Women's Cycling Advocate Monique Trammell

Monique Trammell has a mission: to see more women riding bicycles, and more women riding together. To achieve this aim, Monique has founded the American Women’s Cycling Network, a nationwide network of women’s cycling clubs. The AWCN website offers both a database of cycling clubs as well as a step-by-step custom program designed to help women start and run their own cycling clubs. The program offers women “the materials and support necessary to start women’s cycling clubs in their community with ease and confidence.”

Worcester County Women’s Cycling takes itself very seriously.

Worcester County Women’s Cycling takes itself very seriously.

Monique came by her vision naturally. It grew out of her own experience moving across the country and leaving behind her cycling community in California, where she had grown up. In Massachusetts, her new home, she found herself unfamiliar with where to ride and no one to ride with. In California, Monique had been a mountain biker, but in Massachusetts, she didn’t know where the trails were so she ended up riding more on the roads. “I was out on the roads for long periods of time by myself,” Monique says. “And I was like, this is terrible. I need people to ride with.”

 
“Cycling is a sport that is better in a group,” says Monique.

“Cycling is a sport that is better in a group,” says Monique.

 

So she started a cycling club, Grafton Women’s Cycling Club, in 2012. The club grew rapidly. In the first riding season, the club grew to fifty members and another twenty five joined before the next spring. Within three years the group was up to 150 members, at which point they changed their name to Worcester County Women’s Cycling to recognize the large number of members who came to the group from outside the town of Grafton. From there, the group swelled to 500 members. Monique observes, “This showed me that there’s this huge need. Women want this, women need this. They want this sense of community around cycling.”

Benefits of Women’s Cycling Groups

So what’s so great about women’s only rides? What are the benefits of having a women’s cycling club? Monique knows well the feeling of showing up to a shop ride as the only woman in a group of men. She knows how intimidating that can be, and the questions a rider asks herself. How fast are they going to be? How competitive? And not to mention, “You’re out in the middle of nowhere with men you don’t know. That’s not ideal for a lot of women.”

When women have someone to ride with, they ride more.

When women have someone to ride with, they ride more.

Having a group of women to ride with can mean the difference between riding and not riding for a lot of women. On top of that, an important aspect of these groups is “women empowering women into leadership roles,” says Monique. “And then once they’re comfortable in that role that carries over into other aspects of their life, their work, their family.”

 
So many great reasons to form or join a women’s cycling club, courtesy of American Women’s Cycling Network.

So many great reasons to form or join a women’s cycling club, courtesy of American Women’s Cycling Network.

 

Advocacy

In March, Monique attended the National Bike Summit organized by the League of American Bicyclists. According to their website, it’s the “premier bike advocacy event of the year, uniting the voices of bicyclists on Capitol Hill and showcasing successes on the ground, learning how they happen, and exploring ways to expand their reach.” The summit is two days of workshops, with the third day devoted to lobbying on Capitol Hill. With the group from Mass Bike, Monique attended meetings with staffers for Massachusetts senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and got to speak with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

Monique Trammell, middle row, at right, with Mass Bike at the National Bike Summit.

Monique Trammell, middle row, at right, with Mass Bike at the National Bike Summit.

Monique knew she’d be speaking on behalf of MassBike and the League of American Bicyclists. But she “didn’t anticipate being asked to be the voice for the 500 women in Worcester county. I also got to share with them my nationwide project, and hand them my business card and tell them why it’s important for women to have these communities.” At the end, Congresswoman Pressley “looked me square in the face and said, ‘thank you for your initiative.’ I walked out of her office on the verge of tears. It was so moving, so powerful. You know. Being heard.”

Why don’t more women ride? “Women don’t feel safe on our current infrastructure. But staying safe means not being heard.” Before speaking with staffers for Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Why don’t more women ride? “Women don’t feel safe on our current infrastructure. But staying safe means not being heard.” Before speaking with staffers for Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Monique’s goal going forward with AWCN is to see 100 new women’s cycling clubs start this year. “I know that there are women in towns across the country going out for rides, wishing they had someone to ride with,” Monique says. “And there’s probably a woman who lives just ten minutes away, who’s wishing the same thing, and they just don’t even know each other.”

Pointing out that cycling clubs don’t have to be about racing or being the fastest, Monique notes that “when I started my cycling club, I was overweight, out of shape, and I had just had two babies. I was riding a road bike from 1986, with shifters on the down tube. And I started a cycling club. It wasn’t because I was this super fit, avid cyclist.”

 
The 1986 vintage bike Monique was riding when she started Grafton Women’s Cycling Club.

The 1986 vintage bike Monique was riding when she started Grafton Women’s Cycling Club.

 

Quiver

Monique worked at a Cannondale retail shop before it was shuttered and Cannondale returned to business-to-business sales, which gave her the opportunity to upgrade her quiver.

Cannondale Evo “a lightweight carbon race machine. It’s like cheating. Which is great when I’m riding with men.”

Cannondale Synapse 105

Cannondale SuperX

Cannondale Scalpel carbon 29er mountain bike

Two nineties-vintage custom steel Retrotec mountain bikes

1997 custom steel Kostrikin mountain bike

2002 custom steel track bike

1986 Bertoni 6-speed

. 1995 Custom Steel Retrotec MTB

. 1995 Custom Steel Retrotec MTB

1994 Custom Steel Retrotec MTB

1994 Custom Steel Retrotec MTB