Crusade opener at Alpenrose Dairy included
Noel Mickelberry, Kyla Yeoman, Lindsay Walker,
Katie Popoff, Kathy Lombardi, Claudia Martinez, Melia
Tichenor, Nate Semm, Julia Himmelstein and Allan Rudwick.
(Photos courtesy Gladys Bikes)
Gladys Bikes, the woman-centric bike shop on Northeast Alberta Street, keeps coming up with interesting new projects that prove how important great retailers are to a city’s bike infrastructure.
The latest we’ve caught wind of: A series of low-cost courses for people who identify as “‘cross curious.” As in cyclocross, of course.
“It was an idea that came from our advisory board – GAB, the Gladys Advisory Board,” Gladys Bikes owner Leah Benson said in an interview Thursday. “The more conversations we had, the more we realized a lot of people were interested but had never tried it.”
So Benson — who had known about the freestyle, skill-oriented racing style for years but never seen it as something for her — put the word around and recruited friends who were into ‘cross to loan their bikes to the newcomers or visit the five-class series to teach the basics of the sport.
She said 20 to 25 people signed up.
“We met every other week in parks and did some clinics,” said Benson, who laid out a trial ‘cross course in Irving Park for the class to practice on. “But more than that just got to know each other because we felt we had a solid community to do it with.”
Benson said it wasn’t hard to find people to help with the series of workshops, which cost $50 for all sessions.
“It’s that people just want more people to be part of a sport, that they love it so much themselves that they want to share it,” Benson said. “Especially women want other women to race against.”
Bikes Facebook page as “the smiliest racer
of all time,” tackles a hill in training.
Benson said the squad included “people of all ages and genders,” but was mostly female.
The series culminated on Saturday with the annual Cross Crusade opener at Alpenrose Dairy.
“Doing it with a group of people who had never done it before, I think we all brought our own cheering sections,” Benson said. “Every corner that we turned, there was, like, huge masses cheering us on.”
Though the series wasn’t a major moneymaker given Benson’s time investment, she hopes to offer the classes again as part of her shop’s regular business and community development efforts. And she’s looking forward to her own next cross race with her new community of racers.
“We have a pretty active Facebook message board of how people are going to get to their next race,” Benson said. “And what color socks they’re going to wear. All the stuff that you want ‘cross to be.”