On Saturday, August 29, I joined more than 1,800 other women and a few men dressed in drag to ride Venus de Miles through Longmont and Niwot. We were launched to pumping music, treated to a scenic route and surrounded by camaraderie. The three-year-old event, which was Colorado's first, women-only ride, tripled its inaugural turnout. It wasn't hard to see why.
The Venus de Miles ride raises money for Boulder-based Greenhouse Scholars. As it was explained to us before we hit the roads, only about 11 percent of disadvantaged college entrants graduate. Our society places a great deal of emphasis on graduating students from high school and getting them into college, but then most of them are left to their own devices. Greenhouse Scholars nurtures Colorado residents throughout their higher education years, helping them get scholarships, internships and jobs with the hope they will become community leaders rather than college dropouts.
Coming from Texas, I have participated in many organized rides, large and small. Needless to say, those events didn't feature organic foods, coconut water, compost bins and banjo-playing bands at rest stops. Don't get me wrong - I love a good peanut butter sandwich when riding, but the granola with yogurt and chocolate soy milk were unique twists. The post-ride German sausage I have come to love was replaced by grilled chicken, mixed-greens salad and honey-wheat roll, leaving me feeling like I didn't destroy my workout with lunch.
I was also impressed by the turnout due to the steep entrance fee of $79-$115, depending on what date a person registered to ride. Even though the money went toward a great cause (the ride expected to raise $100,000 for Greenhouse Scholars), these are tough economic times. Trying to budget several hundred dollars per season for rides and races can quickly become a challenge. Despite the high entrance fee, there was no shortage of young and old, experienced and beginner, wings and feather boas and colorful striped socks.