I’m often asked why I don’t run a ‘women’s ride’, and as its a question that has come up recently I decided to share my thoughts. (I’ll preface them by saying that I have participated in and conducted ‘women’s rides’ and while they can be a good place to start for those who are very new to cycling, in my experience, most ladies soon outgrow them and move on so they’re hard to keep going on a regular basis.)
OK, so these are my thoughts on why you should ride in a mixed group rather than all girls (or all boys for that matter)
It’s in our nature to be competitive, men are generally stronger than women and therefore they’re usually faster cyclists. Riding with mixed groups keeps the motivation up – perhaps in your first week you can’t finish the ride but you keep coming back until eventually you can. From there you get fitter, stronger and faster and with some training and good management you can beat the boys.
Quite obviously men have a different perspective to women which always makes for interesting conversations during and post-ride. It’s also true that the group dynamics change when you have a mixed bunch to ride with. Having sat and listened to the conversation of a men only bunch over the weekend it struck me that there was a lot of chest beating going on, I don’t know about you but I don’t really care exactly how many grams I save by having carbon handlebars or lightweight tubes. And yes, I am interested in the fact that I can climb a 20% incline but I’m not going to brag about the fact to the very people who were right there beside me on the climb (or anyone else for that matter). Perhaps if these topics are fundamental to your riding you’d be best suited to riding with only men…
Assistance & Safety
Riding with other people is always a good idea – there is safety in numbers and if you’re riding in a mixed group rather than with just your female cycling buddies, you have the added element of a few big guys to stop you being bullied. Another advantage is that with bigger, stronger riders, if you’d struggling in a head wind or just having a bad day there’s always someone there to put a hand on your back to keep you going, or at the very least someone to hide behind for a bit of protection. If you’re not mechanically gifted then riding with others means there are plenty of people on hand to help you change a punctured tube or help you with a dropped chain. Although I do recommend learning how to do these things for those solo rides.
My final reason for recommending that you ride with a mixed group is encouragement. Now men may be more competitive but by the same token they can also be far more supportive of our efforts and really want us to succeed. A great case in point is the Mega Bike 7 Peaks Challenge ride earlier this year – some of the girls in the group struggled on some of the rides but with the encouragement and support of the men, they made it and are up there among the only women to have completed the 7 Peaks Challenge in 7 Days!
The real lesson here is to find a group that you like riding with and make the commitment to join them regularly, you’ll love it.
p.s. if you’re looking for a group to ride with come and join our Saturday Ride