You ride like a girl.
Well, thank you. My intention isn’t to ride like a man, because I am a woman, and I compete like one. What does that mean? I am strong, capable, and of course have issues of my own, but I don’t need to make apologies for those. I am a woman, I ride my bike, and last time I checked, I was pretty good at it.
This week, I will be competing in the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial, presented by SRAM. Even though the women do not have a ten day stage race traveling up the state of California like the men do, generous sponsors like SRAM and AEG have stepped up to allow the women to compete in an invitational only time trial. Fifteen women were invited from around the world to showcase their talent, and to race against the clock for a large cash purse. Is it ideal? No. I would prefer to race ten days. Yet, I am not complaining because I am grateful for those sponsors who have stepped up to provide this specific opportunity for women. This isn’t the pinnacle moment of success, but it is a step towards success for me and my sport, and I am thankful to those who made this event possible. We are all on our way to success.
Success is not a destination. Being a professional female cyclist, of course I strive for equality, for opportunity and for a future in the sport. Did you know the majority of women make less than $10,000 a year to be a “professional cyclist”? This does need to change, but using an event like this, we are furthering our mission in the sport through racing and media. Rather than being so focused on a final goal, I have learned to be appreciative of the milestones that have occurred over my cycling career in increasing visibility and sustainability of a sport that I have made my life. To me, success is a girl on a bike, riding like a girl, and being valued for doing so.
Do girls race bikes too? Yes, we do! And we are quite entertaining and inspiring to watch. We have stories, skills and strengths that can encourage the future generations of strong, healthy, active women and men alike. My professional team, Exergy TWENTY16, has begun paving the way into creating heroes and role models for those women and girls looking for a future in a sport that has historically been impossible. To me, that is success. I would love to bring this sport to a level of equality, where the women are actually able to make a living like the men currently do, and where prize money at least gives the appearance of an equal amount of respect. That would be successful, but first things first, let’s create the success by attending and supporting the opportunities that are given to us, like this time trial. Ultimately, I crave to see cycling enter the mainstream sports and for a chance for our stories to be broadcasted to the world. For a woman on a bike to be a demonstration of independence, freedom, and femininity. Where strength is not intimidating and where capability is welcomed in opportunities. This would be success.
In the last several weeks, I have discovered what success truly means to me in regards to my sport and my life. It is riding my bike every day I can, and considering each day a blessing. It is pushing the limits of my body and mind through racing, recovery, and training. Success is not confined within my results. It is also in having the ability to take a measure of pride in loving those around me, being loyal to my family, friends, and faith, all while making my sport a better place. I see the challenges and the obstruction in the future of women’s cycling. I see that even though I may not achieve my goals immediately, I need to keep blazing a trail so those behind me may be able to accomplish all they want to do. I want to be a successful athlete, of course, and to compete to the best of my abilities, but I also want to provide a sustainable opportunity for women in cycling for years to come. How will I do this? By competing in events such as the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial presented by SRAM, remaining professional in my endeavors, yet also taking risk to push the traditional gender boundaries of the sport. Thank you to those involved like AEG, SRAM, Exergy Development Group, United by Sport (TWENTY16), for keeping the faith and providing these opportunities. I will cherish every single one as I find success along the way, and know there is so much more to come. Together, we will all find success in this process.
Success is not only found within, it can also be found in the community you foster and develop. Success can be found on a bike. Just because I ride like a girl, doesn’t mean that I am not damn fast.
– See more at HERE. My FINAL entry for the #SuccessProject. Please define success and tag it on Twitter for the last week!!!