Juliana has world champion stripes and national champion stars to her name. She's burned rubber on the velodrome (banked cycling track) when cycling, much less sports, were "unusual" for women to do. This has made Juliana ONE TOUGH (not to mention fast) WOMAN. These days, she's still sets course records (such as on an off-road full Ironman course) and has taken to mentoring young women athletes.
We stayed with Juliana in Eugene, where she not only fed, housed us and let us borrow her car-- but we were also invited to dig through a pile of her "back in the day" spandex that included such prizes as her rubber USA Cycling Team skinsuit and other champion jerseys. Most jerseys we put aside were for juniors on my junior cycling team or new Whitman cyclists without much gear, but I put one aside for myself: a So Cal Women's Kilo Champion jersey. It reminds me to be thankful for what women like Juliana have done for women like me today. And it reminds me to continue to stand up for women athletes everywhere. Thank you, Juliana!
Bev is one example of a woman athlete who doesn't rest on her laurels. Bev owns and runs Bella Main Street Market in Baker City, OR. She and her shop of delectables support the local 3-day cycling stage race, Elkhorn Cycling Classic. At the finish you'll find an organic spread of fruits and bars and chocolate milk. That's totally awesome and well-appreciated after a 100 mile final stage, but what's REALLY cool is that her shop MATCHES the prize money of the men for the women! That's right. At Elkhorn Cycling Classic, the women get the SAME prize money as the men. This is, unfortunately, highly unusual, even (or especially) on a professional level. Thank you Bella! I bought a Bella cycling wind vest to spread the cool news on you gals.
Okay, so I've talked about women who go zip-zip on their bicycles-- but that's not the only form of bicycling out there, you know. Sometimes going cruise-cruise is just the way we want to ride. Mare goes for night cruiser rides with her lady friends and sometimes even the dogs go with. The pace is far from hot, but the company is great. If you've read this blog for awhile, you'd know that I've even started a ride like this called Bike Thyme. We pedaled around town, brought picnic lunches and stopped by local farms for snacks and tours! Oh, it was lovely.
We are currently taking a rest day at Mare's beautiful place in Idaho and we have been seriously pampered and loved. Since we've been here, we've enjoyed root beer floats, a salt soak, a full massage, sushi at the new sushi bar, and a night of laughs among rhubarb pie and sweet whiskey sippers. We've been looking forward to staying with Mare since before we ever pedaled a stroke on this trip, because Mare is just such a deeply creative, sharply intelligent and warmly compassionate woman. She inspires me to grab onto my life and take it for a ride, rather than passively watching it slip away. Thank you, Mare!