The majority of readership on this site is men, so if you’re a dude and you took the initiative to click on this link, I applaud you. I also need your help.
Columbia has a good number of women who ride bikes for recreation, but you wouldn’t know it by the turn out on many of the group rides in town. A few weeks ago I wrote a guest blog article for a website devoted to empowering women to cycle. The article is called Ladies Night and explains why I think we don’t see more women on these rides.
The response to the post amazed me. I was hoping to inspire ten women to come together for Sunday morning group rides, but so far forty-two women have said that they want to join. Fantastic!
I’m telling you this because I hope you will encourage a woman in your life to ride her bike, or more specifically, ride with me. Perhaps your girlfriend, your wife, a co-worker, or even a neighbor. The Rococo Rides (Ride On Chicks Of Columbia) will begin on Sunday, March 17. I put some FAQs and a few guidelines here. Information can also be found on the Rococo Rides Facebook page.
Women need encouragement to bicycle, especially for sport. When I was a kid, you didn’t see women ride. Movies like Breaking Away and American Flyers featured dudes. Women’s Olympic cycling events didn’t make the highlight reel. There was certainly no Ginny LeMond to bring attention to bike racing. I know the names of far more men cyclists than I know of women.
Here’s another thing: competitive cycling needs women. The sport has taken a brutal beating in the past few years, and more specifically, the past few months. It’s in danger of being completely dismissed by the general public, and thus sponsors, as a tainted sport that doesn’t merit any attention whatsoever. There’s a large segment of the population, however, that hasn’t been raked through the bicycling mud, and that is women.
Women also bring money to the sport, which is something we all need. The more competitors at a race, the better it does financially. The more customers shopping at an LBS, the better it can serve your needs and be there for the long term. The League of American Bicyclists is holding a webinar on Feb 27 titled The Economic Impact of Women Bicyclists. The teaser description: though underrepresented in many aspects of the bicycle movement, there’s growing evidence that women hold the purse strings when it comes to the future success of the bike industry.
Bicycling needs women and women want to bicycle. According to the Alliance for Biking & Walking, 42% of American women said “people to ride with” would encourage them to ride—or ride more. So here’s what you can do: Encourage a woman to ride. Offer to ride with her. Teach her what you know. Support her efforts. Tell her about the Rococo Rides. Let’s work together to grow the ranks of women competitive cyclists in Columbia.