Thinking of booking a trip away, want to incorporate your bike, but intimidated by the macho image presented by some tour organisers? An organiser yourself trying to understand what you should offer at a women's only camp? Here are some answers from an expert...
Meagan Broughton is the Operations Director at Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures – they host mountain bike adventures, led by local guides and designed for all levels of ability. Within their extensive range of trips, are four women’s only adventures – in Costa Rica, New Zealand and Utah.
To create their women’s only trips, the group carried out extensive research into what exactly it is that women want from a mountain bike trip. They surveyed 2,110 women, of all levels, before they dreamt up their own ‘wish list’ for the perfect two-wheeled break.
Before we come to the stats and figures, here’s a look at exactly what Sacred Rides think women DON’T want…
Suzy’s Disastrous Mountain Bike Adventure
Words: Meagan Broughton
Suzy and her BFF have decided to use their one week vacation for a mountain bike adventure in the desert. Suzy has read about the mountain-bike ready red slickrock, the panoramic views, and the breathtaking sunsets. It’s time for Suzy to check it off the bucket-list.
In efforts to make the most out of their vacation time, Suzy and her BFF decide to sign up for a multi-day guided mountain bike tour including meals and accommodation.
Suzy and her BFF check in to their “sleeps 4" room to find out one of them will be nestling into a queen sized bed, and the other a pull-out couch, which as it turns out, has a massive sinkhole in the middle due to popped springs.
Flip a coin?
After calling tails, and Suzy flipped heads, she wakes up stiff for the first day of adventure.
Suzy and her BFF walk their bikes to the lobby of the hotel to meet the group (of 14 other Riders), and realize only one other girl brought her own bike from home.
Suzy and her BFF’s bike: Both Trek Remedy’s that have been babied since purchase.
The Other Girls: A fold-up bike with front suspension that must weigh more than both Trek Remedy’s put together.
The other riders chose to rent bikes through the tour operator upon booking. The rental bikes appear to be no more than what you’d purchase at your local big-box chain store.
“This should be interesting" thinks Suzy.
What Suzy thought was going to be a “mountain bike adventure" turns out to be a bike tour on double track, with a train of 14 riders totally blown apart due to the varying fitness and skill levels of the group.
The “guides", although very knowledgeable of the local area, do not appear to have much more mountain bike skill than the next gal, and when a tire blows, instead of fixing the easy repair on-the-go, a company vehicle is called to pick-up the rider and the bike.
The 4 hour tour, that easily could have been ridden in just over an hour, ended with a buffet lunch at a gazebo. By the time Suzy made it through the line, the only food left was wilted, and picked through.
Day 1 for Suzy and her BFF was a total bust.
Don’t be like Suzy.
What do women actually want?
When creating women’s only tours for Saved Rides, Meagan wanted to offer something completely different to Suzy’s experience. Rather than just allowing her own leanings to impact the organisation of the ride, she and the team conducted a mass survey, to see what women really wanted.
The answers make for interesting reading, and Meagan has been kind enough to share them with us - providing interested parties all over the world with a glimpse into the answer to that age old question: what do women want (if you keep having to ask that, in life, you're probably over-complicating it)?
In total, 2110 women responded – with answers ranging from tick boxes to more qualitative data and open answers. In the case of open answers, Meagan has supplied a flavour of the answers with a few appropriate quotes…
What level of Mountain Biker are you?
- Never tried it (26)
- Beginner (190)
- Strong Beginner (433)
- Intermediate (656)
- Strong Intermediate (525)
- Advanced (267)
- Pro (13)
What other summer sports do you enjoy?
- Hiking (1633)
- Yoga (955)
- Swimming (876)
Note: We forgot to list Road Biking and Running - thank you to everyone that pointed that out...there were a lot of you! This answer may be a bit skewed.
What non-sport activities do you enjoy?
Most noteable answers included:
- “Not burning the kitchen, movie watching."
- “Does beer drinking count? Live music."
- “Epic reading."
- “What's a non-sport? Lol."
- “Huh? sleeping I guess."
- “Bonfires, reading, being rad."
- “Welcoming new babies into the world as a doula."
- “It is difficult to answer! But I really like animals and chocolate."
Would you prefer to:
- Use a mountain bike provided by Sacred Rides-for a fee (1077)
- Bring your own bike (disassemble, pack, fly with and reassemble) (1033)
How many days of MTB'ing in a row would be ideal for you?
- Average including zeros/blanks: 3.89 days
How many hours a day would you like to be pedalling for?
- Average including zeros/blanks: 4.6 hours
On a women's-only MTB trip or skills camp 5-8 days long, would you prefer to use one day as a rest and recovery day mid trip?
- Yes (1818)
- No (292)
On a women's-only MTB trip or skills camp, would you prefer:
- Skills training only (17)
- Fun riding only (36)
- Some skills training, mostly fun riding (1209)
- Some fun riding, mostly skills (848)
Which of the following non-biking activities would you like to see on an itinerary?
- Yoga (1414)
- Hiking (1343)
- Cultural activities (museums, ruins, activities with locals, etc...) (1070)
On a women's-only MTB trip or skills camp, would you prefer to:
- Attend solo (174)
- Attend with 1 or 2 girlfriends (602)
- Fill a trip with just your girlfriends (31)
- Doesn't matter, I just love biking! (1303)
How important is food quality and selection to you?
- Not at all: I am happy with Mac and Cheese. (123)
- Somewhat: I like a selection of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, but nothing fancy needed. (1650)
- Very: I only eat organic and/or I only eat grass fed meat and/or I have a food allergy and/or I have food restrictions. (337)
Would you prefer the guides to be:
- Male (10)
- Female (495)
- Male and Female (907)
- Doesn't matter (698)
How would you like to spend non-MTB'ing time?
- Free time: no schedule, no plan. (552)
- Easy effort, local sight seeing with the group and guide. (641)
- A physical adventure (hiking, rafting, rock climbing, yoga etc.) (947)
What was the most memorable experience a guide or company provided you on a Women's Only Trip, Camp or Skills Clinic?
“Stories and laughter over wine and snacks after the ride and before dinner" ~ Anonymous
“It was a canoe trip and one of the most memorable experiences was that day we did the most challenging paddling, conquering our fears." ~ Anonymous
“Skills clinics in a non-threatening setting - lots of time at each skills section to practice each skill." ~ Anonymous
What was the most frustrating experience you had on a Women's Only Trip, Camp or Skills Clinic?
“Some of the technical bike stuff wasn't covered like bike maintenance and repair or shall I say preparedness. They just had men do it or assumed we all had men at home to do this." ~ Anonymous
"There were 2 girls who were really very novice riders and they got a ton of one on one coaching from the sweep coach at the back. As the "middle of the pack" girl I never once had a coach follow me down the trail or ride slow enough for me to keep up to her. Still had a great time at the camp but came out feeling that I didn't progress as much as I might have been able to had I been able to get some of that one on one coaching as well." ~ Elysia Shone
Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share about how to make women's mountain bike trips/camps more awesome or more appealing?
“Women love swag! A little bag with bike socks, a t-shirt or jersey, chocolate, etc would be awesome." ~ Luwanna Douce
“Make trips for different level bikers, or for camps make sure there's enough coaches to split into groups of different levels." ~ Anonymous
“Mechanical workshops included in the deal." ~ Anonymous
“Be a real clinic to teach how to ride at high levels. I don't like inauthentic sugarcoated things. In order to spend money and time, it would need to feel like a life changing adventure." ~ Rachel Cieslewicz
What do YOU want from a Mountain Bike Holiday?
Using this information, Sacred Rides developed their own women’s trips – to appeal to the wants of the majority. Meagan suggests before you book anything for yourself, that you work out exactly what your own ‘wish list’ is.
She explains: “Before investing your one week vacation on just any mountain bike adventure company, make note of what’s most important to you and seek a company that checks all the boxes."
Giving an example, she comments: “As an adventurous, strong-intermediate female rider myself, I have a clear top 7 mountain bike adventure ‘wants.’"
Listing them for us, she lays down the ‘Dream Meagan Mountain Bike Holiday’:
- Small group of 5-8 riders with a similar skill and fitness level to my own
- Some skill work/instruction, but mostly big days out riding with time for photos
- Strong coffee available within minutes of waking
- More food than you think a women can consume
- Rest day mid-trip
- At least 8 hours set aside for sleep per night
- Unscheduled down-time
Of course, your own may be different – Meagan says: “I hope the results of the survey help you form your own list of mountain bike adventure “wants" and get you and your BFF out adventuring soon!"
Planning your own trip and like the sound of the above? Check out Sacred Rides MTB Adventures for women here.