can at times, feel like a very large, scary and intimidating male dominated sport.
I think there’s something about riding outdoors at night, in the dark and just being guided by each others bike lights, that causes conversation to flow easily between yourself and someone you’ve only just met. By the end of the ride you can really feel like you’ve got to know each other pretty well and you feel like you’re part of a team – everyone made it back in one piece and you’re all grinning from ear to ear. I think its a combination of a shared love for bikes and the comforts of socialising whilst riding that makes it easy to click with each other. There’s no pressure to make conversion when you’re pedaling away and concentrating on the trail ahead but you somehow can’t stop gabbing on. I never used to ride with other girls (where are they all? – I used to think) but now I have lots of women riding buddies and I love it!
The women’s mtb community is growing and growing fast! And I think its great. There are more and more women’s mtb events happening all over the country and there’s an increasing amount of women’s riding content to be found online, in social media and focused through different brands and companies. Last year I went on a couple of the Hope Tech Women’s rides (one in Gisburn and one in the Peaks). This was the first time I had really ridden with a big group of girls. It was so much fun and we were spoilt by Hope with free Julianas to demo, lovely ride leaders and plenty of post-ride tea and cake! Those rides gave me the initial spark of an idea to try out our own women’s rides from the cafe.
So yeah, the women’s mtb community is growing and we’re growing as a part of it. Our women’s rides are becoming more and more popular, even through the soggy wet winter months. There is currently a whopping 90 women in our Facebook group. However, there’s a much smaller core group of regular riders for the Wednesday night rides, and then a few more other riders who can’t make every week but come when they can. For our night rides there’s normally 6-8 of us and on the weekend ride we did there was 20 of us out together. I think that by the time the clocks go forward, the evenings get longer and the trails dryer, our women’s rides will really thrive!.. and hopefully I can keep up with the demand!
The best thing about the growing female mtb community is how supportive and inclusive everyone is. Since starting our women’s rides I’ve been able to make contacts with other people in the industry, such as the lovely guys at Flare Clothing Company and Sandy from GirlBikeVan. They have both been really encouraging and we’re making plans on how we can work together on rides and events throughout the year.
I’m still fairly new to the sport having only ridden seriously (by seriously I mean regularly and enjoying it! – as opposed to sporadically when I was dragged out by the other half. (It’s actually since we moved to the Hope Valley and I fell in love with biking mainly because of how accessible it is here – we have so many good trails on our doorstep in the beautiful Peak District.)) for about 2 years, so I don’t know much about the history of women’s mountain biking but I’m definitely hooked on trying to keep up with how it’s developing.
Our rides are easy going, social, mountain bike rides for women who can confidently ride off road and are relatively fit (good beginners to intermediates). We meet at the cafe from 6pm on alternate Wednesday evenings. We gather and have a pre-ride brew and chat before setting off on the ride at 6.30pm. We tend to ride for around 1.5 to 2 hours, covering about 8-10 miles. During the winter months lights are required and can be rented courtesy of our mate James at the Bike Garage, Bamford. We have these lights charged up, ready and waiting for you to pick up at the cafe at the start of the ride. Lights are £5 to rent for the night (if you’d like some please let me know in advance so I can make sure we have enough for everyone in need).
Riders can ride at their own pace and we always wait for each other and leave no one behind. If something’s too technical or tiring for you just get off and walk that section and no one will bat an eyelid.. we’ve all been there and the only way you’re going to improve is to get out there and ride! Joining a new group can be nerve racking at first, I know, but just come along and give it a go. You can always use more riding buddies!
As well as the regular midweek night rides I’m organising some other events, such as Maintenance Workshops, Skills Training, Demo Rides and Summer Social BBQs. We’re also going to have some Cafe Adventure team jerseys printed by the fab Flare Clothing Co… lots of exciting plans in the pipeline, so watch this space!
– Rachel x
If you are interested in joining the Cafe Adventure Women’s Mountain Bike Rides then please join the Facebook group called Cafe Adventure’s Women Riders to keep up to date with ride info.
More information can be found on the Cafe website: www.cafeadventure.co.uk or email Rachel on firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.