The Cyclocross National Championships are taking place in Austin, making Zilker Park the place to be this week and weekend. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo and she’s predicting some pretty nasty weather that may include sleet and snow. Even so, it didn’t dampen the mood of our “Chick Dinner with Specialized Women” last night at Matt’s El Rancho.
Stephanie Kaplan and a crew of Specialized staffers are in town for the races and she offered to take me and a few girlfriends out to dinner last night to bond and talk about bikes. Um…ok! Twist my arm, why don’t ya?? I assembled a few friends that represent cyclists of all types and experience levels. Some are avid roadies and racers. Others are triathletes. A couple of women have been mentors of mine for years and are the reason I do what I do. I couldn’t have been more honored to be in the presence of such amazing inspiration.
The talk was fun and casual. Why do you ride? What got you started? What apparel do you like or dislike? What are the biggest challenges facing women and cycling? What’s your favorite margarita? It was great getting perspective from this varied “focus group” of all ages and levels.
For me, the biggest challenge facing women isn’t necessarily lack of opportunity as much as it is good ‘ol fashioned fear and intimidation. Even after being on a bike pretty regularly for 13 years, I’m still scared to death to be risky and try something new like crit or cross racing. Like everyone, I immediately go to the, “I could never do that” mentality. Ugh!! Why do we do this to ourselves? It comes down to finding the right group of people who will take you under their wing. All of the pro endorsements and role models in the world can’t make up for feeling confident and comfortable in a group of people who are willing to accept you and help you. We want to be around people who are like us…women who may be feeling the exact same way.
Fortunately, last night, I was amongst that group. Regardless of where we are, we all want to connect with those kindred spirits and keep challenging ourselves along the way.
Special thanks to Specialized Women for understanding the importance of community and going out of their way to listen and respond. It’s refreshing to know that ideas we have today may turn into product and innovation soon!