The original Air Maiden - about Lynne Aitchison (Armstrong)
The number of women participating in mountain biking in the UK has grown massively over the past 10 years It took a trip to Canada to see how different the sport could be with a little development to inspire Lynne Armstrong (used to be Aitchison before she got hitched to a Canadian) into setting up her own event for women in Scotland.
Lynne’s been riding mountain bikes for over 14 years. She started out on a second-hand GT Zasker with a bunch of guys and was soon hooked especially when it came to going down.
After progressing to ownership of a full susser and dabbling ina bit of DH racing, she won the overall SDA series, culminating in her one and only appearance at a DH World Cup, in Fort William. The following year she placed 2nd at the World Masters Champs in Kamloops, BC, before deciding to focus more on the freeride side of the sport.
In 2007, Crankworx - an event which attracts the best riders from around the globe every year - introduced a women’s slopestyle/freeride competition called ‘The Gala’. It was a chance for braver women to show what they were capable of in various areas of Whistler bike park, including the notorious ‘boneyard’.
Lynne of course decided to have a go and placed fourth in the pro category - one of only a handful of women to ride the infamous boneyard line.
Lynne returned to Scotland where she became the first female member of ‘The Clan’, Scotland’s Bike Stunt team, and after a number of tours around the country with such inspirational team mates as Danny Macaskill and Fraser McNeill, began to think how awesome it would be to have an event that gave women the opportunity to develop their skills in a supportive and relaxed environment and where more advanced riders could showcase their skills in a competition based loosely on The Gala. And so…….Air Maiden was born.
Air Maiden - the freeride event for women
Hosted at the freeride park at Glentress, the event provides a chance for women to get coaching on skills they wouldn’t normally tackle, such as jumping, drop offs and cornering, but in a supportive and relaxed environment.
What started as the fairly modest goal of bringing 20-30 women together soon evolved into an eagerly anticipated annual event that began to draw more than 50 women every year. And of course this was followed with a BBQ and party on the Saturday night.
The event ran for three great years and, when Lynne moved to Canada to focus on love and children for a while, Air Maiden continued to be held by a team of fellow women bikers.
As well as bearing three beautiful children, Lynne made the most of her time in Canada, competing and coaching in North American events such as Sugar Showdown in Seattle, and the women’s Air Dome sessions at Crankworx. It was here that she took ‘best trick’ for a corked backflip!
During her time in BC, she also guided for Evolution Bike shop, which was an opportunity to take women out riding in the Whistler Valley during the glorious summer months. And in 2015 she coached at a number of women’s events in BC, including finally bringing her very own Air Maiden to Pemberton.
30 women from the Sea to Sky Corridor descended on Pemby for a one day coaching event with local legends such as Clare Buchar lending their skills. This day culminated in a BBQ at the beach and some well-earned beers, which is a regular feature at any of Lynne’s events. Read more about the event on Pinkbike here
Now back in Scotland, Lynne has resurrected Air Maiden back to life and in 2016 took the plunge and organised her first all women’s enduro race at the infamous ‘Golfie’ trails, which between the two events saw over 120 women taking part. She also provides small group coaching clinics to women rnaging from beginner to advanced skill level, as well as sharing her knowledge and experience gained over the last 14 years with women both new to the sport and those wanting to take their riding to the next level.