Rac­ing To­gether

Makes all the Dif­fer­ence

Pedal Magazine - - Out In Front - BY TIF­FANY BAKER

I’m likely not fast, fit or brave enough, but I want to try road rac­ing,” said (al­most) no wo­man in Al­berta, ever. Okay, there are a few brave women who’ve faced the in­tim­i­da­tion of be­gin­ner road rac­ing, of­ten with­out the sup­port of oth­ers also new to the sport.

But the num­bers don’t lie. Women’s road rac­ing in Al­berta hasn’t seen more than five new rac­ers a year for many years. In the en­tire prov­ince!

Un­til this year.

Dis­cour­aged by the lack of “new­bies” and pet­ri­fied to try it on my own, I de­cided to bring my own posse to the start line. Women like to do things to­gether, right? Now how was I go­ing to con­vince oth­ers to join me when very few had taken the leap in the past?

By ap­peal­ing to their hearts rather than their com­pet­i­tive na­ture, that’s how. And if they were like me, the in­tim­i­da­tion of rac­ing, cou­pled with the fear of fail­ure, cast too large a shadow to try rac­ing. The in­ter­est was there; I saw it within our club. That was the im­pe­tus that cre­ated ERTC’s Women’s Learn to Race pro­gram – the aim to touch women’s hearts, cre­ate mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships and turn in­ter­est into ac­tion.

In March of this year, we started with the ba­sics. Three in­for­ma­tion sem­i­nars, fa­cil­i­tated by a coach (thanks, Tim), ad­dress­ing a myr­iad of topics: what is a Cri­terium, do I need a heart-rate mon­i­tor, what do I ex­pect on race day, what li­cense/equip­ment do I need, will I get dropped, etc.? No ques­tion was con­sid­ered stupid. More than 60 women at­tended, spark­ing real con­ver­sa­tions about fears and goals.

In April, we took to the road. Prac­tice races, skills ses­sions and group rides put our knowl­edge into prac­tice. Al­though our group var­ied in fit­ness and abil­ity, we shared a strong de­ter­mi­na­tion to help each other reach our goals, both as a group and in­di­vid­u­ally. No longer was this sim­ply an idea; we had be­come a group of women ready to face the in­tim­i­da­tion of rac­ing, to­gether.

It was time to take the leap. Our first race, the Ve­loc­ity Stage Race (May 13-14), loomed near and we were all “ner­vous­cited” as we made last-minute plans. The fore­cast was atro­cious, but we were de­ter­mined. Armed with tents, camp­ing stoves, food for an army, tarps, blan­kets, win­ter jack­ets and lit­er­ally ev­ery item of cy­cling cloth­ing we owned, 11 women took the (very cold) leap. That’s 10 more women from our club than the year pre­vi­ous.

But we didn’t leap alone. Sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers also braved the weather to of­fer their in­valu­able sup­port. Our “race sher­pas,” as we af­fec­tion-

ately called them. If you don’t have a race sherpa, I highly rec­om­mend find­ing one. Or come race with us – we’re happy to share ours.

What hap­pened over the two days of rac­ing is hard to put into words be­cause for us it was felt deep in our hearts. To­gether we faced the rain/wind/cold, missed start times, em­bar­rass­ing mo­ments (tip­ping over at the time-trial start), road-spray mud masks, dropped chains, get­ting dropped, high-speed cor­ner­ing . . . and the list goes on. And we loved it. Cor­rec­tion, we loved fac­ing it to­gether. No longer were my fears my own; they were shared and con­quered with 10 other women.

Al­though sec­ondary in im­por­tance to the goals we achieved as a group, we also had in­di­vid­ual suc­cesses. Sarah, a mother of two-and­half-year-old twins, placed so well that she up­graded to Cat­e­gory 4 by the end of the week­end. And Danielle, a third-year med­i­cal stu­dent, came within three points of an up­grade. I de­scribe them this way to en­sure that you un­der­stand that we are a very nor­mal group of women. We face the very same chal­lenges, fears and bar­ri­ers as most ev­ery­one else. The dif­fer­ence is that we choose to be a part of some­thing that is big­ger than each of us in­di­vid­u­ally.

Many of us now have at least two races un­der our wheels, hav­ing just com­pleted first the Stieda Clas­sic Road Race and then the Cri­terium. These races brought new chal­lenges, in­clud­ing gravel and the seem­ingly ever-present wind, but we con­quered these the same way – to­gether, this time fill­ing two of the three podium spots for each race with our women.

We’re cre­at­ing a domino ef­fect in women’s road rac­ing in Al­berta. By flood­ing the start lines with new rac­ers, we’re piquing the in­ter­est of other women. If you’re one of them, come join us! Find a club that sup­ports new-racer de­vel­op­ment, en­sure that you have a good foun­da­tion of skills and knowl­edge and bring your ner­vous­cited but­ter­flies to a race and share them with us. If you’re in Ed­mon­ton, check us out (www.ertc.org/women) – we’re al­ways look­ing for women who want to part­ner their own goals with our fo­cus of “to­gether.”

And if you’re like me with a re­sponse of “Heck no, I’m not a racer,” be fore­warned. That has been my mantra for the past five seasons. Last week­end, I was on the podium. And while it may be my legs that ped­aled me there, it was our group of women that touched my heart and gave me rea­son to be on that start line. It’s for the laugh­ter and friend­ship we share that I race, and I en­cour­age you to con­sider the same!

Give rac­ing a try for the laugh­ter and friend­ship.

The women of ERTC are cre­at­ing a domino ef­fect in women’s road rac­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.