Following the success of their CC owner’s club, Sheffield-based Cotic have launched the ladies-only Cotic Women of Steel group.
Pete had a chat with Hannah from Cotic about the inspiration for, challenges and aims of Cotic Women of Steel ladies-only events group.
How did the Women of Steel come about?
A few things led to the idea, actually. When I started working at Cotic, two years ago, I didn’t know anything about bikes. A few weeks after started I won a Maxxis competition; a pair of tyres and an entry to the Ard Rock Enduro. This resulted in me having to learn a lot, very quickly.
Last year Cotic Factory Team Rider Chay Granby hosted a women’s coaching session, it was a fantastic day in the sunshine riding bikes. We all had a brilliant time and we all wanted to keep in touch and ride together again. I’d have loved this back when I did the Ard Rock, which gave me the idea. So, I’ve been the new girl wanting to learn and get involved. I’ve experienced and seen the benefits of riding, learning from others, and getting inspired by other women riders.
Why not. There’s a growing number of women’s events and groups, so let’s get involved and help encourage more people to try our great sport.
The press release mentions ‘there’s a long way to go’, what is the MTB industry doing well to encourage women, and what are we doing badly?
Having more women’s events is great, they usually offer a friendly, no-pressure environment to give-it-a-go. More women in the mountain bike media would be brilliant to build a broader audience and communicating in a way that was inclusive for everyone, not just about being the fastest or most rad.
Even in 2019 there’s still a stigma about ‘women riders’ and that isn’t going to help anyone so we’re approaching it from the other side and enabling women to get involved without worrying about all that misogyny crap.
What are the aims of Women of Steel beyond just more participation?
The aim is to create a community of confident riders, happy to plan routes, set up their bike, fix it out on the trails and are enjoying being outdoors! A place where you can ask questions with no judgement or pressure.
What do women’s only events offer that a mixed event can’t?
The nice thing about women’s only rides or events, are that they are so social, relaxed and it’s not a race (unless you’re racing – then it’s definitely a race!) Already on the group so many women have said they got into riding because their other half, or male friend introduced them and how nice it is to meet like-minded women, and the events offer the opportunity to meet up and ride together. Unfortunately, it doesn’t (often) happen like magic if you’re out riding on your own.
How many times do you expect more enlightened gents to comment on why there’s no men’s only events and how do you plan to not just wish you could tell them to F off?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get more women out riding and getting involved in our sport? One way of building confidence in a hugely male-dominated sport is by creating women’s only events.
Cotic CC is the new Cotic owner’s group, Cotic are organising mixed group ride outs and events for Cotic owners. Recently there’s been a skatepark session and an uplift day at Revolution Bike Park.
The prizes at races aren’t always split equally, our clothing and bike design has endured years of “pink and shrink”, and the general lifestyle image of “shreds with the bro’s” would make any outsider think that it’s a male sport. The truth is it’s just sport. We’re all entitled to that.
How did you go about getting the talent in when they were required?
Kelly-Jayne Emmerson has been a huge part of it. She’s Cotic’s fantastic brand ambassador and a brilliant rider. She’s so keen on getting more women out there riding and is all about having fun, learning new skills and going on adventures.
Another important person to mention that has inspired Women of Steel is Kate Potter, who’s now involved with the group as well. Kate is a fast and talented Aussie who caught the eye of the Australian National XC team coach in the run up to the World Championships in Thredbo 2009 (where Peaty famously finally won his rainbow stripes).
She went on to become the first athlete to ride a Cotic at the World Champs and is now one half of AQR Holidays, a cycle guiding company in the Pyrenees. She’s active on the Facebook group, handing out words of encouragement as well as sharing tips and stories.
What specific challenges has getting a group of people organised have you faced?
Not too much as yet. It’s been a brilliant experience so far, but I have a great team around me to help out. I actually missed the first Women of Steel Ride Out as I was so full of cold, but ambassador Kelly-Jayne and friend Kel Parkin were amazing. They got everything sorted and met the 16 lovely riders that turned up in Storm Hannah to ride bikes.
What can riders expect from the Cotic Women of Steel events?
We’ll be running all different sorts of events, social Ride Outs, skills days, mechanic sessions, yoga and bikes has been mentioned too. Riders can expect friendly faces, like-minded women all there to have fun. We encourage all members to get involved with the Cotic CC events as well; we’re organising bike packing trips, workshop days, pump track evenings. Basically no-matter what chromosome you were blessed with, there’s going to be something fun to do in or around Cotic HQ.
Will you have demo bikes available for non-Cotic owners?
At some Ride Outs, like the one we’ve just had at Cotic’s Spring Party, we have had demo bikes available. Demo bikes may not be available at every event, but certainly most! We’ll be running some Women of Steel demo days too but the best thing to do is sign up to the mailing list and follow us on social media to be the first to know.
Where next for Women of Steel? How do you plan to go about getting extra helpers etc. etc.?
We’re planning events throughout the year, another Ride Out will be announced soon and a mechanics day after that, ready for lots of summer riding.
Many of us will be taking part in the HopeTech Women’s Enduro in October, so there’s been talk of organising a group practice weekend which would be so cool.