Monday, October 01 2007 @ 03:12 PM EDT
Contributed by: B' Spokes
By Tom Pelton | Sun reporter
Fifty women on racing bicycles, wearing sunglasses, helmets, gloves and bright jerseys, gathered in a fiercely competitive-looking group at Oregon Ridge Park in Baltimore County yesterday.
But instead of racing, they shared. One by one, they went around the circle introducing themselves, describing why they love to ride and how much it means for their mental and physical health.
"I feel like this is A.A.," one rider confessed, referring to Alcoholics Anonymous. And then they took off on a 25-mile ride under a glorious blue sky.
Susan Olson, a business consultant from Westminster, helped organize the event, which was sponsored in part by Joe's Bike Shop of Mount Washington and Trek bicycle manufacturing company.
"This is the only all-women riding event in the Baltimore area - and one of the very few in the U.S.," Olson said.
"We want to be a model for other cities that want to hold similar events."
She explained that men are barred from riding to provide an atmosphere comfortable for women who are just learning how to handle racing bikes.
"Some women are nervous about riding with men, because the men are what we call 'hammerheads,' and that can be a little intimidating," Olson said, bullhorn in hand, as she rallied a team of riders.
By "hammerheads," she was referring to the aggressive maneuvers cyclists can make in packs of other cyclists, which can result in wipeouts.
Part of the goal of the annual cycling event is to encourage women to climb back into the saddle. Many rode bicycles as kids, but then took decades off to focus on careers and family.
"It's good exercise, a good mental release, and it's good for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which is how I see the world," said Elizabeth Ridlington, one of the organizers.