Enduro Maiden | A Racer’s Perspective.

The inaugural Enduro Maiden saw 70 ladies descend upon Innerleithen’s now famous trails to do battle. Rosie Holdsworth gives us her version of events after taking third in ‘Masters’.

Words: Rosie Holdsworth | Photos: Ian Linton.

Despite some dubious category names, it appears that the inaugural Enduro Maiden was an resounding success. Rosie Holdsworth reports from what is hopefully the first of many Enduro Maiden events to come to Innerleithen.Enduro Maiden Rosie Holdsworth Tweed Valley Innerleithen Wideopenmag

This weekend saw the inaugural Enduro Maiden, an all-female enduro race, held on the wonderfully steep and technical Golfie trails at Innerliethen. Building on the success of Air Maiden (an all ladies freeride weekend of jumps, drops, big air and competition) race organiser Lynne Armstrong decided to try her hand at organising a three stage enduro, designed to encourage more women to have a go at enduro and get into racing.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail…?

I was characteristically ill-prepared, having signed up months ago in a rush of race fever. Some panic -stricken late night bike maintenance for my Five and some shoddy physio-taping for me, followed by a neck-cricking night’s sleep in the van was just the sort of race preparation I’ve become accustomed to: PRIMED!

The morning’s sign on and race briefing was a wonderfully relaxed and friendly affair, plenty of smiles and nervous laughter. Then off up the hill for practice. Practice went well; having never ridden The Golfie before I was blown away by how much fun the trails were. The steep, sketchy, rooty gullies which rattle and slide their way down the hill here are not my usual rocky cup of tea, but I got round (almost) without incident, surprised by how much I’d enjoyed what usually gives me cold sweats.Enduro Maiden Rosie Holdsworth Tweed Valley Innerleithen Wideopenmag

Winch and plummet.

Tuna rolls consumed (prepared by the super friendly golf club members who’d made us all feel at home – big thanks to those guys) it was racing time. As seems customary for a Scottish race, the climb was hellish, but the certain knowledge of trail gold spurred me on and stage one was upon me before I knew it.

This stage is known locally as Old Skool DH, and you can see why; super-fast rutted sections and sloppy rootfests were the order of the day. Unlike in practice I steered clear of the ruts (and slapping my face into the ground) and made it down clean.

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Stage two (Repeat Offender) saw us clattering and slithering between tight trees, over roots and stumps down what was a ludicrously steep slope. This was my favourite stage of the day; the comedy grins of the girls already at the bottom told me I was not alone.

Stage three (Flat White) was another belter, turn after turn complemented even my wooden riding style and the few smooth rollers egged me on into ever faster corners. I’ll be back to rail this one again! Fantastic stuff.Enduro Maiden Rosie Holdsworth Tweed Valley Innerleithen Wideopenmag

More please!

Chatting to riders along the way, it was great to meet such a variety of people, all attracted by the event’s friendly, supportive atmosphere. I have to say; I was dubious about a female-only race, worried that it would fall into the pink, fluffy, mildly-patronising trap that the cycling industry has, on occasion, fallen victim to.

I was really pleased to be proven wrong. The race hit just the right balance; with plenty of exciting tech to keep the seasoned racers entertained, paired with expert coaching and sections of trail guaranteed to crack a smile and boost the confidence of anyone still feeling a little uneasy. Seeing so many skilled riders in one place, having a great time is always an inspiring thing, it just so happened that every one of them was a lady.

If billing an event as all-female means riding the same murderously steep trails that the chaps race on, minus the peril of being mown down by a 6ft 6 bloke with a point to prove, I’m all for it. More please!Enduro Maiden Rosie Holdsworth Tweed Valley Innerleithen Wideopenmag

The only slight niggle for me was the last minute surprise of the category names; though I appreciate the sentiment was good natured, I did feel that it undermined the purpose of the event a little. It, for me, slightly belittled the achievements of the riders, creating a barrier to us feeling as though we can race on the same terms as ‘the boys’, rather than breaking these kinds of attitudes down. It’s a tiny gripe, compared to an all round wonderful day, but I hope it’s avoided at future events; Juniors, Seniors, Masters and Vets please.

As for me; I ended up finishing third in the, what I’ll politely call (to avoid embarking on a further feminist rant), ‘Masters’ category. A result I was mega chuffed with and one which has definitely spurred me on to get more races booked in. Ladies, the plan worked!

Head to the Air Maiden website for more ladies’ only events, skills clinics and private coaching. You can check out full results from Maiden Enduro on Roots & Rain.