The Girl with the Cowbell Tattoo: Riding with the Ladies
Track. MTB. Book! OK, so I admit, those were just the notes I made before I started writing this post. But if I can’t share my ‘what I’m writing about’ in the beginning, then when can I share it? So that’s what’s been going on for me, interspersed with watching the Olympics when I can find a TV (hello, sports bars for August!) and cheering like mad watching Marianne Vos get the gold in the women’s road race. I was psyched, because while the announcer may have called cyclocross “that strange little discipline,” the fact that a pro cyclocrosser won the road race means, hopefully, more awareness of our “strange little sport.” Speaking of which, it’s only 38 days until the first UCI race of the season! Getting excited yet? I know I am.
OK. But back to topic: first up is track. It’s been a very beginner-heavy week, which is part of what I want to talk about. It’s also been a women’s-ride oriented week, which is a new phenomenon for me. I raced in a Masters and Rookies track race on Saturday, and was astonished that, unlike my previous attempts at track racing, there were actually women present. The last time I went to a similar event two years ago, there were five of us. This time? 18 amazing women.
Now, track isn’t ‘my sport.’ At all. But I wanted to try something different, and wow, what a change! Three days later, my back is still sore, but I feel like I learned a lot about my sprinting abilities. Hopefully I can transfer some of that power and control into cyclocross.
Next up was the women’s MTB ride on Monday night. Another beginner-friendly event put on by my good friend Christin, who I met through (big shocker here) cyclocross. Again, much to my astonishment, ten women showed up on a weeknight shred-fest in Western Massachusetts. One even ended up with stitches by the end of the night, though not before stopping in at Mission Cantina to enjoy a post-ride margarita. Now that is badass.
Turns out, my mountain biking skills have gotten better, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement and this was a great ride for getting some tips on my line choice and how to avoid being timid on downhills. I wasn’t railing any corners or “shredding,” per se, but like I told my friend Meg, there was some minor tearing going on, at least. Part of my August training is to get out and ride more on the mountain bike and cyclocross bike, and I’m pretty stoked on it. Throw in some trail running, and color me happy in August!
Later on in the ride, we discussed the idea of a super casual women’s cyclocross clinic, and instantly offers of lending bikes and places to ride were tossed around. This community of women in cycling never ceases to amaze me, especially after being in a very Mean Girls-esque high school. I’ve never had many close female friends before, but cycling has really introduced me to some amazing women and I consider myself very lucky to be part of such a great group.
Anyone who says that women just aren’t showing up to cycling events is going to be eating his/her words this fall, or at least, that’s my prediction. Because from what I’ve seen lately, the ladies are here, and they are hungry.
Last thing on the bucket list for this post: a little shameless self-promotion, though it relates to the ladies who ride! You may have read previous posts where I talked about my book, Mud, Snow and Cyclocross, and now I can safely say that it is coming out on time and is currently available for pre-order. The reason I say it relates to women in cycling is because, thanks to an awesome and understanding publisher, I was able to devote one chapter to a few pro women in cyclocross, and then another chapter about the state of women’s cyclocross in the US. It was one of my favorite bits to write, mainly because it allowed me the chance to talk to so many inspiring women. The overwhelming majority of the women I interviewed had some good news: women’s cyclocross is doing better than virtually any other genre of women’s cycling in terms of equality, and the women in the US are working very hard to improve it every step of the way. It’s an exciting time to be a racer, male or female, but the women are in a great position to see some major changes happen. But back to the book … it’s almost here, I’m excited, and stay tuned for more details!
If you want to read more about my training, racing, and editing exploits, check out mollyhurford.com.
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