Town: Holyoke, Massachusetts
Quote: “Well-behaved women seldom make history” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
About Liz: Clipped into my left pedal ready to accelerate, surrounded by men, waiting for the whistle. I said to myself, “well this should be interesting.” It was my first Criterium (a short course looped bicycle race) and I was literally the only woman in the field. As I watched the peloton (main field of riders) leave me behind I quickly determined my goal: Don’t let them lap you. With this in my head, I focused on my breath and the cadence of my feet. As I rode the looped course, I realized that every time I passed the start line and the field of observers the cheers got louder. Screams from my family, friends and complete strangers cheering me on. It was around lap 6 of 8 that the peloton caught me. I was immediately defeated, but as I came around the corner tailing off the back of the group my friends and family screamed “STAY WITH THEM.” The cowbells rung even louder and that’s when I realized this is about me challenging myself. It’s about breaking through my own barriers and showing that I can do what I set my mind to. I snorted a kind of funny laugh as my lungs burned and said I can do this. I ended the race 1 lap down from the leaders but to a humongous crowed cheering and congratulating me. I rode the fastest I had ever ridden.
My name is Liz and I characterize myself as strong, empathetic, inventive and enthusiastic. I believe in the empowerment of knowledge, wisdom that comes with practice and humility that comes from failing. I am a fully trained bicycle mechanic, experimental carpenter/artist and outdoor enthusiast who loves to learn and grow with those around me. Most importantly I like to break expectations.
As women we are often bombarded by gendered cultural norms that socialize us to expect to succeed and fail based preconceived stereotypes about what it means to be a woman. I believe that SheJumps helps break those expectations by fostering a community where women can explore, develop and challenge themselves in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. They can make a “Jump” into something new with excitement and support. By building a partnership between SheJumps and Speed & Sprocket Cycle Works (my business), we’ve taught numerous women and girls bike mechanics skills that vanquish their fears of riding on the road and give them the courage to know that they can fix their bike. There is nothing more positive and liberating then knowing you can do it yourself.
It is that same self-sufficiency that drives me to try new activities and stretch the boundaries of what I think I am capable of and I hope to inspire other women and girls to do the same.