I’d always had a bike as a kid. I grew up where there weren’t sidewalks, so I was pretty comfortable cruising around country roads by myself. I had a 10-speed. Then a mountain bike. But it wasn’t until I was close to 40-years-old that I really started to spend time and travel some distance on the roads.
When I found a group of women who liked to ride bikes in my town, I was excited to start training with them. Scratch that; I was terrified. I’d always ridden alone and had no idea if I was strong enough to keep up with other people. I went to a road riding clinic in a nearby park. I took one look at all the outfitted riders with their expensive bikes and decided I was out of my league. That’s when a woman named Karolyn saw my ‘drive-by.’ She flagged me down and encouraged me to take at least one lap with the group.
After a few more times of meeting up with these women, I decided to join their cycling team. There was no obligation to race, but a gentle push encouraging each of us to line up for just one event. Maybe enter a crit or a gravel race. Sign up for a time trial. Just try. The victory came from testing yourself, not necessarily winning. One of the perks of being on the team was getting to purchase a beautiful cycling kit — designed by one of the founding members, Kim Hopkins.
That first chance to buy a kit, I balked. Didn’t think I was a good enough rider. Hadn’t ‘earned’ the right to wear it. Somehow, if I put on that matching jersey and bike shorts and rode around, I’d be telling the world I thought I was a great athlete, when in truth, I was just a middle-aged mom trying to find something to call my own. Felt like false advertising.
It’s funny to think about now. If I could, I’d like to have a drink with that younger version of myself and set her straight on a few things. As women, we often undersell ourselves. We don’t want to brag. Embarrassment can be brutal. Most of us think modesty and humility are good qualities, and we practice both in spades.
I should’ve bought the kit.
I should’ve worn it proudly. I had started down a road toward better health and better friendships. Maybe I hadn’t entered a real bike race, yet, and I was constantly getting shelled out the back of the pace line, but I kept coming back. I should have quit imagining what other people thought of my workout gear and realized nobody’s paying that much attention to me anyway. It seems so silly now.
I should have bought the damn kit.
When Kim and I travel with our pop-up store for Velorosa®, we sometimes meet women who love their bikes but have never really invested in high-quality cycling wear. They don’t think they ride ‘hard enough’ or ‘long enough’ to justify a kit. I know the feeling. But I believe if you manage to get some time on your bike, with all the other responsibilities and commitments I know you handle, you’re definitely working hard enough. At everything.
While we’d love for you to consider one of our cycling kits, what’s more important to us is that you realize you deserve to look and feel great while riding your bike. You deserve comfortable, carefully constructed shorts specially designed for a woman’s body. You deserve a proper fitting jersey. You deserve the time to take care of yourself and look kick ass while doing it.
Come on, buy the kit.Velorosa Cycling was founded in 2015 by business partners and cycling friends Kim Hopkins and Lisa Carponelli, both of Des Moines. Hopkins began designing jerseys for her race team in 2008. The partners sell the race-inspired apparel online and at pop-up locations to meet the needs of women looking for unique, great-fitting, high-performance cycling clothing.