“Memorial Day is when we officially became biker chicks,” laughs Lynne.
Lynne Coleman, Vanessa Nolley and Theresa Ricks are always laughing, wiggling, making faces at each other and sharing a smile. Their cheer is contagious and so is their love of cycling.
Lynne met Vanessa two years ago at Alcovy Fitness and then Theresa joined in on a Conyers bike ride. While Theresa is the newcomer to the group, she has ridden longer, with 1½ years of cycling behind her.
No cheap thrills
“The biking community is not going to discourage anyone. They won’t say anything if you show up on a tricycle!” says Theresa. They will however tell you to save your money for a good bike, explains Lynne, because cycling can be expensive at start-up, and a good hybrid bike is essential.
Lynne and Vanessa started out with mountain bikes, because they are cheaper than the light-weight, thin tired, faster and pricier street bikes. Lynne picked up hers at Wal-Mart. Vanessa found one at the thrift store.
A few eyebrows were raised when they showed up at their first rides on their hefty mountain bikes, but no one criticized. “Everyone is so kind and encouraging,” says Theresa. One veteran cyclist asked her if she was riding with them that day, to which she confirmed she was … not for long though. Theresa was left behind at the first turn, she says with a laugh.
They all learned from fellow riders that “hybrid” bikes were made for these Georgia hills and priced middle of the road (more than a mountain bike, but less than a street/road bike). Within a few rides, Lynne had returned her bike for a refund and Vanessa had dropped hers off at Goodwill. “We learned the hard way,” says Vanessa.
In cold weather, Lynne recommends dressing just a little warmer, with more protective gloves, face shield, wind protection, warmer shoes, and perhaps an extra layer, but not too much. And when the temperature rises, ride early in the morning. “Most rides start early in the morning, and by noon, we bring it in,” says Theresa. “You see what your body is doing, and you take care of it.”
A trail mix
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they may be found in Conyers with the C-Town Bikes crowd. Saturday mornings, the girls join the rides organized by Performance Bicycles in Atlanta. Black Girls Do Ride— a Pennsylvania-based group with chapters around the country—sponsors rides on the Silver Comet Trail and others. But these girls make up their own rides too. They’ve made laps through Stone Mountain, the Monestery in Conyers, Arabia Mountain, and this week they’ll peel through the Atlanta Beltline. In June, with glow sticks twirling in the dusk and music wafting from the DJ’s speakers, they sped through the Atlanta Moon Ride, a 6.5-mile fundraiser beginning at Piedmont Park—a mood that is not unlike the Christmas Ride in Covington, says Theresa.
The fav ride so far? The Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, S.C., organized by Newton Trails. “It was such an awesome weekend,” says Theresa. “It was beautiful,” chimed Lynne.
One Saturday each month, they can be seen careening through Covington with the Newton Trails group. They’ve walked the Turner Lake Trail. This breezy Wednesday was their 3rd time to ride the Eastside Trail this month, and the Oxford Trail is still on their to-do list. Our panel of cyclists agree: Eastside Trail stays on their ride list, but they wish it was longer, looped around, or connected to another area. Its 5 miles are just not enough of a good thing.
The finish line
“We’re just trying to stay healthy,” says Vanessa. All three go to the gym regularly. Their adventures will soon take them on a half-marathon, kayaking the Yellow River, and firing a round in the gun range.
They don’t enter cycling races though. “This is just for fun,” she adds. Lynne has found that her legs are strengthening through cycling. Theresa notes that her breathing has changed on those challenging Georgia hills. And Vanessa, playfully posing, says she is seeing both muscle tone and cardio-vascular results.
“If you want to ride in Georgia, you have to like the hills,” says Lynne. “That’s where you get to challenge yourself. We just challenge ourselves to do better than before,” says Theresa, recounting how they used to get off the bike and walk the hills where they now just shift into lower gears and power through. Just the day before, on Arabia Mountain, each of them was able to find her strength and spin up the hills.
Proof of their progress, Vanessa won a Mileage Challenge last month, tracked on the Map My Ride app. Vanessa had pledged 100 miles. Theresa pledged to ride 120. Lynne upped everyone’s commitment to 130 miles each! And they all surpassed their goals!
They talk of mentors who share tips like “Slow and steady, spin up the hill” and “It’s like learning how to ride a bike, but it’s different as an adult: the bike is different, your body is different.” And yes, these ladies like to talk cycling wherever they go. Even co-workers greet them on Monday mornings with “How were your rides this weekend?” Today they talk of sharing cycling stories at the Newton Trails social at Burrito Loco adding, “We’ve met some really wonderful people!”
Interviewing these bubbly, bicycling ambassadors made me want to capture even a few minutes of their jokes, poses and laughs into print, but their fast-paced fun defies narration. If you want to be in on this party, you’ll just have to ride!