Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Sisterhood of Traveling Bicycles

Recently, I heard about an annual (it's only been around a couple of years, but I still consider it to be annual) cycling event here in Colorado. Just when I think there's nothing new to discover here, something comes along and surprises me.

The Venus de Miles is a cycling event created solely for women. The event holders say that this event is not a race, but rather a ride to the finish, with frequent stops along the way. In addition to this event being an opportunity to connect with other females who enjoy riding their bikes, it's also an opportunity to raise funds for a student scholarship program. The program they support is Greenhouse Scholars, which benefits students who are high performing, but under resourced college students. Sounds like a win-win opportunity to me.

The ride itself also sounds fascinating. Participants have a choice of registering for one of three rides: a 67 mile , a 51 mile, or a 33 mile ride through the Longmont area, starting and ending in Prospect (one of the coolest places in town, outside of Old Town). The event promises several rest stops along the way, "helpers" (supplied by two local bike shops: Full Cycle in Boulder and Wheat Ridge Cyclery) to assist with flats or other minor repairs along the way, as well as food/drink, massages, acupuncture, and make up lessons at the end of the event.

I am considering the 33 mile ride, if I am able to get the Hillborne up and functioning by that time, and if I think I can endure that sort of ride length (since my longest trip on the Hooptie has been about 8 miles total). When I look at the map for the 33 mile ride, it appears that they are timing the event, even though they claim it isn't a race. While I do ride the Pashley more regularly and have ridden it for longer stints, I'm curious as to whether or not this sort of event would kill me (or even feel as though it's killing me).  Also, I just received notice from one of the organizers that the ride is not timed (other than everyone must be done by 3:30p, which would give me about 7 hours to finish... and, I'm thinking since that's about how long it took me to run 26.2 miles, I could handle a slightly longer distance on a bike).
Photo acquired from
I see spandex!
One potential draw back to this event for me is that I see the stereotype of "hard core" being perpetuated by this particular ride. I was able to obtain a couple of photos from a previous ride, and I have to say the idea of encouraging the spandex-clad rides is a little discouraging (though I do see the corner of one woman in the picture above in every day shorts). It would be nice to see women in various types of riding attire, and on different kinds of bicycles, but I am totally okay with being the "freak" in the group and wearing what I please. It's probably not an event I'd wear a dress or skirt for, but I also don't see me donning a sponsored cycling jersey for the event.
Photo acquired from
I see MORE spandex!
I would never discourage anyone from riding in what they're comfortable riding in, but on the flip side, I don't want to be mocked because I choose not to wear the "gear" that they do. I already know that such an organized group would certainly require a helmet {sigh}, but I can make my peace with that piece of the puzzle. It's actually one of the few times I'd say it's important to wear a helmet... too many people in one location. Something disastrous is quite likely to happen.

Definitely, I am looking forward to learning more about this event though, and seeing if I can convince a few people to tag along for the ride.

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