After the Wheels of Thunder race last Saturday we reached out to women cyclists and Lori Emerson was kind enough to answer and share her experience with 303Cycling. We asked her a few questions and here are her answers.
[303Cycling] How did you get into cycling and how did you make the jump to racing?
[Lori] I long wanted to get into cycling - nothing matches the feeling of freedom you get from riding a bike. I started out by buying touring bikes with my husband about eight years ago and I just used mine to take long bike rides around Grand Island and Buffalo, NY. In my mind, I was training for a mythical bike tour across the US that we wanted to take.
I then moved to Atlanta, GA and decided that I would try triathlon, partly to stay fit and partly to meet people. I did a couple triathlons on the touring bike, all the while knowing that that I just wanted to save up some money, buy a road bike, and focus my energies on cycling.
I was also intensely envious of women cyclists I'd see around with team kits and on group rides. It's really the cycling community that makes it an amazing sport. When we moved to Boulder two years ago, I made the leap - bought a road bike and shopped around for a local women's cycling club that would help teach me basic riding skills (how to ride in a group, how to brake, hill-climb, draft etc.) as well as introduce me to racing.
They encouraged me to just race - don't over-think it, don't wait until you're fantastic, just start showing up at races and give it a try. Title Nine was incredibly helpful and supportive - a perfect club for the woman cyclist who's just starting out. This year I decided to try something different and I joined the Trek Store Bicycle Team, which so far has been great but really needs more women team-members.
[303Cycling] Did you choose the race because it was part of the mentoring program? Can you tell us the differences between racing with mentors versus without?
[Lori] I would have raced Wheels of Thunder with or without mentors but having the mentors there was incredibly useful. They helped to keep the pack together, told us when we should be chasing, told us where we should be positioning ourselves in relation to the wind, and talked us through how to best take the corners. The race would have been a LOT less safe and more erratic if the mentors weren't there.
[303Cycling] What would you recommend for women who would like to give racing a try?
[Lori] I would so love to see more women just come out and race. Without any pressure to win or perform: show up ready to have fun, ride safely, meet other women, and to encourage and by encouraged by other women trying out this sport.
If there's one thing I wish for it's for women to not feel intimidated by bike racing and for us to help each other and cheer each other on. For me, racing is really more about the training, the camaraderie and the community than it is about the results. Joining a club or a team can help you along, give you tips and direction, but I don't think it's as important as just getting out there!