Video by George Marshall
Every ride with Kathy Pruitt and Amanda Schaper is sure to involve copious amounts of laughter, hootin’ and hollerin’, plus great conversation in between crushing climbs and rallying descents. Naturally, when these two Flashpoint MVMNT riders headed overseas for Grinduro Switzerland, they spent a lot of time chatting as the sound of alphorns and cowbells echoed in the background.
Kathy and Amanda have experienced a lot in their years on two wheels: Kathy started racing bikes as a junior, so she’s been involved in the bike industry as an athlete for most of her life; while Amanda has been racing for about 15 years and has been working professionally in the industry for the last decade. Throughout this time, they have seen some amazing growth in women’s participation and support within cycling.
While at Grinduro Switzerland, Amanda and Kathy sat down for a chat about women and cycling, especially with relation to how bikes can have such a positive impact not just on your physical strength, but your mental strength as well. In Amanda’s words, “Being a cyclist gives you a lot of confidence. It teaches you that you’re strong, that you’re capable. It gives you a real sense of strength and identity.”
The personal strength that somebody gains on the bike translates into daily life. As Kathy explains, “Sport has this transformative way of relating to real life. I think getting a bike changes people, and that when they get off the bike, that translates into their daily life.”
It’s even bigger than that though. Kathy adds, “It’s really great to see all these women riding because I think it’s going to help, hopefully, general society with women being more confident, independent people. We have to change outside of the bike industry.”
With all of the positives, it’s important to remember we still have a long way to go in making the bike community a truly welcoming and inclusive space. As Amanda explains, “Over the years I’ve always been asked, ‘How do we get more women into bikes?’ And I’m like, well if that’s the question you’re asking, you’re not really asking the right question, because it’s ‘How do we get more people into bikes?’”
The question of how to get more women into cycling is typically centered on cis white women. We need to expand the question to include all people: people of all colors, genders, sizes, ages, abilities, and income levels. When we focus on changing the bike community to make it more inclusive as a whole, rather than just how to get more women into an existing flawed space, real change will start to happen on a much larger scale. This shift will make the bike community a truly welcoming place for everybody.