With the news that a womens’ riding event would be heading to Afan later in the year, we caught up with one of the founders of Sisters of Send for a chat.
Pete had a chat with Jessica Strange, one third of the ladies behind the inaugural Sisters of Send taking place at Afan on the weekend of 16th and 17th May.
Who is Jessica Strange?
I guess I would describe myself as a 30-something-80 year old singleton with two cats, a few bikes and a penchant for being cosy as f*ck.
There’s a children’s book called Jessica Strange, which is about a cat who has an identity crisis because she doesn’t actually know she’s a cat so she spends her time trying to work out who she is. That basically sums it up.
I guess some people know me for being the founder of Velo Me. Some may know me as side-boob snow girl. Others may recognise my singleton plights via my MTB Dating Diaries, and some for being “that girl” who was on GMBN. I really don’t like talking about myself. I like mountain biking and gravel riding and I’m the former editor of Total Women’s Cycling and Red Bull Bike’s social media manager.
I’m also a Cytech qualified mechanic and a BC L2 MTB Guide.
Erm… I also have two amazing super duper fur babies, Gomez and Merlin.
How did the Sisters of Send event come about?
Ally, Emma and I have been living and riding in the Afan Valley for years now. Between all three of us, we have an arsenal of skills, both on and off the bike.
Having been guiding and coaching for some time, we’ve always entertained the idea that it would be great to throw a small womens’ demo day or something similar. However, once the ball got rolling and excitement levels reached unprecedented heights, the original idea for a wee women’s day had escalated to an epic two-day women’s mountain bike festival. Go big or go home, I guess.
Womens’ mountain biking has never been so popular. With more and more women showing interest in the sport and giving it a go, we’re hoping to keep that momentum of growth going with the Sisters of Send festival. Also, the three of us have been talking about doing something for so long now, we got tired of just talking and started doing.
What’s the response been to it?
The response we’ve had has been mind-blowing. Not only do we have some amazing brands coming to exhibit their wares, but we have expert coaches and guides as well coming from all over the country to be a part of the action.
When the website and ticket sales went live last week, we’ve had some many people message in to offer their support and tickets have been selling really well.
How many people make up the event organisation and what do they do?
I’m in charge of all the website and social content. I put the digital side of it together with the help of fellow rider, Monet Adams, who designed our logo.
Emma primarily deals with site planning and procurement. She’s the one with the accounts and sorts out the financial side of things.
Ally is our head of coaches/guides and brand liaison lady. She’ll be working hard with the other women to put together a schedule of sessions for the weekend.
We’ve been regularly getting together to have meetings, usually over coffee and cake. This is when all the decisions are made, together, and we discuss what needs to happen next. Then we go off to do our weekly jobs, and next week, we repeat the process.
What can ladies expect from the event?
The Sisters of Send weekend 2020 is a two-day women’s mountain bike festival in the heart of South Wales. Every rider will have the opportunity to sign up for coaching or guiding sessions with the experts, shop around in the event village with all the exhibitors attending. We’ll have an supervised airbag available for open playtime and coached sessions. The Sisters of Send will also have exclusive use of the bike park and some of the closer-by trails.
The weekend will kick off with a women’s MTB film night on Friday, to get everyone in the mood for a weekend of riding vibes.
The newly worked-on 4X track is one of the longest in the country and it’ll be used for both coaching as well as a mates’ race fancy dress event on the Saturday evening.
On the Sunday, we’re hosting the Great Trail Crusade, which is a team event. Aided by only a map, teams will be sent off into the forest to claim hidden locations.
All riders will get a raffle ticket, goody bag and two-nights of on-site camping are included in the ticket price.
How did you pick the location?
All three of the Sisters live in Afan Valley. It has hundreds of acres of trails, fire roads, off-piste gnarl and plenty of skills areas for practising. Just off the M4, it’s not too difficult to get too either.
Do you have plans to expand the festival for 2021?
Oh hell yeah…
Any long-suffering folk to thank?
Ask us after the event.