It all happened after one too many glasses of wine….
It had been a tough year. I went from being at the top of my game, coaching and racing triathlon, even qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship Race to laying on the concrete in the middle of the road with my helmet bashed in and a gash across my knee.
My face healed and my bike was repaired but my knee was slow to return to normal. I finally stopped training all-together because my knee would ache for days after a long training session and I just seemed to have lost the joy I once felt when approaching a long day of training.
Even though I felt burnt out, I couldn’t walk away. I was coaching a half a dozen athletes and working full-time as a marketing director for a local bike shop. I was in deep.
It was around that time that I went on my first trail running trip. My body was still beat up but my soul came alive. Being on the trails with no concern for pace or performance lifted a weight from my shoulders. I felt like I could breath again for the first time in years.
I had been hearing rumors of these new gravel bikes that were hitting the market. (We are a bit behind on the East Coast where I live). My friend Lauren was doing this crazy race called Dirty Kanza. In my 20’s, I had very poorly tried mountain biking one spring and summer and had enjoyed being out on the trails but had not enjoyed the constant fear of losing my teeth. (It was justified, a guy I was mountain biking with lost his two front teeth on my first ride).
I decided that I was ready to get back on a bike and wanted to invest in a gravel bike. I was talking to my boss at the bike shop one day and he tried to discourage me.
‘You won’t like gravel biking, it’s hard’.
I wish I could say I was shocked at his response but I had been around the industry enough to know that it’s a world where men believe they are far superior when it comes to riding a bike. It wasn’t just our little bike shop, it was the industry as a whole. Finding brand images or even well-made cycling kits for real women was a challenge.
Despite his certainty that I wouldn’t like gravel biking because it was hard, I ended up getting a bike and heading out for my first ride with Lauren. I was terrified of the downhill (my accident had been on a downhill). I was terrible at finding the right gear to handle gravel. I had to hike my bike up a particularly steep hill because I didn’t know how to handle the terrain. I was covered in dust and red Georgia clay but I could not stop grinning from ear to ear. I had found my adventure.
Of course, I started talking non-stop about my new obsession and was surprised to hear so many women who I knew to be strong cyclists say that they were too afraid to try.
After years of coaching beginner triathletes, I knew that one of the best ways to break down the barriers that keep women out of the sport is to create a supportive community where women can connect, get inspired, and learn. I started to wonder what it might be like to have a community of women who were taking their adventures off-road, who like me were longing for those moments where their soul just felt like it came to life. I started to look for this community. All I found were more sites geared toward men. I found events with three times the number of men at the starting line than women. I found interviews and advertisements full of men, throwing in a token women every now and then.
So one night, I had a few too many glasses of wine and the instagram handle ‘Girls Gone Gravel’ was born. It didn’t take long to recruit some of the best women I know to help get started. Meet them here.
Girls Gone Gravel is a community for women chasing adventure…whether it’s as epic as competing in Dirty Kanza, a 200 mile gravel race, or as everyday as borrowing a mountain bike and trying that beginner trail at the park down the street from your house.
It’s a place to learn without someone dropping all of the bike shop lingo on you as if you know (or really care) whether your components are SRAM or Ceramic Speed. Or to find out about gear from women instead of a man writing an article about which pair of bike shorts is going to fit you the most comfortably.
It’s a place to find other women like you — women who want to get away from the stress of every day life or find a challenge just to see what they are made of.
Our goal is simply for you to find a place where you can take the next step. Let’s hit the open roads.