Denman W18 Masthead 2

Dirt de Femme

Bronwen Stead

Raynie McNee is a passionate Canberra woman who is driven to encourage women to try out cycling.

This Sunday she is hosting Dirt de Femme. Raynie’s passion for this event is not just related to her love of cycling, but because she is passionate about the physical and mental health benefits that mountain biking can offer.

Raynie (centre) was a finalist in the 2017 CBR Sport Awards

The Dirt de Femme event is a gateway for encouraging more women to take up an outdoor activity – to enjoy the fresh air, and friendship. It’s the kind of event where afterwards you can catch up over a coffee, wine and swap stories. Raynie feels the other offering mountain biking has is the ability to see vast improvements happening in both mental attitude and riding skill level and fitness. She has coached some very fit people and highly accomplished athletes, however she shares that everyone starts with nerves and trepidation, and with the correct learning foundations you can see a rapid increase in confidence and ability. She observes that this is often even more so in women who have a terrible habit of underplaying their skills, ability or self-worth. Raynie is a special sort of person: seeing the smiles and improvements from individuals as they start to relax, chit chat and have a good time fills her with gratitude and she feels an immense satisfaction with providing that opportunity.

This years Dirt de Femme has two new designed courses: SHORT Course (20+kms or 4 x 5kms laps) and the LONG Course (40+kms or 4 x 10km laps). This is designed to keep the riders closer to the event hub for support if they require as well as allowing support crews like family and friends to cheer them closer to the main event hub.

“The Dirt de Femme event has more than doubled in size since the original race in 2012” says Raynie.

“This year we have a gold sponsor helping provide monies towards the event costs as well as attracting big name sponsorship such as DHaRCO clothing, RockShox and SRAM, KRUSH. We are very proud of the continued support and loyalty of our local small businesses, Cycle Education, Nitelights, Mount Majura Vineyard, Vivid Print Services who have been supporters across our nine events. In recent years we’re excited to have the fun crew of Bike Culture setting up mechanic support, Physio Sports O’Connor offering post-race massages with all donations to Karinya House, and finally Alivio Tourist Park offering discounts for interstate riders on accommodation.”

”Another area we are very proud of is supporting the younger generations. We always offer a heavily reduced entry fees for 10 – 18 year olds, helping encourage the next generation of riders. Each year we bring in a school age musician bands as well as support the students of CIT Fit and Well.”

This is the second year the event has partnered with local charity group Karinya House, helping support new mothers in crisis and encourage all riders to bring along an unused or new baby item for the donation box.

What’s new for 2018? This year the Dirt de Femme event will take place across two days with activities on the Saturday as well as the main event on Sunday. On Saturday there will be the final of the coaching session run by the Cycle Ed coaches, followed by a presentation on RockShox suspension set up. Afterwards there will be a general public social ride of the two courses and finishing with competitor registrations in the afternoon. On Sunday there will be offering the kids activity area for those too young to ride the main event; this will includes a short obstacle course, skills area and show bags and colouring in area.

Throughout Sunday there will be a number of giveaways to riders and spectators, raffle draws, fun competitions including Fashion on the Field (best dressed), heaviest/dirtiest steed ridden in the race, Little Lie Down Award (non-serious crashes).

“Later in the year” explains Raynie,  “we anticipate running a second event, the Dirt de Femme & Friend pairs event where you can have twice the fun, pending tree harvesting in Majura Pines the proposed date is Saturday 25 August.”

If you have every thought about cycling or even NEVER thought about riding, head down to the Dirt de Femme and check it out!

For more information visit

Bronwen Stead

Bronwen loves to celebrate life and all things Canberra, which is why she is passionate about writing for HerCanberra and promoting the amazing people and activities that Canberra contains. She is a mother, wife and a creative with a passion for wellbeing and health. More about the Author