As I write these words, it has been five days since I met forty-seven women, a gaggle of kids, and a batch of manbassadors at Murray Park to ride the 4th annual Central Arkansas Cyclofemme ride. In the weeks leading up to the ride I reminisced over hundreds of photos, past stories, and a lot of feelings both sweet and bittersweet. I spoke to a lot of people about Cyclofemme during those weeks too; about the mission and the goals we expected to achieve. Over and over I professed that nothing makes me happier than to hear someone say to me, “I met so-n-so at Cyclofemme and now we ride together, we are great friends and great ride buddies.” Every time I see Stacy Tierney and Victoria Crumpton in the same space, every time I see an Arkansas Heels on Wheels kit, my heart skips a beat. I feel all the feels.
This year the goal was to continue to feed the mission of getting women to ride, to ride more, to ride happier. Within days of our Cyclofemme ride I started getting messages from women who had already been able to ride with the Ladies of CARVE or the AHOW group. Social media connections let me keep up with one of our original Cyclofemme riders, Brenda, as she prepares to ride in the Senior Olympics later this summer. Watching from the sidelines I see women taking my niece Crystal under their wing and encourage her better than I am able; women who are living the pledge not once a year, but every day.
Each year I have ridden away from Cyclofemme with a full heart and a tired body. This year is no different. What is different is the fruit. Four years ago when we rode together the first time, there were no organized rides to point women to. We could only hope that friendships were formed and rides would happen. Now, we have at least two groups of women who ride and train together regularly. So thank you ladies, you know who you are, for spending hours each week to inspire women to ride. Cyclofemme is not an annual event, it is a daily endeavor.
Special thanks: Central Arkansas Velo and the Ladies of CARVE for the tattoos; Arkansas Heels on Wheels with Arkansas Cycling and Fitness for the refreshments; Ryan Johnson and Motive Bike Service for all the mechanical support; the Capital Hotel for the pecans; Central Arkansas Trail Alliance Manbassadors for working the registration table; and to Stacy Tierney and Missy Vail for a lot of behind the scenes work to make the day happen; and the ride leaders Addie, Keshari, Lauren, Chantal, Victoria, Angela, Missy, Shari, Ana, Amanda, and Stacy. Thanks to Manbassdors Dan, Efren, and Cliff for photos and ride alongs.
More photos available here.