Last year I ran a dedicated ladies mountain bike trip, crossing the Pyrenees mountains with mules to provide some camps. If you want to see some pictures and hear about the trip, as well as why I ran it, then read on!
I have three key factors look at to keep an eye on how things are going each year. I don’t mind sharing those, it’s not a secret!
Those three things let us track how we are doing. The repeat visitors tell us we are doing something right and the number of bookings reminds us if we are working enough. Why do we track the number of girl riders then? Read on and see why and what we are doing to try and increase it.
It is noticeable that many of the girls who visit us come as part of a couple. We do see girls travelling by themselves, but they are in the minority. Why do I think that we see less ladies on our mountain biking vacations? Well I’m not a girl but I have talked to many different people and the consensus is that an important factor is a lack of confidence on the part of female riders to join a mixed group of riders. As a long-term guide I find that strange, because I know that very often the girls on our trips are the most capable ones, the ones who know how to ride within their limits, and the ones with the most sorted technique. In fact some of our fastest ever riders have been girls, Tracey Mosley and Monika Büchi for example, who none of the boys would have a chance of keeping up with!
I guess I started thinking about this when my daughter got a bit older. She loves mountain biking but, certainly in Spain, there are far less female mountain bikers than guys. If we can do something to balance that out then I think that it is important. Maybe my daughter might like to take basqueMTB over when I get a bit too old to guide!
Let’s be clear, all the basqueMTB guides are guys at the moment. That is only because we only employ local guides, and we haven’t had any applications from local, female guides. Hopefully in the future that might change and we are talking to a couple of local girls who might be interested in joining the team in the future.
We do try to make things easier for ladies on our trips though, even just little things like guaranteeing a single room at no extra cost if we can’t pair you with another girl, or always trying to offer options to get on trips which have other girls on them. All trips are streamed so people ride with other people around the same level, but also around the same attitude and who are looking for the same things in their holiday which helps too.
“Just thinking how freaking amazing this was. I can’t believe how well organized and well run this was. Just absolutely perfect.”
Jackie on the Ladies Tour of Aneto
We have been talking about running a dedicated ladies mountain bike trip in the Pyrenees for a while and we have tried a few different formulas but the trips weren’t popular enough to go ahead. So in 2022 I decided to organise a pretty ambitious trip and advertise it only for ladies. I had been looking at the other trips I could see and there seemed to be a focus on yoga and spas with some companies even talking about stopping to take pictures of flowers!
I guess these things are meant to appeal to women, however from talking to the hundreds of women we have guided over the years, they were just looking for a dedicated mountain bike holiday with professional guiding, amazing riding and great organisation. Of course many people, male and female, may want to do yoga, visit a spa or stop at lunchtime and visit a bodega and if you ask for it we can organise it but it isn’t the usual focus of our holidays. Typically our riders want to ride!
As it turned out, the ladies trip we organised was the most extreme trip of the year, with lots of high trails we seldom get to guide on, plenty of hike-a-bike, high mountain camps and long, technical descents. We had dreadful weather, really unusual at that time of year, but we made good, group decisions and all pushed our limits a bit!
Just to be clear, this isn’t a women’s mountain bike skills clinic, it was a big adventurous ride on technical terrain and although we did some skills work it was not the focus of the trip. We tended to work on things by request and the truth is that many of the skills tips came from within the group, not just from the guide (me)! I learned some things too which was cool.
It was the best trip of the year for me, and the feedback from the group was amazing too!
“BasqueMTB is a world class operation. Doug, his team, and his partners are so good at what they do. The scenery and biking was simply spectacular.”Aurelie P
Good question! My idea was to take loads of photos and write the experience up as an article to try and encourage more ladies to do trips like this. The truth is that it was not the best weather for getting the camera out. I also managed to badly crash the drone so that footage didn’t really work out either! The photos in this article were all taken on our mobile phones.
The trip was a massive success, despite very unusual September weather with arctic blizzards and low snow. During the 6 day trip we rode from valley to valley in the Pyrenees, crossing the mountains on high trails and reaching almost 3000m. We organised camps, supplied by teams of mules, up above 2000m, sleeping up amongst the mountains. We raced storms to get to the safety of the next valley before the weather hit us. We hiked up mountains in blizzards and shredded down to the sunny valleys below. All with big smiles on our faces!
The weather was extreme on this trip. I’m talking about snow storms and freezing winds with temperatures well below zero up high. On one pass we had to carefully pass bikes up as the snow fell around us. We had brakes freeze which I have never seen before, and I’m from the north of Scotland. We were really lucky to have a great bunch to guide though and we made group decisions about how far we wanted to push ourselves. I had to change one ride and the group were totally supportive about that decision. The night we camped was amazing, we sat in the tent listening to the weather outside and playing games.
“Just a perfect week riding bikes in technical trails, guided by guides knowing and loving what they do! Coming back for sure! Thanks guys!”
We had an amazing group of 7 ladies, some from Salt Lake City and some from Alaska. There was a little bit of a mixture of levels but everyone gelled as a group and it was one of the most positive trips I can remember, with everyone encouraging each other. I don’t think I have ever run a trip with such challenging weather where there was so little moaning, it was pretty incredible. The group really worked together and it was amazing to see how much the less experienced riders improved… everyone improved by the end of the week and the last, big descent of the trip which was seriously technical everyone rode brilliantly.
I wouldn’t like to intrude on anyone’s privacy and tell too many stories but you all know who you were and I don’t think it was a secret how much I enjoyed guiding you. Thanks for everything. The highlight of the week for me was when I was riding past a group of walkers, the seven girls spread out ahead of me, and one of the walkers exclaimed loudly, “Joder, es Blanca Nieves en reverse”, or “”Bloody hell! It’s Snow White in reverse”
Why not book a ladies trip for your group? Give me a shout, let’s have a chat and see whether we could do something to suit you.
I’m aware that this article is a bit different than our usually holiday reports or gear reviews. Do you have an opinion? Why not drop me an email and I’m happy to include any comments here. The comments are shut unfortunately due to the number of spambots we get but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to hear from you.
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