You may think it’s a no-brainer; helping a friend to adjust her helmet or add an accessory to her bike; or hanging back to ride with her when she’s struggling to keep pace with the rest of the group. Unfortunately, we don’t always find this girlfriend spirit in a cycling group. Sometimes Strava goals, destination timetables and competitive spirits win over lending a helping hand. But last Friday I witnessed the blessing and beauty of a bicyclist stepping up to befriend a newcomer.
Gathering pre-ride in a local coffee shop, a group of Ride Like a Girl women were welcoming first-timers and reconnecting with old friends. It was in those first moments I witnessed one of our women offer to help another she had just met. I inwardly smiled and watched, thinking, “This is a Ride Like a Girl moment.”
Jamie was trying to attach a new mirror to her helmet. With instructions in one hand and supplies in the other, she was organizing her thoughts to tackle the task when the cyclist sitting beside her spoke up, “Do you want to see how I mounted my mirror? I have the same one.” Julia left the coffee chatter to retrieve her helmet from the car and returned to coach her peer on how to quickly mount the device. In minutes, the task was done and conversation continued seamlessly.
Fast-forward eight miles into our ride and another rider was struggling to keep pace with the group. Julia (our ‘helmet helper’) elected to ride alongside her, later explaining, “My jacket is brighter than hers, and I wanted to make sure she was visible to vehicles when she fell behind the group.”
The struggling cyclist had become overheated and felt nauseous as she slowly rolled up to the group, dismounted her bike and planted herself on the pavement. Julia was the first to say, “You all go ahead, and I’ll stay with her so she can have a break.” Knowing that the group would be circling back after two more miles, I thought it was the perfect option for our tired rider. But Julia’s offer meant she would personally miss a portion of the ride and the social time during our rest stop. I asked her, “Are you sure?” to which she replied, “This is what girlfriends do.”
Speaking with Julia after the event, I learned her motivation was simply to pass it forward, citing how several other women have supported and encouraged her in moments of fatigue and discouragement.
Julia had just met the women she assisted that Friday. Her kindness served not only strangers but also the larger group, as they could continue their ride uninterrupted. No doubt, Julia made two new friends that day. And in a time when our world seems to be trending towards cold-heartedness, she countered the culture with class and kindness, giving life to one of our mantras, “Be a girlfriend.”