I can’t imagine smiling and laughing through a century ride. Maybe the first half, when the pain and exhaustion haven’t quite set in yet. But then you get to 75 miles and you know you still have 25 grueling miles to go; and it’s all uphill from there.
I’m excited to pedal 100 miles with Venus de Miles: an all-women’s bike ride benefitting Greenhouse Scholars. Greenhouse Scholars is a non-profit organization dedicated to funding outstanding, young students’ college education who may have a difficult time doing so themselves. I learned these students come from all walks of life: under-resourced, homelessness, or refugee status, yet they all are exceptional individuals, ranking top of their class and leading their communities.
The money raised through Venus de Miles and any fundraising conducted by the riders not only assists students financially, but personally as well, for their four years at University. Andrea and Angie told me the students are paired with a mentor who will help and guide the students through their college careers. The students also have access to an extended professional network with guidance and internships available.
After speaking with Andrea, Angie, and Lisa of Greenhouse Scholars, I learned this ride isn’t for the weak, and when I say weak, I mean women who can’t enjoy themselves – and there’s no such thing as a woman who can’t enjoy herself.
Andrea told me Venus de Miles was conceived in 2008, when a group of women working at Greenhouse Scholars wanted to celebrate community and sisterhood. This group believed that women pull together more when it’s a woman-specific event: there’s great enthusiasm, high participation, and laughter. Andrea told me making it women-only takes out the intimidation factor and allows women to ride for fun, or as their website says, “Venus isn’t about setting a great time; it’s about having one.”
What can men do, you may wonder? Well, they are invited to participate! The ladies encourage men to volunteer as they are big energizers for the women participating. Venus de Miles has had up to 40 men participate in the event before. While it’s mostly friends and family of the riders, there are always some men from the community who are good sports and support the idea of an all-women’s bike ride. Venus de Miles has had men dress up from anything like Hooters girls to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. When I remember my first century ride, I would have been really excited to see a man dressed as Dorothy, after an exhausting climb, clicking his red heels wishing me to the finish line.
I asked Andrea, Angie, and Lisa for training tips and they told me that Venus de Miles has partnered up with FasCat Coaching, a performance cycling center, dedicated to helping cyclists improve their performance. The ladies told me anyone who registers for the ride receives a free training guide which is separated for riders who may be beginners, intermediate, or advanced. Their personal advice? Plan for endurance. There are not many climbs, but plenty of distance. The best thing to do is to get on the saddle and ride the route, familiarize yourself with the course. Most importantly, the ladies want you to have fun. It’s not meant to be tough.
There are activities pre- and post-ride and even some Greenhouse Scholars with whom to speak about their experiences afterward. I could hear the excitement in the women’s voices as we spoke about the students and what it meant to all of them to raise money for these young adults. The women are thrilled to be able to get these students to the next level of their success. Greenhouse Scholars believe by helping students, we are creating a community of leaders who will inspire and influence other people in their lives.
I’m eager to participate in Venus de Miles’ century ride this year. They encourage costumes, laughter, and fun: three things that sound truly awesome when riding 100 miles. I love the non-competitive aspect of it. I’ll admit though, I am a bit competitive, and I will race someone to the finish line, but it will all be in the name of fun. I’m ready to ride. Who wants to join me?
You can visit Venus de Miles here to register and learn more about how you can participate.
Or to read more information about Greenhouse Scholars and the students, you can click here.
If you wish to join Venus de Miles’ Bike Club, you can visit their site here.
Watch a Venus de Miles promo video.