Call for Collegiate Cyclists!

in All Posts

I love to cycle, although I don’t do much of it these days.  I’ve done two Metric rides (recap and recap) and a Century (recap).  Thankfully, I had DadHTP to introduce me to the sport, but I know that many women are interested in cycling and just don’t know where or how to get started.  That’s why I am excited to share Megan’s story.  Megan is one of the coordinators for the Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference and wants to encourage college women to get involved in the sport.  Read her awesome story below!


Hi, everyone.  Megan here, from Run Ride Love. My boyfriend, Eric, and I have recently volunteered to become the women’s coordinators for the Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference. I have been reading Caitlin’s blog for years and, having seen all of the amazing things that she has done to encourage and empower girls and women of all ages, I thought reaching out to her readers was a great first step.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with the sport, bike racing (and especially collegiate cycling) is a great time. I know there are a lot of female athletes, including triathletes, who avidly read HTP. However, one thing that you don’t see a lot of on the healthy living blogs is bike racing. Sadly, bike racing is not always advertised as being completely accessible, especially to women. But it is. Anyone can ride and race bike.


When I started dating Eric two years ago, I could count the number of times of I had ridden my road bike on one hand. He was an avid member of the Yale cycling team, which is a part of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference.  While visiting Eric at Yale, despite having only ridden my bike a handful of times, he convinced me to come to a race with him. I was understandably nervous and more than a little apprehensive, but it was fun – and easy! Turns out it is all just pedaling in circles.  Also, you get to wear so much spandex. Any sport that allows me to wear that much spandex (the more colorful the better) is a win, at least for me.


I quickly learned that all of the fear and apprehension about racing my bike was for naught. The ECCC is a huge community, made up of not only experienced female racers and women’s cycling supporters, but also of other novice women riders. This helped boost my confidence immensely.  The more experienced riders welcomed me to the world of racing with open arms. When I sheepishly revealed to them that I had only ridden my bike a few times and was nervous, they responded with unbridled enthusiasm and encouragement.  There was even an introductory clinic before the races. A half-hour before the race, the elite women and men took the time to help us with basic skills. This helped all of the new riders race safely and confidently.


I did two introductory races in 2009 and, while I felt like I was sucking wind the whole time, it was encouraging to know that there was so much room for improvement. All of the experienced women had been in my shoes only a few years earlier. This motivated me to come back every weekend and try again.  I fell in love. The community was so welcoming and the races were such an adventure. I couldn’t wait to come back the next season.


Fast forward one year. I had gone from hanging out in the middle of the pack with the beginner ladies … (that’s me in the red booties!)


To leading the pack up a hill climb…


To winning my first bike race…


To finally finding the confidence to move up a category and race with the more experienced riders!


(That’s me, hanging out at the starting line with some seriously fast women at conference championships last year!)


Throughout the season, I had gained more confidence than I could have ever imagined lining up for my first introductory race a year earlier.  I even learned enough mad skills to be able to get a water bottle hand-up while racing.


After last season, Eric and I moved south to Williamsburg, Va, where Eric is attending law school. After a few winters of trying to train in the Northeast, the weather down south has been great for our riding! While we were excited to start racing with a whole new group of hooligans, we were sad to see so few women on the start line here in the Mid-Atlantic. It seemed as though women’s cycling, especially the collegiate scene that is thriving in the Northeast, was not being promoted and encouraged as seriously as it should be.


We wanted to know why there were so few women out racing their bikes in the ACCC. It turns out there are a lot of reasons, but the biggest one was a dearth of information. Many college women in the ACCC don’t realize how easy and accessible collegiate bike racing is.


I’m not trying to stand on a soap box and say that I’m an expert. I’m still learning every day that I’m on my bicycle, and still have a LONG way to go. However, I do know that, when I jumped into this world two feet first, the collegiate cycling community welcomed me immediately. I want other women to know that, if they’re willing to take that first, scary step, someone will be there to help them and encourage them along the way.


Collegiate racing has changed my perspective on fitness and on my personal goals and limits. While I love running (there is nothing that compares to taking my pups into the woods and just tuning out the world on a trail run, or crossing the finish line setting a PR in a half-marathon), actually winning a race is a uniquely satisfying and empowering experience.  Conversely, trailing off the back of a bike race and challenging yourself to keep fighting even though the group is riding away is humbling, but empowering in its own way. 


Whether you are looking for endorphins, excitement, camaraderie, or just a way to get out of your dorm and outside for a day, the cycling team is an amazing opportunity!


I have been reading healthy living blogs for years. One of my favorite parts of following blogs is reading about athletic endeavors. Running stories, triathlon reports, learning to swim, setting new goals and surpassing them make the most captivating posts.    But bike racing does not seem to exist amongst younger women. It is sad, and perpetuates preconceived notions of inaccessibility. Eric and I hope to be able to spread the word that cycling and racing is perfect for all ages and levels of riding.


We want the ACCC to become a leader in the cultivation and development of women’s collegiate cycling. We recognize that this requires us to accept that what we’re doing isn’t working and to try new things. 


So this it our challenge and our promise to you: get in touch with your university cycling team. You can contact them through their website or your college’s club sports department. Go out for a ride with them, or even for a cup of coffee, and think about coming out to the races this spring. A lot of teams will even cover your travel and registration fees.  If your school doesn’t have a team, or you’re unable to find them, contact Eric and I. We can point you in the right direction. If you go to school anywhere in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, or North Carolina, you are eligible to race in the ACCC. If you’re from somewhere else in the country, you can check out or get in touch with Eric and I.


In return, we promise to arm you with all of the knowledge and experience you need to train and race with confidence. Not sure what to wear to the races? We can tell you. No idea how to ride your bike at all? No problem. We can teach you.


We recognize that taking the first step can be scary, but we want you to know that we’re here to help you along the way. There is a wonderful, welcoming community waiting for you at the races.  To follow my experiences throughout next season, check out Eric and my blog, Run Ride Love. Don’t hesitate to comment, tweet, or e-mail if you have any questions (, or just want to tell us about your biking experiences!


Regardless of whether or not you’re in college, do you love to cycle?  Who got you into the sport?  What were you fears going in?  I was very intimidated by clip-in pedals and learning how to change a tire – but I eventually figured it all out!



  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife December 15, 2011, 12:46 pm

    WOW. very cool! And congrats to you 🙂

    My husband is a mountain biker, and we did a triathlon together (Way fun!). I don’t like the cycling part…..especially since I was hit head-on from another biker on a trail and got a nasty black eye……BUT I am trying to get over that (and having a sore butt all the time!) and race in a half ironman next year. I am strong in swimming and running, so the cycling needs some work.

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 4:11 pm

      The sore butt gets better (and too soft a saddle may be making it worse, go figure! It’s counterintuitive)
      And being hit by someone going the wrong way on a trail would seriously freak me out too! Not cool, there are directions for a reason? But hopefully you’ll give it another chance soon!

  • Courtney December 15, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Neat post! I’ve never had time to cycle often, but all college sports are amazing! I’m on the cheer team at my university, and it is a great way to make friends, stay in shape, and learn a lot too! 🙂

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 15, 2011, 1:16 pm

    WOW! Thanks for opening my eyes up to all of this! I have been teaching indoor group cycling classes for just over 3 years now, but like you said in the beginning, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually been outdoors on a real bike!! Real bike or not though, I really love the endorphin rush from spinning, so this sounds like something I’d love to try!

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 4:12 pm

      You should definitely! All spinning of your legs is great, but nothing beats the beautiful scenery and all the ground you can cover exploring, in my humble opinion anyway!

  • Irene December 15, 2011, 1:44 pm

    Good post and introduction to cycling – but it fails to bring up one critical point: economic barriers the sport. A bike costs a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. A recent report was published detailing why cycling is a sport mainly frequented by 30 year old men with 120k+ salaries. Now that’s not to say it’s not a great type of workout, it just ignores the larger problem at hand: most people cannot afford to cycle. On top of that, the sport very much lacks diversity.

    • Kari @ human, MD December 15, 2011, 2:28 pm

      Not sure this is true for lots of teams, but my team gets money from the school (lots do) and sponsors and used some of it to buy a couple team bikes that are available for anyone on the team to ride/race on. It’s definitely expensive, but there are definitely ways to cut down the cost and make it feasible!

    • CaitlinHTP December 15, 2011, 2:37 pm

      Very true. But there are cheap ways to get into the sport. I bought my bike used for $250 offline! The only other things you have to have is a helmet and shorts!

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 5:17 pm

      It is true, that lots of people racing are rather well off…and often have more bike than they need! But…there are MANY ways around it. Used bikes on craiglist can be very serviceable and cheap (I’ve seen $100 and lower, if a little older and someone is trying to get rid of it for space!). New bikes on discount sites (like also very affordable). You only need one bike (where as runners need new shoes every 6 months) If you are in school most schools pay racing fees (which are much less than fees for big running races) and if you are not in school than a lot of places have local teams which love having women of all ages join and will typically pay a few race fees a year! There are so many options to bike on a budget, and if you would like more please feel free to e-mail me! Eric and I are great at cycling on a budget, as we are both still students!

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul December 15, 2011, 1:58 pm

    Thank you for this post!! I feel like it motivates me to venture out into cycling…
    As a young kid and growing up, I had always loved bicycling!! It was prob. my favorite thing to do. Although, I never raced or was “serious” about it. Then in high school I stopped b/c I was too big for my bike, etc. and never had the chance to get one!! But now that I go to the gym, I’m sure I can make it work somehow. 😉 And when my fiance and I get married, we both want to bike to long distances–like the beach!

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 5:21 pm

      bike dates are the best! time with your significant other and you feel great after! and its easier to talk while biking than while running (if on a bike path or not busy road that is!)

  • Kaitlyn December 15, 2011, 1:59 pm

    I got involved in mountain bike racing in 2007. I was team teaching a 9th grade class with a fellow English teacher and she raced. I had been mountain biking since the age of 14 and after riding together she encouraged me to do a race. I came in 1st place that race! This summer I did a 50 mile race in The Tetons. I ride my road bike for fun, but to me, it can never compare to mountain biking. I would love to start a young woman’s mountain bike team. I think it would be very cool.

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 5:23 pm

      You should look into it! Younger kids are so amazing at mountain biking because they have no fear! I was talking to the girl who is the 12 year old cyclocross and mountain champ in VA the other week at a race, and she is amazing! Just no fear in that one. I wish I could look at mountain biking the same way, but I must admit the trees scare me. Sometimes they just jump out at you! 🙂

  • Liz December 15, 2011, 2:09 pm

    Wow! Such an awesome story – definitely makes me much more interested in joining the cycling world.

  • jamie@cueyourlife December 15, 2011, 2:15 pm

    It was Caitlin’s posts that gave me the information I needed to purchase a road bike this spring…I am in love with it and have asked for clipless pedals and shoes for xmas. I would love to find a group in town that also loves road biking. Thanks for this fun post!

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 6:01 pm

      Check your local bike shop! I have yet to go to a shop that does not sponsor or at least know about a group ride! Best way to meet people who love road biking!

  • Kari @ human, MD December 15, 2011, 2:25 pm

    I raced for Wake Forest in the ACCC for four years. I had NO experience and a cyclocross bike for my first race, and it was still fun! It’s a very friendly racing environment, lots of fun, and is a great way to make friends outside your normal circle! I actually raced through med school (lots of the people on our team were grad students) and it was a GREAT way to do things outside of medical school. I would recommend racing to ANYONE who likes to ride, even if you’re terrified (I was my first time). It’s also a good way to learn to ride comfortably in a group.

  • Jamima @ Sweat Style December 15, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Congrats and great post! I rode for UC Davis while in grad school and it was such a wonderful experience. I met some of the nicest people and am still friends with many of them.

    I couldn’t agree more that it is such a great way to get involved and get fit! Thanks for spreading the word and best of luck to you.

  • Cathie December 15, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Awesome!! I rode for a few years before I had kids & finally got back on my bike 3 years ago. My girls both love to ride as well. My 9 year old was highly offended while watching the TDF with me that there were no girls in the race. Her indignation only increased when I told her the women raced in a separate event that wasn’t televised.
    I’m thrilled you’re working to encourage women to cycle. I hope you’re highly successful. And maybe I can send my daughter your way in a few years.

  • John December 15, 2011, 3:11 pm

    That’s Bissel Pro DS Omer Kem in the picture with the kids. I used to ride with him when he was 15 and almost 100 lbs overweight. He has his own inspirational story.

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 6:04 pm

      Very cool. I would love to hear that story also! I’ll have to look him up. We have known a few guys who have ‘raced’ to fitness, loosing hundreds of pounds in the process. Very inspiring!

  • Mariza December 15, 2011, 4:06 pm

    Any suggestion for those of use not in college any more… 🙁 to get involved?? Such an inspiring post, I want to get started!!!

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 6:10 pm

      Absolutely! Anyone can get involved in cycling! For beginner women, I would HIGHLY suggest talking to you local bike shop. Most run group rides, and some run (or would be willing to help start) women’s specific rides. This will help you get used to riding in a group! If you are interesting in racing, anyone can race Women’s 4 (the intro level of cycling) at a race. Find a local race for you by going to and check out more information at Also, most area’s have local teams, any many LOVE having beginners, especially women! If you can google cycling clubs in your area (or again, talk to you local shop, they have so much information to offer!) you should be able to find a great cycling community in your area!
      And if you have any more questions, please let me know. and feel free to send at e-mail to

  • Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn December 15, 2011, 4:31 pm

    College student right hurrrrr! SU represent. I do ride my bike and LOVE spinning, but for some reason I’m not a huge fan of riding outdoors. Such an informational blog post! Love.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats December 15, 2011, 6:53 pm

    I love biking, but I’ve never used a road bike, I grew up with mountain bikes. Lol this is one of those things I’d love to try if I had the extra time, and it wasn’t always so cold in Chicago! Oh and if I actually had money for the equipment

  • Shannon December 15, 2011, 10:45 pm

    I go to a super small science school…I wish we had a cycling team!!!

    • Meg @ Runridelove December 15, 2011, 11:17 pm

      If you are really interested, it is VERY easy to start up a “team” (which can just be you racing if you want to try it out!). let me know.

  • Frank December 16, 2011, 5:12 am

    anyone training for Rebel Race series… the obstacles look fun

  • Nancy December 16, 2011, 10:47 am

    “Good post and introduction to cycling – but it fails to bring up one critical point: economic barriers the sport”

    that’s the same thing I thought when reading this post, and came back today to see if anyone would leave that comment. My husband is a cyclist and, even as a two income family, I could never afford to also make that kind of investment. It is just way too pricey for our family.

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point