Team: Rogue Velo Racing
Hello Lady Racers!!
My name is Amanda (Mandy) LaClair from Williamsburg, VA, 37 years old and I’ve been riding mountain bikes for about 12-14 years. The true length of time is kinda blurry. You know, life happens, children happen, divorce happens, new jobs, back to college as an adult, the list never ends…. and neither did my love of mountain biking. There were definitely larger gaps in event participation than I would have liked, but I tried my hardest to make time for the mental health benefit I’ve found in mountain biking.
I’d like to share some thoughts about an event I participated in June of 2017 and why I think event participation is so important for women. I had been training to participate in the Hilly Billy Roubaix 2017 for months; this was going to be a tough one…. I knew this when I registered. It was a 74-mile adventure ride/race in backcountry West-By-God Virginia. If you’ve never heard of it; Google it, and then put it on your calendar. When race day finally came, I was SOOOO nervous. My boyfriend and I were getting our hotel breakfast, oatmeal and morning coffee like any other long ride morning. We noticed a few others milling around the breakfast area that also looked like race participants, you know’em when you see’em. One woman and I started up some small chat about the event, and then it happened, the moment that changed my whole perspective for the entire day. She asked me “So what will YOU be up to all day while HE’S out racing?”. I couldn’t believe it, that was her immediate assumption of me??? It was an innocent enough question but I knew right then that was not the assumptions women should have of each other. I quickly replied something like, “I’ll be pretty busy racing my bike too”. I really can’t remember exactly what I said because I was so full of emotions. I was angry, hurt, sad, but mostly motivated. I may not “look” like a mountain bike “racer” but I’ve never been a watch from the sidelines kind of woman.
Out of over 300 total race participants that day just over 40 of them were women, I was one of them, and I was going to finish that damn race if it killed me. A little over 8 hours and 74 miles later I crossed that finish line. Time wasn’t my goal that day, finishing was. I finished that race for myself and for every woman that doubts herself, for my daughter that can accomplish anything she works hard for. Gender doesn’t have to limit what we can accomplish, we limit ourselves and sadly, sometimes we limit each other, which isn’t how it should be. We are stronger than we think are, and even stronger together. I love seeing more and more women getting into the sport of mountain biking and racing. I may not always finish an event how I planned to, but I participate and finish proudly. I encourage you to do the same. See you at the start AND finish in 2018!
Now get out there are kick some ass!!