One year. 365 chances of opportunity. One year ago this weekend, I was participating in my first CycloFemme event. CycloFemme is a worldwide women’s event that occurs on the same day. Women take pledges to “swear to invest my energy, strength, and passion to encourage one more woman to ride a bike.” As we are gearing up for this year’s event, I cannot help but to think about the last 365 chances of opportunities that started with that pledge.
Last year, I had pledged my mom, along with myself, to CycloFemme’s “movement.” My friend Alexis and I went to the bike shop and pledged to bring our mothers to a cycling event. Our mothers, women who have not ridden a bicycle since childhood, were going to show up and ride the trails we had already both enjoyed, and I was pumped. At the time, I thought my feelings of euphoria were only about being on my bike and being with my friend and us both being with our mothers on Mother’s Day. I had been riding for three years, using my bike recreationally as a means of exercise and occasionally for commuting. But I had recently entered the world of triathlon and quickly found the cycling portion to be the best part of the race. I traded in my hybrid for a road bike, a decision I was sure I would never make. I always thought road bikes were beyond my comfort zone. This is such proof what a year can do. So, we show up with our mothers at Two Rivers Park- my mother on a borrowed mountain bike from Alexis. I think there was something almost magical about the way I felt encouraging my mother, a woman in her 50’s, to jump on a bike after so long and attempt an hour ride. Admittedly, my actions were spawned out of selfishness. I wanted my mother to enjoy cycling so she could join me while I rode. However, being out there that day teaching and encouraging my mother made me ecstatic. Had I been more attuned, I could have seen what the next year would bring. Because then I met Victoria, the founder of Arkansas Heels on Wheels. She was leading a ride with another AHOW member Chantal. I was in awe of these women and their roles in the cycling community. After that day, I quickly joined AHOW and started my journey- my journey of 365 beyond imaginable chances of opportunities.
In a year, I have discovered that I really CAN bike all the way from Two Rivers Park to downtown Little Rock and I can even complete 67 miles with a smile on my face. I learned that proper nutrition and water can make all the difference in an enjoyable ride. I found out that communication is key when riding with others and subsequently that same experience taught me that road rash really sucks. After gaining so many amazing riding friends, I realized why so many cyclists ride in groups which was a phenomena I could never see myself embracing. I also learned that I had to most definitely share my passion. Sharing my passion started vocally with other seasoned riders and then physically with newer ones. Whether it’s teaching other women to hop on a bike for the first time or that even experienced riders always have something to learn. In the past year with AHOW, we have lead rides, taught skills, climbed hills, learned maintenance, braved winds and encouraged riders to go beyond their goals. Sometimes these goals were tackled seemingly overnight and sometimes they were reached at 8 miles per hour.
You may be wondering about my mother’s year. She went from that borrowed mountain bike to owning a road bike in only a couple of months. She took cycling slow at first, until she found her own empowering group of women in Northeast Arkansas who liked to ride. She learned to clip in two weeks before she entered her first half century charity ride. She has also encouraged other women to begin riding. She has really pedaled way past her own expectations for cycling and of course she will be joining us at CycloFemme this year. And that’s what it is isn’t it? My year would have been nothing without all these other women. Some of them I helped, but in the end, they have all helped me. This year I will be joining the ladies of Heels on Wheels and leading a beginner’s ride. A year ago, I took a pledge to get my mother on a bike. I realize now, I was actually making a pledge to myself to always be encouraging and empowering.
Do something great for yourself and join us May 11th at CycloFemme in Murray Park. Thanks to ArkansasOutside.com for making this amazing day possible for women. #weridetogether