As both the Tour de France and La Course wrapped up last weekend in Europe, the Wisconsin Women Cycling founder Cindy Petted was keeping her eye on preparations for a more local ride. On Saturday, July 29, the Wisconsin Women's Century ride will take place in Cedarburg, where riders will bicycle up to 100 miles and support charities in southeastern Wisconsin.
Petted says that she took on the challenge of starting a local women's cycling association while trying to find a way to support local causes. Often national bicycling events are competitive races that make donations to large charities. Aiming to keep the money in Wisconsin, Petted organized the first century ride with a group of female friends.
"So I was thinking, 'well, you know how can I take this opportunity to put on a bike ride and make it benefit Wisconsin, and women in Wisconsin in particular?" Petted says.
Petted says her focus on women in Wisconsin was important because she found that cycling groups and clubs are often settings dominated by men. She recalls a specific experience where she reached out to join a group in Wisconsin and realized her disappointment was shared by other female riders.
"It was always groups that were riding out of local bike shops, and they were mostly men," Petted says. "I tried to ride with them and hang on as long as I could, and I'd be left in the dust. And I was finding that that was happening to a lot of women."
So Petted mobilized women she knew in the cycling community to form an association that organized weekly rides and annual events. Petted emphasized that her foundation puts on a century ride that is simply a ride- a noncompetitive event that allows riders to see how they can reach their goals with the support of others.
The community at Wisconsin Women's Cycling rides has even grown to support Petted as she faced injury earlier this year. Petted is unable to use a bicycle until the end of summer, which left many of the weekly group rides without a leader.
"What it does for these women is exactly what's happening now," Petted says. "The women in our group are now stepping up to lead the rides. They are volunteering their time to go out there and help other women feel comfortable on the road, on the hills and in a group."