wa gravity girls bliss mtb festival
Home Featured Articles The future of womens mountain biking is bright and exciting!

The future of womens mountain biking is bright and exciting!

by Jason Lorch

The WA Gravity Girls Interview

Mountain biking has typically been a male-dominated sport, but there has been a big shift in womens participation over the past few years. A big part of this is due to organizations that are tailored towards women’s only events that offer coaching and skills clinics where you can learn and feel free to make mistakes, and encourage each other without fear of being mansplained at every single opportunity.

So when Emily Mountford agreed to talk to us about WA Gravity Girls, we were super-stoked. Emily was kind enough to catch up for a virtual coffee and share with us all the great work WA Gravity Girls are doing, and what this means in broader terms for women’s mountain biking.

Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us today and the chance for us and our readers to get an understanding of what WA Gravity Girls is all about.

Not a problem at all, we’re excited to share the story of WA Gravity Girls and what we’ve been up to! 

So let’s being, what is WA Gravity Girls?

We are a local group of riders from Western Australia advocating for more women in mountain biking! Our goal is to help break down barriers to riding more technical trails and take on the challenges mountain biking offers.  We act as a network and a place to promote local organisations providing coaching, development programs, social rides, and other women’s events. We created the group to help female riders network, see what’s happening in the riding community, and to engage more women in mountain biking.

Last year we ran our first event “Trail Bliss” a women’s mountain bike festival at Linga Longa Bike Park in Balingup with the support of the Linga Longa Mountain Bike Club. We are now looking to incorporate WA Gravity Girls so we can advocate and support women in the sport and continue running events like Trail Bliss. 

WA Gravity Girls range from beginners right the way through to ex-professional. Each rider is different. Our goal is to connect the experienced and the newbies to create fun and safe environments to build confidence and skill.

wa gravity girls bliss mtb festival

Photo credit: credit: ©Tenae Elise Photography


We all learn at our own pace, and having a safe and non-judging environment to do this is crucial, no matter what your sexuality, but have you seen any differences between mixed and non-mixed sex groups, in terms of learning and openness?

We could talk about this for hours! Ultimately if you ride with the right group, gender plays no real role. There are plenty of supportive men out there and talking from experience I ride with a bunch of guys who are incredibly supportive and patient! One of the big keys to having a supportive environment is riding with the right people, switching up the order, being patient and encouraging.

Don’t always leave your least experienced or slowest rider at the back of the pack to ride on their own! Switch it up at the rear and sometimes have your more experienced riders tail the group to give support and gentle encouragement whilst respectfully giving space. Being patient and respectful if the rider doesn’t make it over a feature or wants to repeat the feature or decides to go around it entirely, are all really important. If I hadn’t been supported in this way by the guys and girls I ride with, I definitely wouldn’t be riding some of the terrain I do now! 

On the flip side, women seem to have a great understanding of the mental barriers we sometimes face when doing something scary! There are a lot of barriers that contribute to why women often don’t progress as fast as some of the guys do, especially when trails are intimidating or scary! Nothing beats sessioning a feature with a bunch of girls, talking it through and encouraging each other.

We are trying to break down as many of those barriers as possible and have found that women’s only group rides with a mix of experience levels have been awesome for progression and building confidence.  There are also a number of amazing riders in our community that just want to see more people find the stoke, regardless of skill level or gender. 


“We are trying to break down as many of those barriers as possible and have found that women’s only group rides with a mix of experience levels have been awesome for progression and building confidence.”
Emily Mountford


Enduro style riding or racing is all about the climbs as well as the descents, and everything in between. We noticed that your coaching events are enduro focused, do you feel this captures the true essence of mountain biking and all the skills needed to become a good rider?

Enduro is a fantastic discipline to become a well rounded rider. The trails vary a lot and while you’re not timed on your climbs, you still have to complete all the stages within a time frame. Entering an enduro competition can be intimidating for some women, especially when there is steeper terrain, bigger drops, a-line features and jumping is required as part of the course.

There are lots of reasons why this is the case, but the roadblocks of not being confident to do these features/terrain often results in women taking up other disciplines like cross country, instead of enduro and downhill.

It’s important to have an encouraging and safe environment to progress and our local WA enduro scene is a great platform to progress all skills. It has climbing and descending components while also exposing you to more technical trails and bigger features.

The rounds are graded based on technicality giving riders the option to pick which rounds might suit their skill level. We want to see more women jumping, hitting drops, shredding technical rock gardens and enjoying the challenge of the journey. There is the opportunity for more skilled riders to push their limits and improve their skills and for less experienced riders to have a go and join in the fun as well – we feel enduro racing has a great balance.

wa gravity girls bliss mtb festival

Photo credit: credit: ©Tenae Elise Photography


Have you seen an increase in women’s numbers not only for your courses but on the trails in general?

Yes! There is definitely a growing number of women riding, racing and taking on technical trails and features. We saw a steady increase in numbers throughout the season last year for women entering WA Gravity Enduro events which was awesome. 

It must be a fantastic feeling to see someone grow in confidence, mastering a challenging obstacle or specific skill, and be part of that journey with them.

There is absolutely nothing better than seeing someone progress from looking at something and saying ‘there’s no way I would do that’ to conquering that feature or skill. The energy that it brings to a ride is unbeatable and it’s awesome when riders share their rides and the features they’ve conquered.


“What we really wanted riders to take away from Trail Bliss was passion, confidence and motivation to keep pushing boundaries.”
Emily Mountford


The Trail Bliss festival sounds awesome! Can you tell us more?

Trail Bliss 2020 was Western Australia’s first women’s only mountain bike festival held at Linga Longa Bike Park. We pulled it all together in just over 3 months with the overwhelming support of local businesses and community groups. Women are often the volunteers, mums are often the organisers, girlfriends are often the support crew. We wanted a festival that celebrated our growing community and gave every female rider an opportunity to just ride their bike and have fun.

It was crazy to see so much progression in a single weekend. We had coaching sessions, massages, unlimited shuttles, a night ride, banquet dinner, gift bags, nutrition and bike maintenance workshops, yoga sessions, games, the list goes on!!! On a weekly basis we’re asked by our followers when the next one will be. On that note, we’ve just announced that there will be a Trail Bliss 2021……coming in November. 

wa gravity girls bliss mtb festival

Photo credit: credit: ©Tenae Elise Photography


What sort of skills can someone expect to take away from an event like Trail Bliss?

Trail Bliss 2020 catered for everyone! We had heaps of coaching sessions that ranged from absolute beginners learning basic body position, to experienced riders looking to style their jumping. What we really wanted riders to take away from Trail Bliss was passion, confidence and motivation to keep pushing boundaries.

Any plans to go national with this festival? It sounds like the perfect platform to grow across Australia.

If the borders are open we’ll definitely be welcoming riders from across Australia for 2021. It would be amazing to connect so many communities in one weekend of bliss!


We LOVED the “Longest women’s MTB train ever?” video. What was the idea for making it?

When we started organising Trail Bliss a lot of the community didn’t realise how many women were actually out there riding bikes. When we cracked the triple digits we thought what better way to showcase the growing community than an epic train! Also nothing beats shredding down a trail with a bunch of your mates! 

We hope to crush our record this year!

Since starting the WA Gravity Girls events and witnessing the growth in female participation in the sport, what are your thoughts on the future of women’s mountain biking?

Inspiring. There are two sides of this I think, the first is that there are so many talented young girls shredding hard and progressing at phenomenal speeds – they are the future.

The other side is women of all ages are entering the sport. You are never too old to ride a bike. We’ve seen women in their 60’s taking on trails they couldn’t have fathomed ever trying. The future of womens mountain biking is bright and exciting!


“There are so many damn good riders around Australia and it’s awesome to see other states with similar supportive groups like ours!”
Emily Mountford


Lifelong friendships have been made through mountain biking, we can attest to it. Your courses and events sound like the perfect catalyst for this.

Definitely! Riding bikes is an addictive passion and when you find the right people to share that passion with, you’ll gain friends for life.

WA, NT, QLD, SA, VIC, NSW, TAS…who has the best riders? Joking. No, but, really?

Maybe we should run a mini enduro at Trail Bliss 2021 and see which state can bring the goods? There are so many damn good riders around Australia and it’s awesome to see other states with similar supportive groups like ours!  

wa gravity girls bliss mtb festival

Photo credit: credit: ©Tenae Elise Photography


So what’s next for WA Gravity Girls?

For now we are focusing on getting the support required to bring Trail Bliss 2021 to life in November this year while continuing to share and support female riding around WA! The WA Gravity Enduro season is about to kick off next weekend with the Dwellingup Enduro Epic and we’re stoked to see over 50 females registered for the event. 

It’s been a pleasure to talk with you and truly exciting to see what’s happening with the WA Gravity Girls events, and women’s mountain biking in general.

For more info on the WA Gravity Girls events and the awesome Trail Bliss Festival, head on over to their website.

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