After 10 months of planning and organisation, the weekend of the inaugural Gowaan Gals MTB Festival at Farmer John's MTB Park finally came around. With a festival village full of trade and demo stands, a 16m moroccan teepee tent, and a packed programme full of 'jam sessions' and workshops, it was set to be a great weekend! We were slightly nervous leading up to it, but those apprehensive feelings soon went out the window as the sun came out to play and people started arriving on the Friday late afternoon, registering, and picking up their goodie bag.
Saturday morning we were treated to blue skies as the day kicked off with a Yoga session under the marquee, led by friend and EWS racer, Katy Winton. Soon after, everyone started getting kitted up for a full day of biking activities. In the lead up to the festival we were lucky enough to have worked closely with Farmer John himself, and he had been grafting hard to build a new pumptrack, which we had a grand opening for on the Saturday morning. We had jump, airbag, trail, and wheelie 'jam sessions' throughout the day, the idea behind these being that it wasn't coaching or racing, just everyone riding together and sharing the fun. To end the day of biking we finished with a friendly dual slalom race on a tight course down the field. How was it friendly? Pick a friend, 1 run only, and rock, paper, scissors to choose lanes! After a long day everyone enjoyed sitting down to watch Veronique Sandler's new Vision Movie, then sit by the fire eating marshmallows and listening to the DJ's reggae vibes till late.
We began Sunday with a Q&A Session as everyone slowly rose from the campsite and enjoyed breakfast. We had questions on a variety of topics: racing at a top level, conquering fears on track, the latest Gowaan adventures, and getting more girls into mountain biking. Everyone then came together to enjoy the long jump and airbag trick-off competitions, where all the girls were sending it with no fear. We saw tuck no handers, no footers, and even backflip attempts! The girls also had more time to enjoy exploring the trails in the bike park as there were slightly less scheduled activities on the Sunday. As it came closer to the end of a fabulous weekend, we handed out prizes for the podiums and spot prizes, as well as drawing the raffle - there were well over 50 prizes to be won with the main prize being a Marin Alcatraz bike!
The whole weekend couldn't have gone any better. We were so buzzing to see everyone having a good time and all the girls getting stuck in and sending it in a refreshing atmosphere with no egos or pressure.
We waved goodbye to ladies with beaming smiles, telling us how they'd been re-inspired to get out on their bikes again, and they couldn't wait for next year. Next year? We're working on a date as we speak!
Here's a great video recap courtesy of Tom Caldwell
Words by Martha Gill
Photos by Lewis Gregory