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Prairie Pedals offering unique mountain biking experience for women

Ladies-only group all about fun, encouragement and confidence while riding trails of Wakamow Valley
What started as an idea at a Saskatchewan Cycling Association meeting and led to informal rides last summer has turned into a unique women’s-only mountain biking group in Moose Jaw.

The Prairie Pedals – part of the Moose Jaw Pavers cycling club – held their first official group ride last Monday and according to one of the group’s founders, Laurie Ewen, things are already a surprising success.

“We had six people out last week, that was very surprising since we didn’t know how this would go,” Ewen said. “We’re out there on Monday at 9:15 a.m., after the kids are off to school. So we’re kind of focussed right now on those moms with school kids and we’re hoping to expand more to include other women at other stages in their lives.

“Everyone is welcome, we have a grandma there, people who are working shift work and can make it out, anyone who wants to ride the trails in Wakamow.”

The genesis of the group was an SCA meeting where conversation turned to how few women were involved in the sport in the province, Moose Jaw included. That let to Ewen putting together a plan with another Pavers rider, Jenn Gauthier, and the Prairie Pedals coming to fruition.

“We looked at the psychological side of what was stopping women from cycling and a lot of it was confidence and that nurturing side of it, where we’re always there for the kids but we’re worried too much what everyone else is doing but not enough about ourselves,” Ewen said. “So this was a something to fix that and get people out doing something fun and enjoyable.”

The rides are completely low pressure, with the focus on fun and enjoyment more than putting down times and any kind of racing. In fact, the whole idea is to stick together as a group for maximum encouragement.

“We have a lot of fun with it,” Ewen said. “It’s a no-drop ride, Jenn is generally the leader and I’m the sweeper, so if someone is going a bit slower or there’s a problem with their bike, they don’t have to worry if the group is going to get a little bit ahead. Plus there’s a bike check at the start to make sure everything is safe and in order.”

Gauthier’s knowledge of Wakamow trails was a key part of the first ride, as she was able to offer advice to the less experienced cyclists with regards to upcoming hills and more technical challenges, what gear the rider’s bike should be in and whatever other information she could pass along through the ride, which will generally take around 60 to 90 minutes.

“We’re always chatting and it’s very social and at the end of the ride you can see the confidence in that ‘I did that’,” Ewen said. “It’s just so important to build that confidence, they can take that the rest of the day or the rest of the week and just go with it. So it’s not just the physical health, it’s the mental health.”

While the Prairie Pedals are focussed on the beginner rider, all levels of skill and ability are welcome and the ride will be shortened or lengthened to accommodate levels of fitness.

All ride participants must wear a helmet and bring water, snacks and have a bike in good working order. The Pavers recommend a mountain bike, but the level of riding will be suitable for a hybrid cycle.

Because the event is directly affiliated with the Pavers club, insurance requires the majority of participants to be club members, although non-members are welcome to try out three club rides per year. They simply have to fill out a non-member waiver and they’re good to go.

Riders meet every Monday at 9:15 a.m. at the bottom of 7th Avenue in Wakamow Valley. For more information, check out the Moose Jaw Pavers Prairie Pedals information page

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