Motivational Monday is an on going series highlighting stories of women like you and me. We feature racers, commuters, car-free mommas, and everything in between. Want to be featured? Fill out this form!
Today’s Motivational Monday is with Cait, who has some very inspiring thoughts on how to promote women’s riding.
What type of riding do you prefer?
I prefer riding mountain bikes and cyclocross-style rides. I do love long road rides, too! I have a BMX bike, and I’m working on my pump track skills. Any type of bike riding, really!
What initially motivated you to ride?
I never stopped riding bikes as a kid. When I got to college, the train wasn’t very convenient to get from my apartment to classes, so I built up a single speed to get around. From there, I started trying different types of riding outside of commuting, and now I have all kinds of bikes.
How does biking influence your life?
Biking influences my life in a number of ways – it’s how I get around, it’s my escape from everyday life, it’s my favorite sport, and it’s even my job to work on bikes! It’s also how I’ve made most of my friends as an adult. I’m not sure what I would be doing without bicycles in my life. They really do shape every aspect of my life.
Who/What influenced you the most when you started?
I would have to say my parents. They got me my first bike when I was a kid, and my first real mountain bike when I got a little older. They have always encouraged me to ride and I have been really lucky. Outside of my parents, the Boston cycling community has been amazingly supportive – from commuting, to racing, and most importantly, friendship.
What are your riding related goals?
I try to ride every single day. I travel a lot for work, so that’s not an easy task, but I aim to get as much riding time in as possible, when I can.
Do you have any tips for women that are starting to ride?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Cycling can look elitist and intimidating from the outside, but most people really want to share what they know with people. I have learned a lot just by asking.
What were your concerns or fears with bike riding?
When I started commuting in Boston, I was scared of vehicular traffic. Riding in traffic safely is an acquired skill and it definitely takes time to get used to being able to look at a bunch of cars and figure out your game plan while riding. I think that’s a real fear of many would-be cyclists, but arming yourself with knowledge on how to ride with traffic is a powerful tool.
What are the biggest struggles we face as female bicyclists, and how do we think we can promote women’s cycling to beginners?
I think the biggest obstacle that women face is overcoming the first steps into getting a bike and getting on one. Walking into a shop can be an intimidating experience, and it can color their view of bicycles from there on. I think we can promote women’s cycling by engaging them at all levels – from beginner to expert, with rides, events, and clinics, and of course, products that they like using, whether that’s a bicycle itself or the gear that comes along with it.
The other really important thing is providing girls with the opportunity to continue growing their interest in bikes. At a young age, boys and girls participate in bike riding at the same rates. As they get older, a participation gap appears and it never recovers. Many people get a car when they are teenagers and they never look back at riding a bike. How many women have you met that didn’t get into cycling until after college or later? A lot of times it just never occurred to them – they didn’t see their peers riding, so they didn’t ride either.
Photo credit: John Watson