I’m pretty sure all the women who showed up for Revolution Cycles Ladies’ Night event in Clarendon last night would have come without the wine incentive but it didn’t hurt. Neither did the chocolate or cheese. The event was sold out and then some – over thirty women who were interested in women-specific biking. And it was worth the $5 admissions price! I’ve written before about how attending a Ladies’ Night at the same Revolution Cycles shop when I first started biking changed the experience for me: I bought padded bike shorts, I felt encouraged by the other women who spoke about their experiences, I worked up the courage to join the Rev Cycles Sunday morning group ride (on my 7-speed hybrid!), etc. I told general manager Katie how often I’ve talked about the impact of that event and that it’s why I support women-specific bike events. They will get more women onto bikes. I’m glad that Rev Cycles understands that. (no, I was not paid to say that!)
This event was different than the one years ago. We got gift bags! We sat on the floor! Items were passed around the group! There was a raffle with amazing prizes! We had tons of time to shop! And there were many more women employees – shout out for that! Katie said it was the first time the male employees were outnumbered by all of us. Heh heh.
We talked about women’s impact on safety and went over the differences between men and women and bike fit. Katie did her fantastic demonstration of how to use chamois cream, and women asked questions it – in the comfort of a group of women, we could. I don’t even want to have that conversation with The Mechanic. I was really pleased to see that most of us there ride our bikes for transportation – to work, to run errands, etc. Slightly fewer bike for recreation on the weekends, fewer still race, and only a handful do triathlons. Seeing so many women who use bikes as transportation, many who are car-free, gives faces to the idea bikes are not recreation “toys” used by wealthy white males. This was a diverse group of women of all ages and backgrounds.
During the bike fit conversation, Katie explained center of gravity, how it is different on men and women, and what that means for different styles of bikes, especially as you get into the more aggressive bikes. Of course I know about the different centers of gravity, how women have stronger legs and men have stronger upper bodies, but how that translates into bike fit was not something I’ve seen demonstrated so well. So even though I’ve been biking for a while, I’m still learning new stuff! As it should be. I appreciated the set of chamois that were passed around; I probably need new padded bike shorts. “Diaper pants,” one woman called them.
I did mention a swag bag and shopping. I was NOT expecting a swag bag at all, nor such a generous one! My friends and I were surprised as we kept pulling stuff out of the bag – great catalogs of Electra bikes and Trek bikes, plus the cool “new bike” folder from Rev Cycles full of info, but also an Electra Solona Clutch full of more goodies: socks, a lever set, and sunscreen, pants strap and bell from BikeArlington! Then there were the raffle tickets – two saddles, two messenger bags and water bottles; one of my friends (the one who rides the least) won a saddle! I’m super excited about the clutch.
Shopping was part of the event, and women were in full shopping mode. I saw several trying on helmets, since Katie suggested we compare expensive and less expensive helmets to experience the difference (she said they are lighter weight; I didn’t try any on). Several were swooping up bike short and skirts, some like me headed for the gloves, others were trying on jackets. I think everyone appreciated the almost one-on-one employee attention, and I suspect that it encouraged some to spend more than they might have otherwise. Or maybe that was the wine helping. I’d like to thank Revolution Cycles, owners Pinkey and Mike, Katie, and all the employees who were there tonight (yes, guys too!). One of the main topics of the Women & Bikes Forum was the importance of creating safe spaces for women to grow more comfortable, become more confident and really find their bike “voice.” Another thing that was talked about at the Forum was the fact that women like to do things in groups, that we are social, and place great weight on what our peers are doing. When I introduced myself to owner Mike on my way out, he said that he could host a beer and brats event for men, and they wouldn’t show up the way women do for a social/networking/women only event. I guess we just proved how important a safe space is for women.