What We Learned: Rapha Women's Round Table
Words by Tayler Rae Dubé
This past Sunday, Pretty Damned Fast helped Rapha host a round table discussion on women's cycling at their LA Pop Up Shop. The talk was followed by a quick ride up Mandeville and back. In case you missed it, or live out of town, here is what we discussed and learned.
At Pretty Damned Fast, we are always excited when companies make big efforts to talk about women's cycling. Rapha is one of those brands that is always pushing to make sure women are seen as equals in the sport. In fact, it is on a Rapha women's ride out the the NYC location that Anna Maria and I first met and formed PDF! So when they reached out to us about helping create a panel to discuss women's cycling from commuting to racing, we jumped at the opportunity.
The panel included four women, all coming from different parts of the sport; Crystal Haggard a mom and employee at Zwift, Emily Alvarez a former triathlete and now recreational cyclist, Nona Varnado an advocate for commuting, and me, the co editor of a magazine devoted to the sport.
The questions were targeted to each panelist's specialty, starting with how we all got into cycling. Crystal discussed what it's like balancing a career in cycling while raising a young kid, something that isn't talked about much in cycling, but can be a huge barrier for many women. Emily, after finding out that she has a condition that affects her adrenal gland, talked about reinventing what it means to ride when you can no longer push yourself in the same way as well as knowing how to read your own body, and not worrying about what other people think when you turn off a ride early.
Nona, who works with LA Bike Trains and Bicycle Culture Institute, talked about how women can jumpstart the initiative to get more people on bikes and less people in cars. I told the story of why PDF started and a few of the things I've learned along the way.
One of the questions I found most interesting was one posed by Brett Cleaver to the the entire panel. How do you react when women tell you they are too scared to ride a bike in LA? Everyone's answer varied a bit, but in the end we all agreed a three things: It's ok to be nervous and admit that riding a bike is scary sometimes. Taking steps to feel comfortable on your bike and in control is key. And, that in the end, the greatness of exploring your city without obstruction and joy of not having to sit in traffic will always out weigh the bad that could happen.
So what did we learn? We learned that the personal experiences of female cyclists, no matter there background, can be related to and help everyone. That having to change how you see and ride a bike because of a condition is useful to someone who has sustained an injury as well as someone raising a young child. That writing about the variety of women in cycling can help to get women out of cars and onto bikes. And, perhaps most personally, that learning how someone manages working in cycling and caring for a toddler is applicable to someone balancing a career and raising a two year old magazine about women's cycling.
Rapha and Pretty Damned Fast are hoping to hold part two of this discussion soon, but in the meantime, stop by and enjoy some of the other events at the Rapha LA Popup!
Rapha LA Pop Up Store