Yeti Beti Bike Bash: Mountain Bike Racing for Women
The Yeti Beti Bike Bash p/b Stan’s NoTubes will be back for its ninth running in Lakewood, Colorado, on Sunday, June 3, 2018. The popular regional event has been showcasing women’s cross country mountain bike racing since its inception. We caught up with Race Director Amy Thomas to learn more. Thomas co-owns the Yeti Beti Bike Bash along with Sarah Rawley.
Stan’s NoTubes: Tell us about the Yeti Beti Bike Bash, how it came to be and how it has evolved.
Amy Thomas: When we started in 2010, we didn’t have a budget and didn’t know if people would even show up, and now it’s turned into an annual event with upwards of 400 women coming out. With the help of Yeti and Stan’s NoTubes, we provide at least a $3,000 cash purse for the pro women.
But it’s not just about the pros. Yes, they are at the pinnacle of the sport, but everyone has to start somewhere. We get a lot of new racers each year, and in fact, our biggest categories are Never Ever, Beginner and Sport. It’s because we try to encompass all the aspects of women’s cycling that are sometimes lost at other races.
SNT: How do you accommodate women racing at different levels?
AT: There is one main lap that racers do - it’s a four-mile loop. It’s not technical, but there are four punchy climbs. It’s fairly undulating. We tell new racers that if they can ride on a flat dirt path, they can come try our race. The top Pro, Expert and Singlespeed women will finish each of their four laps in about 13-14 minutes; the Sport women take closer to 20 minutes for each of three laps while the Beginners, Never Evers and New Moms do just two laps.
SNT: You have a category for new moms?
AT: Yes, we added it two years ago. We had a lot of friends who took breaks from riding and racing to start a family and then wanted to get back into it. One friend tried to come back to the expert race and thought it was really hard. The New Moms category continues to grow every year.
SNT: What about racing for older and younger women?
AT: Last year, we had a 71-year-old woman who came out to do her first race. And we see good participation among the juniors; we get 75 to 100 juniors racing. We support women of all ages by doing 10-year age groups for all categories. We don’t want 100 beginner women on the start line - that’s intimidating!
It’s awesome to see the next generation out there. We get great attendance from young women in the local high school racing league, and a lot of juniors AND their moms race. It used to be that moms would bring their daughters along to try racing, but now the daughters are getting into racing and bringing their moms to race for the first time.
Little Bellas also holds a camp on Saturday and Sunday, and they do their own small race as part of our event. With help from Little Bellas co-founder Sabra Davison, we came up with a young junior course that’s just under a mile. Some of the Little Bellas are just six to seven years old. Sabra helped us figure out that it’s better to have the girls be done and wanting to do more than barely finishing or ending up crying.
SNT: What trends are you seeing in women’s mountain biking - both riding and racing?
AT: We’re seeing more 40- to 49-year-old racers. The women who are hitting middle age are getting out there. We see the least participation among 19- to 29-year-olds. We’re still trying to figure out why so that we can get more of them out there. It could be because of the more general trend toward enduro racing as we’re seeing more and more of the women who we help get ready to race for the first time express interest also in enduro.
Enduros have their pluses and minuses. Because they’re individual time trials, you compete against others, but not directly on the course at the same time. For some, that’s less intimidating. However, enduro races are more expensive. But in general, I’d say that enduros are more social and are great for folks who just want to be out there for fun.
SNT: What’s your connection to Stan’s?
AT: Stan’s involvement has been spectacular since coming on board in the second year of the race after being involved with our Team Yeti Beti. Stan’s Co-Owner Cindy came out and saw our event with 170 women in our first year and close to 300 women the second year. Usually, women are the minority at a mountain bike event - maybe 10% of total attendees. Seeing women of all shapes, sizes and ages with all types of bikes is pretty cool, and that sealed the deal. This year, Stan’s is the presenting sponsor of our race. I feel fortunate that we’ve had Stan’s support for so many years.
SNT: What are your favorite Stan’s wheels and why?
AT: Personally, I have morphed out of cross country and more toward trail riding. I was on Arch EXs, and now I’m on Arch MK3s. They put up with everything I hit them with on my trail bike, which is a lot as bikes have gotten more and more capable.
SNT: Is the Yeti Beti Bike Bash really just for women?
AT: Well, we had some guy friends who wanted to race, so in 2015, we added a men’s drag race. We said, “Ok, if you want to come race, work on your outfit!” The most consistent winner of that race is Stan’s own Kenny Wehn - he usually crushes the rest of the guys. The Drag Race is a fun way to end the day; we get between 20 and 40 guys out there, and they race three laps around the shorter, junior course. And yes, there is an award for best costume!
SNT: What’s new for 2018?
AT: For many years, we added something, but I think we’ve gotten to the point where things are consistent, so we’re not making big changes. This year, however, we are offering a discounted entry fee of just $25 for the juniors.
SNT: Besides racing, what else happens at the Yeti Beti Bike Bash?
AT: Since Yeti is a big supporter, there will be bike demos on Saturday before the main event on Sunday. Sarah also runs VIDA MTB Clinics which at the Yeti Bike Bash happens as a one-day cross country-focused clinic on Saturday. Little Bellas runs a girls’ camp on Saturday and Sunday plus their own separate race on Sunday. And last but not least, there is an expo that anyone can attend.
Register for the Yeti Beti Bike Bash p/b Stan's NoTubes.
All photos courtesy of the Yeti Beti Bike Bash.