The first time I became aware of women in cycling it was 1984 and I was watching the summer Olympics. Connie Carpenter Phinney and Rebecca Twigg were crossing the finish line side-by-side and Phinney. After 50 miles they were coming to the finish line and it was spoke to spoke and saddle to saddle practically. As it turns out it was the closest finish in Olympic history and Phinney won by mere inches.
Here’s the thing, men’s cycling has been in the Olympics since 1896 and women’s since 1984. Women is cycling is a recent development. When I say recent, I mean since about the late 70’s and early 80’s. In light of Women’s History Month and being a woman who bikes I feel like I need to speak up. I remember all to well the times men told me I shouldn’t bike because it was undignified or “not very lady like.” On an endurance ride, I think it was my first of 7 Seattle-to-Portland rides a man asked me if I felt good about coming in dead last and that maybe I should stick with the Jane Fonda exercise videos.
Infuriated and disgusted I tried to stay focused on what mattered to me. The ride. I kept riding and surrounded myself with people who let me do my thing.
Evelyn Hamilton. Ever heard of her? I met Joe Kurmaskie a few weeks ago.He wrote a book about her. The Facebook invitation said, “Lightning In A Saddle: The Evelyn Hamilton Story. An amazing true life drama that combines the female Jackie Robinson of cycling with the daring of Inglorious Bastards. An equality pioneer, a record breaker and a war hero!”
The book isn’t published yet. I preordered it. There were a few pictures that I thought were amazing. I asked Joe if I could take a picture of the pictures.
Evelyn! This pic is the best. First off, can you see the tan lines? I see her and I see myself sans the helmet, but I ask you, a beret-ish helmet. Stylish, strong, sexy! I’m looking forward to reading the book and learning about this woman, this cyclist!
Over my lifetime biking has been a constant. From the moment I could balance on two weeks, I’ve been riding everywhere regardless of what opinions people may have about it. In honor of Women’s History Month consider the women (of all ages) in your life and be supportive of their cycling endeavors.
Enjoy the ride! Summer’s coming!
Thanks for reading!