What do you get when you cross 10 driven and talented female riders, world class coaches, the ultimate environment and three jam packed days?
You’re likely to come out with 10 world class, extraordinary women who are smashing goals and celebrating wins.
Let me tell you how.
Mountain biking is seeing massive growth for women in Freeride and Freestyle riding, however this growth is extremely limited. The team at Mons Royale acknowledged this problem and came up with a solution, to create a mountain bike camp. The camp focused on the progression of tech and style for women in freestyle mountain biking. With valuable input from Katie Holden who is responsible for Redbull Formation – ‘Future Ground’ was born.
Ten of the top up-and-coming female riders in the scene were tapped on the shoulder to partake in this movement. I was beyond honoured to be selected. Initially I was extremely nervous and had concerns around the expectations and my ability, was I worthy of this opportunity?! Fortunately these feelings dissipated when I realised the magnitude of this event and the chance to learn from the best. With one month of prep I was able to wrap my head around what I was going to try to do.
Day one: Meet and greets, trail riding and team bonding.
From the moment we walked into our deluxe accomodations we instantly felt special and like we were doing great things. A full-on camera crew, producers, managers, full time paramedic, mentors and specialist coaches really solidified this feeling. From the get-go the girls were on. The energy was high, and the banter was flowing as we all discussed what boundaries we could push together. When you have athletes like Ellie Chew and Vinny Armstrong, who are redefining female riding laws, it was flipping exciting to think what could be achieved in three days.
Valuable trampoline sessions with coaches at SITE Trampoline
The morning trampoline sessions were so valuable to get back to basics and gain confidence to eventually take it to two wheels. Personally, I loved SITE and the backflips came easily from my childhood gymnastic days. Enter the launch ramp, I was quickly humbled. I struggled to even jump the BMX off it correctly. The scaredy-cat in me wanted to push through and not use the lip properly. After watching the girls do it, bottomless encouragement and video feedback I eventually started to make progress. To be able to work through these limiting thoughts and fears in a safe environment was so beneficial, especially as they translate directly to the bike.
Wynyard Jump Park was the focal point of camp, with the airbag and mulch jump playing a big part in our progression. Our first session at the jump park was epic. We were all buzzing to be jumping and having epic lady trains. As soon as Ellie started throwing back flips on the air bag , the bar was set and we were all keen to get to this level!
The next couple of days followed suit: trampoline park, mental coaching, break, bike time. We all came together as a group, teaching and learning from one another. For me, it was getting comfortable with being uncomfortable; however, I was getting a little frustrated progressing wasn’t coming faster. By this stage, the girls were starting to do back flips, heel clickers, nac nacs, sui’s, and massive sends. When I went to bed after our nightly debrief, I had a stern word with myself it was time to put my big girl pants and stop doubting my ability.
My first jump of the last day was on-point, and that was a sign for me that the rest of the day would follow suite. After a quick warm up on Mini Dream, we all trekked up to Dream Track. A jump line that frightens even the best male riders. It felt like we were walking into battle. I struggled with nerves and anticipation at the start. I couldn’t get the step down right and started to lose hope that I wouldn’t be able to tick this goal with the limited time. After 7 attempts I finally got the step down clean. One of the girls said, “that was the one,” and I knew it was time to send it. I went straight back up and managed to get it done. I don’t know what felt better, doing it, or the cheering and screaming from all the girls and support crew! Seriously a surreal feeling, as I would never have considered tackling Dream Line less than six months ago.
With all the excitement of Dream Line, I started trying back flips on the airbag. They weren’t the prettiest or all the way around, but if you had told me on Monday I’d be trying back flips on my Switchblade, I would of thought you were having a laugh!
The crew – an amazing bunch of people with a full tool belt, who came together to execute a successful camp.
Is it opportunity or environment? Or both?
After this week, I can safely say both! Progression happens when you create an environment, harness the energy and provide an opportunity for a likeminded crew of riders to get together and get better. I started this camp with no expectations and walked away with a new set of skills, confidence and nine new sisters. The stoke has been through the roof and the progression has been real.
Thank you, Mons Royale and the team, for backing us with Future Ground. It is glaringly obvious to us, and the rest of the world, how strongly you believe in the concept and its benefit to women and the sport. It is such a privilege to be a part of the start of something special. Now to spread it to the world!
Watch the full recap here!
Louise Ferguson – Queenstown based (Scotland) @louise_anna__ She/Her
Vinny Armstrong – Queenstown based (Auckland) – @vinnysarmstrong She/Her
Robin Goomes – Rotorua – @robin_riding_hood She/Her
Kalani Muirhead – Wānaka @kalani_muirhead She/Her
Ellie Chew – Kapiti Coast @ellie_chew – She/Her
Charlie Lester-Rosson – Rotorua – @charlie_lesterrosson She/Her
Kathy Morris – Queenstown – @kathy4654 She/Her
Kelsey Timpany – Queenstown – @3kels She/Her
Emma Olofsson – Queenstown @mmurmaider She/Her
Jess Blewitt – Queenstown / Christchurch – @Jessblewitt_ She/Her
Neil Kerr – Spoke Magazine
Chris Dunn – Mons Royale
Paul Foley – @pjfol