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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY TOGETHER WE RIDE 2021: Summary of the 2nd Annual Bike Ride for Equality, Inclusion and Change.

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another.  We should raise each other up.” -Serena Williams, Professional Tennis Player

We used OUR VOICES with the bike as a medium for equity, unity and change.

We rode for INCLUSION and EQUALITY as we all pedaled forward TOGETHER.

Collectively, WE TRIPLED our participation from 2020…

In the inaugural year (2020) of the International Women’s Day Together We Ride, we had approximately 275-300 participants from the following states and countries with international representation from Australia, France, India, United Kingdom. US representation included: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington D.C, Washington State, and Wisconsin.

In the second year (2021), during a global panademic, we TRIPLED our empowerment peloton to approximately 750-800 participants to include the following states and countries: 33 states were represented from the United States and 10 international countries were represented:  Australia, Dubai, Germany, United Arab Emerits, United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Lithuania, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.  Additionally, participants ages ranged the spectrum from 8 months old to 94 years young! See for yourself, meet both Ginny from Dallas, Texas (94 y/o young) and 8 month old Jax from Illinois who were so excited to be a part of the 2nd annual Together We Ride empowerment movement on bikes.

It was three days of unity across the world as we all rode together in support of gender parity and equality.   We pedaled sunshine around the world and let equality flow with the bike as a medium for the connection.  

To see how we collectively achieved this exponential growth, read on. We will present ride recaps from some events in the United States and the United Kingdom, highlight our three sponsors and then review the format of the event.

We hope you would read on to see how we achieved such great success in hosting a virtual bike ride in honor of International Women’s Day to promote equality, inclusion and positive change around the world…

SUMMARY OF THE 2ND INAUGURAL INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY TOGETHER WE RIDE BIKE RIDE FOR EQUALITY, INCLUSION AND CHANGE:

After the overwhelming success of the inaugural 2020 event, I reflected and looked ahead to the event in March 2021. At that time, I identified four key areas for growth which included sponsors, inclusivity, increasing community and grassroots outreach. I also recognized the growth from the first year and reached out to two fellow cyclists and advocates in the Elmhurst Bicycle Club to join me in preparation for the second year. I welcomed both Kelli Wright Morgan and Kim Messina to the International Women’s Day Together We Ride team. It takes a village! Their addition really helped streamline the event this year, especially with the exponential growth of the ride we experienced. I have been blessed to know them since joining the Elmhurst Bicycle Club in 2009.

SPONSORSHIP:  In addition to the two sponsors (Falls Creek Outfitters and J&R Cycle and Ski) and some personal contributions from fellow cycling friends in 2020, we were able to generate an additional sponsor in 2021 to include Mike’s E-Bikes in Naperville, IL.  This additional sponsor helped offset some of the costs associated with the graphic design fee, production and shipment of the patches.  I covered the majority of the costs associated with the event in 2020.  With these three sponsors in this second year, we were able to cover 80% of the expenses in 2021, with me covering the remaining 20%.  I am hoping to continue to grow this to allow all participants the ability to get a commemorative roundel/patch at a lower cost than the $10 fee to the participant.  This fee is only to cover the graphic design fee and postage fee for each roundel/patch.   

Although not a sponsor, we were contacted by Zuda Foods (California, USA), who manufacture plant based Zuda Bars.  This company graciously and generously donated Lemon and Basil gluten free/vegan/non-GMO grain/soy free bars for some of the midwest events.  The donations were distributed to local rides in the midwest, which included both the Elmhurst Bicycle Club as well as Black Girls Do Bike Chicago.  

If you know a company or individual who may be interested in partnering with our event, please connect them with us.  We welcome individuals and organizations with the same goal of promoting equality, inclusion and positive change with the bicycle being the medium for this transformational movement.  We have different levels of sponsorship to meet your needs and welcome a conversation with you, your organization and business.  

INCLUSIVITY AND COMMUNITY:  With the goal to continue to be more inclusive to riders of all ability levels, ages and terrain, we changed the distance to include any distance to qualify to count toward obtaining a finishers patch. This opened up the event to more riders and types of riding (ie, mountain bikers, leisure riders and families).  This also allowed regions in Randonneurs USA (self-supported long distance cycling) to post rides greater than 100K for those who may want to host a longer distance (ie. 200k or 300K) or possibly a weekend of ride options.  With International Women’s Day landing on a Monday in 2021, we also included the Saturday and Sunday (March 6 and 7th, 2021) prior to International Women’s Day to give more flexibility in scheduling a ride or celebratory event.  

Another success this year was our ability to connect to many more local organizations and more outreach to other states with connections to Major Taylor Cycling Club, Black Girls Do Bike, Great Rivers Greenway Outreach and the Daily Herald.  Both Kim Messina, Kelli Morgan and TREK ambassadors Sheri Rosenbaum and Adina Forbes Crawford all helped significantly with these connections and with getting the word out to other groups and organizations.  Additionally, we also held a “Together We Meditate” 30 minute virtual mindful meditation on the 110th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, hosted by Adina Forbes Crawford.  

GRASSROOTS OUTREACH:  We also wanted to increase the outreach of the event to grassroots levels to include more advocacy groups and clubs within and outside of the US.  We also looked for opportunities to partner with fellow women advocates, locally, in the US and worldwide, linking up with ambassadors for Black Girls Do Bike, TREK Bicycles and I-Fit Bike Club and Pacing Team.  These connections also helped with significant growth in this area.  

Furthermore, we were able to get more grassroots communication via multiple newspaper articles locally in the greater Chicagoland region via articles in the Daily Herald,  Silent Sports , The Lombardian, a blog in Edward-Elmhust Healthcare Healthy Driven and an interview with Sheri Rosenbaum with Sunflowers and Pedals.  

For reference:

Daily Herald: https://www.dailyherald.com/entlife/20210216/support-gender-equality-by-joining-international-womens-day-ride 

Silent Sports:  This story titled Voices of Diversity in Silent Sports first appeared in the April 2021 edition of Silent Sports Magazine. See below PDF. 

The Lombardian Part 1:

The Lombardian Part 2:

Edward-Elmurst Healthy Driven Blog:  Voices of Diversity: https://www.eehealth.org/blog/2021/03/international-womens-day-bike-ride/ 

Sunflowers and Pedals Interview about this event: https://sunflowersandpedals.com/2021/02/19/2021-international-womens-day-together-we-ride/ 

“Together We Meditate” 30 minute mindulf meditation
on the 110th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, hosted by Adina Forbes Crawford.

HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN”S DAY:

March 8th, 2021 was the 110th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD).  It began in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to campaign for women’s rights around the world.  IWD has evolved into a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women as a rally for worldwide gender equality.  

In the 1890’s, the bike was a catalyst for the early women’s movement and offered an easy mode of transportation. In 1893, Miss Katherine Towle Knox (Kittie Knox), a bi-racial cyclist was the first African American accepted into the League of American Wheelman.  

In 1895, she challenged the new “color bar” passed by the League one year earlier.  Knox, from Boston, was a member of Riverside Cycling Club, Boston’s first black cycling club.  Katie Knox was a true activist who courageously highlighted the issues of race and gender by shedding light on obstacles facing African Americans and women.  Kitty placed in the top 20% of every ride that she ever competed in, many of which were at least 100 miles long.  It sounds like randonneuring was in her cycling genes. 

In 2020, the inaugural Together We Ride was celebrated.  Ten regions within Randonneurs USA (self supported long distance cycling) participated as well as non-Randonneurs USA participants.  It is estimated that approximately 275-300 people participated with international representation from Australia, France, India, United Kingdom. US representation included: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington D.C, Washington State, and Wisconsin.

In addition to the 100k Randonneurs USA (RUSA) populaire, non RUSA riders had no distance minimums to allow more inclusivity, flexibility and participation of all ages.  We also added the weekend prior to March 8th to add flexibility.  In addition, virtual rides, rides on stationary bikes and electronic bicycles were also permitted for the non-RUSA participants.  This allowed individuals to participate safely with the ongoing pandemic and be more inclusive.  

In 2021, the following 5 Randonneurs USA regions added calendared 100K (62 mile bike organized rides) called populaires to their schedule: Indiana Randonneurs, Atlanta Randonneurs, DC Randonneurs, Lone Star Randonneurs and Davis Randonneurs. 

The following are four submitted reports/photos received from ride leaders within Randonneurs USA, an organization for self-supported long distance cycling in the United States. Additionally, the last report highlights the day as reported by the CCC Cycling Club in the United Kingdom.

INDIANA RANDONNEURS (INDIANA, USA): Lydia Trott

“On Friday, ten women gathered to be the first riders to shred the trails at the Amphitheater in Lafayette, Indiana. The “party pace” group ride left in waves and everyone kept their distance on the trail. The socially distanced afterparty brought out a traveling firepit, beers, and great conversation.

On Saturday, I hosted several road events. Seven RUSA riders left at 8 am from West Lafayette’s oldest Brewery and rode the Boiler Up! 100k. At the 45-mile control, riders got the opportunity to feed grain to some of the cutest llamas ever! The final miles of the route venture cyclists through the heart of Purdue’s campus and by iconic landmarks.  The Wabash River Cycle Club Women’s Ride offered four additional rides.  Groups kept small and left at varying times to avoid large groups gathering.  Four different speed groups of varying distances were led by female identifying cyclists. 35 non RUSA riders were surprised to meet the founder of IWD: Together We Ride Dawn P. Dawn brought with her some colorful signs and posters for riders to pose with for pictures. Brokerage Brewing Company brewed a special beer just for the event, a Zappa Dry Hopped Rye Saison called Lucy Loved TNT. 

On Sunday, four RUSA riders set off outside Lafayette along the Wabash River for a 100k Half Rock gravel ride.  With some freshly graded gravel and some steep climbs, only two made it back on time. While RUSA riders were out, Molly Birt led a 30-mile dirt church service; and Jill Carr and I led two different gravel causal Sunday schools.  All rides concluded around 1-3 pm and riders enjoyed a homebrew, A People’s Brewing Company Mr. Brown Ale clone, by Steve Trott. 

On Monday I lead my first virtual event on Zwift. Randonneurs from across the United States showed up for great conversation and some hills. Cyclists introduced themselves with their name, location, and favorite female identifying cyclists. Susan Otcenas melted everyone’s heart when she said her favorites were all the strong randonneuses in RUSA.” 

ATLANTA RANDONNEURS (Georgia, USA): Betty Jean Jordan

“The Audax Atlanta chapter celebrated with the Women in Cycling 100K on March 6, 2021.  Four women and nine men completed the ride.  Some of us rando buddies hadn’t seen each other since before the pandemic.  It was great to catch up with each other a bit during the ride!  We rode one of our club’s favorite populaire routes that starts in Watkinsville, Georgia and goes through beautiful farmland and picturesque towns.

The southern end of the route is an out-and-back section through Hard Labor Creek State Park.  I always enjoy seeing the distinctive rockwork on the bridges and signs at Hard Labor Creek.  These structures are a legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), who built a number of Georgia state parks during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Although the CCC was made up of men, it has an indirect connection to women.  CCC life was quite structured and trained these young men well for World War II.  When so many men went off to war, women were needed in the jobs they left behind in factories, stores, and fields.  Women had their first widespread taste of the working world, and many weren’t ready to give it up when the men returned home.  These women helped pave the way for us today in the ongoing journey of women’s rights.”

Betty Jean Jordan, Diane Schleicher, Julie Gazmararian, and Claudia Bailey.  Dick Marklein in the background. Photo Credit: Michael Rudkin.

DC RANDONNEURS (WASHINGTON D.C., USA): Theresa A. Furnari

“On a brisk but sunny Saturday on March 6, DC Randonneurs heeded Susan B Anthony’s opinion and, as one of many organizations around the globe, sponsored an International Women’s Day ride for 2021.  Nine women were joined by husbands, partners, friends, and new friends to ride 63.7 miles through bucolic Northwest DC to Poolesville and back.  Of the 30 starters, 10 were new to Randoneuring.   DCRand provided commemorative gifts of either buffs or patches to new riders and those who recruited new riders.   Some of the experiences for the day included a couple who traveled from New Jersey to join their daughter and boyfriend, to ride together.  Another woman was goaded into riding again, after a long absence.  The smile on her face at the finish was priceless.  Another woman decided before the ride her goal was to ride 6 hours regardless of how many miles.  She met her goal.  

Despite the COVID-19 conditions for wearing masks and social distancing, the ride offered time for friendships to be rekindled, and new ones made as riders enjoyed the sites and swapped riding experiences.  It was a fitting way to celebrate International Women’s day by joining together and celebrating the strength and endurance that comes from long distance cycling.  A big thanks to Dawn Piech for her inspiration and dedication to ensuring a memorable and enjoyable event.  Susan B. Anthony is smiling.  Enjoy the ride!”

LONE STAR RANDONNEURS (DALLAS, TEXAS, USA): Pamela Wright

“The more the merrier!  That was the call for the International Women’s Day ride and Lone Star Randonneurs.  So, our merry band hit the Trinity Trail for a touring time alongside runners, strollers and quite a few training wheels, which was great fun to see.  One of the best was the little girl getting pushed up a slight ramp by Mom WITHOUT training wheels and we can all appreciate the downhill reward after that.

Like other clubs, today was about camaraderie, seeing old friends (Patty, Brad, Pat & Jerry it’s been way too long!) and making new ones with new member Derric.  Hearing folks swap stories and share tales from rides gone by made the day extra special.

Fun bonus was stopping at “Ginny’s Bench” to salute friends Jean Bregenzer and her mother, Virginia, who have been collecting milestones on their tandem, including celebrating Ginny’s 94th birthday on this bench a couple weeks before us and cranking out over 1200 miles since her 90th birthday!  Celebrating the can-do and will-do spirit of women who have gone before us can make it really special to celebrate a woman still achieving milestones.  Ginny may not ride rando, but I’m pretty sure she’s rando at heart and we all wish for that spirit and tenacity!”

Mrs. Ginny Bregenzer.  
What does every 94-year-old do on their birthday? Go for a bike ride! Photo Credit: Jean Bregenzer.

CCC CREW, BRITISH CYCLING BREEZE (UNITED KINGDOM): Founders Sal Tuplin and Carol Dalgetty

“For IWD this year we decided to have a day together out on our gravel bikes in celebration of the 110th International Women’s Day and to honour and remember the women who have gone before us in the fight for a gender equal world.  We are both founder members of a ladies cycling group, CCC Crew, based in the East of England.  We are also two of the many British Cycling trained volunteer ride leaders qualified to organise and lead “Breeze” women only group rides. CCC Crew came about because of the eventual over subscribing of our local Breeze rides and we now have 30 plus riders in our tribe. CCC Crew was nominated in 2019 for a local “Care In The Community” Award, which was a very proud moment for the group.

Due to COVID, group rides haven’t been possible for some time now but we are allowed to exercise with one other person and so several of our Crew have taken full advantage and buddied up on IWD rides this weekend.

Sal & I meticulously planned our route and Sal specifically booked the day off work.  We started our ride from the Royal Oak Public House in Lincolnshire locally known as “The Splash” due to it being positioned alongside a shallow ford (stream). This building dates back to the 17th century and was a picturesque setting to start our day, even in the rain.

We rode and chatted taking in the scenery along the 7 miles into Louth, a pretty Georgian market town where we stopped to pick up lunch to have later into our ride and where we called in to a friendly, local cycle repair shop for Sal to have her bike gears  “tweaked”. We bimbled (English word – to walk or travel at a leisurely pace!) our way through small Lincolnshire villages, along a canal path, riding on quiet country roads and a bridlepath searching out the lanes less travelled. We cycled to an old water mill (built c1782) where we stopped to have lunch, past thatched cottages, churches, an old windmill and through the beautiful flat countryside of Lincolnshire as we gently pedalled our way home.  The cold and rain and a slight mechanical issue didn’t dampen our spirits one little bit.

A fabulous day, beautiful scenery, fun photography, lots of laughter and two very good friends supporting each other one mile at a time.”

FORMAT OF THE 2ND ANNUAL EVENT:

Here was the official commemorative 2021 International Women’s Day Together We Ride roundel/patch, as we called it, the “Persistence Patch of Honor”:

2021 Official International Women’s Day Together We Ride roundel/patch

INDULGE in sunshine and joy.

Let EQUALITY flow.

Real CHANGE comes with combined efforts.

For more information about International Women’s Day: https://www.internationalwomensday.com

What is International Women’s Day:  International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  It began in 1911 with the goal to campaign for women’s equality.  2021 is the 110th year of this day of equality.  The theme of the 2021 International Women’s Day was Choose To Challenge.

When is International Women’s Day?  Every year on March 8th

And big shout out of gratitude to our 2021 sponsors: Falls Creek Outfitters (Falls Creek, Pennsylvania), J&R Cycle (Villa Park, IL) and Mike’s E-Bikes (Naperville, IL) for partnering with us in 2021. Thank you for your support and collaboration in the 2021 event and for lighting our celebration with your presence.

MEET OUR 2021 SPONSORS:

FALLS CREEK OUTFITTERS (Falls Creek, Pennsylvania USA): Falls Creek Oufitters: Based in Falls Creek, Pennsylvania USA. Falls Creek is a small family owned and operated business that specializes in custom embroidery patches, labels, lapel pins and other products to groups, events, businesses, and more. They produced our stunning HIGH quality finishers patches. Attached is a photo of Walter and his wife on their trip to Iceland (pre-COVID). Walter says that when they are not working on projects, they are out enjoying the out-of-doors with their family and furry friends.

J&R CYCLE (Villa Park, IL USA): Based in Villa Park, IL USA. J & R Cycle is a family owned bicycle shop that is dedicated to customer service. “We are starting our 46th year of being in business. We feel like we have never worked a day and we are overwhelming fortunate to have met so many wonderful people and made lasting friendships through J & R Cycle!” Lorna and Bob Pecora.

MIKE’S E-BIKES (Naperville, IL USA): Based in Naperville, IL USA, Mike’s E-Bikes in 2015 out of the motivating belief that electric bikes would help change people’s commuting, and  fitness lives for the better.   Mike’s passion for the benefits of electric assisted technology, and cycling for low impact fitness and healthy commuting, keeps him focused on the latest ebike trends with up to date on-going research on product advancements and e-bike trends.   

INTERESTED IN 2022 SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES? We have different levels of sponsorship to meet you needs. Please contact us at iwdbike@gmail.com to discuss in more detail. We would love to partner with like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations.

ENDLESS ADVENTURES.

PRICELESS MEMORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD.

In conclusion, Together We Ride was three days of unity across the world as we rode together in support of gender parity and equality. We pedaled sunshine around the world and let equality flow with the bike as a medium for the connection.  The participation in this second year tripled, even during the COVID panademic. AMAZING! This is a testament to the collective power of individuals who value equality, inclusion and want to promote positive change in their community, their region and all around the world.

As noted earlier, it is estimated that between 750-800 participants were a part of the 2nd annual Together We Ride empowerment peloton.  In summary, 33 states in the U.S. were represented and 10 countries were represented:  Australia, Dubai, Germany, United Arab Emerits, United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Lithuania, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.  

For a link on the photos/summaries shared, please take the opportunity to glance at the public International Women’s Day Together We Ride Facebook Page to be inspired! https://www.facebook.com/groups/2587066751413662

Thank you to everyone who supported and participated in the 2nd annual International Women’s Day Together We Ride.  We welcome more regions in the United States, the International Community and grassroots organizations next year to continue to grow our community of positivity.  Please check out the public Facebook group to follow both 2021 and 2022 events and to see all of those who shared their adventure: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2587066751413662 and you can see a few of photos shared below.

We challenge each of you to think about hosting an event or multiple events in 2022 on March 8th or the weekend/days before (March 5th, 6th and 7th).   We also welcome any individuals/companies/sponsors with a mission that aligns with equality, inclusivity and positive change for women and girls all over the world to be a part our movement.  

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” -Michelle Obama

And not only did we inspire those on bikes, we were able to inspire many healthcare workers within Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare in Naperville, Illinois (USA) on International Women’s Day 2021 to be a part of our movement and join our ray of sunshine…it was a pretty special day for sure.

We are so excited for the 3rd annual International Women’s Day Together We Ride in 2022. Save the Dates: Saturday, March 5th, Sunday, March 6th, Monday, March 7th and Tuesday, March 8th. The format will remain the same as 2021!

Comments, suggestions, feedback, questions, contact our team at iwdbike@gmail.com

Pedal Forward. Ride Inspired.

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