Cycling Team Promotes Women in a Male Dominated Sport
Meet the Lady Gnar Shedders, a women’s developmental cycling racing team, rare in a sport mainly dominated by men. That small fact doesn’t alarm this team of fierce women racers though. Since the team formed in 2013 they have collectively participated in 206 races, and nearly 100 community events in 2014 alone.
Surprisingly, competitive cycling has a drastically low ratio of men to women. In fact, for every four men in the sport there’s only one woman, which is why Kristen Arnold was inspired to start the team.
“We wanted to provide a non-intimidating environment for women to participate in,” stated Arnold, the team leader and co-founder. “There were others as well who wanted to create a women’s focus team to support each other. I’ve been to races with the men’s races will have 60 participants and the women’s races will have two participants. As we progress I believe the number of all women teams and participants will continue to grow.”
Cycling racing differs from mountain bike racing as it typically takes place on off-road courses. These man-made obstacles include a combination of sandy and grassy terrain and sometimes even gravel roads. Riders are often faced with rough or unexpected terrain where a racer may have to quickly jump off the lightweight cycling bike to run uphill. The sport is a fairly new discipline to the United States, but remains popular in European countries where it originated.
The Lady Gnar Shredders happen to be the first amateur women’s developmental bike racing team in Ohio. But since their launch in September 2013, Ohio has seen three more women’s competitive cycling teams form in Cincinnati and Cleveland.
To promote the discipline, the ladies of the Lady Gnar Shredders will be hosting the first annual Midwest Women’s Road Race Championships. This large-scale race will be the first of its kind, and is open to all professional and amateur teams, as well as newbie cyclers. The race is scheduled for July 12th in Zanesville on a terrain that Arnold describes as a fun and unique course. Enrollment is still open to any and all women’s cycling teams, as well as sponsorship opportunities.
“We are constantly looking to work with sponsors that are passionate about supporting women’s development in athletics in beyond” explains Arnold.
The team is also on the lookout for women and girls who want to join. Team member Jen Malik raced for the first time last year and ended up qualifying for the Women’s Collegiate Division 1 Category at the Cyclo-cross National Championships for The Ohio State University.
“We are a developmental team,” said Arnold. “Which means that we want to promote women’s fitness, nutrition, and well being.”
For more information on the Lady Gnar Shredders visit www.ladygnarshredders.com.