There is something about being on your bike that gives you a great sense of freedom and control. We are in charge of this little engineering wonder and we can make it take us anywhere we want. For some of us that is a simple pedal locally with our kids or riding around the nearest towpath. But sometimes, when we see someone packing up their tent, camping stove, and not much else to head out on a 5 day adventure we look on in awe. Or when we hear a friend talk about taking their mountain bike to the Lakes or Scotland we shake our head and think there is just no way we’d be brave enough to attempt it.
Keep in mind those adventurous friends were once just like you/me. They were nervous, didn’t know what they were doing, lacked skills and equipment.
What changed for them?
Speaking from mine and many of my friends experience, it was the awesome women we were introduced to that showed the way. It was finding a group that we jelled with, understood what was freaking us out and gave us plenty of opportunities to say no while we learned how to say yes.
I’ve been riding for 6 or so years now, and the more I ride, the more I realise that who I spend my time with is as important as where I spend it. Gone are the days where I say yes to everything, now I ride because there is a deep need to connect to nature or connect to others. And what has stood out even more is that I have been extremely lucky finding that group which supported me to explore and find my ride without a single moment of judgement and tons of encouragement.
When a friend and I started discussing what we loved about being on our bikes our stories were pretty similar although our riding styles are quite different. We realised that the connection we were talking about was something missing from many of the current women’s cycling events. It didn’t matter if we could ride the furthest, do cool tricks, or finish first, it mattered that we were doing it at our pace, in our way, while enjoying every bit of road, forest or mountain track that we put our tyres on to. We wanted to bring that feeling of support and belonging to as many women as possible, regardless of where they were in their bike journey.
Building a community is at the heart of what we are doing, a place you feel you can be whatever rider you are right now. Along side of this we want to share skills that will help you take the next step.
We are new at this game and we are learning all over again how to connect with all of the women we come in contact with. This means educating ourselves on what struggles and road blocks we can help with to make our events accessible to more people. Part of this is asking for your help. We offer sponsored places (and soon sponsored day events) for women who may not otherwise get the chance due to socio-economic, mental or physical health, or are marginalised from our typical middle class, heteronormative, and white crowd.
If you know someone who would love to be learn, explore, and have an amazing amount of fun at our inaugural bike festival, pop onto this page and pass along why. We have 5 places to offer and your thoughts are appreciated and needed.
All the best from the Ride Free Collective Crew,Beth, Karen, & Aoife