Saturday, March 24, 2012

Women, Bike Night and Bicycling

Well it’s been awhile since I updated this blog and I thought it’s about time to do so.

There is a lot going on with cycling in Longmont this spring. As you all know we have our 2nd Annual Film Fest presented by Bicycle Longmont coming up next month. Tickets are on sale now. We also have the G’Knight Ride making its way to Prospect on June 16th. Winter seems to have let loose its grip and Bicycle Longmont’s group rides are being organized on a daily basis.

What’s even more interesting, atleast to me, is this. People are talking about cycling all over. I’m used to conversations drifting into bicycling. However, what I’m hearing or, overhearing as is mostly the case, are people talking amongst themselves about bicycling.

Here’s a couple examples:

Last week I was at Ziggi’s on Francis. (a favorite local coffee shop in Longm

ont) The bike rack had two hybrid bikes locked to it and there were two single speed townies with kid trailers out front. – Inside, I was standing in line listening to two retired women talking. They were sitting at a table wearing windbreaker jackets and Khaki Capri’s sipping on their lattes. One says to the other. “Bob is doing the MS 150 this summer and so, now I’m thinking I’ll do some of the rides Bicycle Longmont puts on”. The other gal, responds, “Ya, I’m so glad you talked me into buying my hybrid last summer. I’m using it more often than I thought I would. I don’t think I’ll ride like Bob, but, I’m going to bike more this summer than I did last summer”. “Plus I surprised Roger, with a newer hybrid when we were in Arizona, so we’re riding together more, too. He went into Kaiser last week and the doc said he’s doing a good job losing weight. I think the bike is helping plus we’re eating better too. Don’t you think it’s funny, Barb, we’re retired and we have healthier lifestyles now, more so than just a few years ago?”

Barb looks at the other gal and says “ Yes. Imagine where we’d be if we would have started sooner.”

Later in the week, I was at gymnastics with Anna, I was listening to a group of moms talking about travel plans and what they were up to this summer.

One mom says to the group. We’re off to Costa Rica for spring break. The other says we’re off to Galveston to my parents for the break. The third says we’re staying put. We might go skiing but we’re just going to hang out in Niwot (a small town near Longmont) for the break.

It was at this point where I was about to tune out.

That’s when the Niwot mom says – “Hey, I didn’t tell you about my big score yesterday. I finally got a bike and a bike trailer. Plus the lady I bought them from had a kids bike so Chloe will have something to ride, too. I think this is the summer I get the whole family riding bikes. God knows Tim could use the exercise”.

Costa Rica asked Niwot – “How are you going to convince Chloe to ride a bike?

Niwot – “Chloe doesn’t need convincing. Tim does”. “Now that we have the trail between Niwot and Longmont I think I can convince Tim to ride between our house and Oskar Blues in Longmont”. I rode it yesterday during my lunch hour. The trail is nice and flat perfect for Tim’s three year old unused $2,000 mountain bike.”

I actually laughed out loud at that point.

Galveston says to the two. We LOVE riding my parents cruisers in Galveston. It is so much fun to go along the boardwalk and the weather is perfect.

Costa Rica says to Galveston – “Why don’t you ride your bikes more here? Galveston says – “I don’t know. We went to the Boulder cruiser ride with the kids, and quickly learned that was a mistake. Not family friendly”.

Costa Rica followed up with “I think there’s a family friendly cruiser ride in Longmont. I heard someone at Yoga talking about something called a Gee Night ride and a weekly cruiser ride that is a lot of fun”. I’m going to get the family into riding this summer, too”.

Niwot then says, lets get the girls together this weekend and ride into Longmont. There’s a park at the end of the trail and we’ll take the guys along too. They can go to the Oskar Blues Brewery, and we can go to the park with the girls and get some sun!”

What do you think? All three agreed it was a good idea.

Normally these two conversations are pretty typical for this area of Boulder County. Earlier in the week though, I read two blog posts/stories that made these conversations

so much more interesting to me.

The first post was from “Girl Bike Love” a blog and website devoted to getting women on bikes. The second was from someone who attended a women in cycling seminar at the National Bike Summit going on in DC this week. (the photo is from Girl Bike Love's Website).

The common point between the two stories was that women are change agents and bicycling as we know it needs to offer more to women and change the way it does business.

After nearly 10 years of Bike Night I’m realizing that all the hype from the last week or two, isn’t hype. It’s fact.

Granted I’m a dude and I see the world through a dudes eye and I bike a lot. But, I wholeheartedly agree with what I’ve read, heard and experienced. I believe women are change agents.

I’ve seen it at Bike Night. Women show up with their kids in trailers, or with their BFF’s and find themselves, having fun on bikes. They show up the next week and the next. It’s common to then find these BFF’s riding with the family to the Farmer’s Market and then gathering friends and neighbors to ride together near their own homes.

Last summer we had a lady show up for her first Bike Night. She was riding an old Trek mountain bike that had been gathering dust in the garage. She was excited for Bike Night to begin.

That night there were about 120 riders, we toured Old Town and had fun. She showed up the next week, and the following. She made friends with a couple of regulars and began attending Bicycle Longmont’s Meet-up Rides for beginning and experienced riders. Soon after she bought a new bike. Not because she needed a better bike, rather through the other people in the group she was learning more about riding, enjoying longer rides, and learned a road bike might be better than a mountain bike for touring Boulder County.

She continued attending Bike Night and began bringing a few of her neighborhood girlfriends. They in turn invited a few families to join us too.

This is a natural progression with Bike Night and is more the rule than the exception. I think that’s why folks who attend Bike Night refer to it as a gateway drug.

On our Bike Night Facebook page the “fans of Bike Night” are predominantly female between 32 & 45. The same holds true for our G’Knight Ride (Guh-Night Ride).

To me, a guy who leads a cruiser ride, it’s a no brainer. If we want more people on bikes it starts with authentic, inviting, accepting and casual bike experiences. It just so happens that these are the kinds of experiences that draw women more so than men to Bike Night. Perhaps that’s why women only events are growing faster than any other like Venus de Miles , the Title 9 mothers day run, and the Diva Dash etc. We all want experiences that are authentic, inviting, accepting and casual. Women are just more likely to say it. Men –maybe not-so-much.

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