Women’s Ride Day was this last Sunday, May 31, and was hosted by Bicycle Habitat Women’s Cycling. Around 80 women of all ages and abilities were in attendance, and was, in my opinion, a huge win for the women’s cycling movement. It got me thinking about all the women I met and got to know better on this ride, and made me wish Bicycle Habitat had its Women’s Cycling program four years ago when I got my first road bike.
My start with cycling was a bit rocky. In 2011 I had just failed in my attempt to do the Ride to Montauk. The goal was the 70 mile route, but I was using my “city pretty” (a.k.a. really heavy commuter bike) with no real training leading up to the ride, being passed by svelte-looking riders who weren’t breaking a sweat even though they probably were doing the 155 mile route. Add to the fact that I had no idea that waiting until I was hungry or thirsty would lead up to me completely bonking at mile 40.
All I knew was that I wanted to be a better rider, and learning the hard way was not the way to do it. I didn’t know what to look for in a road bike, where to ride, who to ride with, how to train, what to eat, how to dress — complete n00b.
That is why I’m so happy that Bicycle Habitat Women’s Cycling is here now because Sunday’s Specialized Women’s Ride Day was the culmination of two months of great programming: clinics about nutrition, emergency roadside repair, bike fit, yoga for cyclists, cycling for triathletes, and most importantly (as an ambassador for this program) I am so excited about how it has kickstarted a whole new wave of women on road bikes. And not just riding, but riding with the help and support of a trusted bike shop.
Getting up early for laps in Central and Prospect parks, going on our bi-weekly Saturday rides to the Little Red Lighthouse, riding on a regular basis, building up to a goal in mind – all helped to make this Sunday’s Women’s Ride Day that much easier to handle for me, and hopefully for those familiar faces I saw on the ride.
The weather forecast seemed ominous as I attached my fender to my seat post, hoping that doing so would mean that the rain would stay away (just like carrying an umbrella or wearing rainboots to work means that you never end up needing them). As I rolled across Spring Street, I spotted someone on their way to the shop for the ride, and a few at the coffee shop on the corner, but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of ladies who showed up. They were in the shop, at the signup table, getting flat fix supplies and energy snacks… all in all, the group stretched all the way across the sidewalk between our two shops on Lafayette Street!
By starting a bit earlier, we successfully avoided a lot of runners and cruise ship tourists as we made our way up to the Little Red Lighthouse. The B ride was capped off with a wonderful stretching session led by our program’s co-founder Kristen, and shortly thereafter the A ride ladies made their way to the Alpine ranger station via River Road through Palisades Interstate Park. It was a great experience helping to lead a group of ambitious women, many who were experiencing River Road and 9W by bike for the first time.
Returning to the shop later for the after ride party was even sweeter because it meant that we avoided the crazy lightning and thunderstorm that thankfully started after we were home taking well deserved showers and naps. The plentiful Sixpoint beer and City Bakery snacks were delicious rewards after burning all those calories. It was great to have a reunion with those who participated in the morning ride, as well as meet ladies who heard about the program and wanted to be a part of events happening in the future.
Cheers to a successful Specialized Women’s Day Ride!