The mountain bike Mecca of South Wales hosted their first women's weekend since opening their doors in the Summer of 2013.
A typical weekend at the adult MTB playground is usually packed, come rain or shine, there'll be keen adrenaline junkies getting their biking fix, and ripping up the trails.
However, this weekend was a little different. It was the first time I had arrived at the trail centre, and felt a strong female presence. Women from all over the country gathered at Bikepark Wales to take part in their first Women's Weekend.
With demo bikes, brand stalls, workshops and World Champion athlete Tracy Moseley on hand, Bikepark Wales hosted this weekend to provide a hands-on MTB experience fit for beginners and experts alike.
Bikepark Wales invited a number of big brand names to have a stall for the weekend where they could showcase their women's specific range. They even created a private changing room so you can try-before-you-buy, which I loved.
An impressive line up of brands included: Fox, Flare Clothing, Troy Lee Designs, Five Ten, Giro, Bell Helmets, Maloja and more. It's really beneficial for women to see the kit in person, rather than online. It was great to feel the fabric, see the colours and hold items against the body to get a size reference.
I caught up with Hannah Myers, owner of Flare Clothing, and asked what her views were on women's specific events like these:
"I think they're brilliant. It's a good way for women to come and see the kit and feel it, especially when there are subtle differences between models that can't be reflected online. Women's specific events are an excellent way for getting women together who all share a passion for biking, but it's also great that the men aren't excluded either" - Hannah Myers, Flare Clothing
Having spoken to many of the brand representatives at the women's weekend, it was refreshing to learn that they were so knowledgeable on their range of women's kit. Something often lacking in bike stores.
Throughout the weekend, workshops were held to help women understand their bike set-up a little better, and to help with any queries they had. Anything from suspension, to brakes and cockpit set-up were all discussed with knowledge hungry women hanging on to every word.
Working at the Mojo Suspension stall was Rachel Burridge who's worked with them for 5 years as an quality inspector. Her job is to inspect all the forks and shocks that come through the doors, and then assesses what needs to be done before they can leave again. I asked Rachel about her job at Mojo Suspension, and how she felt about women's involvement in more technical roles:
"I love my job! What makes it amazing is the great team I work with, and my boss, Chris. I've learnt to so much in my time here, and never have I felt excluded or different for being a woman. Technical roles within biking are out there, and they are open to everyone." - Rachel Burridge, Mojo Suspension
Mojo suspension and Shimano were both superb help over the weekend, on hand to help riders with technical problems and advice.
What better way to inspire the troops than with an appearance from multi World Cup Enduro Champion, Tracy Moseley.
Attending for the full weekend, Tracy chatted with women at length about all things bike related and her plans for her upcoming wedding in September.
On both days, Tracy led the girls up on a full climb and descent of the trail centre. Stopping for chats along the way, the ride was sociable and fun for everyone, and a great chance to pedal alongside this iconic pro rider.
Once everyone returned from the group ride, it was time for a much needed tea and cake break in the centre where Tracy Moseley lead a Q&A session with the group.
Bikepark Wales hosted a brilliant weekend for female mountain bikers. Despite the sleet, rain, sun and heavy winds, a horde of trail shredding women attended the event.
The atmosphere was great, and I think this was largely BPW's doing. Even though it was a women's weekend, with women's kit stands and riding, the centre itself was still open for regular business. Many women turned up with their partners, and it even gave a chance for the male riders to have a look around as well.
I caught up with Anna Astley, one of the directors for BPW, who said:
"I'm really pleased with the turnout of our first women's weekend. I hope everyone has enjoyed themselves enough so that we can make this an annual event." - Anna Astley, Director of BPW
As always, Bikepark Wales staff were welcoming and available, with a selection of incredibly tasty cakes on offer, and a variety of hot drinks to sip on front of a roaring fire.
Successful women's weekends such as these are difficult to get right. On one hand there's the need to encourage and support women in riding by creating a comfortable environment, but at the same time, it's important not to create an unnecessary gender gap.
I think Bikepark Wales got it spot on with their event by catering for the females, showcasing kit, and offering support that isn't usually found elsewhere. However, by operating as usual, it allowed men to be somewhat included which is great because at the end of the day, don't we all just want to get along and ride together?