Where Do Most Women Cyclists Seem to Come From?
I joined the Princeton Freewheelers for a full year back in 2011. It had been some time since I had regularly ridden a bike before that. The level of riding that seemed to fit my fitness level was the club’s B rides which were supposed to maintain an average pace of 15 mph for a 30 to 60 mile ride. There were a handful of women in the club who could handle the B pace, but most of the women did slower than B level rides. There were a few women who did rides faster than B pace.
I used to wonder what it was that motivated women to take up bike riding as an activity. In my club it seems like most women are motivated to ride because their husbands ride and the women want to workout with their husbands. However, there seems to be two new paths that women follow to get involved in bicycle riding for workouts.
The first path involves spinning classes at health clubs. Lots of health clubs have rooms devoted to stationary bikes, and the health clubs pay instructors to lead “spinning classes” held in these rooms. The participants pedal the bikes pretty fast and they sweat a lot. Many of the participants are women. After a while doing the classes the women get to know the men, and they decide to take their spinning skills out onto the roads. Usually these women do not venture outside alone. They surround themselves with men for support and a sense of safeness. Some of these women eventually join a cycling club and become regular riders in clubs like the Princeton Freewheelers.
A second path involves women who were either competitive swimmers or competitive runners during their youth. Women have long been able to compete in school as swimmers and runners. This is not true regarding cycling. These former swimmers or runners tend to frequent health clubs and while in the pool or on a treadmill they are introduced to someone who participates in triathlons. Maybe a sprint triathlon, an Olympic distance triathlon, a 70.3 mile triathlon, or an Ironman triathlon. Triathlon involves swimming, biking, and running. So these women have to get fit as a cyclist if they are to compete in a triathlon. Many of these women end up joining a cycling club in order to get better as a cyclist so they can perform adequately in their triathlons.
I’m sure there are other ways women can get involved in cycling as a pass-time, but the above two ways seem to be the prevalent ways. Women with cycling siblings or cycling parents tend to get into the sport easily, too. But I don’t thing all that many make the jump.