Women You Want to Know Because They Are Badass

Photo: Nikki Inglis

At first glance, the Element.ly article These Are the People You Need to Know in the Bike Industry is a solid list of industry rockstars. Everyone wants to know the quiet (and not so quiet) leaders, the mainstays, the ones who have been around the block, using their passion and experience to drive the industry.

But Element.ly failed to notice all the other people that you need to know in the bike industry. You know, the ladies.

There could have been at least a few women in the lineup without much additional effort, but it does indeed require effort. On the surface the bike industry and sport is made up of a lot of dudes. The term MAMIL (middle-aged men in Lycra) exists for a reason.

It is a real thing.

However, it doesn’t take long to realize that while they are a large part of the whole, they are still only part of the whole. I’d like to add a few amazing women to this list but instead I’m going to call them “Women You Want to Know Because They Are Badass”

Kate Rau—Executive Director of the Colorado High School Cycling League, Bailey Hundo Board of Directors.

Nicole Preston—Director, Special Events at American Diabetes Association (Tour de Cure), League of American Bicyclists Board of Directors.

Nona Varnado—Founder and Executive Director of Bicycle Culture Institute, Founder and Editor at Bird Wheel.

Sarah Lehman—CEO Enve Composites.

Susie Wunch—Founder and Editor of Velojoy, Women Bike Advisory Board.

Robin Farina—President of Women’s Cycling Association.

Tori Bortman—Founder and Owner of Gracie’s Wrench, Author of the The Big Book of Cycling for Beginners.

Leah Flickinger—Executive Editor at Bicycling Magazine/Rodale.

Carolyn Szczepanski-Reinertson—Director of Communications at League of American Bicyclists, Women Bike Advisory Board.

Karen Bliss—VP of Marketing at Advanced Sports International.

Elayna Caldwell—Brand Director at SRAM Mountain Bike, IMBA Board of Directors.

Cindy Koziateck—Co-Owner and CFO of Stan’s NoTubes.

Dorothy Wong—Series Director of SoCalCross.

Elly Blue—Founder at Wheelwomen Switchboard, Publisher at Elly Blue Publishing.

Anna Schwinn—Lead Engineer at All-City Cycles, Team Captain at Koochella.

Kristy Scrymgeour—Owner of Velocio Sports, co-founder of Velocio.

Lindsey Vories—Founder and Director of Ladies AllRide.

Joan Hanscom—Marketing and PR Manager at ABUS Mobile Security.

Carla Hukee—Global Marketing Manager at Niner Bikes.

Jenn Dice—VP of Government Relations at PeopleForBikes.

Kate Powlison—Senior Marketing + Communications Manager at PeopleForBikes.

Deanne Buck—Executive Director at OIWC.

Tanya Quick—Co-founder of CycloFemme, Founding Principal at Language Dept.

Of course, there are many, many more names that should fill this list. Having worked in the industry for a decade, I focused on the women that I personally know and have had the distinct pleasure of working with. These women are incredible examples of leaders, elemental components of companies and advocacy organizations, as well as innovators and entrepreneurs.

On a side note, I would be remiss without mentioning the other blatant truth here. Gender diversity is not the only diversity that we as an industry and sport are lacking. Race, ethnic, cultural, age, and economic diversity is largely absent.

Diversity creates equality and breeds innovation. Without those things we risk stagnation and miss out on an entire population of would-be cyclists and bike riders.

I won’t pretend to know how to fix all of these issues but if we start with growing women’s cycling, I think we can make some progress. Women are generally known to be incredible community builders.

We could go on at length about why or how we got here. But I believe there is a universal sort of idea that we can start with to be our guide to a better future.

While the bicycle played a significant role in women’s history, women have not played a significant role in the history of cycling, or so the story goes. Just like in the tech world, women have largely been omitted from the history book of cycling.

Women are left without the stories of endurance, grit, innovation, leadership, and heroism. We are left without a history of women riding bikes.

So, how do we go about creating that inclusive culture, one where we all have a place?

The first answer is simple, we all need to invite someone different from ourselves into the world of cycling. We can do this through programs, clubs, teams, group rides, and other initiatives that speak to an audience that we are not a part of.

The second answer is simple too, support those that are doing the inviting. And make a commitment to stick with it for the long haul.

The third answer, also simple. Tell really good stories with words and images of the different bikers and cyclists, old and new, the inviters and the invited.

Here is your challenge Element.ly. I challenge you to write really good stories and take really good pictures of people riding bikes who don’t look like you, act like you, smell like you, eat like you, talk like you, or even live by you.

Sarai Snyder is the founder of girlbikelove.com and co-founder of CycloFemme.