ORTLIEB Ladiescamp in Slovenia
„How should I bring all my gear”, moans Jaqueline – who is soon called Wilma by everybody – in distress. Her framebag seems to burst at the seams. It’s the first night in the so-called Ladiescamp. The atmosphere is great, though the girls hardly know each other and some of them are still fighting with their equipment.
For the coming three days the eight female participants will travel by bike through Slovenia, from the mountains to the sea. They will keep to the absolute minimum: they’ll sleep under the stars and will prove that bikepacking is also an issue for ladies.
Finally Rebekka comes to help Wilma, and together they unpack, sort through the gear and in the end Wilma is surprised that there is even room left. “I will need this space urgently for my daily chocolate supplies”, laughs the 32-year old mountain biker. It will be her first bikepacking tour, and – just as for the other participants – this way of traveling will be a new experience for her.
“We were looking for female bikers who are not yet familiar with bikepacking”, Rebekka explains the “Ladiescamp” concept. Together with the ORLTIEB team she has spent the past months setting up the tour ‘Ride Beyond Stereotypes’. The passionate road biker lives in Munich and is frustrated about the very few numbers of females in the bike world. “The bike industry is dominated by men, and the issue bikepacking seems to be addressed to mainly men. With events like ours I want to inspire ladies and strengthen their position in the bike market. ORTLIEB realized the needs when Rebekka talked to the company at the Eurobike show last year. “Together we had the idea to organize a three day bikepacking trip, for ladies only, and to create a scope for women to interchange”, Kerstin with ORTLIEB explains.
Ride beyond stereotypes
Next morning the participants meet for breakfast at Lukna hostel. “The first day will be the toughest”, Rebekka warns the sleepy group of cyclists. “We will climb Vrsic Pass with 1611 metres altitude, followed by a few uphill and downhill sections to our first camp.” Nobody complains or moans, no they are all looking forward to the upcoming challenge.
Emmely, the youngest team member is the first outside with her bike, and soon the rest of the group is ready to start. In the beginning we were biking real slowly, cautiously. “To me it is important that everybody keeps up and that we bike together as a group and not individually,” explains Rebekka, “there is enough competition out there, we don’t need it here.” However, once we start climbing the uphill section the group is torn apart, despite all efforts. “We hardly know each other, and we are biking at different speeds, still we need to find a way how to stay together as a group.” Once we all arrive at the top Conny thinks “the challenge is the tour itself and probably not the altitude or distance.” We all agree, but in the end our communication works out fine and we all arrive together at our campsite.
Vrsic Pass is not as hard as I thought. While some ladies are exhausted Emmely still jumps around the camp, obviously still fit. After a short rest we unpack our mattresses and sleeping bags. Today dinner is provided by a group of Slovenian kayakers who invite us for a BBQ. Together we sit at the campfire and exchange stories, experiences and ideas. Two groups who couldn’t be any more different, but still we share a big passion: the adventure spending time in the outdoors.
Next morning we start a bit later than planned. The ladies get up with puffy eyes and sip their coffees. However, everybody had a good night’s sleep. On the second day packing and mounting the bikepacking bags is easier. “Once you know where to put your stuff and how to fix the bags to the bike, it’s actually quite easy”, Inga notes.
The second day we bike along the river Soca. The sparkling blue and green river is fantastic and we spend time along the banks enjoying a relaxed trip. We are getting to know each other. “We are all very different women, with different backgrounds and ideas, and still we get together on this trip”, Wilma remarks. “Often we tend to concentrate on the differences instead of focusing on the common ideas” Rebekka is a road biker, Inga is a passionate triathlete, Emmely travels by bike and I am mainly mountain biking. But in the end, we all love biking and can learn a lot from each other.”
On the second evening we start discussing the role of women in the bicycle industry while we are preparing dinner. “Yes, we could argue why we used the colour pink for the ‘Ride Beyond Stereotypes’ logo”, Rebekka states. “But why not? We don’t have to use dark blue or olive in order to be taken seriously?” The discussion starts and obviously the ladies do not all agree and there are different points of view. It’s very complex and many different opinions exist. Each point of view is based on a different argumentation and every single point is justified. This issue was a big challenge for defining the concept of “Ride beyond stereotypes”, Rebekka explains. “The aim of our event was to start discussions which are important, and in the end we do not have to agree, but we should talk and discuss about this topic.”
We spend the second night under the stars, and when the group takes off in the morning for the last section they all seem to have more routine despite being a little more tired than during the previous days. “Today I can feel the kilometers of the last two days”, Inga laughs. The last day will be a longer trip and Rebekka warns the group “we won’t have time for long rests”. Nobody complains, and Emmely motivates the group “We’ll make it!”
Reached the finish line
After 6 hours in the saddle and 1400 meters altitude they can smell the sea for the first time, soon the endless blue sea is in front of us. “From the mountains to the sea”, smiles Julia when the ladies reach the harbour; due to a severe cold she could only join us on the last day. “Now I really want some ice cream”, Wilma exclaims. Everybody laughs, Wilma had talked about ice cream all day long.
They all walk their bikes to the ice-cream parlour and enjoy the ice-cream Wilma has longed for. “A shower would be nice”, Inga states looking at her dirty legs. The ladies enjoy the rest and talk about the last days and experiences, luckily everything worked out fine. Just one little crash, no flat tire, no dispute. And in the end, eight happy faces of women who shared a lot with each other in the past days. Eight women who hope that “Ride beyond stereotypes” is setting an example, each one in her own way but still together.
More about ORTLIEB Ladiescamp.
Written by Franzi from Tales on Tyres