Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Venus de Miles Raises $50,000 for Greenhouse Scholars
Lizzy Scully rides her first 35-miler Sunday morning.
This article appeared in the Lyons Recorder.
Venus de Miles Attracts 650 Cyclists
By Lizzy Scully
Though skies were cloudy Sunday morning, 650 motivated ladies from Lyons to Denver lined up at the starting “gate” at 7 a.m. for the Venus de Miles bicycle ride in Longmont. Organizers were surprised at the huge numbers of ladies that showed up for Colorado’s first women’s only ride.
“Honestly, I had no idea that we'd get this many riders,” organizer Teresa Robbins stated.
“They didn’t know what to expect,” said volunteer and Longmont resident, Joyce Dickinson. “The number of people that showed up was amazing.” Participants and volunteers agreed that the ride’s success likely resulted from the less stressful environment fostered at female-only events.
“A lot of women don’t get out there and ride because they don’t have a friend with them or they are intimidated by the other people in the sport, which are a lot of intense men in the area,” explained competitive triathlete Meg Gill, who participated in the ride as part of the Oskar Blues Brewery’s cycling team (Oskars sponsored the event with beer and lunch). Though a long-time swimmer and athlete, when Gill began cycling three years ago, the technical equipment and rules of the road even seemed daunting to her.
“I can see why women are definitely hesitant to jump right into the sport,” she said. “When I went on my first ride, I didn’t even know how to get my shoes in the pedals.” Beginner races such as Venus de Miles help teach people all these things in a safe, supportive environment.
Berthoud resident Lisa Roberts Keck said that was exactly the reason why she signed up. “Since I'm new to road cycling this would be a low stress way to tour with friends of all abilities,” she stated. Though she has done a few women-only running events, this was Keck’s first organized bike race/ride on a bike that she’s only had for six weeks.
Many women, including Berthoud resident Tiffany Raffert, signed up because of the charity component of the event. All funds raised, including part of the $75 entry fee, go to the nonprofit Greenhouse Scholars, which provides college and aspiring college students with scholarships and mentors (www.greenhousescholars.org).
“I have been there, and know how hard it is to live/pay bills and to pay college tuition at the same time,” Raffert explained. “So, I signed up and then posted signs at work and told others about it and encouraged them to sign up.” Raffert signed ten people up, even people who had no experience riding.
And this is what Robbins and the other organizers hoped for. The event supports a charity and it supports getting both experienced and inexperienced women out there riding together to do “their personal best,” Robbins explained. “We want to really connect people to the cause and connect women to other women.”
And it seems to have worked, added Gill.
“Having the first ever all woman’s ride here is a pretty huge breakthrough in Colorado,” she explained. “It could lead to an outpouring of women cyclists, like it has in the rest of the country.”
Participants raised more than $50,000 at the event, which will pay for seven full scholarships for students. Sponsors included Oskar Blues, SkirtSports, the Boulder Massage School, and various others. For more information, please visit: www.venusdemiles.com