by Robin Sparer and Johanna Nathanson
We have done the Wild Goose Chase, a women’s only cycling event, for many years. It’s a great event that benefits the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, MD while promoting women in biking and fostering a camaraderie that keeps women coming back year after year to do the event. Wanting to get ourselves and Potomac Pedalers more involved, the perfect idea was borne out of our own experience on the ride when during the 2015 event there was no rest stop for over 30 miles on the 65-mile route. After moaning and groaning we decided to be proactive. We decided to approach the organizers of Friends of Blackwater and the Club to see what we could do to sponsor a rest stop and anything else.
When we spoke with the new event coordinator we quickly realized they could use the Club’s best practices in how we run events. We began to realize that we would be more than adding a rest stop, but mentoring the coordinator as well. We developed a partnership and helped with food selection for all the rest stops and event details. We had conference calls monthly and added more people into the planning as need.
We also wanted to mentor and developed Women to be better cyclists. They had changed the once two-day event to a single day and with our help they were able to expand again to a two-day affair. We offered to hold a workshop the afternoon before event day and enlisted other women from our Club (Brenda Ruby, Deborah Turton, and Martine Palmiter) to assist.
During the weekend, our mentoring started before the workshop as we led a ride to the reserve and back. We were able to lead, educate, and support the participants during the ride. We spoke about fit, tire inflation, pre-bike checks, hand and footing numbing, body positioning, pedal strokes, and more. For one rider in particular, we really bonded with and became her mentor during the next day’s main ride which proved to be quite challenging because of high winds and gusts.
We had a tremendous impact on the event. We sponsored, branded, and staffed a much needed and appreciated rest stop. The food quality at all the rest stops improved. We had a raffle for those who visited our rest stop and two winners were selected. One received a free membership and the other a Club Jersey.
Everyone thanked us for being there and helped improve the quality of the event. Most importantly, we mentored new riders to try something new and push themselves try to ride farther and visit our rest stop.