Six months after I started cycling I received a surprising phone call at work. One of my cyclist girlfriends was calling to ask about pedal installation. I was surprised she had thought to ask me, of all people. And even more surprised that I knew the answer.
You see, when I began cycling two years ago, I knew nothing.
My first “long ride” was 13 miles. On a cruiser. At noon.
Shortly after that I bought a road bike, but I still had no idea what I was doing. I am a yoga teacher and server, and currently going to nursing school… so basically I am surrounded by ladies, many of whom are actually novice cyclists themselves. I turned to them for help, but it turned out we all had a lot of questions - ranging from the typical ‘how do I change a flat’ to the slightly more personal ‘so do you wear underwear with your chamois?’
I was a little embarrassed to ask the guys at my local bike shop to explain all of this to me.
So I subscribed to magazines and read blogs… but I was in way over my head. The terminology was confusing and the content was targeted towards advanced cyclists- articles about improving your time trials, the perfect sodium intake, and “epic” rides.
There are many “barriers to entry” for female cyclists just starting out. First of all, starting any new hobby can be intimidating, even if you’re psyched to get started - there is a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming or knock your confidence. It’s hard to learn some of the basics because lots of the information out there is targeted to more advanced cyclists, and even the “basics” of cycling is an infinite pool of information. New cyclists are tasked with learning both the mechanical aspects of a bicycle, and the physical aspects of riding a bike. This can be time consuming and REALLY expensive, especially when you don’t have a reliable source you feel comfortable consulting. For me and many female cyclists, asking questions to bike shop personnel can be intimidating, since most of the employees are really experienced male riders - and, let’s face it, can have a chip on their shoulder about helping a newbie. Which leads me to the biggie - cycling is a male dominated sport. Most of the information is about and for men, most of the riders are men, and sometimes it can feel like a good ole boys club.
I felt all of these barriers very deeply when I first began cycling. But in the first year I completed 3 races, got my body into great shape, became a “commuter,” riding my bike to work and school, and had learned enough about bikes to answer the odd question about maintenance or repair.
I may not be the most knowledgeable or the most skilled rider, but I felt the need to do something to fill the gap between the information, community and support that beginner/intermediate female riders want and need, and what’s available.
And so, Bicycle Bettie was born.
“Bicycle Bettie” (or just “Bettie”) is a tongue-in-cheek term for female riders, usually used to imply that while they may look cute on the bike, they don’t really know how to ride. It’s a term that, IMHO, can be pretty demeaning.
But I really like the idea that although a girl may not really know much about cycling, she got on the saddle and tried… that was all of us, at least for our first few rides. And I really like the idea of repurposing a term that is meant to be an insult: pitting femininity (Bettie) against athleticism (Bicycle), as if the two cannot be paired. Femininity and athleticism are not mutually exclusive. When paired together, femininity plus athleticism equal Mia Hamm, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Martina Navratilova, and Marianne Vos. Us Bicycle Betties have nothing to be embarrassed about - we are beginner cyclists looking to improve individually and grow the cycling community so it’s a friendly environment to new Betties.
Ride on, Girls!
Bicycle Bettie is the go-to online resource for novice female cyclists.
We address issues female cyclists care about.
We offer content that is
- Informative and Helpful
- If opinionated, balanced and even-toned
- Representative of diverse women cyclists
We promote growth for the individual cyclist, the cycling community and the female cyclist.
We want to grow with you!