A few years ago, I walked into my local bike shop and bought a Felt tri bike. The last time I had ridden a bike was when I proudly pedaled three blocks each morning and each afternoon to and from the middle school. The afternoon trip was much more exciting, as it was downhill. I had a shiny new bike with a fabulous yellow banana seat and pink tassels that hung from the handlebars. I even learned to ride with no hands. I was seriously good.
I am by nature a planner, but I had done zero research about what I needed or how much it would cost. I was there on a whim. I had been toying with the idea of doing a triathlon. I had already smoked my first marathon at 5:15 and thought I was ready for a new challenge. I bit the bullet that day and stroked a check for a Felt.
The staff at the bike store was incredibly kind to me. I was invited many times to join their riding group and I jumped at the chance. I later learned that I probably should have said no thanks but I am so glad I did not know any better. Not one time did that group of men drop me, even though I was incredibly slow. They took turns pulling me up the hills. It may not sound like much to you, but I was 20 years their senior. I slowed the entire group down! They were so endearing then, and treat me just as kindly, to this day.
The second summer, a group of biker chicks started gathering on Tuesday afternoons to ride. Most of the girls were either wives or girlfriends of the bike shop staff, plus a few random people like me. The men were training for an upcoming century and we decided we could do it, too, at a reasonable pace. So we trained together and became the Woohoos. (…like when the redneck drives by and yells out the truck window, “wooo hoooo”)
There is a strategy in riding 100 miles without dying. We rode very close together in a single file line called a peloton. You see, the same person cannot lead all the time. It requires each person to take a turn in the front. You have to keep a constant speed, keep everyone together, watch for cars, and gravel and DOGS! If one person makes a mistake, we all crash. Therefore, we learned to ride together smartly and we developed trust. It really is a team sport like no other.
Many of these women have moved away now but they will always be near and dear to my heart.