The club was formed in March 2013 following the overwhelmingly positive response to the inaugural women-only “Ride Like a Grrl” event held in September 2012. This event was intended to be a small fun race for a group of friends but quickly snowballed into something bigger, as more and more women expressed an interest. It became clear that there was a need for some way for female mountain bikers to network and support one another, and forming a club was a logical way to address this. Within 12 months of the club starting out, membership had grown to exceed 100.Back
The club committee formed a constitution and developed a code of conduct with support from the Scottish Cycling Regional Development Officer. The local Community Sports Hub in Aviemore has provided support and was the location for the formal membership opening day. Financial backing has come in the form of grants from the National Lottery and the local Sports Council, as well as from membership fees and merchandise. We use British Cycling’s online membership management tool which streamlines the process of tracking members and collecting fees.
The club has a strategic development plan, in order to achieve specific aims. One of the initial aims was to provide training for a number of members to become Trail Cycle Leaders and Level 1 Leaders (in the latter case being the first club in Scotland to do so). This has been achieved successfully this year, after securing funding from the Communities 2014 Lottery fund, and should help to ensure sustainability in the future. Funds were also secured from the local Badenoch & Strathspey Sports Council to buy equipment, and to bring the two main club coaches up to Level 2 Cycle Coach status with MTB DSU.
Fliers were used to promote the original event and since then the club has used Facebook as a way of networking members and sharing events. We also make a small amount of revenue from selling merchandise, which then advertises the club. Our website was updated earlier this year thanks to a member who had the necessary skills. Members receive newsletters periodically, keeping them updated with club activities. These promotion techniques have clearly been successful as we have members from all over Scotland, and even one in Cumbria!Back
Now in our second year, the club’s membership currently stands at 95. Coaching is provided periodically, either in six-week blocks or as day or evening sessions depending on demand. Coaching is delivered to all levels of rider, by qualified members and occasionally guest coaches. Social rides happen weekly, and led rides as and when the leaders have free time. Some of our members attend races, and we are now at a stage where members who would not have considered racing previously have the confidence to enter events.
Petalpower is extremely inclusive – we have riders of all fitness levels and technical abilities, from complete beginners to those riding and racing at International level. The club provides a supportive environment in which all women can enjoy cycling and advance their skills, thanks to the camaraderie and spirit of encouragement among members.Back
Our development plan contains specific aims, and as outlined above a priority has been to train ride leaders in order to sustain the club going forward. Our next aim is to develop a youth section, as female drop-out from sport is something we are keen to address, and then eventually we plan to work on improving social inclusion in mountain biking.Back
Petalpower is something special, as our members will tell you. At this year’s Ride Like a Grrl event, one of our members (who lives over 2 hours’ drive from Aviemore) was unable to compete after sustaining a severe neck injury earlier this year. However, she was so determined to be part of the event that she made the trip just to marshal on the day.
Petalpower has brought together experienced sportswomen and hesitant beginners, as well as all those in between, to share their love of biking in a safe and supportive environment, and the results have been nothing short of inspirational. For a short video about Ride Like a Grrl, click here.Back