At Iceman last year, I saw the live video feed of the Pro race from my warm and comfy seat by my fake fire. A field of 80+ spandex enthusiasts lined up for the men’s race. They took off in a mass of lycra and carbon; the hum of their tires audible over the Internets, reaching my ears and making my heart palpitate. Two minutes later, the start line was filled with just 14 Pro women. I immediately thought to myself, what are the young girls at home taking away from seeing the disparity in these numbers; 85 men starters and 14 women? How do we get more women to race at the top levels of the sport? It’s a question that has been circling my small brain since that day, but we may have found a group that’s working on answering that puzzling question.
In a way, this question had already been answered a few months ago at the Bear Claw Epic in Cadillac. At that race, a group of girls in matching grey t-shirts, astride fat bikes, caught the attention of many of the racers. I asked one of the volunteers about this new, well, club? Team? I didn’t really know anything about them. “Oh, you mean The Sisters? They’re our home team!” the volunteer proclaimed. After a little Internet research and a call with their director, Katie Wade, I think our sport has found a group proves that women do very much want to race bikes, and more importantly, this group has the blueprint for helping them do it.
Single Track Sisters is a group that engages girls in the Cadillac area aged 14-18 who want to try fat biking, a sport well outside those typically found in high schools. These girls train, work out in gyms, perform trail maintenance, organize fundraisers, and mentor younger girls in the program which takes place year-round. As anyone can see, this is way more than a bike club; this is a group that encourages girls to show commitment, responsibility, strength, and show them the importance of giving back to their community. And the impact on these girls has been profound. Coach Kami told me about the increased confidence these girls have after being involved in the program – not just on the trails, but it every day life, too.
If we can get more girls on bikes, we might get more Pro women on the start line at Iceman someday. That in itself is a worthy goal, but what if there’s more to it? What if we get more empowered, confident women in our community? That wouldn’t just change our sport. That has the potential to change the world.
With that lofty goal in mind, we’ve partnered up with Yen Yoga & Fitness to host a donation-based indoor cycling class on February 3 at 10:30am. Yen has 27 stationary bikes, and our goal is to fill every single one of them to show our support for getting girls fired up about bikes, racing, being in the outdoors, and getting outside their comfort zones. Attendees are asked to make a donation of any amount to attend the hour class, with all proceeds going to help pay for race fees fo The Sisters in 2019.
We’ll post a link very soon so you can register for the class. If you can’t attend the fundraiser on the 3rd, please consider making a donation to Sisters in Singletrack here. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to see the impact your donation makes in the season ahead.
We owe a huge thank you to our sponsors for helping us be in a position to help others. Without their support, we wouldn’t really be able to do these fundraisers. Follow kolo on FB, Insta, and join our Strava group.