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From Far and Wide, Ladies Ride, Ride, Ride!

15 Oct

To anyone out there who still thinks bicycling is a just young man’s sport, guess again. Women loves bikes. Even “women of a certain age” whose parenting is more about waving goodbye to college-bound kids or sharing holiday recipes than changing diapers or back to school nights.

Sometimes all it takes to get them on the road is a little encouragement, like having a friend to ride with. Point them to a fun group ride and they’ll ride in like the cavalry.

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That was what I discovered (yet again) last weekend on a women’s ride hosted by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. I had heard the organizer Candice wasn’t really sure if she’d have four or 40 women show up. Since she recruited at least a half dozen helpers, her low estimate was too conservative. So was her high estimate. I counted 50 just before we divided into three groups and headed across downtown San Jose. Our destination: the old port town of Alviso, a 20 mile roundtrip via the Guadalupe River Trail.

I rolled out with a faster group of about a dozen led by Marnie, a charity ride junkie who spins a yarn as fast as she spins her wheels. We stopped for the lowdown on the sights along the way, from the “Hands” mural on the parking garage at San Jose Airport to the site of the Lupe the Mammoth fossil unearthed on the river a decade ago to the cannery and salt flats at Old Alviso.

The ride was a delightful spin on a lovely day filled with female camaraderie. But like many events, it was the after-party that made the news. Instead of taking us back to the fountain plaza where we started, Marnie led us straight to her house in Naglee Park where recovery drinks and food were waiting. For this demographic, that means wine, fruit and cheese. No one complained about the change in direction.

Relaxing on Patio

As we chatted over our recovery drinks, I learned more about the wide range of women in my group. Many were local to San Jose, but others had trekked in from the Peninsula and East Bay. Some were new to group rides, most had cut their teeth in women’s groups with names like Feather Pedals and Velo Girls.

A few, like me, were daily commuters, but most were strictly recreational riders, with a strong showing of the charity ride regulars. The most commonly cited reason for not running errands on their bikes? They couldn’t bear the idea of leaving their “babies” unattended.

Some came to the sport as a gentler alternative to running, others hadn’t really exercised in years before they started cycling. There was discussion over what being a “cyclist” meant. To one woman, a bike rider earns the title “cyclist” when she starts wearing cycling jerseys. Another was quick to say she didn’t consider herself a cyclist, despite the jersey on her back. She didn’t explain why before the conversation turned.

While most were old enough to have college-age kids, there were young’uns along for the ride and the fellowship which knows no age. A shared love of bikes is usually all it takes to bring women together.

Will you travel far to join a group ride? If so, what makes it worth going the extra distance?

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10 Comments

Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Backroads, Women & Bikes

 

10 responses to “From Far and Wide, Ladies Ride, Ride, Ride!

  1. Nancy L. Seibel

    October 15, 2013 at 7:04 am

    One of the best women and cycling posts I’ve seen!

     
    • ladyfleur

      October 15, 2013 at 7:09 am

      Thanks, Nancy. It was an impressive bunch of ladies and a lot of fun.

       
      • Nancy L. Seibel

        October 15, 2013 at 7:12 am

        Another wonderful benefit of cycling :)

         
  2. labicichical

    October 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Looks like I missed a fun time! Well done to SVBC and Janet for hosting.

     
  3. TinLizzie72

    October 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I wish I could go biking with you!

     
  4. Jean

    October 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    It would be interesting to know if there were a lot more college/university age females (who just completed high school), vs. women who had been working for a number of years/decades that cycled in your group.

     
    • ladyfleur

      October 16, 2013 at 12:07 am

      Out of 50 women, I expect only a handful were under 25. Make that 30. I’d say the median age was over 50.

       
  5. Rebecca

    October 15, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Ah, wish I had known about the ride. Almost all the rides I end up on are sausage fests!! :-( Would like to ride with other ladies.

     
  6. Eddie R.

    October 17, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Good blog

     

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