Late last year I received an email that the Midwest Trek rep nominated me for the Trek Women’s Advocate team. I was humbled and honored for the nomination. The next step was completing an application and waiting until June. I virtually forgot about it until the email came with the fantastic news that I was selected to be on the team!
For years I’ve been an advocate for getting more people, especially women, into biking. I’ve been lucky to be on several advocate teams in the past including Pearl Izumi, Strava, Venus de Miles and Jules Threads. With the Trek program I now have the support of my LBS, the other Trek Women’s Advocates and the whole Trek family. All three groups are committed to “More Women. More Bikes. More Often.”
My gig officially starts September 1st, but Trek kicked off the program with a summit at their corporate headquarters in Waterloo, WI. It’s only a 2-hour drive from Chicago so there was no question that I’d attend. Soon after the summit announcement a Facebook page was set up for the Advocate team and the sharing began.
This is the third year of the advocate program and the team has grown to around 100 women internationally. Many are alumni with only 27 of us being newbies. But what we all had in common was the passion for cycling and sharing that passion with others. This year’s summit would host 64 advocates. Just imagine 64 passionate, likeminded, empowered women in one place. The energy couldn’t be contained.
The summit would kick off with a happy hour and dinner on Monday night. We were instructed to be in Madison WI at 5pm. That morning our Facebook page exploded with gals on the east coast unable to get flights out. A storm had shut down airports, canceled or delayed flights. Anyone that’s flown into Madison knows there are no direct flight so connections were compromised. Not living far from O’Hare airport, I posted that I’d swing by and pick up anyone stranded. My motto was “No Advocate left behind!” I ended up picking up one woman who actually was flying in from California and the flight to Madison was cancelled. Yes, total strangers, but so much in common. The 2-hour drive to Madison flew by as we talked about the Advocate program and her past 2 years on the team, cycling, cycling and oh yes more cycling.
That evening the group met in the hotel bar for happy hour. It was great to see women of all ages, all sizes and all ethnicities. I was quite surprised to find out that the majority of the women were MTB riders. As a roadie, I felt outnumbered. After a few drinks, the 64+ women walked across the street to the capitol steps for a photo op and then to a restaurant for dinner. There was a special guest from Trek Racing waiting for us, triathlete Holly Lawrence. Holly spent the evening with the group chatting, signing autographs and posing for selfies.
The first full day of the summit was held at Trek headquarters in Waterloo about a 30-minute bus ride from Madison. When we walked into the conference room there were huge swag bags waiting for us. One of the most exiting items was the newly released Bontrager Flare RT light. You can definitely expect a product review in the near future as I reviewed the previous model for RBR a while back. This new rear light is smaller, brighter and longer battery life.
The agenda was jammed packed with Trek employees covering a variety of topics, a factory tour and time in the Performance Lab. It was fun to watch one of the engineers hop on a bike and ride this crazy treadmill with bumps to simulate different road or terrain conditions.
What I found extremely valuable was the advocates sharing their experiences and what they were doing in their own communities. The knowledge sharing was priceless. There was also a second Trek Factory Racer that joined us, Rachel Atherton. She won every UCI World Cup event and the World Championships, achieving the first-ever perfect season in the history of World Cup mountain biking. Just checkout her winning run at Leogang below. Holly and Rachel spent time with the group answering questions, talking cycling/triathlon and posing for selfies.
That evening was a scavenger hunt on BCycles, a ride share program that is powered by Trek. There are docking stations all over Madison tied into a phone app which shows you the station, number of bikes available or if there’s an empty dock to return a bike. BCycles are a great way for people to get around this bike-friendly community.
After terrorizing shop owners, bus drivers and the general public for 2 hours as we gathered pictures of all the required items on our list, we assembled at a local restaurant for dinner. A slide show highlighted the pictures taken during the scavenger hunt.
Day two of the summit included more presentations, head shots (I felt like a celebrity), a visit from the matriarch of Trek, Lainey Burke (John Burke’s mom and Trek board member) and then time to prepare our plans for the next 12 months. The goal of our annual plan is more than promoting cycling and getting more women (and girls) onto bikes. The plan includes events, clinics and seminars that will educate women on different aspects of their bike and empower them with knowledge and skills.
I came home exhausted but also energized and excited about my advocate role. As part of the program each advocate was required to select a local Trek bike shop to partner with for the next 12 months. Without hesitation I picked the one I’ve worked with for years and services all four of my bikes. The Trek Store of Highland Park has always treated female riders with respect and I never felt intimidated to go in and ask questions. The mechanics are more than happy to invite me behind the counter and not only explain what they are doing, but show me. The store has ramped up their women’s events and rides this past year and I can’t wait to be part of their continuing efforts.
If you are a female cyclist in the Chicago north shore you are in luck. Keep an eye out for some exciting clinics, seminars, events and rides starting soon. For those of you in other locations looking for a women’s group to ride with or know someone who wants to get into riding, reach out to me and I’d be happy to connect you with an advocate in your area.
Empowered Women Empower Women
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.