One thing I brought back from the National Bike Summit this spring has to do with women in cycling. Only 25% of cyclists in the US are women. Why is that? Because, as a group, we really do need different things than men in order to be comfortable riding bikes. Women like to ride as a social thing, I learned. Women like to feel clean and safe. Women like to feel accepted when they ride. And if women can be encouraged to ride more, more kids will grow up on bikes. It’s worth working on. I hadn’t realized it before.
So when my friend Lisa over at ArkansasOutside.com announced that she was going to host a local ride as part of an international Women’s Cycling Day, I figured that I should support her efforts.
And I’m glad I did. Nearly thirty women showed up for the ride. The youngest was twelve, and the oldest was in her seventies. There were women on comfort bikes and cruisers, dressed in skirts and flip flops. There were women on fast road bikes, dressed in full cycling kit.
One woman, dressed in pink, was particularly proud of her Cyclofemme tattoo. She was also particularly proud of the bike she rode. The bike had belonged to her friend, who had died just this spring from breast cancer. This lady – I never got her name – was glad to be spending Mother’s Day with other women, thinking of her friend, riding that bike for the first time.
But it wasn’t, for the most part, a serious ride. It was slow and chatty. Friends were made and plans put in place to get together to ride on other days. Some of us even rode tall bikes, just for fun.
Lisa’s husband Joe was waiting at the Clinton Library with a light lunch – veggies, tea sandwiches, and brownies. Bryan and Mitch helped him set up and played host while we rested in the shade and ate. Mandy and Monkey found that sledding down the hills on paper plates was more to their taste than eating cucumber and mint sandwiches. After lunch, we got back on the bikes and headed west toward the bridge and the end of our ride.
(All photos are from Cliff Li.)