2013 Flying Wheels bike ride: Why aren’t more women bicycling?

womens_skills_clinic_san_diego_mountain_bikeFor only the second year, I rode Flying Wheels bicycle ride on June 8, and I can’t imagine skipping it now to do either of the road runs happening the same weekend — the Fremont 5K and the Shore Run 10K-5K (both of which I’ve done in past years).

The Flying Wheels ride through east King and Snohomish counties — I did the 65-mile route, not the full century — is challenging, but a fun and enjoyable event. I will ride it again next year and likely the year after.

I did notice during the ride, however, that only about 30 percent of the riders were women, a percentage that has been consistent in the 10 major rides I’ve done since 2011. The road runs I do, on the other hand, are increasingly dominated by women; they make up at least 60 percent or more of the races I do.

Why do more and more women run but not ride? It appears there are no easy answers here. I Googled this question, and found others asking the same thing online. Some speculate that too many women consider bicycling unsafe for them. But most don’t know.

I even asked a co-worker of mine at Zones, Jaime Massie, a runner herself. She says she is interested in riding more, but has this sense that avid riders must invest tons of money into fancy bikes, which she is not about to do. She did borrow a bike to do a weekend ride recently, so maybe she will do more, but she and her husband still prefer to do 5Ks together.

I’d love to see more women speed down hills, acting like daredevils like men do, but we’ll see if more women ever gravitate to the sport. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy bicycling for the sightseeing, food, camaraderie and health benefits. Plus, it’s easier on my bad ankle than running is, though I’m not planning to stop running anytime soon.

Now, about last Saturday’s ride, here’s my rundown:

  • 65 miles is enough, for now: I swore in my post after last year’s Flying Wheels that I would do the 100-mile version in 2013. I really wanted to. But I had medical tests and a minor surgery in May that limited my riding time last month. So I didn’t feel ready yet for the full century. I did the 65 miles in 6:45 total (counting stops), or about six hours flat for riding time, which was slightly better than a year ago. Now I feel ready to do a century ride.
  • Three major hills for this ride was enough: The 65-mile course from Marymoor Park eastward to Carnation, Duvall and back through Sammamish included rolling hills, small and moderate inclines, flat stretches, and three major hills. The tough hills were (1) a steep slope up to Sammamish on Inglewood Hill Road near the start; (2) Stillwater Hill Road en route to Duvall at 20 miles (starts out steep but moderates), and (3) back up into Sammamish in the Pine Lake area at 50 miles (steep, rolling and never-ending). On my four-month-old Trek 1.1 bike, I conquered the last two hills, but had to walk about 250 feet of the first hill. mostly because of biker congestion. When I don’t have room to weave going up a tough hill, I usually must stop and walk.
  • New strategy for food stops: In my 20 Bicycle Rules of the Road, I strongly recommend stopping at all food stops, for nutrition and sustainability. But I know firsthand that you can gain weight doing rides if you don’t watch what you eat there. Most food stops have generous supplies of salty foods and sweets such as donuts, brownies, candy bars and cookies. While I had a few cookies at the first stop, I made it a point to have fruit only — bananas, oranges and grapes — at the last three stops. That helped cut calories as well as sustain me for the remaining miles and hills.
  • The Snohomish County loop that I missed: At 31 miles, you have a turn right into Snohomish County and the 100-mile route or a turn left to stay on the 65-mile route (century riders eventually come back to spot). I know most of this route from doing the Tour de Peaks century ride last August, and had enough gas in the tank to do 100 miles. But again this year it was too late in the day for me to go right instead of left. I likely would have finished the century after the finish-line area at Marymoor Park had closed, and didn’t want to miss out on the food and festivities. Next year …

What’s next

I need to find some rides to do in late June and July! Lot of possibilities, although the Seattle Century ride has been canceled for 2013 (and maybe forever?). I also must keep some of these weekends open for family responsibilities. But I am training now for a century ride, and also hoping to do the Torchlight 8K Run in downtown Seattle on July 27.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

About monteenbysk

I am not an elite runner or bicyclist, though I am friends with many. I run, walk, and bike for fun and the health benefits. I can get you to the finish but probably not to the Boston Marathon (and especially not to the Tour de France).
This entry was posted in 10K, 5K, Bicycling, Flying Wheels, Running, Seattle Century, Tour de Peaks and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 2013 Flying Wheels bike ride: Why aren’t more women bicycling?

  1. Tyra says:

    Awesome Monte! I too love biking. More than running. ( I don’t know actually that I’ve ever said I love running. I have a great bike, but its not a road bike. I don’t let that stop me though. My longest ride has only been a 23 mile ride. I’m not scared to go longer, but I am scared that I don’t know what to do if something breaks. That’s what’s holding me back. One day….. 🙂

    • monteenbysk says:

      Thanks, Tyra! Many rides have support vehicles plus mechanics at food stops. That helps ease the worry of getting a flat or mechanical issue. Look forward to having you out there!

  2. Geoff Hazel says:

    I’d say one Seattle century is enough for a lifetme. It’s not a hard ride to do self supported, either, there are plenty of places to hop off the bike to get snacks and water. If you want an early season century or shorter ride, check Phil’s May Day Classic on the 1st Sunday in May, starts in Federal way.

  3. Pingback: Flying Wheels 2014: Most riders did 96 miles, I did 100-plus | Monte's running commentary

  4. Pingback: Tour de Peaks 2015: Finally seeing more women bicycling! | Monte's running commentary

  5. Pingback: 2016 Flying Wheels Summer Century: 104 gritty miles in 85-degree heat | Monte's running commentary

  6. Julie Hochstadter says:

    Would I be able to use your image of the ladies biking above for a banner I’d lik eto make for our ladies only bike ride near Chicago?

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