I first began mountain biking in a way that I assume many women start, with a male friend that quickly regrets his decision to bring a girl on his weekly mountain bike ride. The guy always smiles and attempts to be encouraging, but deep down inside he is wondering why you had such a hard time picking up the front wheel to get over that log which ultimately resulted in you flying over the handlebars and attempting to put on a courageous face. I love to look back and laugh about how cliché and humorous my experience was, however at the time, it was quite a task to pretend that my pride was not hurt and my body not so colorfully bruised.
Thankfully, shortly after my embarrassing reintroduction to cycling, I was lucky enough to come across a flier for a women’s only mountain biking clinic. The clinic was to be taught by the fast girls. Yes, you know them, the ones that everyone knows, looks up to and strives to be as fast as. They are our personal heroes. I signed up for the clinic and they quickly took me under their wing. They gave tips, refined my technique and provided encouragement that my male friend could not. An added bonus of the clinic was meeting other women cyclists representing all skill levels as well as alternate types of cycling. The education and interactive practice made the difference. I quickly developed into a stronger, more confident rider which ultimately ensured my continued participation in the sport.
The impact the women’s clinic and group had on me was huge. It came with the realization that we weren’t just cyclists, but a support group and a community. I realized how important that knowledge is and like to share it every day. Whether it involves fixing the fit of a child’s helmet and pumping up their tires or conducting cycling skills and maintenance clinics; being a role model and educating people on this amazing sport is my passion. Like any other community, in order to ensure the prosperity and future of cycling, leaders and role models are required. So, next time you are out and you see that newbie cyclist with a flat tire, stop and help repair it, or volunteer for the next child’s bicycle safety rodeo, after all, they are the future of our sport. Let’s welcome them into the community of cycling with open arms. Who knows, maybe one day you will become someone’s cycling hero.