The Inaugural Women in the Bike Industry Summit Wraps.

Two days and eight speakers later, the very first Women in the Bike Industry Summit wrapped in the Scottish Borders with forty attendees.

Brainchild of Aoife Glass, Colena Cotter, Vedangi Kulkarni and Emily Stratton, the Women in the Bike Industry Summit went off with a bang.

Forty women from in and around the cycling industry gathered in Scotland for the first Women in the Bike Industry Summit. Supported by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) and the Women in the Bike Industry group, it offered a focussed, welcoming space to foster connection and community, positive action, and an enjoyable, supportive experience. 

The two-day event took place at Glentress in the Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders, a location that last year hosted all of the Cross-Country events as part of the UCI World Championships and is known world-wide as an epicentre for mountain biking. Delegates heard from and connected with a range of speakers from diverse aspects of the cycling world, from local development and enterprise agencies to elite athletes, and from race mechanics to academics involved in research, wellbeing, and sport performance enhancement.

The list of speakers included; Paula Ward, Economic Infrastructure Specialist from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE); Ed Shoote, lead on the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre (SOSE); Dr Lesley Ingram-Sills, program leader for MSc Sport Performance at Edinburgh Napier University; Julia MacLean, race suspension technician for Fox; Aneela McKenna, Mòr Diversity; Emily Greaves, Trail Therapy practitioner, Comrie Croft; Emma Guy, WBD Sports and Bex Baraona, elite athlete and Gowaan Girls founder.  

Over the course of the summit, delegates also had the opportunity to network, attend practical sessions in trail maintenance, podcasting and interview skills, and sample Trail Therapy, the mountain biking and mental health programme pioneered by DMBinS. A focussed personal development session, supported by Rab, provided space for introspection and individual goal setting. Sessions also focussed on practical problem solving, where issues of concern to the delegates were discussed, and actionable solutions proposed.

Some of the comments received from delegates:

“Attending the summit was truly a privilege and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity. It was not only enriching but very inspiring. The discussions, workshops and networking opportunities provided valuable insights and perspectives.”

“I left the event feeling motivated to contribute further to the growth and advancement of women in the bike industry. The impact of the summit will undoubtedly extend far beyond the event itself, and I am excited to see the positive changes it will inspire in the industry.”

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“It was really nice to be in a space with lots of women carving out their careers in sport and cycling. It is vital that we recognise the value we have and the roles that exist, both recreational-focussed, freelance and professional. We shouldn’t need to be apologetic for being ambitious in the line of work just because we also love the sport.”

A key aim of the event was to highlight the huge range of roles that exist in and around cycling, and offer the opportunity to form and strengthen connections, so that delegates could expand their networks and strengthen this community. 

“Connections and networks are so important for personal and professional development, and for making things happen,” commented Aoife Glass, one of the organisers. “If you’re looking to, for example, run a women’s group or apply for funding for a programme, the chances are someone out there has already had experience in doing that. If you can connect with them, you can tap into their knowledge. Most problems aren’t new, which means the solutions are already out there.”

“A recent report from UK Sport also highlighted the importance of networking for career development, and the systemic barriers women often face in developing their network. Events like this offer the opportunity to do this, outside of traditional events such as rides, races, product launches and trade shows. Mentoring is another approach, and UPLIFT, created by Rachael Burnside of Shift Active Media, matches cohorts of women with an experienced industry mentor to develop the next generation of leadership talent.”

Colena Cotter, Communications Manager DMBinS said. ‘We were delighted to work in partnership with Aoife and Vedangi to bring this first event of its kind to Scotland. We wanted to create an innovative and collaborative environment, highlighting the Scottish Borders as a world class, exciting destination for businesses and women working within the industry and share the facilities and opportunities that will be available as a result of the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre development in Innerleithen.’

‘We want to help as many women as we can explore the opportunities for them within the cycling industry and by hosting events like this, delivered by women, with strong female speakers and role models, we hope that the opportunities can become clearer and more achievable.’

The event was organised by Aoife Glass from the International Working Group (IWG) for Women and Sport, and Spindrift Podcast; Vedangi Kulkarni, adventurer, endurance athlete and writer and Colena Cotter and Emily Stratton of DMBinS.

It came together thanks to the support of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), the UK Government through the Shared Prosperity Fund, Rab, Komoot and Endura. 

For more about DMBinS and the Women in the Bike Industry Summit, head to their website here.