WHAT’S RIGHT IN CYCLING: SQUARE1 WOMEN’S CYCLING COLLECTIVE, AN INTERVIEW

Great little interview we got to do with one our of partners and supporters, Panache Cyclewear of Boulder, CO.

Today, we interview the founders, wife and husband Melissa and Barry Pugh, from SQUARE1 Cycling, a new cycling collective in the Greater Denver – Front Range area out to help support women cyclists.

PANACHE: What is SQUARE1?

Barry: SQUARE1 is a concept whose goal is to get more women on bikes riding together and being supportive of each other in an easy-going, no stress environment.

PANACHE: and SQUARE1 means…

Melissa: SQUARE1 is the beginning; it’s where you start, at square one. SQUARE1 is the place for women to start their cycling experience or for women who have been riding to start anew.

PANACHE: How did SQUARE1 get started?

Melissa: It all started from experiences that I had when I first got into cycling. I didn’t ride before I met Barry, who has been riding for a long time. I saw how much he enjoyed it so I decided to give it a try. I found that I really enjoyed it… BUT as I got further into it, I found that finding other women to ride with wasn’t easy. So, I often rode alone. And I noticed a lot of other women who were riding alone because for that same reason.

Then, overtime, I did find teams, but none that had that mix of socializing, fun, and competition that I was looking for. I like to be competitive, sometimes, but not always and I mostly I enjoy the camaraderie of it all. A bike is a great place to have conversations.

PANACHE: So you created your own club to reflect what you saw was a void in the team landscape for women?

Melissa: Yes, but Club is only part of it. Collective is a better term. We kept asking, “Are we a team? Are we a club? Neither seemed right. The collective concept resonated, though. We don’t like being called a team because women were thinking that they had to always show up and go fast, but that’s not the idea. You don’t have to do anything other than show up when you want. We are more a collective of women who enjoy riding, talking, and living life.

PANACHE: But there are aspects of a team?

Melissa: There are. We want to have the same support structure that a team would have – matching kit, gear and nutrition deals, wrenching and ride/race support. We want to be able to provide that type of support so that when we do go to an event or if we go on a big group ride, we are supported. But we don’t require exclusivity. You can be on a race team or a mtb specific team or whatever, AND be a part of our Collective.

PANACHE: So, is there a membership fee to help pay for this level of support?

Barry: No. There are no fees. There’s no qualifying factors, you don’t have to pay any kind of fees, there’s no dues, there’s nothing. Really the only thing we expect is, if you’re in our gear, or even if you’re not in our gear, just be cool to the community. If you see other cyclists, maybe say something friendly, don’t be afraid to help a stranger out because they’re fellow cyclists, they’re riding a bike just like you.

PANACHE: There are men wearing your sweet SQ1 kits – what is their role or connection to this collective that supports women?

Barry: The guys in the kit are guys that support their wives or girlfriends cycling endeavors. It really boils down to supporting women in cycling …and having a cool kit to ride in! But none of the resources go to the guys. The resources are spent on the women. Men have existing infrastructure and there already exist teams and clubs that cater to men. The guys, including myself, have been part of previous teams – a number of them. We take this experience – what worked, what didn’t – and apply, hopefully with success, to SQUARE1.

What disciplines does the Collective focus on?

Melissa: We aren’t too focused on one over another. We love them all. Road, Cross, Mountain. We even have commuters who come “play” bike with us. It’s not really about a discipline, it’s more just the bike that is at the center. Any bike.

PANACHE: That resonates with us. The bike, in all its forms, has the power to transform and take us anywhere. The type of bike is more like the right tool for the right place.

PANACHE: So, why cycling? What does the bike do that other things don’t?

Melissa: I like the challenge. I like that it’s something that you’re always working at and you can always be better. It’s an activity that can be fun at time, it takes you to places you might not otherwise see, and it’s social. You can have conversations with your peeps while doing something fun and healthy.

PANACHE: Makes sense to us! So, how many people? How many members? When did you start?

Barry: We just started…

Melissa: January?

Barry: Yeah, January.

Melissa: 55 at last count, and growing.

PANACHE: Fifty-Five in six months! Nice. You said you’re a Collective, but you also have a Club component. What’s that about?

Melissa: We expect a little bit more of the club members. We don’t expect them to race a certain number of races – nothing like that, but we do expect them to volunteer at events and help with SQUARE1’s outreach into the community.
PANACHE: Let’s talk about that. You recently volunteered for an organization called Soul Day Foundation…

Barry: Soul Day Foundation. Where they basically give back to various community entities. One of their founders, Frank Dorr, is an avid cyclist. He really saw a need to give back to youth cyclists and so he partnered with an organization called Denver Kids, both these organizations are nonprofits in Denver. Denver Kids is an organization that provides services, support programs for at-risk youth in the city of Denver and surrounding areas.

This year, the foundation helped 60 kids not only learn to ride bikes, but also outfit them with bikes, helmets, water bottles, and other accessories needed to ride and maintain a bike.

So that’s what we did this weekend, it’s called Roll with Soul, we just have the kids show up with Denver Kids, their parents, grandparents, friends, family, whoever can bring them there. We help them get outfitted, make sure the bike fits them appropriately, make sure things are adjusted, make sure they have a helmet, and give them a bike and let them enjoy the day. There’s a meal provided, there’s always a healthy meal. It’s really about promoting good stuff in the right way.

PANACHE: So, you got to teach someone how to ride?

Yes. Teaching someone how to ride a bike is amazingly rewarding and exhilarating because you’ve taught them something that, now, hopefully they’re going to have the rest of their life. They can use the bike as a tool to explore their neighborhood, or even beyond. And perhaps that perspective can inspire them to do great things.

PANACHE: Okay, that’s awesome.

PANACHE: So how do you become part of SQUARE1?

Melissa: It’s simple. You can go to our website, www.square1cycling.com or just go to our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/SQUARE1cycling/ We have tried to make it as simple as possible, no barriers, no hurdles, no second thoughts or decisions about, “Am I good enough to reach out to these people? Should I be reaching out to these people?” Just super simple.

PANACHE: Thanks for sharing. You guys are doing great stuff. You guys are what’s right in cycling. We wish you luck. Keep us in the loop on how things progress!

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation.

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation.
By Karen Spadaccia

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

This is Title Nine. Changed the way women were perceived in the world of sports. I grew up in the pre Title Nine era. I still tried to participate in every sport I could. I took my brothers Schwinn road bike at 10 and have never looked back.

Fast forward through my equine related careers, I landed a position selling bikes for Trek. Fueling my love of cycling. But still not many women riders. Enter my move to Colorado. And SQUARE1 cycling.

What? A group for women and multiple disciplines, how extraordinary! I’m in. At the first meeting to showcase the new kits, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.

My first ride was from REI to Golden. While at my level, I had to work hard to keep up on the climbs, it was a no drop & they waited for me. I am now thinking forward to the day when I am stronger and can stay on their wheel for the entire ride.

One of the best parts about SQUARE1 is that they raise each other up. Whether it’s to try your first race or just something new, they’ll be there for you. Such a diverse collection of life & cycling experiences you can tap into.

For me riding with this awesome group of women means endless possibilities! It’s all about the community of women cyclists.

If you are a women and you love riding your bike, come join us!

Why I Ride with SQUARE1 Cycling

Why I Ride with SQUARE1 Cycling
By Amber Erickson Gabbey

I’m not a hardcore rider. I don’t race. Hell, I have exercise-induced asthma and am usually the slowest person in the group. But I love riding with groups. I love the motivation to work harder. I love the support. And I love the feeling of accomplishment when it’s all over.

I’ve never considered joining a team. I have no interest in racing or training and participating in the hardcore, cut-throat, competitive aspects of cycling. Now, I realize that not all teams have this spirit – some are probably fantastic. But they aren’t for me – they don’t help me achieve my goals, which are to just get out and ride (dirt) at least once a week (weather permitting).

When I learned about SQUARE1, it made sense. It was comprised of many people I was already riding with, people I trusted and enjoyed spending time with and people I knew to be understanding, supportive and patient. These people just love to ride – and some of them love to race too. These people care about safety and ethics and inclusion. They want to get more people – women in particular – on bikes. They want to elevate the stance of women in cycling – at all levels. They want young girls to feel like equals – on bikes and in life – and show them the badassery that is cycling. They want to support the communities, support trails and open spaces that make the Front Range great.

So I ride with SQUARE1 Cycling because I believe in the mission. But even more so, I ride with SQUARE1 because I belong there. With that collective, it doesn’t matter how fancy my bike is or how perfect my outfit is or how fast I am. All that matters is that I show up, I work hard, I aim to improve and I act as a positive member of the collective. I ride with SQUARE1 because they’ll have me, they’ll support me in whatever cycling adventures I undertake and they’ll treat me like a true cyclist, even if I’m just a bit of a poser. They’ll encourage me to try new challenges (like racing in the Beti Bike Bash in June). And even if I don’t finish, they’ll cheer me on. And I ride with SQUARE1 because nothing is better than a group of badass women, riding dirt on a weekend afternoon, everyone all smiles, and passing a family on the trail and watching the eyes of a little girl widen as she sees this group go by. And thinking that she may not realize it now, but hopefully planting a seed that she can be whatever and whoever she wants to be. She can shred if she wants to.

What makes SQUARE1 unique is that it’s not a team, but rather a community of like-minded riders who don’t take the sport too seriously. It’s not about the finish. It’s about the process. It’s about getting on bikes and loving every minute of it. And that’s something I can get behind.

Want to support Women’s Cycling, JOIN US!

Our mission? Get more women on bikes. Together we can grow the sport of cycling and have fun doing it. Already belong to another club/team? Great! We pride ourselves on being inclusive rather than exclusive. Our goal is to get more women riding together, racing together and having fun together! Whether you belong to multiple clubs or just ours, we’d love to get you involved, you don’t have to choose.

Benefits of joining the collective include:

· Organized no-drop rides, skills clinics and social events off the bike without having to commit to a full-fledged club or team.

· Discounts with our various partners like Panache Cyclewear and Smith Optics.

· If you would like to race, chances are excellent you will have other teammates there supporting you as well along with our race support crew, mechanics, tent and trainers.

· With women in our collective in road, mountain, cyclocross and track, there is always someone to ride with.

Please make sure you have read and agree to our collective’s responsibilities:

* You agree to purchase one jersey.
* You agree to volunteer for at least one of the many opportunities we provide during the year.
* You agree to follow the rules of the road at all times and represent the team and our sponsors in a positive manner.

JOIN US NOW!

Purpose;

an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.

The purpose of this collective shall be to foster and cultivate cycling awareness especially among women. In its commitment to empowering female cyclists for a better culture, we will work in partnership with the entire community to assure equality and provide services, opportunities and leadership necessary to establish and maintain safe cycling culture. The founders, trainers, and members of the club believe in the equal worth and dignity of all cyclists. As a community organization for female cyclists in the surrounding Denver area, we are responsible for establishing a climate that:

  • Provides female cyclists that have the desire to compete the coaching and camaraderie that will help them achieve both competitive and non-competitive cycling goals in a safe and enjoyable manner.
  • Develops in them an awareness of what it is to be an cyclist that is giving, gracious, and respectful to their community.
  • Creates an environment in which they may discover new friendships and find lasting role models.
  • Guides cyclists towards learning new skills and disciplines, and spreads the foundations of bike racing in the community, especially among women.
  • Promotes the value of cycling to our community as a mode of transportation and as a life long sport.
  • Supports the equal treatment of women, in not only the cycling community, but in all women’s sport.
  • Be cool, to everyone, bikes or not.