Only 14% of Bike Racers Are Women, This Group Wants to Change That

Photo by Lora Reehling

Photo by Lora Reehling

By Michelle Lee

Have you ever felt like your bike was weightless beneath you? You know, you're tucked low, elbows loose, good rhythm, legs and pedals working as one.... no fear, no hesitation, just on top of all of the variables and ready for anything? And maybe — just maybe — you’re tucked in six inches behind the rear wheel of a new best friend?

Women Bike PHL Racing Development, aka “Devo”, is an 8-week immersion to the beautiful, challenging, and rewarding sport of bicycle racing. An offshoot of the Bicycle Coalition’s Women Bike PHL campaign, Devo is led by Elisabeth Reinkordt and myself. We each fell in love with racing about 10 years ago, but constantly found ourselves the only woman on training rides. Small wonder: only 14% of bike racers are women. Somehow, Elisabeth and I crossed paths with enough mentors and teammates (both men and women) to keep racing.

With Devo, we’ve built the first-year racing experience we wished we’d had. A critical mass of kickass women teammates. No heart rate monitors or power meters, yet. The focus is on skills, camaraderie and grit — base training for the mind. Structured drills learned from old mentors and teammates: cadence drills, telephone pole jumps, team time trial simulations. While it’s difficult to overhaul fitness in two months, you can get a hell of a lot of free speed from technique. 

We’ve seen the community take on an energy of its own. In the first 2 years, 23 Devo graduates have raced over 60 road, team time trials, & criterium events with multiple top 10 finishes. They’ve led rides & taught skills for 100+ new riders in the free, much-beloved Philadelphia Women’s 100 skills series. Along the way, they’ve earned press mentions in Be Well Philly & Cycling Tips, and co-hosted events with Rapha and professional women’s teams.

We’re thrilled to be kicking off the 2017 program, including a new mountain bike team. 
Applications are open now, and due December 16th. No experience needed — our racers range from Indego commuters to former college athletes. We look for women with grit, motivation, and dedication.

Photo by Lora Reehling

Photo by Lora Reehling

Photo via Ro Williams Facebook Page

Photo via Ro Williams Facebook Page

You can follow Michelle Lee on Instagram at @saidtheowl.  Follow Women Bike PHL Racing at @wbphlracing.

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