In 2014, Jan Leverton got a bunch of women who were new to mountain biking together on the Sunshine Coast to take part in a beginner mountain bike course. As part of this, Leverton sewed the seed of a women-only mountain bike event as a goal for some of these fresh mountain bike women to ‘have a crack’ at mountain bike racing. The Hairy Mary was born, and in 2014 the inaugural event saw over a hundred women give mountain biking a go at what I have affectionately named the “Hezza Mezza”.
The 2015 event has seen Hairy Mary grow up a little. Once again held on the outskirts of Gympie at Victory Heights, the trees have grown, the trails have matured but there was still some bloke in a dress and a huge group of excited women ready to race. This year the whole event experienced growth and that was reflected in the slick operation of this years event. In effect, Mary graduated from infancy straight to adolescence; there was even a coffee machine on site! Even the bushland at the Victory Heights trails, located only 2km from Gympie, has grown up. A relief for those that raced the 3 hour multi-lap enduro in 2014; temperatures well over 30degrees and little shade made for very tough racing in 2014 for newbies to elite.
This years course was once again a singletrack-fest; even moreso than last year. Part of the one long fire-road climb to the transition area had been changed and more singletrack added in, which meant for lots and lots of corners, a dizzying amount by the end of three hours. The whole course was designed to be accessible for even the newest riders, with multiple log rollovers enough to challenge newer riders, and the jumps track providing enough excitement to keep more experienced riders rolling through for another lap. One lap was 6km and solo riders and pairs were encouraged to do as many laps as they could (or wanted to) in 3hours.
The result? The 2015 Hairy Mary was a LOT of fun. Without that pesky variable of excessive heat, and with a bit more shade from the forest, the course begged riders to hit up another lap each time they hit up the transition zone. As a faster rider on the day, I made sure I made lots of noises (always positive) to ensure the I could easily start the dialogue of safe passing on track, and had great chats with all the riders on course (“Sweet bike!”). At one stage I started belting out Fat Bottomed Girls, however I held my tongue lest someone thought I was targeting their anatomy.
There’s a particular feeling of inclusiveness, togetherness and camraderie that seems to happen in women only events. It’s a bit special it’s so cool to have a huge minority group (women, who ride bikes, offroad) come and get together to push themselves, each other, and mainly have a great laugh. Everyone who rode did exceptionally well and I am sure I am not alone when I say i’ll be back for 2016—who’s with me!??!