Women Who Love to Ride – To­gether

Pedal Magazine - - Out in Front - BY TIFFANY BAKER

There was this boy. A cute boy, and he rode a road bike. A lot. With no prior ex­pe­ri­ence, sud­denly I too owned a road bike, hel­met, things that locked my bike shoes to my ped­als, bike clothes so tight that I avoided all mir­rors, and no kick­stand!

This boy rode with the Ed­mon­ton Road and Track Club (ERTC), and sud­denly I too was a reg­is­tered mem­ber. Sens­ing a theme?

There I was, new to cy­cling and group rid­ing, but ex­cited to be part of a cy­cling club. A club full of . . . guys who rode fast. To be fair, there were won­der­ful sup­port­ive women, but women were def­i­nitely the mi­nor­ity. The guys were great, but some­times they spoke an­other lan­guage (Mars ver­sus Venus, right?).

Thank good­ness for that boy with his sup­port. I’m not sure many women have that kind of cy­cling sup­port sys­tem, and thus are in­tim­i­dated about join­ing a cy­cling club. Sound fa­mil­iar?

When the op­por­tu­nity arose to ride be­side an­other woman, I was elated. I had ques­tions – fe­male cy­cling ques­tions. It’s dif­fi­cult to at­tain strate­gies on fe­male is­sues on a pre­dom­i­nantly male-at­tended group ride.

On a whim, I de­cided to or­ga­nize a women’s 100km ride in con­junc­tion with the 2015 Rapha Women’s Ride. I sent out no­tices, found a safe route that in­cluded a stop for cin­na­mon buns, and hoped for the best. Fif­teen women came! Half of whom I had never met before.

There were other women cy­clists in Ed­mon­ton and a need for some­one to or­ga­nize a group and en­cour­age them. I could be that per­son.

A week later, the Women of ERTC was born. Our fo­cus was on the non-rac­ing fe­male cy­cling en­thu­si­ast. We spent our first sea­son (2016) im­prov­ing group-rid­ing skills, in­creas­ing com­fort with draft­ing, learn­ing new cy­cling routes in and around Ed­mon­ton, un­der­stand­ing dif­fer­ent com­po­nents of cy­cling, in­te­grat­ing women into regular club rides, all of which built en­cour­ag­ing friend­ships. Weekly emails with ride in­for­ma­tion and a sim­ple FAQ sec­tion helped ad­dress the nat­u­ral lack of cy­cling knowl­edge in our new group. Twenty-five women at­tended our sec­ond an­nual Rapha Women’s Cin­na­mon Bun Ride. The word was spread­ing.

In one sea­son, we in­creased fe­male mem­ber­ship by 80%, sup­ported three women try­ing their first races, en­cour­aged 10+ women in long-dis­tance gran fon­dos and cheered for 10 women through their first cy­clocross sea­son. We helped many new women in­te­grate into ERTC, and cre­ated re­la­tion­ships both within our club and in the larger cy­cling community. We hosted three large women’s-ride events for more than 50 rid­ers, and even or­ga­nized fat­bike rides in the off-sea­son.

Our group isn’t just ex­cit­ing women; the men in the cy­cling community now have a group that they can pro­mote to the women in their lives who have not been com­fort­able in tak­ing the leap to club cy­cling. Now there is an en­cour­ag­ing step­ping-stone for women that makes that leap less in­tim­i­dat­ing.

If 2016 was ex­cit­ing for the Women of ERTC, then 2017 is go­ing to be thrilling. We will con­tinue to fo­cus on grow­ing our recreational group and will add a women’s Learn to Race pro­gram.

One of the big­gest bar­ri­ers to new fe­male rac­ers is the num­ber of elite rac­ers and lack of new­bies. Not this year. This year, with the sup­port of a trained coach, we are of­fer­ing in­for­ma­tion sem­i­nars, skill ses­sions and race sup­port. We will flood the start lines with new rac­ers. Most im­por­tantly, we will face the in­tim­i­da­tion of our first races to­gether.

If you are from the Ed­mon­ton area, check us out (www.ertc.org/ women). If there is no women’s cy­cling group in your area, con­sider start­ing one. I can guar­an­tee you that there are other women in your area who want to ride with other women.

Be that per­son and start with one ride. It would be great to have a net­work of women’s groups across Canada who share ideas, sup­port each other and in­crease the num­ber of new rid­ers and rac­ers.

Ap­proach lo­cal busi­nesses for sup­port. Our part­ner­ship with Revolution Cy­cle has been in­valu­able. The Grounded Café in Devon, Alta., pop­u­lar for its fresh cin­na­mon buns, opened on a Sun­day specif­i­cally for our Rapha Women’s Ride (now coined “The Cin­na­mon Bun Ride”). All be­cause I asked.

Who re­ally wants to ride alone? If I can go from never hav­ing rid­den skinny tires to teach­ing new rid­ers about the ins and outs of group rid­ing, you can as well.

Start your own women’s

group in your area.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.