Women's Bicycle Racing Takes Off in Portland
Image source: Race Monday Night
What started with just an idea to get women back in to bicycle racing with monthly bicycle racing clinics for women has turned into a dozen women screaming at top speeds at the Portland International Raceway in 2009 - a 1.9 mile big and wide loop racetrack. The clinics, held the 2nd Monday of each month (May-August, 2008), were to introduce women to the sport of bicycle racing, including an introduction to the sport, a race and then a debrief.
Organizers got a very positive turnout and interest with roughly 10-15 women participating in the clinics each month. Kendra Wenzel, one of the coaches, says of the practices, "So many women are afraid of being dropped their first time, and instead find that they can stay with the group and are actually contesting at the end." The program was conceived several years ago when organizers noticed a drop in women racers and wanted to introduce women to the sport in a safe and friendly environment. Jim Anderson, one of the race organizers, remarked,
"you can't help but be reminded of what it was like to experience the rush of hanging in the pack for the first time or sprinting for the line and going harder than you ever imagined you could go."
Anyone is eligible to attend future events, just bring a bike, a helmet and the yearn for a challenge. Times and organization information can be found on the Monday Night Rides website. There are several categories for races, including, "novice masters men (30+), novice women, two categories for more advanced masters men, and an open women category of women of all ages and abilities." Entry fees are $13 USD for masters women and women and only $5 USD for women under 18. If you bike, carpool or ride max to the event, you get $1 off entry, and the organizers will donate $1 to Bicycle Transportation Alliance, a non-profit improving biking in Oregon.
Rollerball this is not, as participants learn the sport in a fun, inclusive environment with the group even offering mentors and the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association aiding by providing helmets, insurance and organizing more racing events.
Races begin 6:15 every Monday night and winners receive gift certificates to Lakeside Bicycles. To signup, just check out the Race Monday Night website. Hey maybe all those Manhattan bike messengers should take a shot at it, they would certainly have the right instincts.