IronGirl Kick Off Party Recap
Iron Girl Kick Off Party Recap
A Road Racer’s Perspective by Phil McCarthy
Recently I had the opportunity to attend Syracuse Bicycle’s Iron Girl Kick Off Party. Since the shop is a sponsor of our bike racing team, Team Ommegang – Syracuse Bicycle, Trish and Paul asked if any of our teammates would be willing to help with the event. They were expecting over 100 women and needed people to help with demonstrations of shifting gears and changing tubes.
Despite the opportunity to meet 100 women in one place, getting teammates to step up and help out was tough. Too much pressure I guess. Thankfully teammate Eric K. volunteered to help and I gave him the option of choosing gear shifting or tube repair duties. Being a relatively shy guy, he went with “changing a tube.” That left me with shifting. I packed a team uniform and like any good road racer, shaved my legs, but quite frankly I was feeling more than a little awkward about walking around in lycra in front of 100 women. It was clear why Eric took the tube gig. Thankfully it turned out to be a relatively low key job and I did it with my jeans on.
After being introduced by Trish as “Eye Candy” I turned about 50 shades of red and mumbled something of an apology about being pretty pathetic eye candy. It’s tough to look cool when you race bikes and weigh 130 something pounds!
I have to say, I was completely blown away by the whole process of working with everyone. To see that many people literally changing their lives was really impressive. Road racers are a fragile bunch. We’re consumed with watts, heart rate, carbon fiber, how many hours the other guy trained, diet, pedals, tire selection, wheel selection, etc. We’re border line crazy. The prospect of competing just to finish, or sharing “secret” knowledge with a competitor is something of a foreign concept. To meet that many people that weren’t shy to ask questions, take notes, and share their own experiences with others was really amazing. I think in general, men “refuse to ask for directions” so it was refreshing to work with a group that was so open to knowledge and unafraid to ask questions. Beyond the mechanics of shifting, there were great questions about bike choice, pedals vs. toe clips and shoe selection. People rotated stations, and every group brought another round of great questions.
It’s funny, many of us have been at this so long that’s it’s tough to think back to when we switched to drop handlebars or moved to clipless pedals. A few of the women I spoke to didn’t even own a bike yet and a few weren’t even sure if their bikes had gears to shift. Hopefully there will continue to be events like Iron Girl, and hopefully I can continue to help in even small ways like showing someone how and when to shift.
Some of the women will no doubt complete the race and that will be enough. Others will get hooked and want faster bikes, cool wheels, clipless pedals and coaches so they can go faster and cover longer distances. Either way, I hope to see a new round of Iron Girls next year. It seems like an event and sport that can truly change lives. Maybe I won’t blush this time when Trish introduces me. I told Trish I’d bring some “tear off” pants next year, but the reality of that seems unlikely.
Best of luck to all of this year’s Iron Girls!