Cycling has always had a soft spot in my heart. Not only was it the first thing to prevent my brother and I from bickering (we finally found something we could talk about and semi agree on), but cycling also gave me a sense of freedom that is still hard to beat.
Despite the joy it brought to me throughout my teens, I often felt like I was weird for being one of the few girls on a bike. When I was 10 years old I didn’t understand why there weren’t more girls following their brother around on mountain bikes. When I was 15 years old, I was still confused as to why more girls weren’t road racing. It’s fun, addictive, and most of all, freeing. At the young age of 21, I still find cycling to be all of those things, with even more benefits I didn’t appreciate at first.
While I find myself embracing cycling even more as I get older, I also finally see why some women may find it hard to enter the sport or think they are alone in it. Cycling is seemingly a male dominated sport. However, there are so many different types of women who enrich the cycling community. Through women’s rides, joining clubs, and randomly asking women to exchange phone numbers to organize and ride together, I have found many different groups to ride with and treasured my experience with each.
Yes. Their pace is mellow. They stop and take photos of empty fields. They talk faster than they pedal. And you know what? They are sincerely having a better time than any other group on the road (or mountain).
Riding with this group I embrace not only nature, but also socialization. When the group stops to smell the roses, they also stop for a heart- to- heart or to teach life lessons that were never intended. This group is so happy to be on a bicycle and they appreciate the journey, not just the destination. They are welcoming and, seriously, having way more fun than anyone else on a bike.
This can be one of the more intimidating groups to ride with. These women are not afraid to lay the hammer down and sprint against you to the city limit sign. In fact, they often beat some of the strongest men in town. They’re beautiful and more fit than most, yet they claim to be in their forties (we know they’re secretly 23). These women are hardcore and still manage to be some of the nicest people out there. They’re excited to see more women on bikes and are not above teaching the rules of the road or mountain to the newer rider.
When I ride with this group and can actually keep up, I learn how to push myself in ways I never thought possible by following these fearless women as they charge up a hill. From this, I’ve gained not only an appreciation for those who test their limits regularly, but a desire to increase my ability to push myself to the limit. I have become respectful of the sport and others who partake in it, as I can relate to the pain necessary to be at a certain level.
Often times, this group can be scary to ride with. There is little to no road etiquette, however they all swear they’ve been riding for years (they’re 20 – how long could that really be?).
Regardless of how frustrating this can sometimes be, in spite of the fear, riding with this group is also enlightening, as their spirit and excitement for the bike is awesome. They cannot wait to ride further and faster while also respecting the new rules they learn. The excitement and fun generated by this group is contagious. If I ever feel burnt out, this group will relight the fire with one ride, as they will most likely talk enthusiastically about cycling for hours on end and get me excited to go ride.
These women are unreal. I have done hard rides with triathletes where by the end of it, all I crave is food and a nap. Yet they leave me after a ride and exclaim, “See you later, I’m going to the pool for a quick swim workout.”
Um. Excuse me? I need to take a three hour nap before I can even think about walking.
Triathletes are truly amazing. The women (and men) have motivated me to explore new sports. While cycling is fun, so is running (and maybe sometimes swimming). They demonstrate balance, as they have juggled three different types of workouts along with their busy work and life schedule.
Everything In Between:
You find yourself on a bike often and love it? Good. You’re not alone. In my experience, all of the women cyclists I’ve met have two things in common: 1) their love of the sport and 2) the helping hand they all offer to the less experienced rider.
The most gratifying part of joining the women’s cycling community is the opportunity to find people who have the same passions as you. Through cycling, I have met some of my best friends as we all come together for something productive and good. Our ambitions are the same, starting with the desire to ride and lead a healthy life. From there we find we have a lot more in common than the bike, which was simply an introduction to a lifelong friendship. A bike ride with other women then transforms from an awkward group ride to an event that feels like grabbing a cup of coffee with best friends – except better.
So next time you’re given the opportunity to ride with a group of women, do not hesitate. The women’s community is seemingly small. Chances are you’ll meet someone you can easily connect with and your cycling experience will become far more enjoyable.