Fresh from the Cycletta post-ride spa, Adele Mitchell considers the event facilities that really count.
With more and more women getting out there and taking part in cycling events, some organizers are going the extra mile to help women feel ‘at home’.
Over the weekend I rode in the women-only Cycletta ride in Surrey along with 300 others, over half of which were taking part in their first cycling event. It was a great event at a great venue, replete with motorcycle outriders, technical support, snack stops and a beautiful circular route on quiet, leafy lanes.
We were treated to a coconut water drink as we crossed the finish line, the opportunity to indulge in a little retail therapy courtesy of women’s apparel brand VeloVixen, and an on-site spa (provided by Unlisted London).
Here we were indulged with complimentary stretching routines, foot massage, dry shampoo facilities and facial cleansing with botanical skin care products. The attention to detail was fantastic: they’d even pre-dampened the cotton wool cleansing pads!
Judging by the queues the spa was something of a hit and, if bike kit and extremely fit physiques are anything to go by, there were as many ‘serious’ riders enjoying the facilities as first time competitors. It also encouraged a relaxed, friendly atmosphere (helped along by the sunny weather!). Many of us sat and chatted outside on the grass, sorted through our Cycletta goodie bags and discussed Strava stats and what we were looking forward to eating to replace all those calories we’d just burned!
The Bontrager Twentyfour12 endurance mountain bike race on the weekend of the 27th July is a completely different kettle of fish.
While there isn’t a spa on offer, the organisers have come up with all sorts of ways to keep participants happy during their stay. There’s teepee glamping facilities (at extra cost), 24 hour bike wash, and a 24 hour sports massage - I know which one I’d be using first! There’s also live bands, a children’s race and, more unusually, a cheese and beer evening. You can even use their Twitter feed to request a music track for the course playlist.
Bike expert and Total Women’s Cycling contributor Chris Garrison will be hosting Trek Ladies Day on the 27th in the Bontrager tent at the event, for riders and spectators alike. Here you’ll find information and advice about women’s cycling issues including anatomical differences and saddle comfort. I’m guessing any male riders with sore backsides will, meanwhile, be suffering elsewhere on the course!
Obviously the cost of entering an event will impact on the facilities on offer but we all know that it’s actually the more basic details that make all the difference – especially if they’re overlooked.
Food, for instance, is a big issue. “One event I did recently I had post ride offerings that amounted to a measly roll and a soft drink: anything else had to be paid for" says roadie Charlotte Jackson.
I wouldn’t have minded so much but the feed stops were lousy too – a banana and a few jaffa cakes, and sausage rolls which soon ran out – not that they were much use to me as I’m vegetarian!
In contrast, my husband Paul still has fond memories of being sustained by trail-side offerings of beef consommé, pre-filled cycling bottles of energy drink and trail-side massage stations during a 100 mile mountain bike event in the Alps. “They flew supplies to the top of the mountain in a net slung beneath a helicopter" he reminisces. Bearing in mind the grueling route, I wonder if he might have been hallucinating at this point.
What ever the entry fee or ride distance, who doesn’t appreciate a banana or energy bar that has been pre-cut to make refueling on the go just that bit quicker, or the opportunity to discuss the ride over a cup of tea and slice of homemade cake on the finish line. The one from Stilettos on Wheels in Brighton last year was a particular favourite.
Loos and showers
“I'm not sure that I would want much more than is already available at most events, but some of the facilities could be much better, " says mountain biker, and designer of upcycled inner tube products, Judy McNeil.
Judy has done 24 hour races all over the world, alongside male and female competitors.
The toilets are generally a health hazard by the end of an event & I'd rather head into the woods! They’re not usually segregated and even if they are the men tend to take over the women's! The best toilets we ever had were in Europe where they had someone on duty to keep them clean.
“It’s great to have a shower after an endurance event but there are always long queues or the hot water runs out. At an event in Rome we had single sex communal showers as well as individual showers and there was never a queue, but two out of the three US events I have done have had no showers at all!!"
Would you welcome spa facilities on the finish line or is a burger and a beer more to your liking? We’d love to hear your comments on the event facilities you’ve loved as well as those you’ve loathed!
Event organisers – take note!