Arkansas Alumna to Host Inaugural Mountain Bike Festival for Women
Northwest Arkansas is home to some of the most scenic and diverse mountain bike trails in the country. Although mountain biking participation continues to rise, the activity has long been seen as difficult to access, a little too dangerous, and expensive. Unfortunately, such barriers continue to limit mountain bike participation among women, minority, and underrepresented populations.
Events like the inaugural Grit MTB Festival seek to reduce such barriers and help to diversify regional ridership. Grit Fest is a grass-roots festival for women that is centered around the sport of mountain biking. The event will be held at Kessler Mountain Regional Park in Fayetteville, Nov. 15-17.
"Our mission is to create culture change in the cycling industry by promoting inclusivity and breaking down barriers to mountain biking participation," stated Beckie Irvin, co-founder of Grit Fest and former University Recreation graduate assistant. "We believe that everyone benefits when the sport diversifies, and we hope that our festival is an enriching community and educational experience."
Camping, meals, group rides, skills clinics and workshops will be provided throughout the festival. The full schedule of events can be found here. Event hosts, Beckie Irvin and Anna Claire Beasley, expect 150 attendees.
"We carefully considered how to make Grit Fest more accessible for students who are attending the University of Arkansas since we're hosting on their turf," shared Irvin. "We know that students who are engaged outside of the classroom are more successful, and that confidence on a bike translates to confidence in all areas of life," added Irvin.
To encourage local student participation, there are five scholarships available to U of A students. In addition, anyone currently enrolled in college will receive a discounted festival ticket option. Both Irvin and Beasley are quick to point out that you do not have to be good at mountain biking to come to this event.
About Beckie Irvin: Beckie Irvin completed a master's degree in recreation and sport management from the University of Arkansas in May 2019. During her academic studies, she worked as a graduate assistant for UREC Outdoors in the department of University Recreation. She is a founding member of Women of Oz, and spends much of her free time riding the trails of NWA.
Mountain Biking at the U of A: Students, faculty and staff who are interested in learning more about mountain biking on and around campus are encouraged to visit the UREC Outdoors website at urec.uark.edu or drop by the UREC Outdoors bike shop in HPER 102.
Mike Hoover , assistant director
Cynthia Smith, assistant director of outreach programs in the Graduate School and International Education, was awarded the 2021 Arkansas NAFSA State Award on April 8.
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