How often do you stop and look back? It is a great exercise, especially for the purpose of celebrating progress. Last April, Ride Like A Girl launched its second season with a mostly-new group of forty women who wanted to try this biking thing. They dusted off their bikes buried deep inside their garages. They wheeled them into a neighborhood bike shop for inspection, adjustment and some minor repairs. They listened to a flipchart-focused sales pitch from a retired high-tech corporate trainer. They openly expressed their hopes and fears of biking and then pondered the ultimate invitation, “Will you come and ride with me?” It was a humble and perhaps nerve-wrecking beginning for some, but six months later, an amazing transformation has taken place. Take a look at them – then and now!
- A survey of over 40 women who attended the season kick-off revealed that 70% considered themselves “Newbies to cycling”; 54% felt rusty and 21% anxious, 95% had never biked in a group.
- Collectively, fears of biking were identified and found in common: crashing, falling, sharing the road with vehicles and being left behind.
- But goals were declared in the form of bicycling hopes: “Get fit” was the most common followed by performance goals of “riding faster than a snail”, biking distances of 30, 60, – or more miles, and become a confident rider. Also desirous of many was the hope of having fun and making friends.
What We Did:
- We participated in weekly bike rides which included a biking-related lesson with every ride.
- We increased our distance, pace, and ride difficulty, slowly, over time.
- We developed and improved our skills, such as: how to ride predictably, minimize the risk of falling, share the road with other cyclists, pedestrians and (eventually) vehicles. We learned how to be alert, communicate our intentions, alert each other of hazards, and perhaps most importantly – how to assume responsibility for our own safety.
- We got smart! Attending training clinics on subjects such as: how to fix a flat tire, Oregon bicycle law, how to create a bike route, road biking 101, and how to use the coach within to improve our performance.
- We participated occasionally in “Challenge Rides” that gave opportunity to stretch a little further and test newfound skills.
- We biked everywhere: quiet bike paths, along river banks, through forested bikeways, urban streets, neighborhood boulevards, rural farmlands, over and under bridges. We biked along the ocean and to the tops of hills!
- We connected on Facebook, in potlucks, and with the girlfriends from 2013!
- We sported our new jerseys and made others want to Ride Like A Girl!
Now (or in corporate terms, the results):
- 100 women participated in 25 bike rides over 6 months for a total of 433 attendees.
- With 545 miles possible for each rider, together we logged a total of 6,363 miles.
- Increased our ride distance from 8 miles on our first ride to 46 – and feeling like we could do more!
- Doubled our pace from 8 mph at the start of the season to 15 mph at the end.
- Attended 25 lessons and 7 training clinics.
- Jackie, Brenda, Kathy, Jamie, Emily, Mary and Diane biked a total of 100-200 miles!
- Susie and Melanie biked over 200 miles, while Beth and Cathryn biked over 300!
- Kathy biked over 400 miles and Penny over 500!
Possibly the thing I am most impressed with is that ten women have emerged from RLAG to work as a team and cooperatively lead a new weekly ride series. “Girlfriend Rides” started last Friday with an invitation to women “who want to keep improving” to ride through the fall.
We couldn’t have done it without you…
- Thank you, spouses, significant others and all of you who encouraged us to keep rolling!
- Thank you, sweepers: JoAnn, Linda, Trudy, Melanie, Evy, Kindel, Carol, Chelsey, Beth, Diana, Sheri, Leslie, and another Melanie. Your encouragement and support is priceless.
- Thank you, presenters: Cynthia Newton (Partner and Trial Attorney, Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton), Maria Schur (Marketing Coordinator, Western Bikeworks) and Wendy Knabe (Mind/Body Health Specialist). We are smarter, safer, more confident and capable because of you!
- Thank you, photographers: Beth Rice, Melanie J. Wood, and Rohith Gunawardena. You have captured our precious memories!
There you have it, 2014 in all its glory. I am very proud – of the brave women who decided it was time to learn something new; of the team of girlfriends from 2013 who came alongside the newbies with support and encouragement; of the baby steps and the giant accomplishments each woman has made. Let’s keep it rolling, Girlfriends!