Words by Joanne Nelson | Pics by Joanne Nelson & Dirt De Femme
For me the Dirt De Femme race started a while ago. I have spent weeks making sure the Drift Bikes Womens Ride beginner girls were up to the task of taking on Mt Stromlo and its wonderful playground. One of the things I focused on was to not over state the event by telling them everything about the course. I wanted them to experience the pre race nerves, not knowing the terrain, allowing them to activate all their MTB skills they have been learning over the months previously. I wanted them to experience ALL there is in the excitement of racing.
I had my own plan. To be at the back behind our last rider, whoever it may of been.
I waited and stood beside my bike at the back of the large pack seeing the other girls follow me over. Waiting for the countdown and the start gun to go, I asked the girls how they are feeling. Their looks were priceless!! More like……OMG what have I got myself into. It was such a wonderful experience to see those expressions. Next thing we are off and racing. Around the crit track and into the bush lined single track. I rotated through the pack, but as the girls Gai, Karen, Andrea and Tracey grew in confidence, they each in their own way took off on their own journey. The first turn saw us encounter mobs and mobs of kangaroos lazing in the morning sun. What a sight for our girls for their very first race. It was something special indeed.
I could see them all weaving their way up the single tracks conquering the switchbacks with such concentration. They were doing it!!!!! and doing it with style!!!!!
I spent the last 2 laps riding with my co pilot Tracey. Seeing the last downhill coming up I whispered in her ear…. big gear and pedal!!!!!! well she flew like I have never seen her go before. She even got some air hitting the small pump hills on the way down. I only wish I could of recorded her giggles and screams when she reconnected with the dirt. Then to be welcomed back to the finish line with smiles and hugs everywhere. Yay!!!!!!!! They DID it!!!!
What an trip, what a race, what beautiful girls we have in our Drift Bikes Womens Ride group. They challenged themselves, they conquered their fears, they experienced the best of MTB, they are all so amazing and they are such an inspiration. This is why I love MTB for ladies……..
Id like to also mention a BIG thank you to Paula and Andrew Gresham for allowing us to take their Cycos bus and trailer to the event. I am so grateful for their kindness. It is so appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
I think it would be great to get the girls to give their perspective of the race, so now its the girls turn to tell you all how they went through their own eyes……..
I would have to say that the Dirt De Femme was a sensational experience coupled by a weekend away with a fantastic team full of motivating women. The event itself was very well organised and the marshals on the course were very encouraging. I was a little nervous before starting as I have never participated in a mountain biking event but I didn't need to be, the event catered for every level of rider. I think the thing that stands out the most to me whilst I was out on the course was when, coming into my 19th kilometre I had 5 kangaroos bound onto the track just in front of me. They quickly moved on as I blasted through but it was a close call. Never have I been so scared in all my life but they sure made the experience one I will never forget!
When it comes to my mountain biking, I do it for fitness and most of all fun..so when it comes to the Dirt De Femme, fun is guaranteed. This is my second year at the event. I loved it last year and this year was fabulous. I have spent the last 6 months coaching and encouraging girls into the sport I love. 10 of us headed down to Canberra in the Cycos Bus. For most of the girls it was their first race. Lots of laughs along the way. We had fun in the evening decorating our helmets and designing our costumes. Pink being the theme, this was no problem for me. Race day came and I lined up for the 45km. My preparation was not perfect in regards to training so I had a nutrition plan to follow which proved to be perfect for the day. I love Stromlo, it is MTB heaven. My bike Keaven was in fine form thanks to the boys at Drift. The course was awesome, it was tough. But for every battle climb....I was rewarded with the best flowy downhill which had a smile on my face and my body filled with excitement. I tried to keep the bike moving smoothly and avoid stalling to look after my body. I was told by a fellow rider that we had to do 4 laps....being blonde I believed her and thought, Ok I think I can do it! On my 3lap I flagged down a marshal, Who assured me it was 3. I laughed and laughed, this was the best news ever. (I have been fined and donated $ to charity for being so silly!) Woo Hoo I headed home! Down the Big berms, giving it everything! I was proud of myself riding with a much better skill level and super proud of all the girls who who took on Stromlo and nailed it. To be a part of this beautiful group of girls is such a blessing to me. Dirt de Femme is a race perfect for the beginner to elite rider. Thanks to Jo for looking after the girls on the 21km course. Congratulations to all! Bring on 2016 I say! Meow!
I found DDF was an opportunity to get a taste of what it's like to race but in a friendly environment, I had a smile on my face the whole time. I was also able to better understand the distance and what type of effort was needed to get around. The course was easily achievable for beginners with enough technical bits to keep you thinking. The race atmosphere was fun and not at all intimidating and I had lots of chats to other riders on the course. Maybe I should have been calling track on them instead? Going with the Drift girls was wicked fun, what an awesome bunch. Our team leaders (Paula and Jo) gave us a great experience. Love you guys!
Ok my turn !!
After only a few bike rides with my new mountain bike the opportunity of going in the DDF bike race came up and without hesitation I jumped on the link to check it out and thought hmm a girls race thats geared for fun and the track planned for the nervous nellie to the experienced racer so I thought hmm Im a nervous nellie with not a lot of experience but hell yeah girls weekend away lets do it !! I was so excited to be involved with this wonderful friendly motivating group I couldn’t wait for the weekend to come !! And so it was here and wow how much fun we had !! Dressing up in pink sox and tutus and pink lei on the helmets in memory of a gorgeous little girl who's life was sadly cut way too short. We were indeed a sight on the day and so many comments along the track .. "love the pigtails" and "go pink tutu " I had so much fun !! And the track itself wow !! Fantastic corners that wound up and down thru trees and down a river crossing . Ergh… was that to the left or to the right of the rock ahh well just wing it and bum back and go !! Whhooaa !! With each loop it got faster and faster and by the third last lap there was no more feathering down the downhill, it was just ‘let it rip’ and whhheeeeee all the way home !! It tested my abilities but gave me so much confidence Im so excited to get out there to challenge myself even more !! And the girls on the track were so friendly and those that were a bit more competitive just went on by no jostling or pushing past and the slower girls were not intimidated by another passing just a friendly chat and a see u at the end ! The race was over so quickly I wanted to do it all over again !! So see you next year DDF with an awesome Drift girls weekend away I cant wait !!
This was my second DDF so I felt a lot more comfortable about the event than I did the previous year. I was looking forward to a weekend away with a great bunch of girls where I could test my fitness and skills on a course that I knew was achievable. Mt Stromlo offers some fun, awesome, scenic, flowy and challenging tracks. It’s got a bit of everything. I did the 21km short course which suited my age and abilities.
The DDF emphasis is on fun and participation and we certainly achieved that. It was wonderful to be a part of such a supportive group who dressed up in pink, wore pink socks in memory of “Charlie” and who supported each other throughout. We laughed and laughed our way through the entire weekend.
I am pleased with my performance on the day. Alicia and I ended up being race buddies giving each other support and encouragement all the way. From the steady uphill single trail, the splashy creek crossing, the killer switchbacks to the fast downhill and single flowy trails …. we did it all with our pink pigtails flowing and a smile on our faces. I did manage to hug a boulder though, and it hugged me back souveniring some of my skin. I also nearly took out a row of flags because I was going a bit too fast. Just the usual.
Our Drift Ambassadors Paula and Jo did a tremendous job leading this group. We could not have done it with so much fun and enthusiasm without them. I will look forward to this event next year. I will start working on my costume now.
Dirt De Femme 2015....
Nerves, excitement, the unknown race plan!!
Bike checked, gear checked, toilet stops x a million
Start line, gun goes, nerves go, excitement builds even more
Onto the track..yippee here we go...
First lap settling into the groove..
2 laps down, filling with confidence (feeling the legs at this stage), calling track (hehehehe)
3 lap approaches, nearing the last of the climb..
All down hill from here to the finish...
Feeling free and flying (no feathering in this little chickie)
"OMG that was close" ...
Directional flags straight ahead but track hard right..now feeling like a motorbike racer, holding my breath, bike on a full lean...missed the flags, found the track and voila..heading in the right direction and smashing it..
No falls, no scratches and the finish line crossed!!!
BOOM I've conquered my first ever MBT trail race. No words can explain the inner feeling of accomplishment. The rush is amazing and I now understand why you can get addicted to this sport.
A massive thank you to our fabulous Drift Ambassadors Jo and Paula for their time and patience in teaching the technique in riding a mountain bike and trail. Xx love ya's all.
Oh and to the fabulous funny supportive group of ladies that I had the pleasure to go to this event with...Thank You...We are the BOMB!!!
OK, here I go! What is left to say? When I saw on the Drift Bikes Womens Ride forum that Paula and Jo were looking to take a bus full of girls down to Canberra for DDF I signed up straight away! And I'm sure glad I did. I had a wonderful weekend with an awesome bunch of girls. Oh and the race, that was amazing too! I chose to give the long course a go because I thought the longer I could spend riding around Mt Stromlo the better. I loved the trails, they were the perfect mix of flowing track and the odd technical part. The climbs were a tad gruelling but they were nicely broken up by awesome downhill sections. The atmosphere was great on the course also. There was lots of encouragement and friendly chatter when overtaking - the other girls I met were lovely. All up, I had a super weekend with an awesome bunch of girls and got to take part in a fun, friendly and motivating event. I'll be back for sure and I'll encourage others to do the same. Thanks Paula and Jo for making it happen xx
Writing this is hard!
I only decided to go to the DDF on the Wednesday night before. I was very scared meeting all the ladies. On the bus down I believed I had made a big mistake and was going to get off when we stopped.
But I did not thank God.
The morning of the race I was thinking I would just be able to complete one lap, in the time it would take everyone else to do the three. My heart was in my mouth at the start. Well I completed my first lap and could not wait to commence the rest of my race.
For the next two laps I had Jo behind me telling me how the ride the track better. There was a little voice telling me continually ‘get off my sit’ while going down the hills. This track was a fantastic beginners track. The best part of my day was going down the hill faster then I ever have before. My smile is still attached to my face.
I am so grateful for the chance to go with all this great ladies.
Thank you so much.
When the Monday arvo Drift girls mentioned going to Canberra for the DdF, I jumped at the chance to ride at Mount Stromlo again. I chose to take on a challenge for me and try the 45k, and what a blast! As for the riding itself, the track consisted of some challenging climbs, but in true Stromlo style the these were greatly rewarded by some amazing, fast, flowing descents, incredible views, amazing scenery, and a huge range of local wildlife. The DdF was a great event, it was my first race, and it's certainly got me looking for more. The race seemed to be very well organised, and the people you came across around the track were very friendly and helpful. It seemed the organisers main objective was for all the participants to have the best time!
A very special thanks and mention must go to Paula and Jo, who took us to DdF. The weekend was faultless and I know that was mostly due to their hard work and organisation. These wonderful advocates of women's riding not only regularly give up their time to encourage women each Monday and Thursday, but they both freely gave up their weekends with their families to give new mountain bikers an opportunity to get into racing. I was a little nervous about my first race as I didn't really know what to expect, but they had the weekend covered, they helped show us newbies what to do, where to go, and how to do it.
And finally to all the girls who came on the weekend, whilst the riding was amazing, by far one of the best parts of the weekend was the fun we had together, and the laughs we shared, and the support that everyone had for each other. Thankyou all! X
Bring on DdF 2016 and all of the other races in between!