Four whole days of riding along trails, spending lots of time in the mountains, enjoying all sorts of new experiences – all part of the Mountain Bike Women’s Camps. There will be an attractive programme guaranteed to please all bikers, whether beginners or free riders, including workshops on riding technique and guided tours.
There will also be an opportunity to take part in eMountain bike tours. Steep ascents will pose no problems with the drive units from Bosch eBike Systems. The power assistance will help riders through difficult stretches, such as steep trails with numerous tree roots, and give them a completely new feeling. Suddenly they will be able to tackle ascents with the unique "Uphill Flow".
Claudia Bitzer is a freelance communication consultant. The bicycle is her favorite means of transportation. She uses it in her everyday life as often as her motherly duties allow. At Mountain Bike Women’s Camp in South Tyrol she discovered new aspects of mountain biking and shares her experience.
“That’s Annenberg Castle”
A few of the peaks surrounding the little village of Latsch in South Tyrol are still snow-covered. Greta Weithaler points to a castle clinging to the side of a hill high above the valley floor. "That's Annenberg Castle. And that's where we're cycling to now, mostly on loose gravel trails. Up at the top, there's a steep incline. In total, we'll be climbing around 500 meters in altitude before descending into the valley via Annenberg-Böden," she explains to a group of ten mountain bikers.
It is seven p.m.
At first sight, this looks like an ordinary scene in this South Tyrolean mountain biking mecca. A closer look, however, reveals two things that stand out: Firstly, the group consists only of women. Moreover, the sun is already low in the sky. It is seven p.m. The women already have heavy legs after completing a serious tour. Full-on mountain biking is what the Latsch Women’s Camp is all about. And this is precisely what attracted more than 100 women mountain bikers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy to attend for a long weekend in May.
Women are thin on the ground when you reach a certain level
Most have already been here a number of times. Janet Weick, for example, an enthusiastic mountain biker with trans alpine experience, who often struggles to find female tour partners in her everyday life. "It's easy to find men's groups, but women are thin on the ground when you reach a certain level in mountain biking." She shares another problem with fellow mountain biker Nadin Kraus: How can a woman manage to fit a time-consuming hobby like mountain biking into her tight workday schedule? Nadin explains: "It's often really hard. That's why I'm here: To really have some time for myself and my hobby again."
Greta Weithaler's cycling technique training
Because I don't get to spend enough time mountain biking in my everyday life, I'm going to start by attending Greta Weithaler's cycling technique training at the camp. This twenty-yearold South Tyrolean is a former mountain biking pro. What's special about her course, though, is not just the expertise and good humor with which she imparts her tricks. It's also the bikes on which we practice: my eMTB is a full-suspension with 160 mm spring travel and the Bosch Performance Line CX eBike drive. Except for one participant, it's the first time on a mountain bike with electric support for all of us.
The first time with an eMountain bike
The rules Greta points out to us are surprisingly familiar. Cornering, balancing. Same old, same old, really. But when it came to the first climb, things weren't quite so simple. Even in the relatively low-geared tour mode, one pedal stroke uphill took me smoothly over a ledge that looked pretty challenging to me as a returner to mountain biking. And there were plenty more obstacles in this uphill ride I just cruised over. It was all going great – until I had to dismount during an ascent. When I tried to ride off again, my rear wheel kept spinning. Greta made a training unit out of my difficulty: Uphill starts. Lower your saddle somewhat, bring the pedals into a parallel position, mount downhill foot on the pedal, then uphill foot on the other pedal and ride away.
Maybe an eBike would be a good solution
The racy descent over lots of rocks and gnarl takes some getting used to, but the 21 kg eBike is surprisingly agile and quickly bolsters your confidence. I'm enjoying myself more with every meter I ride. I meet Nadin and Janet again at the Uphill Flow Sunset Ride to Annenberg Castle. This eMTB spin in the setting sun is popular with my fellow mountain bikers. "When I go mountain biking with my husband, he'll ride up on the train for my sake, although he'd much rather pedal up. Maybe an eBike would be a good solution," thinks Nadin. When we reach Annenberg-Böden, the sun is gradually setting behind the mountain.
Know and use your "strong side":
"When cornering, during descents and when riding over obstacles, the pedals are horizontal. It's important to be aware of which foot's in front here, because your 'strong side' gives you more confidence."
Cornering in hairpins and tight bends:
"Practice, practice, practice. Balance exercises – for instance when you're standing in line or in your garden – are a good way to develop a confident feel for when you're cycling. This helps in achieving the right flow – both downhill and up."
"The rear wheel of an eMTB tends to slip when starting uphill. Lower your saddle somewhat, bring the pedals into a parallel position, mount, downhill foot on the pedal, then uphill foot on the other pedal and start evenly. It's easier in a lower gear and moderate drive support."
Clear you head:
"Sometimes girls should just muster their pluck and go for it. Too much thinking doesn't help."