On February 4th and 5th, Joyride 150 Indoor Bike Park in Markham, Ontario was host to the second annual Joyride Women’s Weekend, a weekend where ladies of all ages and skill levels got a chance to work on their skills–or try new ones–with the guidance of highly skilled, trained coaches. Ladies from all around Southern Ontario, from as far as Ottawa, to right around the corner in Markham, came together to enjoy a weekend of riding bikes, learning new skills, conquering fears, and most of all, having a great time.
The idea of Women’s Weekend at Joyride 150 started when cyclists Tanya Hanham and Kim Jones attended the Women’s Weekend at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Cleveland, Ohio. Knowing that Joyride 150 had just opened in their own province just north of the border, they got in touch with Shannon Bentley, one of Joyride’s owners, and suggested that an all-ladies weekend should be organized. In it’s first year, Joyride’s Women’s Weekend attracted about 130 ladies from Southern Ontario; that number increased to about 140 this year and will no doubt rise in the years to come, especially since Joyride 150 is the only facility of its kind in Canada.
This year, ladies had the opportunity to try their hand at any or all of the nine stations set up: Learn to Joyride, pump track, XC loop, bike mechanics, sport skinnies, jump lines, foam pit, bunny hops, and the street park. Every half hour, ladies were able to visit a new station where coaches would be ready to teach proper skills and techniques, so that the riders could get the best possible experience out of their session. “It is so inspiring to see the progression from the green jump line on Saturday, to looking up and seeing Rachel with a group on the first blue line, Ty and some ladies on the second, and group of girls working together on the expert line,” said Trish Bromley, one of the weekend’s coaches. “That teamwork and push is what this weekend is all about.” Stations, coaching, and the park itself were set up for ladies only from 9:00am until noon, when the park was then open to the general public. Women who participated in the morning sessions were also treated to a hot lunch, and were entered into a draw to win amazing prize packs from various sponsors.
The reason that Women’s Weekend is so unique is that you have ladies ranging in age from 10 to 69, coming from all disciplines of biking, who are trying things they never thought they’d do in a million years. Rita Vitols, a Markham resident who usually rides at Joyride while her sons participate in the park’s after-school program, was one of those women, conquering her fear of launching into the foam pit. “Half-kidding, I told my youngest son that if he tried going into the foam pit, then I would too–not expecting him to actually do it. When he told me he had done it a couple weeks ago, I had to live up to my word.” With such a relaxed environment and so much support and encouragement from one another, many women, like Rita, were willing to be a bit more daring than usual. Courtnay Romkey, 34, felt like she had been given the chance to bring out her inner child: “This is my first time riding BMX since I was 8! It’s also my first time at Joyride. I’m a road cyclist, so this is awesome.”
Overall, the Joyride Women’s Weekend was a great success. Everyone in the building was all smiles as experiences were shared and accomplishments were made. First time visitors were already planning their next visit, and the regular ladies, albeit a handful of them, were stoked to see so many other women having such a great time riding bikes. “There is so much respect for one another here, and there is such a good vibe”, remarks Bentley, noting that even when it isn’t Women’s Weekend, there is always so much positive energy that goes around. Without question, it’s that positive energy, and of course, love for biking, that keeps everyone, ladies and gents alike, coming back for more.
Photos courtesy: Steve Hayes
Video courtesy: Andrew Pierias, Free Form Media