25 May 2021

Women's MTB Month - Celebrating inspiring women in mountain biking throughout May.

Held on the first Saturday in the month of May, ‘Women’s Mountain Biking Day’ is a celebration of all the amazing women in the sport of mountain biking. Following on from the tradition started by IMBA US, IMBA Europe decided that throughout the whole month of May, we would highlight an inspiring story from one of the many amazing women in our mountain biking community. Stay tuned every Wednesday to catch our latest story, and celebrate the stoke that is #WomensWednesday.

Eef en Aaf- Mountain Bike Instructors

How they found mountain biking:

Eef (Eveline Elsinga) got a Giant mountain bike from her father when she was 11. That was a very big gift and a kind of new phenomenon: the birth of the MTB. Eef: "Passion for everything on wheels was there from an early age and that mountain bike was my daily activity in addition to my skateboard. At Aaf's (Afra de Boer) home, the racing bike was a kind of holy grail. Until she discovered mountain biking, which was not without merit turned out to be possible. We have both been active in the sports world as athletes and organizationally in addition to cycling. But if you ask what the women are behind Eef&Aaf then we are also mainly working women and mothers, with the virtues and concerns of every day.

Lissa Breugelmans - Biologist, adventurer

Most epic adventure to date:

I’d say my try at Badlands, a bike-packing race in Andalusia (Spain) last year was for sure one of the trips where I smashed some of the walls of my comfort-zone. I’ve build up enough experience over the years that I generally don’t get nervous anymore when doing these kind of things because I know that even if some things go wrong, I always manage to fix it or find a solution and get myself out of trouble. However, Badlands was the first ride I did where the conditions and terrain were a big unknown to me and to be honest, scared the hell out of me. Long stretches of up to 100k where you basically had no opportunities to refuel or top up your water, extreme heat, deserts with no shade for miles and miles, an actual good chance of encountering snakes and scorpions,.. I’ve never been so nervous for something bike-related in my life. In the end it was probably a good thing I was intimidated by the terrain, because it made me prepare my set-up really well so I could always carry 3 liters of water and I really only ran out once, after crossing the desert at noon under a burning sun. It was an incredible ride through the most mesmerizing landscapes, brutally steep climbs, very warm encounters with locals, and on the last day a humbling offroad ascent of the highest peak of the Sierra Nevada, the Pico Veleta. 

Sarah Wälde - Mountain bike enthusiast /  Project manager in a Biotech/ Pharma company

The challenges to gain trail access in and around Munich

Our largest project at the moment are the so-called Isar trails – official hiking trails starting in the south of Munich. The project officially started in 2010, and in 2014 a round table started with representatives of the nature conservation, cycling association (DIMB, ADFC, German alps club - DAV, MTB-Club Munich) and the so called club of the river Isar valley. It was run by the district office. Lots of voluntary hours were spent as well as money invested for expert opinions and finally in 2017, we got a result. The compromise was to have one official route east/ west of the river Isar: This proposed route was recommended to be used as a ‘shared trail’ with pedestrians. Within the route there were designated ‘rest zones’ where pedestrians or bikers were forbidden in order to protect the flora and fauna. It appeared that a good compromise had been made, and that local riders would use these new recommended trails. The initial agreement was that funding towards trail maintenance as well as rangers should be shared equally between the City of Munich and County of Munich. The plan was to begin construction at the start of 2018, however nothing has happened until now (2021). Unfortunately it is a little too late, as we have seen a huge increase in trail usage over the years/months, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. People haven’t been able to travel, so we have seen over usage of the trail networks, lack of maintenance, and as a result the building of more trails (illegally). All parties of the round table ask to finally start with this decision made in 2017. However, it seems that the county of Munich has decided to come up again with the liability issue and commissioned another expert opinion. The latest development is that they think a ban on certain trails is the best solution due to insurance etc. This means, we are back to 2010. The complete process would have been for nothing, only a small number of trails are allowed to use if at all.

Read all full stories on www.takecareofyourtrails.com