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 Emily Sportsman who considers herself a “cross-vangelical”!
What type of riding do you prefer?
Mountain! Although cross is a very close second since I moved to the Bay Area. I’ve actually become quite cross-vangelical! It’s the perfect gateway into the cycling community, especially for parents.
What initially motivated you to ride?
It was the mid ’90s, I was in high school and wanted to be an all around outdoors person. I kept riding in university because it was challenging and fun. Plus I went to an engineering school and I never had to change my own flat tires for 4 years (!)
How does biking influence your life?
Every day in every way. I bike commute. I bike commute with my 3 year old daughter. I ride for fun and stress relief. I train so I can drink more beer. I race so I can have time to focus just on myself and my needs. My husband and I first met mountain biking too.
Who/What influenced you the most when you started?
The guys and one other girl in the bike club at my university. They were supportive and encouraging and fun. It was a low BS, low ego group I feel lucky to have met. Many of us are still friends 20+ years later.
What are your riding related goals?
I finally got the courage to move up to Pro/expert mountain bike and Cat As in cyclocross this year. My goal is to not be terrified at the start line. It is amazing how fit and fast every single other woman looks!
Do you have any tips for women that are starting to ride?
It is great to ride with people, but don’t be afraid to try it on your own too. Sometimes when learning I like to practice first and get a feel for things before taking a class or riding with a group.
Also, don’t waste your time riding with jerks. It isn’t worth your time or mental energy to ride with someone who won’t help you with a technical section or answer your questions or makes demeaning comments about your skill or gear. It might take some time, but surround yourself with good people on the trails and roads.
What were your concerns or fears with bike riding?
My biggest fear is getting into a collision while riding with my 3 year old daughter. I take her to day care, to the park, and grocery shopping by bike — we really prefer to not drive every day. It is scary being on the roads with her, even roads with good bike lanes. But being in a car is not a promise of safety either.
I also fear coming in DFL!
What are the biggest struggles we face as female bicyclists, and how do we think we can promote women’s cycling to beginners?
Being treated as valued customers at shops! I was sold a size small frame (I’m 5’6″ with a long inseam) by a shop that never talked to me about adjusting the suspension or changing the stem length, or even looked at me on the bike. If that shop had treated me differently I might have bought one of my next 5 bikes from them… They lost a potentially loyal customer.
I also think many women often start riding on their spouse/partner’s bike that probably doesn’t fit, is heavy and old. It seems many of us don’t want to commit to buying a bike until we know we like the sport without realizing what a different experience riding can be with a quality bike that fits you. Having more demo and rentals available for women sized bikes would be nice for those that don’t want to commit to buying a bike.
Photo credit: Random guy at race