Lately, Western Massachusetts has been buzzing with events tailored with one goal in mind: to make the women racers in the area as strong as they possibly can be, all while having a great time. Between women-only group rides on MTBs to Mechanic Night featuring pro racer and mechanic Justin Lindine to an informal clinic just for the area’s women.
Women racers have a long tradition of helping each other: from the You Got This series of articles from the 3/4 women in the Verge Series last year to clinics hosted by pros like Katie Compton, Kaitie Antonneau and Mo Bruno Roy, women are always quick to help each other in any way possible.
It doesn’t take much to organize these events. For an informal group ride, a simple Facebook group invite can net plenty of interested cyclists. The other two are a bit more complex, but ultimately, are simple enough to organize cheaply but with great results. Thanks to social media to spread the word, hosting quick and casual events is a breeze.
It’s easy as 1-2-3. Find a venue. This can be a bike shop, or a living room, if you want to keep things simple. Having a bike stand is helpful, but if you don’t have one, it’s not the end of the world. Having bikes to work on is a must though! Second: find a mechanic. Usually, simply asking around local bike shops, or on your social network of choice (forum, Facebook, Twitter) works for finding a mechanic willing to spend a couple hours of time showing off his skills in exchange for beer, dinner and eternal gratitude. Then, simply invite the ladies, or gentlemen, and make a list of skills you want the mechanic to cover.
Topics can include:
- Basic maintenance: what do you do to your bike during the season?
- Trail repairs: bike breaks far from home, what do you do?
- Basic bike coverage: what the heck is a bottom bracket for, anyway?
- Open the floor for questions!
Throw in a few pizzas, and you’ve got an event. Want more mechanical how-tos? Check out our whole section!
This, again, is simpler than it seems. All you need are a few relatively experienced racers, even better if you can hunt down a local pro racer to come chat and show off some skills. Then, find a spot. If you have a local cyclocross course like we did in Southampton, consider yourself lucky, but any field in a public park can work. Set up homemade PVC barriers, maybe a few flags for corners, and you’re ready to host a clinic. Need some ideas for what to cover and how to cover them? Check out our Training Section.
Topics can include:
- Dismounts, Barriers, Remounts and putting them all together
- Basic equipment needs
- Run ups, sandpits
- Gear choices
- What to expect at a race
Again, it’s not something that needs to be a complicated affair. There are many advantages to going to a professional clinic, but if time and money are difficult to come by, sometimes, keeping it local, simple and cheap can work too. If you can do both, even better! But most importantly, cyclocross, especially at a beginner level, is about getting out, having fun, making friends, and maybe even learning some new tricks. Check out the gallery below: we had a blast, and some of the ladies had never even been on a real bike before. By the end of the night, the women had all managed to dismount properly, run over barriers, speed through so S-turns, and gain some serious confidence for their first or 50th races.
Have you had any great informal events in your area? Tell us!