Fernie Women on Wheels is a group of passionate mountain bikers that are more focused on camaraderie than competition.
Heather Lavers started the group in June by creating a Facebook group and inviting her female friends to join. She decided to use the page to organize weekly Wednesday evening bike rides, and was surprised by how popular it was right off the bat.
“The first ride we had 15 women come along,” she said. “So that was great. Our busiest ride was 22, but it varies every week. Some weeks we might only have eight.”
The last few rides have been so popular the group has been breaking off into smaller groups based on ability levels.
“We have everyone come along from beginners to experts,” said Lavers. “On all the rides I always make sure there is an option for beginners.”
She said that riding with women is a different experience to riding with men. “I enjoy riding with my husband, but men can become quite competitive,” she said. “I really enjoy riding with women because everyone is really supportive of each other. It’s not intimidating and there’s no pressure. It’s just super fun.”
She made it clear that they are not qualified teachers though. “We are just a bunch of friends helping friends,” she said. “It’s just for fun.”
Dawn Scarrow, from Toronto, has gone along for the last two rides with the group while she visits Fernie. She said she also liked the no-pressure atmosphere.
“It was a very comfortable place to learn. Socially it was fun too but the first week I was really too tired after the ride to enjoy the social aspect fully!”
The group always finds a venue for a cool post ride beverage, a good opportunity to discuss how their ride went and share tips. They also hold maintenance sessions and skills sessions, and even one week had a talk about wildlife safety from Kathy Murray, WildsafeBC Community Coordinator. “We try to cover all the different aspects of mountain biking, from safety, to repairs, to skills, to socializing!” said Lavers.
“Really my goal was, and still is, to get women into the sport. I’m so passionate about the sport and it makes me happy to see other women enjoying it too!”
The group meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at The Guides’ Hut on Second Avenue. To get involved, join the Fernie Women On Wheels Facebook group, where, as well as finding out where the next ride will be, you can also share biking tips, arrange a buddy for another ride and hear about which stores in town have some great deals!