Juliane Wisata, co-founder Rocky Trail Entertainment, who created the Diamonds in the Dirt Women’s Only Event in 2016 after the birth of her son Cosmo.
I am the ‘female better half’ of the Rocky Trail founding team and I must admit that I wasn’t the ‘sporty type’ growing up in the rural south-east of Austria.
I grew up on a picture-perfect farm in Austria and as a kid of course spent a lot of time outdoors with the neighbours’ kids riding our bikes, but I wasn’t the competitive sporty type to be frank – I was good in school and played in a traditional marching band and aged 19 moved out to go to uni near Vienna in one of the most beautiful wine regions in Austria, where I met my now husband Martin.
At 23 I accepted a job offer from a former internship company in Sydney and my then-boyfriend and now-husband Martin and I quickly slipped into an international circle of mountain biking friends.
Our first ‘serious’ mountain bike tour was in the Blue Mountains and that was more than 15 years ago now. We didn’t have a car and had bought bikes to get around. Even though it was such a tough ride for me back then (backpacks and potato salad in a tupperware box and all), I will never forget the views and the joy and the freedom I felt with the cool autumn breeze in my face on top of those firetrail ridges.
Fast-forward to 2019 and together with my husband Martin I now manage one of the major private mountain bike event organised businesses in Australia with more than 4,500 riders across their start lines every year.
We both left really promising careers in the retail and business events industries to follow our hearts to organise – and ride in – mountain bike events in Australia and internationlly. It’s a dream come true that we never thought we’d have and over the years things just fell into place – we now teach ‘Entrepreneurship’ at our university’s campuses in Austria, Azerbaijan and China and whilst hosting 20+ races with our company Rocky Trail Entertainment, we also support international events like the Crocodile and Alpentour Trophy stage races as well as the Mongolia Bike Challenge – Martin as a participant and event ambassador and me with marketing and communications services.
In 2015 live threw one of the biggest joys and challenges at us – we welcomed our little son, who turned our family and business lives upside down. Now already a very determined and funny little toddler, he travels with us to events and loves cruising around on his Cruzee balance bike – we now head out onto the trails together! But especially when he was a baby I found it very hard to go out for a ride – early on I was very anxious to leave my little bundle and then without close family and grandparents living nearby it was about utilising every single minute that he was asleep or at daycare to work on our own business, our consulting and teaching projects.
That is why I founded the ‘Diamonds In the Dirt’ event – it was my gift to myself and my main motivation to find the time to go out riding in the lead up to the event. Let me be clear, there wasn’t or isn’t any element of ‘training’ as such right now and I am very aware of that. But that is not the reason why I ride and race right now.
I ride because
…I love being outdoors in the Aussie bush, feeling that breeze on my face like on that day in the Blue Mountains. I love that you meet fellow mountain bikers on track and have a chat and that sometimes my (now stage-racing) husband comes along and rides with me. At my pace 🙂
I race the Diamonds event because
…I want to motivate more women to come to events, because it is such a huge source of positive energy!
Everyone is on a high from riding and racing and we all share that common bond of standing at the start line. It is sometimes daunting, but to have families and friends around us to cheer us on is the cherry on top! – Plus I get to race in a team with one of my best mates in Australia Erica, who has been one of our biggest supporter over the years helping to build up and shape the business that Rocky Trail Entertainment now is. We get to hang out and have fun for a day!
A gender-biased event?
Let me explain.
We put on events with Rocky Trail Entertainment for a wide range of riders in mind – you will have elite and amateur racers at the start line alongside each other, women and men, girls and boys and we try and instill a very positive energy and inclusive attitude into each and everyone of them. Our goal is delivering professional and safe events and offer a platform for ‘serious competition’ with a friendly atmosphere.
We have created a “Rocky Trail Racing Community” and we want to foster it because we love that ‘our’ people look out for each other and encourage each other and by putting on a Women’s Only event we don’t want to discourage any men, in fact we love it when they come along and support their partners!
But I do know that far more women are hesitant and scared to enter events and races and I want to encourage them to catch that racing bug. On average only 10% of riders at our start lines are women and maybe by offering an environment with less riders, more specific attention to those concerns of female riders and by putting experienced women who race in focus we can help break down some barriers.
I get told by so many women “Thanks for putting on this event for us”, but I do believe it assists many of our male riders to convince their partners or female friends to try something new, to be a supporter on that day and to spread their love for riding.
“Mountain biking is in a good place right now in Australia”, one of our racers said after a recent Rocky Trail event in Canberra and we certainly see a lot of potential. I loved that and once again things are just falling into place. For me and for us Rocky Trail has become so much more than a business – our volunteers, crew and team have become our family and our riders the community we love to nurture and grow.
As we move into our second decade in business we expanded our team to include two very experienced cycling Event Managers, including an absolute gem of a woman, so that we can deliver more events for cyclists of all ages and riding and racing desires and help shape the development of Australian cycling destinations. That makes me really proud and I love that I now have another woman on the management team with me – what an exciting and constructive dynamic it has already instilled in our weekly catch-ups and team meetings! Needless to say we already have matching riding outfits…
My riding goal for the next couple of months?
Go for a ride with my brother in my home village in Austria. He just bought a brand-new mountain bike and his kids are fanging around on my bike over there – getting the entire family on two wheels, one by one!
My most memorable ride?
Stromlo Forest Park at an adventure race in 2007 and being proposed to on the finish line!
My favourite track?
Stromlo Forest Park is up there, but recently I keep falling in love with Awaba MTB Park more and more and it is definitely why the Diamonds event has its home there. The local club is active, engaged and supportive and has so many enthusiastic women that I look up to and love to ride with. A paradise for women and men on mountain bikes!
My best ride?
Riding at Stromlo Forest Park with my son last week on the hunt for Fairy Doors that the local riding community installed there. Late afternoon sun, kangaroos everywhere and my little boy on his Cruzee balance bike stomping up the Cockatoo Switchback climb. Absolute bliss!
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While the crew is setting up the Fox Superflow trails, the little Rocky Trail shredder is checking out the trails at Stromlo Forest Park with Mum. Thanks to @ridetechnics and all the local riders for the wonderful Fairy Doors! We had the best time! #fairydoormagic #afternoonride #lazerpnutz #lazerhelmets #cruzeekid #ridejetblack #foxsuperflow #sealedbystans #raceface #ridefox #stromloforestpark #VisitCanberra #CBR