It has been a few weeks since the Bella Bicicletta and our heads are still spinning! How did we grow the ride so quickly?
About two and a half years ago, I asked my friend Kelly, "Do you want to do this ride?" The ride was the Rapha Women's 100km, an international campaign to get women out cycling in groups.
Kelly was on board. Anyone can host a ride, and we thought maybe we'd get a group of 5 or 10 riders at best. So we were thrilled to get 29 for the first year! Powered by Chocolate Milk came on board as a sponsor and Bella Bicicletta was born!
And in a blur of excitement, pedals clicking, wheels whizzing and gears shifting, we’re off!
Flash forward to the start line this year, and Kelly and I are ringing cowbells over our heads. More than 70 women are standing in front of us with their bikes and helmets on – fresh, enthusiastic faces raring to go. The group is big enough that I can't see everyone. I'm reviewing the safety tips and thinking "Holy cow! This is huge!" And in a blur of excitement, pedals clicking, wheels whizzing and gears shifting, we’re off!
Kelly and I get to the front of the pack for a quick check-in with each other, and experience a very proud moment: seeing a sea of female cyclists, ranging in all ages and abilities, smiling and pedalling along with their newly discovered cycling allies.
Along the ride we share some amazing stories. One rider is on her friend's bike in honour of her passing. Others have never ridden a 100km distance, and are unsure they can finish the ride. Spoiler alert: They do!
As organizers, our hearts are bursting with pride. What an experience!
Then there are the mamas who worked so hard to get here, having to find care for small children. Some riders pack up families to convoy along for support, or to bring along a new baby to nurse (yeah, that was me).
Awaiting us at the finish line at our local bike shop, Trail Bicycles, is cold chocolate milk, PBCM shirts for all the riders and a swag bag filled with lots of wonderful gifts provided by local sponsors.
After the ride, more than 60 of our new friends gather for a social, with amazing draw prizes. More importantly, we see so many beaming faces of women thrilled from completing the ride. As organizers, our hearts are bursting with pride. What an experience!
Now we lie and wait and think of year three. What will it bring? We more than doubled our numbers in year two and had more demand than we could accommodate. We're not sure yet how to tackle next year, but we're up for the challenge! In the meantime...happy riding!