I’ve experienced several Ah-Ha moments this season, most of them related to training for and attending my first NRC event. Topping the list is, “Oh….that’s what as-hard-as-you-can-go feels like…(barf here).” However, the most memorable ones, ones that brought a big smile to my face, are the ones others have experienced near me or because of me.
As I’ve become a more experienced cyclist, I’ve made myself available to anyone with questions and have tried to facilitate as many women to learn about racing as possible. In the past, I’ve been a team captain, director of a development team, a mentor, and a coach. All have been rewarding, but it was this year while volunteering at the Women’s Road Cycling Clinic in Redlands, CA and then attending Ladies Night during Friday Night Racing at the San Diego Velodrome that I felt like I was giving back to the cycling community in a big way.
Women’s Road Cycling Clinic
Everyone involved in the planning and organizing of the event were so super-duper happy to have another volunteer that I thought twice before I drove up, “What have I signed up for? What are they going to do to me?” I was paired up with Greta Neimanas of Exergy TWENTY12 and the US Paralympic National cycling teams (she’s going to crush in London!) and I became unsure that I’d have anything to contribute after such a talented rider took the stage. During the bike handling session on the grass, one attendee was shaking at the very thought of riding on the grass, never mind that I was about to bump into her. So, we just rode in the grass. After a few loops, she said she was ready to “do the touching thing”, so I tapped her shoulder and she screeched. We worked slowly up to bumping and afterwards she had the biggest smile on her face while she asked me if she could bump into me again. By the end of the session she looked more relaxed and was smiling, which was the goal.
Ladies Night at FNR
You’ve probably noticed that there are far fewer female cyclist than male. If you go to the San Diego Velodrome, you’ll find 2 or 3 at TNR (Tuesday Night Racing) and they don’t usually race the same category. We three women know that this can be intimidating, so we jumped at the opportunity to help with a Women’s Track Clinic. The attendees of the clinic were invited to put their newly learned racing skills to work at Ladies Night at FNR (Friday Night Racing). Much to my surprise, 16 women raced! The tone of the night was set, when after the paceline warm-up, two newbies high-fived each other saying, “YEAH! We did it! We rocked that paceline!” Throughout the night, I talked to and encouraged the riders at the back, creating our own fun despite not being in contention. After each race, I’d make sure to talk about what just happened and during one exchange, I saw an attendee’s eyes widen and her eyebrows perk up in excitement. She understood what we were discussing and she was having fun.
I know many people hard at work to develop women’s cycling and I have had many opportunities to benefit from their work. I hope to be able to “pay it forward” in some way by being involved in clinics like the above mentioned.