What’s it all about?
Set in the forest of Bowland, Gisburn Forest in Lancashire is home to the Hope Tech Women Enduro. The race, which I never call a race until afterwards, is an inclusive event aimed at encouraging more women to ride their bikes in a fun environment. For me, calling it a race spikes fear so I like to think of it as simply riding my bike in the woods on a busy day. More competent riders can definitely push to improve their time and less experienced ladies can enjoy getting a feel for enduro events. It’s a win, win.
Due to popular demand, coaching sessions and social rides were organised by Hope Tech the day before the event. This offered people a chance to brush up on skills and prepare for what was to come.
I joined a morning social ride led by Rachel Walker from Hope Tech and Julia Hobson, an ambassador of Hope Tech and Juliana Bicycles. The relaxed atmosphere was the perfect introduction. We practiced stage 1 which is called Home Baked and stage 3, the Hope Line. The group went out for a couple of hours and enjoyed getting to know the trails and each other. We found the guided ride really worthwhile, it was great sharing bike stories and tips while easing our nerves for the main event.
Hope Tech women race day!
In the morning I registered myself and my riding buddy from the Scottish Borders, Nicola, on the same starting block. Although Nicola was still on route to the event, I was able to register her and pick up her race pack. We were both a bit nervous having never been before, so it really helped to know that we could set off together.
Hope Tech Women Enduro
Stage 1 – Home Baked
Tight and technical through the woods with the ominous rock steps at the bottom. I was pleased to start the day off on this trail as anticipation of the rocks was starting to get under my skin. Once I started there were so many people hiding in the trees cheering us on, it was exhilarating! Upon hearing Mr Wonky, I took the rock garden with determination and whooped my way round the next corner out to the road. I absolutely loved this section, it was right up my street, again please!
Stage 2 – Long Way Down
To have a long way down, you’ve got to go a long way up! How pleased we were to see the flapjack man at the start of the trail! Wearing an original Hope Tech bobble hat and offering us crunchy cornflake bites, an actual hero! You have to keep the power up and this was the perfect treat.
Stage two started at the furthest point from the trail centre through an exposed rocky section before heading into the trees. Fast twisting berms and a loose surface followed by a surprising link on a fire road with marshals shouting ‘pedal, pedal, pedal!’ before heading back into the trees and opening onto the final descent.
Having ridden this trail before, I got it into my head the finish line was AFTER the water, nope! Flying towards the river oblivious to the fact the stage was over, my attention waned for a second and splash, I was in the water and off my bike! Fortunately, one of the marshals told me my time wasn’t affected, great news! Another marshal Glenn, helped me to check my bike and get back on track. BIG thumbs up Glenn, who also advised ‘never trust a Lancashire river’ noted!
Stage 3 – The Hope Line
In the Hope Tech Women Enduro, the Hope Line is fastest stage in the event. Having practiced the day before, I was happy with the course. I decided to squash the jumps and go for the rock drop. As much as I wanted to get a bit of air, I’m not super confident on my jumps and I didn’t want to end up in a heap! The combination of adrenaline and a crowd cheering can make you do things you’re not entirely comfortable with. I took the lines I knew, enjoyed the trail and had a big smile on my face heading through the fairy lights and across the finish line. Shaking and buzzing from the rush, my smile says it all. Then I saw Nicola hitting the final straight, cheering her on she came through the finish line to whoops and high fives galore.
Back to the event village
We headed back to the village to register our times, check out the stalls in the event village and soak up the atmosphere. Hope Technology had a great selection of hats for sale on their stand, including the new Matrix design. We also designed and made a custom bobble hat especially for the event. It was cool seeing so many people wearing the HTW and Hope Tech bobble hats in the event village! I’m such a geek, I get super excited when I see people wearing the hats we have made. Beware, I will approach you!
After the enduro
Once back at the ranch, my arm started to hurt a bit so I went to get it checked out. The onsite medics were in good form and flap jack man returned to offer more sweet treats, his timing really is impeccable.
After consultation with the medics, they bandaged my arm and sent me off to A&E in Airedale for stitches. Mr Wonky was close at hand, put me and my bike in the van and safely on route. Fortunately, the doctor declared me good to go without actual stitches, whoop! He even gave us a recommendation for dinner in Skipton. Craven Kitchen serves until 10pm, to the curry house on doctors orders! A great end to a wonderful weekend and still smiling!
I highly recommend the Hope Tech Women Enduro to any ladies looking for a fun weekend riding their bikes. Gisburn is fairly technical, so do make sure you’re comfortable on rocky and rooty trails. The atmosphere is great, everyone is there for a good time and the level of support is excellent. A BIG thank you to Hope Tech Women for organising this wonderful event and the coaches, volunteers and support teams for making it happen.