Russwood ride with the Wolfpax
Each year Russwood support a number of carefully selected local events and clubs, and while the type of event varies, a key theme linking them is the promotion of health, well-being and sporting development in our local community. Russwood are one of the biggest employers in Badenoch and Strathspey, with many of our staff having grown up in the area themselves before raising their own families here, so giving back to the community is something close to the hearts of many at Russwood. Sadly, most of our 2020 sponsorship plans - such as Aviemore 100, The Camanachd Association, Badenoch & Strathspey Orienteering weekend and Archivelo architects cycle race – were cancelled due to Covid-19.
Wolfpax ride on
One club that managed to persevere though, was local kids’ mountain bike club Wolfpax Riders. Primarily based at Laggan Wolftrax, just 10 miles from Russwood, Wolfpax provides mountain bike instruction for ages 7 to 16. Russwood have sponsored the club for several years and this year were the clubs’ main sponsor. At almost 70 members and growing, just organising the logistics of each meet is a challenge in itself! With the first meets of the year cancelled due to lockdown, there was uncertainty over whether any club activity would go ahead this year. As restrictions relaxed, Wolfpax were able to work within the guidelines and deliver two thirds of the planned meets at locations from Dunkeld and Comrie Croft in the South to Fort William, Moray Monster Trails, Learnie Red Rock on the Black Isle and of course Laggan Wolftrax.
Having recently gained leadership and instructor qualifications, and as someone particularly passionate about encouraging more women and girls into the sport, I was keen to get involved with Wolfpax on a personal level. This year, I joined Wolfpax as an instructor, working with some of the younger club members to develop the fundamental skills required to ride trails with confidence and ‘flow’. Traditionally the club has struggled to attract female members, although numbers have grown this year with 7 girls attending regularly, and with four female instructors the club hopes to keep increasing the number of girls participating year on year.
Wolfpax was recognised at the 2019 Scottish MTB Awards when they were shortlisted for Scottish Mountain Bike Club of the Year. The club also boasts some impressive alumni including UCI junior men’s cross-country champion 2019, Charlie Aldridge, Mikayla Parton who recently placed 5th in the 2020 UCI Downhill World Championships, and 19-year-old Jamie Edmondson who, as well as racking up a few podiums in the U21 category at the Enduro World Series this year, also scored two top-ten finishes in his first year as an elite at UCI Downhill World Cups, including an impressive 4th place in the final race at Lousã, Portugal.
A touchstone of normality
With many kids’ activities and events cancelled this year, Wolfpax has been one of the only opportunities for a bit of normality. Feedback from parents has been exceptional, with many expressing how beneficial the club has been for their children during this most unusual year. Not only have they gained experience and skill on their bikes but they have made new friends and riding buddies and had a touchstone of normality in such uncertain times.