After writing Dirty Girls, I had an opportunity to see my first Cyclocross race: the Turkey Burn at Allsop Park. Along with a morning of witnessing awe inspiring feats of athleticism and competitive spirit, I got a little bit of vindication in my assertion that yes, women are getting into extreme sports, even here in Arkansas where some would expect that it should lag behind places like Utah and Colorado where extreme sports have enjoyed success for many years. After the race I had a chance to chat with this lovely woman.
I grew up in Little Rock, my husband did not. He always jokes that in Arkansas there are only two degrees of separation, not six. So after the race I catch her to tell her and the other women how impressed I was with their badassness. And we realize that we have met before. Was it at a race? Was it through a mutual bike shop friend? A ladies ride? Ah yes, that’s it, her boyfriend is a crackfire bike mechanic that worked at a local bike shop we frequent. And we have a mutual friend and yeah, there might have been a shared ride in there at some time. Two degrees or fewer.
I asked her how she sees the growth of this kind of event from the feminine perspective and she tells me a great story of a 24 hour relay mountain bike race she did as a 4 woman team a few years ago. They were the only all female team at that event. They called themselves the Dirty Skirts. So each time one of them came through the main area the announcer could honestly say “here come the Dirty Skirts and boy are they DIRTY”. But these days, it’s a rare thing to be the only all female team at an event like that one. More women are out there taking on the challenge of doing stuff like this:
And smiling while they do it:
I’m definitely seeing more items pop up in sidebars and on search engines that lead me toward adventure sports oriented publications and businesses that cater to women. Like Women’s Adventure Magazine and Women’s Adventure Travel or the Women’s Wilderness Institute that has programs geared toward both adult women and the younger set to encourage them to be adventurers and explorers. And I recently found this UK publication, Sportsister, whose webpage header is an ad for a charity ride from London to Paris next summer that now has a women’s only route. I’ve had a ball reading one of the blogs on their site, Clarissa Goodwin’s Ultimate Challenges. There are big name sponsored races like Shape’s Diva Dash that’s advertised as an “obstacle adventure” run. Not a 5k, not a 10k, an adventure. Terra Firma racing puts on a number of multisport and mountain bike races in Texas and they have a women’s adventure race too. I hope it won’t be long before we have events like that in Arkansas. If you’ve been lacking incentive or encouragement to get out there and get dirty you need look no further than a local 5K, 10K, marathon, bike race, charity ride, cyclocross race, mountain bike trail,triathlon festival, adventure race, rock face, climbing center, soccer field, track, or hang gliding take off point to find women who will be happy to give you what you may have been missing: Permission to Get Dirty.