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With women’s cycling finally starting to get the support and attention that it deserves – with the likes of Liv and the Cycling Australia She Rides initiative paving the way – it’s great to see women in Ballarat doing the same by creating a ride group that’s run by women, for women.
On the first Saturday of every month, Dirt Girls gets together to hit the trails around Ballarat. Dirt Girls is a mountain biking group made up of women from throughout the Ballarat region supported by the Ballarat Sebastopol Mountain Bike Club.
Karen Simmons, a member on the BSCC MTB board, put the group together with the aim of getting more women out on the trail in an encouraging and non-threatening environment.
See also: Check out Ballarat's Top 3 MTB Rides
Ballarat is a region that seems like it was designed with mountain bikers in mind. Trails are close to the city centre; you can literally jump on your bike and be on the trail in half an hour to get in a few runs after work before the sun goes down. The trails vary in their difficulty, perfect for riders of all levels of ability.
Dirt Girls is fluid, group numbers changing from month to month as new riders show up to give it a go. This means that on any given Saturday ride, there is the chance for Ballarat locals to meet different people every time. Dirt Girls often go on to organise their own mid-week rides, forming strong friendships within and without the group.
It’s not about who’s fastest or who has the hottest gear: Dirt Girls is a social ride group focused on encouraging other women to ride at their own level. The youngest riders are in their teens, while their oldest member is about to turn seventy. Any woman can be a Dirt Girl, so long as they have a well maintained mountain bike and the right attitude.
Experienced riders in the group are more than happy to help others with their skills and techniques. And the best thing about learning in a social environment is that you are learning from others who have all been in the same place at one point or another. Whether it’s your first time down the track or you are well versed in the trail networks throughout the Canadian Forest, there is always something new to learn and someone who is able to pass on the knowledge.
Rides meet at 9am, usually on the first Saturday of every month, and if it’s totally free if you are an MTBA member. If not, it’ll only cost you a fiver which goes towards MTBA for insurance cover. For more information relevant to the next Dirt Girls ride, check out the BSCC website or jump on the Ballarat Mountain Bike Club’s Facebook page for regular posts.