By Bill Plock
Matt Miller, owner of BASE Performance invited me to ride last Saturday, not an uncommon invitation as we have ridden many times. I had sort of decided to do a different ride in Denver. But Matt, said I might want to make the effort as there could be as many as 80 people riding, some from the BASE team and this new group he is sponsoring called Ride or Die. Of course I was intrigued.
As it turned out the groups left at different times and when the BASE team left the other group hadn’t arrived. Three hours later upon my return, the parking lot at BASE headquarters was filled with women cyclists all buzzing from a ride. Some were friends of mine who I had no idea would be there. There was a cooler of drinks and prizes and swag and I felt a fun energy. I asked my friend Becky Furuta, no stranger to the peloton from the highest levels about what I was seeing. I know they had ridden some gravel, and some road. I saw bikes of all sorts. I didn’t know anything about this group. Becky described it as, “grassroots racing and riding, the goal is fun and camaraderie without all the staunchness and elitism that’s driving people away from the road. There’s a sense of community and fun absent the usual rivalries. I think that’s really the point of these beginner/community rides – not that they’re easy or for beginners, but that they’re accessible at every level and focused on mixing training with fun and a social component. It’s a sustainable model, and I hope it sticks around.”
Matt then introduced me to organizer, Rebecca Brough and we later did a question and answer about this fairly new group. Says Matt, “I just love that they want to get women on bikes no matter how fast or far they want to go. I really like the fun aspect they bring to cycling and they keep it simple and easy to be part of.”
1. Are you a team or are you more of a movement trying to get women, any women on bikes by having events and rides?
We like to say we are a community with a mission to break the barrier of entry for women in cycling. There are numerous factors that play into why more women are not on bikes. We want to get women into cycling, break through the many barriers of entry, and get women comfortable on bikes. We also do have a race team. You can think of these athletes as ambassadors of the community and stewards of our mission. The race team helps bring exposure to the inclusive riding community beyond the front range. They wear their jerseys with pride and are the faces of our community. Movement is a powerful word. If others view our mission and what we are doing as a movement, then that means we are doing something right.
2. When did it start, who is behind it and what opportunity did you see needed addressing?
This idea started less than a year ago, shortly after COVID hit, when people started looking at what matters in life and what brings them joy. I wanted to share my passion of bikes and women empowerment with a larger community. As a local bike shop ambassador and a shop ride leader, I was looking for additional female representation and female participation. There are limitations when working with or for someone else. My vision quickly became larger than what existing local organizations and clubs wanted to support so I started The Ride Or Die Collective.
3. How are you different than other prominent women focused cycling clubs?
Our team is similarly structured to how these clubs operate (there’s a fee to join), but the heart and soul of Ride Or Die is our community. Community events are open to everyone, inclusive to those groups for no fee. We have been lucky to have partners who give us a home base and supply us with products to fuel our riders. Our other sponsors allow for us to continue supporting this community without barriers to entry. For those that are able to donate we do have an option to donate at one monthly event (asking for a recommended minimum donation of $3). This is due to the financial limitations required to grow our organization and to help support more women. We do not require a fee at any of our community events and do not require community members to wear a kit. If there’s on major difference between us and other women clubs in town is that we let all women attend our events regardless of fees or kit requirements.
4. Why the name Ride or Die?
Ride or Die is our attitude. We are edgy, fun, and seriously focused on female equality in sport. Being inclusive doesn’t mean that we aren’t about racing. We have community members and team members that are all about racing and will be racing a significant amount (Pandemic pending). We as an organization however, prefer to focus on being inclusive to women regardless of their fitness, if they race or not, or can afford to join a team in order to give more women an opportunity to participate.
5. What are the long term goals of RDC?
Our long term goals include bringing on additional sponsors to help give more women an opportunity to participate. The more women that can participate the more the bike industry will have to focus on supporting women which is a good thing. If we are able to grow our community and race team we hope to have the funds to help sponsor local female pro athletes and even be a sponsor of a female pro cycling team. Our ultimate sponsorship goal would be to help assist struggling female teams and cyclists to get the financial support they need and to be compensated the same as their male counterparts. It’s sad that it took the UCI till 2021 to say their organization “intends to gradually increase the minimum salary requirements for the Women’s WorldTour in future”. Besides being very vague on when they plan on doing that, they have minimum salary caps for females set to half that of males.
6. Will this always be a womens only team/club etc?
We plan to keep RDC a women’s only community and race team. We do however recognize that there are a good number of men who want to help with our mission. What we are considering, in the future, is a way to allow community and team members to “invite male supporters”. This may allow some male attendance at select activities or events as long as they contribute to the community (ie, volunteer, donate financially, or do something that helps support our mission). Our plans are to support women equality. If men want to help with that, we want to offer them a way to contribute. Right now we do have male volunteers at our signature “Collective” events and plan to expand that platform out to our other events.
7. Tell us about your sponsors
We are always looking for sponsors that want to support women. Anyone that fits into that category can reach out to us via email about becoming a sponsor. As of right now we have the following sponsors: BASE Performance as a title sponsor. They allow us to host rides, provide apparel discounts, and support our rides with nutritional products. Real Realty Colorado and Uhl’s Brewing as Gold level sponsors. Our Silver level sponsors include Ritchey bike components, All The Colorado Things, Bobo’s bars, Purley Elizabeth, and Don’t Go Nuts.
8. How many members do you have and how can women get involved?
As of last Saturday we have over 300 members in our RDC community. If women want to get involved, they attend any of our upcoming community EVENTS, email us with questions, or apply to join the RDC TEAM.
General inquiries https://rideordie.org/contact
Questions about the team: https://rideordie.org/team