16th December 2017
Words by Debbie Davies
Photos by Debbie Davies and friends
A little idea came into my head one day last February. Just before Christmas Kat and I had held a club gathering at the Croft Trail for our club and it occurred to me then it might be fun to do just a Ladies one. The idea kept popping up all through the summer until in August I decided to action that idea. I contacted other Ladies from local Ladies only groups and asked them what they thought, it seemed to be a winning plan. So on it went. From the original 8 ladies I contacted the numbers spread via FB to 17, spreading the word amongst their riders. In September the date went in the calendar. We were now official.
Helen from Dame Forest of Dean group had arranged to have mince pies and mulled wine ready at the end of the ride, Tinsel and club shirts were part of the dress code so we would all know what clubs we were riding with . The ride organisation was gaining momentum and before we knew it we were now being offered lunch too. Ladies just kept adding their name to the event list and my idea of a little social with maybe 20 ladies attending was, all those months ago, was now a staggering 77 ladies.
The week before like great chunks of the country, we had snow. Not masses near Swindon, but that was not the case in the Forest of Dean. They were covered in the stuff, enough that the trail centre had to close for a couple of days. When they were able to open again the trail pixies and Forestry Commission had been hard at work to make the trails usable after all the fallen trees, we were lucky it still looked good to go, the trails were ready. Then came the message that the family trail, that we were using for the morning social, was still impassable due to fallen trees and frozen icy snow blocked tracks. A hasty change of plan took place and along with it some cancellations. The weather was starting to have an impact on another week it seemed.
I set off with a friend to The Forest of Dean, the early hour still very much swathed in darkness, to make sure I had enough time to organise everything. One of the Ladies had got there even earlier than us, unsure of what the local roads would bring. An hour later, and expecting a considerably reduced gathering, we were set for MB Swindon’s first mass Ladies club event. However, despite the weathers best efforts, we seemed to have amassed 72 Ladies, ready to hit the now amended route of the Verderers trail. With Helen at the helm to keep the pace steady due to some icy trails, we set off. It was an amazing sight to see so many riders winding their way up the trail with tinsel bedecked bikes. Malvern Maidens made a big impact with their Unicorn themed shirts and Unicorn fairy lights. We had Father Christmas, Mother Christmas, several Elves and a great many Father Christmas hats all pedaling their way around the now sun washed trails. The usual photo stops, regrouping pauses and just general chat stops made for a wonderful atmosphere and there was the usual encouragement for those who were new to the trail centre.
2 hours later and with everyone safely back without incident, we made our way to the café and the room set up for our mince pies and mulled wine, hard to miss as the winter spice smell permeated the area as soon as you entered . Pedalabikeaway and the café staff had done us proud. The mulled wine was well received as it was still very cold on the ride despite the winter sun, and the pasta lunch was just the perfect meal to top up energy supplies.
In the afternoon we all set off to do our own thing , some riding other trails with Katy Curd as their guide , others headed for the skills loops and the red trails and some Ladies headed home having made the very big effort to travel from as far as Taunton and Kent.
10 months ago I had this little idea, on the 16th December 72 Ladies made it a reality. Many thanks to all those Ladies who made the day very special, who gave up their time to support other riders , who made the day such a fun and memorable one for me especially , it only ever started as a small thought …Thanks too the Staff of Pedalabikeaway for all their work in making sure we were fed and watered so well .