October 17, 2015

Cycle like a girl

Female athletes push the limits in a male-dominated sport

Almost every day I have to deal with the preconceived notions of how people think “girls” should cycle and the different views of what this means. This happens at the start of a trail race when the guys press to get by me quickly because they don’t want to “get stuck” behind the girl. But then I have to deal with how stressed they look when I pass them at the next best opportunity.

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I see eyes grow as big as saucers when I talk about how my cycling friends and I are riding the same courses, jumps and obstacles as the guys are. And I’m always surprised too when I finally discover a sponsor that makes products specifically for women–products that don’t just have little flowers or other nonfunctional embellishments, but are instead focused on performance design for our specific needs.

I take part in rides with my women friends. We bomb down singletracks in a group, whooping and hooting loudly from joy and adrenaline.

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I know women who find it an utmost pleasure to climb a mountain on the bike – and they are proud of accomplishing that under their own muscle power. I hang with women who work hard for their dreams every day in training, and contrary to clichés are not at all complicated and still very goal oriented. These kinds of experiences are representative of what “cycle like a girl” means and represent a label that is just my style. Still, we are not just smaller men. We are women and proud of it.

26, Schneitter, Nathalie, Rose-Vaujany, , SUI

Girls like us have just as much talent, drive and perseverance as the guys do. In fact, sometimes even more because we so often have to accomplish achievements despite stereotypes. That’s because role models are lacking. There are not a lot of women who have come before us to represent what “cycle like a girl” can actually mean.

Women are adventurous, gladly take calculated risks, love being outside in nature, are happily independent, like to push their own limits – and sometimes even go beyond them. “Cycle like a girl” to me means to ride because you love to ride, to push your boundaries but to get up, dust yourself off and get back in the saddle again if you’ve wiped out.

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I do my best to be the role model that I lacked. I want to give other women the courage to try biking and to enjoy the adventure and freedom it brings to the fullest. “Cycle like a girl” should mean to never set limits, to think big, and to attack every pedal stroke and every single track with a smile. Cycle like a girl! We are proud of that!

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Team ROSE Vaujany, fueled by ultraSPORTS, is made up of seven professional athletes who take part in international competitions. They participate in everything from XCM (cross-country marathon), XCE (cross-country eliminator) and XCO (cross-country Olympic) to gravity disciplines. In the 2014 season, the team was fourth in the Women’s World Championship, took the World Cup sprint victory, and the overall UCI ranking in the Marathon World Series.

–Nathalie Schnietter

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