Fernie Women on Wheels

In 2011, I started mountain biking shortly after I moved to Fernie. That first year learning, at an age I would rather not state, was filled with some laughter, lots of tears and bruises to both my body and ego. My husband also started mountain biking but saw each obstacle as something to conquer, something that made the trail more interesting. Conversely, obstacles made me whimper and want to throw my bike off a cliff. His fitness soared, mine huffed and puffed along while being lapped. He was incredibly encouraging; however, that encouragement came with an unspoken, “why is this so hard for you?” because of the simple fact that he was never a true beginner.

The next summer I began riding with a very experienced woman from Calgary who never pressured me, slowed down and always waited patiently. I was thankful to never be too far behind. I often questioned why she would want to ride with such a newbie. However, I could tell that there was honest joy in her riding. To be out on the trail, on the bike, was good, having a chat was good, working up a sweat was good, having a beer afterwards was good – the ego didn’t play a role. Pretty soon I began having more laughter, less tears and bruises. I was hooked and I wanted to get other women hooked in a safe, friendly, non-intimidating way. 

Fernie is a competitive town; the women here are inspiring and potentially intimidating on first encounter. However, I have yet to meet a Fernie woman who would not like to show you the trails and talk bikes. They will challenge, accept and encourage you with empathy, most of them remember where they started, even if it was 20 years ago. It was with all these different women in mind that Fernie Women on Wheels (FWOW) was born. I was looking for a group ride with a bunch of women, and on May 30, 2013, we had our first ride with 15 awesome ladies.

FWOW has changed a lot over the last four seasons. We have gotten much bigger, our Facebook page has almost 450 members. We have many awesome group leaders and aim to ride in multiple groups, with ability levels ranging from beginner to advanced. Looking back over the years I have seen women push themselves and constantly encourage each other, from riding the car on Red Sonya, making the tree corner on Swine Flu to riding up Cemetary Bypass without stopping, everyone feels the same accomplishment and pride with other women cheering them on. Feminism today often portrays women as being pitted against women, creating competition and separation and the desire to alleviate this pressure. Every Wednesday evening (weather pending!), FWOW gets women to connect, motivate and inspire each other to be fit and brave, pushing their own boundaries of what they thought they could do, all with smiles and laughter. 

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join us for a no-drop guided ride. Ladies are asked to have some singletrack experience for the rides. When able, we offer novice nights, bike and trail maintenance and skill building sessions. FWOW is part of the Fernie Mountain Bike Club and riders require a current membership and must sign a waiver. Rides generally start mid-May, for up to date information join the Fernie Women on Wheels Facebook page. Have questions? Want to volunteer? Email hdlavers@gmail.com.