HARRISONBURG — Rocktown Bicycles is taking one step forward to getting more women on bikes by holding its annual Rocktown Bicycles Women’s Cycling Week.
With May being National Bike Month, every year the Rocktown Bicycles holds a Women’s Cycling Day, but Kelly Paduch, who is the Rocktown Bicycles assistant manager and moonlights as a professional gravel and cyclocross racer, said that wasn’t good enough anymore.
Rocktown Bicycles, located at 50 S. Mason St., which is part of the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, has women’s weekly rides every Wednesday as well as rides throughout the coalition, but that was beginning to not be enough.
“I decided it would be better to start a whole week of this,” Paduch said. “It’s not just about riding — it’s about getting informed and meeting new people.”
The event will take place from May 13 to 19 and will include group rides, yoga, post-ride hangouts at Three Notch’d Brewing and a meet and greet with former professional mountain biker Sue Haywood.
“I wanted this event to be more open for women to be able to come and learn more and gain confidence on their bikes,” Paduch said. “I’ve seen that more women gain confidence in this life when they gain confidence riding their bike.”
Paduch, who has worked for Rocktown Bicycles for four of its six open years, said it’s important for women to encourage one another and the bike week will be a good start in getting that momentum going.
During the event, there will be rides throughout the city and downtown because “I want people to feel like they are able to ride in the city, and I want cars to also see that there are cyclers that ride in these areas,” Paduch said, adding that the city has a ways to go to make the streets more cycle-friendly.
Paduch began cycling in high school as an alternative to running, but it wasn’t until she came to Harrisonburg in 2010 as a James Madison University student that she really began interacting with the bike community.
Ken Bell, the owner of Rocktown Bicycles, said his hopes with the weeklong event is that it will get more women to realize cycling isn’t only a male sport.
“Get out there, enjoy the camaraderie and get into the sport,” Bell said, adding that having Paduch be the forefront of planning the event speaks great lengths to how much women in the cycling world matters.
Paduch said she is hopeful the event gains traction and becomes an annual event.
“I hope this becomes an annual thing because I think it’ll bring independence and confidence to many local women,” she said.
Paduch, who also trained to be a mechanic at the shop, said it’s important for women to also understand how to maintain and fix problems on their bike, which is why a mechanic clinic will take place Monday evening to help women learn how to fix their bikes, which Paduch said is more important than many may think.
“Many women seem to wait for their husband or partner to come home and take their wife’s bike to the shop, but women need to remember that they can do that themselves,” she said. “Taking charge of your bike helps you take charge of other aspects of your life.”
For a full itinerary of the week, visit https://www.rocktownbicycles.com/events-page/2019/4/1/rocktown-bicycles-womens-cycling-week-2019.