Tell us about your biking: I ride ALLLLLL the bikes My stable includes MTB, CX (one is a SS), Road bike, TT bike, Track bike and fat bike. All Cannondales except for my track bike and Spot CX belt drive. Plus my 1995 Bridgestone commuter (first “real” bike I got – bought it when I was 15!). I started road racing around 2002-2003 and raced road and then track through 2011. I began switching to more CX and gravel races in 2012-2013 and am firmly hooked on the long distance stuff now. Long gravel races like Kanza and also Ironman triathlons – I just completed my second IM a few weeks ago. Beyond riding for fitness and fun, I also began using my bikes for transportation in earnest in 2012… I ride to work, for groceries, to the bank, library, hair salon, you name it … I LOVE the days my car never leaves the garage. I enjoy riding bikes in a kit but also in jeans and a dress coat too. I think it’s good for motorists to see us in all forms of cycling.
Tell us about your bike: The bike I rode in the 2016 DK200 was my Cannondale Black Superx CX bike. Insanely light, comfortable, and completely spot-on function – I had zero equipment issues and zero flats … I wasn’t able to finish due to hydration issues which led to me bailing around mile 165- but it was my body and not the bike that was the issue!
Where do you like to ride? EVERYWHERE! Seriously. There are very few roads or places I won’t ride. I’m blessed to live in the foothills here in the Golden area of Colorado – I can ride dirt trails and quiet (ish) roads from my front door. The one thing we lack in this area is long flat gravel roads!
What barriers did you face when getting into cycling? When I began cycling I lived in Nebraska and then moved to KS for 2 years before making my way to CO. The women’s road fields were small and often combined cat 1-2-3-4. That was a steep learning curve as a new cat 4, but I also believe racing with the best in the area raised my level of competition significantly and forced me to improve and train hard early-on. As most women would likely share, group rides tended to be male dominant and I realized it was important to establish myself as a rider who was willing/eager to learn how to ride bikes, and who could keep up. Riding with the guys forced me to learn to ride wheels and sit in the pack, otherwise I was dropped. I’d also say there was a steep learning curve learning about the equipment … many shops can be condescending and can make women feel stupid. I was lucky to almost immediately get paired up with the fine folks at HighGear in Omaha (now known as the Trek Midwest Cycling stores). Kent McNeil and Jay Thomas remain mentors of mine, and good friends. Cycling is also a time consuming sport at the higher levels. Whether you wanna become a pro road racer or you want to finish the DK200 before sunset, it takes time and volume to be successful. I say this is a barrier because many of our lives are already full with jobs, families, other commitments. If cycling and succeeding at your goals are truly a priority, find a way to make it happen. In my own life, I decided to start my own law firm at the age of 29 so I could control my schedule and have flexibility for racing, training and travel. I’ve been lucky that the firm has succeeded and in fact facilitates my cycling passion because it combines law and cycling together. The short answer here is -fit in the time for training if it matters to you. Throw away your TV. Take all of your vacation time at work. (ALL OF IT!) Make use of your limited downtime (and possibly, hire a coach to help you maximize it). Consider commuting as a form of base training. It’s an awesome way to get the volume in during the work week.
How did you overcome them? I found people willing to teach me and surrounded myself with good, strong, safe riders- both men and women. I traveled and raced a LOT. The best way to shorten the learning curve is to race race race (or ride ride ride, depending on your goals). Racing 60-80 events per season taught me a lot in a short time and I believe, contributed to my fairly rapid rise to a CAT 1 on the road just a few years later. I also had great coaches and patient teammates early on. And patient bosses Bottom line, you gotta want it – cycling can be an elusive sport -some of the unspoken etiquette rules can only be learned by oops -accidentally violating one and being put in your place. Don’t be afraid to fail, don’t worry about looking foolish. Get on your bike and go get it, period.
What advice would you have for other women facing the same obstacles? If you like to do research, do the research -there is SO much info online now -use it to empower yourself. I personally do not -I prefer “experiential learning” (i.e. screwing everything up for myself and learning from it) so I just had to go and DO bike racing. Find a shop you like, and where the employees know your name and care about helping you learn and make wise purchasing decisions. Find people to ride with who are just a bit better than you – to push you. But ensure they are also safe, skilled riders. Sign up for classes, trips, clinics, races, rides, events. The more you do the more you learn! And while there -pay attention -watch people, observe what those more experienced than you are doing. Check out the pros and their equipment and setup … they didn’t get there by accident! Join a team or club that is full of like-minded folks. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Don’t take advice from people who know less about the thing than you do. And always check those seatpost and handlebar bolts. I’ve had loose equipment foil a few races for me when I wasn’t serious about maintaining my equipment. Lastly – keep your bikes clean, ladies. Learn how to wash and service your bikes YOURSELF. Be proud of what you ride… you’ll earn street cred from folks you ride with and at your LBS, when it’s time for service, too
What have you done to get others riding bikes? You can lead people to the bike koolaid but you can’t force them to drink it. So I lead simply by doing. My neighbors see me ride my bike to the store. When I ride for a beer at a local brewery people see me ride up and then ride home. I ride my bike to work. I started a small team called the Bike Ambassadors where we all commute a lot, and we blog about it to share our tips with others. And each of us have in turn had others observe our behavior and then try it for themselves. If someone asks me what bike to buy or what race I recommend, I take time to give my $.02. I firmly believe the world is a better place with more people on bikes. I do everything I can to get new riders on bikes and to show them the way.
How can others get involved? See my previous answer. Ride for recreation and to get fit for your next race. But also ride for transportation. Wear jeans and ride your road bike or gravel bike to the store and load up that backpack with groceries! Show people that the car can stay home while you make those short trips. Join groups like PeopleForBikes.org in raising money and awareness for safer cycling. Teach people how to ride a bike. Teach them skills. Introduce new riders to great bike shops and patient teachers.