Photo courtesy of The Chainlink
The Chainlink, an online community for Chicago-area cyclists, recently expanded its offerings to include a variety of information specifically geared towards women cyclists. The site now provides users with information on women’s cycling advocacy, blogs, websites, rides, events, bikes, gear, groups and racing.
“The whole purpose is to connect women with all the resources they need,” Yasmeen Schuller, president of The Chainlink, says. “As you’re just starting out or considering racing or are new to the area, it can be overwhelming because there isn’t really one place to go to find everything.”
The Women’s Cycling Resources page on The Chainlink aims to change that. Though women have historically represented a minority in cycling, in recent years the number of women in the sport has increased, making these resources even more relevant.
“[Women’s participation is] growing at a faster rate than men’s,” Schuller says. “Cycling as a whole is growing, but women are definitely a group that’s growing faster. … We made up 37 percent of the bike market in 2011, and I’m sure it’s gone up from there, and spent $2.3 billion, but we’re still considered a niche.”
While Schuller says that the cycling industry as a whole still has a ways to go in terms of equal treatment of women, she’s also quick to note that she has found the local cycling community to be accepting.
“I have a lot of local bike shops I trust,” Schuller says. “They set me up and we talk about the same love and passion of bikes. It has nothing to do with me being a woman or not being a woman.”
For new cyclists in particular, Schuller recommends the Women of Chainlink Chicago and Women Bike Chicago as good starting points. No matter the group a new cyclist joins, however, Schuller says to not be afraid to ask questions.
“Don’t worry about feeling like you’re navigating it for the first time, because everybody starts somewhere,” Schuller says. “Everybody has to learn how to use their gears. Everyone’s been in that boat at some point, and I think people are really understanding to that.”
You can view all of The Chainlink’s resources online.