How To Find Your Cycling Sisters:
Building a Bike Community
By Rikki Ayers
Two hundred kilometres (about 124 miles), 16 wheels, 8 pairs of legs clad in skin-tight, padded cycling shorts that make you feel like you’re wearing an oversized maxi pad. Three days of open trail, country roads, busy highways, and a group of independent women who hardly know each other.
This is our female cycling group (we call it our GirlGang) — a small but growing group of women that get together every now and again to go bikepacking, camping, and hiking.
Until I found this group, I was convinced I would be a loner in the outdoors for life. A Facebook post changed all that.
I’d gone on a few overnighters by myself and enjoyed them, but I knew company would improve the experience. I didn’t expect anyone to respond to my Facebook post proposing a shared cycling adventure, but lo and behold, a couple of months later there I was sitting in Swan’s Pub in downtown Victoria, British Columbia with three other women, planning our first trip together.
Until I found this group I was convinced I would be a loner in the outdoors for life. A Facebook post changed all that.
That four-day tour of the San Juan Islands in Washington was one of the most fun weekends I’d had since moving to Victoria. We fixed flat tires and spent the night sleeping on the ground outside (thanks to a couple of tent mishaps). We swam in the freezing Pacific and admired its sparkling bioluminescence. It was the beginning of something amazing that’s slowly gaining speed.
We’re not seasoned bike tourists or even serious road cyclists, and even though we swear at those diabolically long uphills, there’s always a laugh waiting at the top.
So how can you find your own cycling group?
Making friends as an adult can be hard — especially if you don’t click with your co-workers or, like me, you work by yourself from home. You have to put yourself out there.
Lucky for you, social media makes it easy. There are several ways to find fellow bike-adventurers:
- Facebook groups – search for your city + cycling or bikes, or look for bikepacking groups
- Warmshowers (an online community for bike tourists)
- Attend events held by your local outdoor stores like Mountain Equipment Co-op or REI, Patagonia, etc.
- Attend events held by local bike shops.
On the ferry ride back from our Washington ride this year, two women approached me separately, asking about the ride and our group. Both said the same thing I thought to myself before that first trip to the San Juan Islands: “I’d love to meet women who love cycling as much as I do—where are they?”
We’re here. In your city or town. Find us, start planning, and get out on the road!
Here’s what you don’t need to do, though:
You don’t need to kit yourself out in expensive dry-fit, waterproof, matchy-matchy gear. You don’t need a top-of-the-line steel frame bike to get started (though a comfortable, working bike is a must!). You don’t need to use clipless pedals or drop bars or take energy gels. You don’t have to spend weeks in Europe or South America—the shortest route to the nearest campground or an Airbnb works just as well.
The point is to get out there, to feel the rhythm as you settle into a comfortable cadence, to enjoy the freedom of not having to find parking or pay for gasoline. It’s just you and the road. And hopefully, a new friend or two to share it with.
The point is to get out there, to feel the rhythm as you settle into a comfortable cadence… and hopefully, a new friend or two to share it with.
Rikki Ayers is a Canadian writer obsessed with bikes, books, and beverages. As a dedicated fan of She Explores, she’s passionate about helping people step out of their comfort zones and exploring ways to combine or balance a love of the outdoors with flexible careers. Rikki blogs about remote work and adventure at www.remoterenegades.ca. You can also follow her busy but beautiful life on Instagram.