Last week, Bicycle Habitat Women’s Cycling brought together female representatives from New York Cycle Club’s SIG Program, Century Road Club Association Women’s Development, and the triathlete community to discuss riding and racing opportunities in New York City. We hope these presentations helped inspire our community to seek out one or more of these opportunities, and have more resources and open doors available to them. Here’s a recap of what was discussed.
First, we heard from leaders of New York Cycle Club’s SIG program. The SIG (Special Interest Group) is an 8-12 week training program run by NYCC every spring, which teaches group riding and other pertinent cycling skills. Participants commit to riding together each Saturday, with routes that become progressively longer and harder each week. Riders also do training rides during the week, often in Central Park or Prospect Park.
The SIG is divided into four levels: C-SIG, B-SIG, A-SIG, and A-SIG Classic. Within each level, riders are divided into smaller groups of 8-12 participants with 2-4 leaders.
The C-SIG is perfect for people with hybrid bikes or who are new to road cycling. Clipless pedals are not required. Participants ride with the same group each week. Leaders teach proper shifting, cadence, and single file riding (though not pacelining). Rides progress from 15 miles to 55-60 miles, and 10-13 MPH to 13-16 MPH.
The B-SIG is perfect for people who are comfortable on their road bikes and want to build strength and/or learn the basics of pace line riding for the first time. Leaders teach shifting, general group riding skills and, in the second half of the program, basic pace lining. Like the C-SIG, participants ride with the same group each week, with group pacing of 16-18 MPH. Rides progress from 40 miles to 70-100 miles.
The A-SIG is perfect for people who are already in good cycling shape, have some group riding experience, and want to learn to ride tightly in a group. Leaders teach the skills necessary to ride in a smooth, rotating pace line over varied terrain. Participants ride with different leaders and groupings each week, and are assigned a mentor to help coach them through the program. Rides progress from 40 to 100 miles and 17 MPH to 20-21 MPH, with increased elevation gains each week. Because A-SIG rides become progressively more difficult, participants must commit to midweek training rides in order to complete the program. The A-SIG is also perhaps the most social SIG, with regular happy hours and an active Facebook page. Participants graduate the program with dozens of new cycling friends.
The A-SIG Classic is perfect for people who are in good cycling shape, have experience with group riding and pacelining, and want to push themselves over the spring months. Leaders teach and refine participants’ skills to ride in a smooth, rotating, single or double pace line and to maximize efficiency on ascents and descents. Like the A-SIG, participants ride with different leaders and groupings each week, and are assigned a mentor to help coach them through the program. Rides progress from 40 miles to 100+ miles, with speeds of 23 MPH or more by the end of the program. Later rides have elevation gains of over 6,000 feet. Midweek training is critical.
Both the A-SIG and A-SIG Classic programs are committed to attracting and graduating as many women cyclists as possible. The programs have many supportive female leaders; organize strength-building, women-only “attack drill” training rides in Central Park; and host socials for female participants and leaders to get to know one another.
The SIG programs are free and open to all members of NYCC. Join NYCC here.
Next, we heard about the Century Road Club Association’s Two Seconds Ahead Women’s Development Series, sponsored by Specialized. CRCA is the largest bike racing organization in the U.S. and organizes many of the bike races in the New York City area, including regular Central Park races, criteriums at Grant’s Tomb and Pelham Bay Park, and a road race near Bear Mountain. All CRCA races have women-only categories.
The Women’s Development Series seeks to encourage as many women as possible to try out and progress at bicycle racing. It offers development-focused races; free coaching sessions; course scouting rides to teach race tactics; women’s socials; and mentorship opportunities. This year, participants will receive raffle-credit for each development series event they attend. At the end of the season, Specialized will raffle off an S-Works Amira frame to one lucky participant.
Last, we learned about triathlon opportunities in the New York City area and ways to get involved. Triathlons push you physically beyond what’s possible in a single sport. Triathletes must learn to efficiently swim, cycle, and run over long distances and in progression. In addition to sports training, triathletes should learn proper nutrition to fuel endurance exertion; set up their bikes properly (triathletes use either triathlon-specific bikes or road bikes, either with or without aero-bars); and practice transitions.
New York has a robust triathlon community. Asphalt Green, Empire Tri, Tailwind Endurance, Brooklyn Tri Club, Breakaway Endurance, KISCoaching, HBody Lab and Team Lipstick offer triathlon-specific training programs and communities.