Inaugural Women Shred cycling festival makes mark in US

Last weekend saw the first ever Women Shred, a US-based bike festival for women, attempt to strengthen the female MTB community through promoting opportunity, access and inclusivity.

The event was created by husband and wife team Kenny Belaey (multiple bike trials world champion) and Fien Lammertyn, who has strived to ensure MTB events offer equal opportunities to women. The pair chose over 350 miles of MTB trails in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, to stage the event.

Belaey and Lammertyn worked with a number of key brands and riders for the event, including Hope Tech, WD40 and the Women of Oz. Women Shred offered five free workshops to 100 women, which sold out within hours. Riders had the chance to try out demo bikes and attend pump track sessions, group rides, trial bike shows and races.

Notable women in attendance included eight-time BMX and MTB World Champion, Caroline Buchanan, who co-hosted the nutrition workshops at the CLIF Bar booth, as well as Anneke Beerten who rode alongside attendees. BMX star Payton Ridenour and Trials rider Perrive Devahive also delivered workshops.

Buchanan said of the event: “I am proud to be an ambassador of women shred and share my knowledge and experiences that two wheels has taught me. The most attractive, powerful movement is when women empower other women to be their best and grow together!

“Women shred to me is the future. The collaboration of a free event, the trails being so easily accessible and a celebration vibe is key to the success of this event.”

More than 50 men and women competed to see who could shred the fastest around the natural pump track which forms the trailhead of the 350 miles of purpose-built trails available in Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas.

The event was supported by the Walton Family Foundation, who invested more than $70m into the area’s cycling infrastructure to boost access and opportunities, alongside other vital partners and sponsors.

Tom Walton, Walton Family Foundation Home Region Committee Chair, said: “We’ve always challenged ourselves and Northwest Arkansas communities to be innovation labs for trail building and cycling – an effort that includes diversifying ridership. Programmes like women shred honour that commitment by ensuring mountain biking is a sport for all.”

Planning for Women Shred 2020 is already underway, find out more here.

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Hayley Everett

Staff Writer

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