This winter I started organizing women’s only events for a new group we named Ride Like a Girl Cycling.
When did you first start riding a bike?
I believe I was 4 years old when I started riding a bike. I remember walking out to the end of the retaining wall along the driveway to hop onto my brother’s bike and ride it around. It was a 20” Hutch BMX bike. The bike was pretty sweet too, a dark blue frame with yellow mag wheels! No training wheels! Just kept trying!
What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
The greatest motivator in my life to ride my bike is the people I surround myself with. I choose to fill my life with people who are excited to be alive, people who share the interest of riding their bikes too.
What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
My favorite competitive event is any national BMX race. Unlike many local races where I am placed with guys my age, I get to compete with women that are the same age and on the same page in life, we have kids, our kids are starting to race...
I love competing now days because I am in it for fun. I am not out for blood anymore (it’s a conscious effort, I admit); I’m usually smiling while pedaling my butt off out there. There’s still competition but we are not knocking each other over to get 1st place. Most of us just want to see if we can finish the race rubber side down.
Tell us about the ride styles you enjoy and why you’ve chosen them-
I really enjoy all riding styles with the exception of road riding. Those tires are just too skinny for me. I can honestly say that road riding/racing scares the crap out of me. The fact that you can be taken out by a crack in the road is just not OK with me.
Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
I do, I remember feeling excited. The first thing I wanted to do was jump over something to see what happened with the suspension fork. I almost ate it because I was not expecting the suspension to be so soft.
If you had nervousness at all, what did you do or think to overcome it?
When I get scared or nervous I start singing “You are my Sunshine”. It makes me smile and calm down instantly. It makes me breathe and gets my mind off what I am about to do.
Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I use clipless and flat pedals. I like to use clipless for gravel rides and BMX racing. I use flats for downhill, learning new stuff or if I’m at a park I have never been to before with a ton of obstacles.
For those who have never used them before, I would like to tell you that there are pros and cons. Don’t let someone force you into using them. There is nothing wrong with riding flats. There is nothing wrong with clipless pedals either. It all depends on the style of riding you are doing and the intensity. There are so many styles of clipless pedals now days that can be adjusted with a ton of float (for beginners) or to keep your shoe attached tightly.
Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I have had quite a few wipe outs. A few of them I have been knocked out so I really don’t remember and have no fear about that obstacle. There is an area of Lebanon Hills, in Eagan, MN that I freak out about each time I go over it. It’s a jump to berm combo. I have ALWAYS gotten squirrely on landing it and making it thru the berm. I have managed to stay upright every time until recently. I crashed big time. My son and a girlfriend of mine were riding with me. My helmet was full of these little yellow flowers; they were stuck to my arms and all over my face. I started laughing because my son asked if I was OK. Honestly, I could have bawled my head off. My legs were entwined in the frame, my glasses were somewhere else, my water bottle was a good 10 feet away and I had no idea what had just happened. After a few minutes I pulled my parts back together and looked at the mess I made of that berm. I would like to apologize to the MORC team that had to fill in those holes.
I’m still working on the physical healing; the mental healing was going back to the jump, swearing at it, “sessioning” it; the emotional healing comes from finally landing the jump without casing it.
Overcoming obstacles, no matter what they are, physical, mental or emotional can be rewarding to your overall enjoyment of life. You can ALWAYS do more than you think you can. If you fall on your face, get your butt back up and try it again.
When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Until a year ago at a mountain bike clinic I had always used two fingers to grip the break lever. Now I only use my pointer finger. It has really improved my ability to hang on! If a technique can be explained to me to answer “why should I be doing this?” I tend to remember it more.
Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
If I am in an area I have not been before, I struggle with looking ahead. I find myself looking down a lot. It’s a conscious effort to keep my face looking forward, sometimes I can be facing forward but my eyes peek down. I just laugh a little, no need to get upset over it.
What do you love about riding your bike?
I love that I can ride my bike where I want, when I want and I can control how quickly I get there. I can stop and watch animals or quick turnaround to look at something on the road or trail. I love traveling at high speeds and feel like am flying. To look at my computer and see my speed makes me giggle. I can take different paths and never have to take the same route twice. My travels are not dependent on anyone but myself.
Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a few bikes to be honest. I have a 1960’s Schwinn Hollywood cruiser that I ride to go to the grocery store or to go get ice cream. I have a 1970’s Raleigh Rampart with banana seat that I ride around the block with my kids. I have a Trek Crockett cross bike that I ride on gravel, trails and any other road riding. I have a Liv Lust 1 dual-suspension mountain bike that I love to ride downhills and technical rides with. I have a 24” BMX cruiser that I race BMX with. I am currently putting together a dirt jumper to beat on.
What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I am in love with Lift Cyclewear clothing. The material that is used is phenomenally soft and comfy. I wish I could have every article of clothing made out of this material. I would wear it daily. The 2015 line is tops only but coming out for 2016 is a full line with bottoms added!!! It’s great for all around cycling and fitness wear. You can go for a ride and walk into the ice cream parlor not feeling like a billboard for advertising.
You are involved in the industry via Penn Cycle- has that given you insight on women and cycling?
I feel that working in this industry definitely gives me an insight to women and cycling. I am able to provide input to corporate decisions made about women’s clothing, bikes, accessories, etc. I provide the female point of view in a male-dominated “world”. I love that I can share what other women share with me and that it’s not just my opinion. Penn Cycle owner Pat Sorensen has been very supportive of Ride Like a Girl Cycling and is always open to hearing the opinions and thoughts of the female riders involved. Penn Cycle has been hosting all of the ladies events and providing tech support on all group rides with the Penn Cycle ambulance. I know I have said this before, but Patrick is the best bike shop owner I have ever met. He is very hands-on involved with support, setting up for rides and always available to answer any questions that arise. He has earned a high level of respect not only from me, but from thousands of cyclists in the bicycle community.
In any shape/form, why do you feel women should be involved with the cycling industry?
There is no reason for women not to be involved in the cycling industry. Men and women have very different though processes, why not have all those ideas to make the community stronger and more mainstream? Women are in control of the majority of household spending and influence most of their friends and family members. Getting more women involved only makes sense. We know what we want to buy, we are the ones spending the money.
Tell us about Ride Like A Girl Cycling and how it got started-
Ride Like a Girl Cycling was created to be a resource for any woman looking to get into cycling or who already rides for work, pleasure or sport. This group was developed by female cyclists with the assistance of Penn Cycle to create a gathering place to find information, resources and to meet other women to ride or race with in our growing cycling community. Members looking to ride together, share bike routes, post group rides or events (races, rides, etc.), discuss equipment or Q&A are encouraged to do so.
Tell us about the process of starting your women’s group- what should people keep in mind who would like to start a group in their area?
Starting Ride Like a Girl Cycling was a bit of a process. Knowing many of the women involved in racing helped with being able to bounce ideas off of for clinics, rides, “what do they wish was around”, etc. I believe my attitude helps a bit here too. I am not one to take “no” for an answer. I am not in this for anything other than empowering women to be their best physically and mentally. I truly believe you can do anything you put your mind to. I get so excited to see all the beautiful ladies that come to clinics and rides to share their experiences, learn, and to meet new friends.
For starting a new women’s cycling group in your area I believe you need to be involved for the right reasons. You should have the true spirit of cycling and the honest will for empowering women, you should not be in it for commercial reasons; we are too smart for that.
Tell us about some of the events you do- how do you encourage new riders to join?
We do a variety of events including many clinics: maintenance, get to know your bike, how to ride your bike better, how not to crash so hard, etc. We have had a variety of rides as well. We have had a couple gravel rides that have turned into the “Dirty Girl” series. We have random mountain bike rides, road rides, gravel rides, brewery rides, ice cream parlor rides, and many more. We encourage any level of rider by reaching out to the ladies that are not involved in the cycling community already. We have a few ladies that have only taken spin classes but not ride on the road. I talk to women at the store or walking around at the mall. I talk to pretty much everyone and hand out my business cards. I’m not creepy about it but it works! Whenever I see ladies on rides at trails I talk to them and I have business cards in my top tube bag. I am involved in many community and health care events.
It’s not just me though; the core group of women that have been a part of the group since the beginning have been spreading the word as well. We all have a common goal; to get more women involved in our community, to have fun and meet new friends at the same time.
Why do you feel women’s groups are a benefit and/or necessity?
I feel they are an absolute necessity. I have met so many ladies that have told me they would not be as active on their bikes if Ride Like a Girl Cycling was a mixed gender. To have a female only group gives women the safety be more open and honest to discuss topics that might not go over very well with a man. We have quite a few discussion topics going on that I don’t see a man answering.
Any suggestions on how a woman can find a group to join? What are some key points for people to consider before joining?
I will first answer with check out www.ridelikeagirlcycling.com. Then I say to go to your local bike shop and see if there are any women’s groups available for a weekly women’s riding group. There are more and more women’s cycling groups popping up all over! I would go to a couple events before “joining” a group. I wouldn’t think you need to pay to be a part of a group, unless it’s for a certain event or race.
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? (Mountain biking, BMX, etc.)
Women in general might be afraid of the physicality of the sport. They may think you have to be super fit or super strong to be able to ride. This is not a fact. Riding a bike is easier on your body than most sports.
What could change in the industry (or in general areas) to encourage more women to ride?
I strongly believe that women should not be treated as women when they walk into a bike shop or just going for a ride on a local trail. We should be treated as everyone else. I would rather you be attentive to my deeds, not being condescending. I would rather be respected than have someone surprised that I know what I am talking about or know how to ride. Don’t try to sweet talk me into something or tell me what a good job I am doing, I’m smarter than that.
What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I ride to encourage other women to get out there and do their best. I am a mother of two, work full time and still ride. I may not be at the level I was 20 years ago but I still enjoy the time spent on my bike. I enjoy the time of reflection from a solo ride and the confidence of completing a difficult training ride. I enjoy pushing others to be their best. It makes me a better woman and a stronger athlete.
Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I have no internal compass.
If I ever say “Hey, follow me!” don’t do it.
I once added about 5 or so miles to a gravel ride because I was certain we were supposed to take a right. For this reason, I always ride sweep. Even then I get the back of the group lost. It’s so sad.