We all know what it means to be a citizen of a town or a member of a club – you live in a certain area or pay dues or go to meetings. But what does it mean to be part of a community? Is it a group of homes in the same area? Or maybe it’s a neighborhood tucked into a larger town. I like to think that a community has very little to do with location but, rather, it’s a network of people who share a common bond despite differences that may exist among them. It’s a group who can see through the surface to understand that we all, at some point and on some level, need each other. We take turns needing help and offering help. We are proud when a member of our community triumphs and wrap an arm of encouragement around them during times of disappointment.

In this day and age, we all need to feel a sense of community, and I think this is why the sport of cycling has been growing. We come from all walks of life but we are all drawn to the exploration of our physical and mental limits. And, as a part of this, our strengths and weaknesses are revealed, giving us reasons to bask and to be humbled and, just as importantly, to be there for each other during these times. Our riding together isn’t only about turning the pedals. Ask just about any seasoned cyclist and they will tell you that there are lessons to be learned whether it’s directly related to riding, such as improving your bike handling skills, or something more broadly applicable – getting dropped on a training ride but coming back the next week with the goal of hanging on longer is a lesson in perseverance for the mind as well as the body. We also support each other during significant life events such as the birth of a child, death of a loved one, injury, and illness. We come together for causes that hold meaning to us such as Ride for Reading and rides to raise money and awareness for charities. And, like all communities, the individuals within it aren’t all alike. We come from different backgrounds, hold a variety of professions, and possess a range of personalities. And that’s a beautiful thing. If it weren’t for cycling, I never would have met some of the amazing people with whom I have become friends.

Group rides are a perfect metaphor for that sense of community among cyclists. We take turns pulling — if you feel strong that day, you pull a little more, weak, and you pull a little less. Someone will stay back to help the one who got a flat, and, frankly, we get on each other’s nerves at times. Sometimes you end up on your own but even that can be seen as “tough love” 🙂 – and we always make sure you know your way back. For me, celebrating our accomplishments together is one of the most rewarding parts of being a part of the cycling community.

Tennessee Women’s Cycling Project (TWCP) wants to thank the organizations who help support our community through sponsorship and who believe in the work we are doing to support and grow the cycling community. They understand, as well as we do, that the positive effects of cycling include not only camaraderie but it is also a means to a healthy lifestyle. Plus, from an economic perspective, our growth has resulted in us being a desirable market to be tapped in to. We are also proud that each of our sponsors shows a spirit of community in their own, individual ways. Here are some examples.

Trace Bikes holds weekly group rides and offers a variety of clinics for multiple skill levels. The staff adds a very personal touch to their service – from picking out your first bike, training for your first event, upgrading your current bike, to picking out a pair of sunglasses or cycling shorts.

M*Modal provides a service so important to the healthcare community – communication tools to ensure that our doctors and nurses are able to properly document their cases and give the care that is needed to each patient.

I love that I see the President of Franklin Synergy Bank volunteering as a greeter at church on Sunday – who else can say this about the President of their bank?! His community involvement doesn’t stop at his desk.

Kendra Scott uses their nationwide reach to raise funds and awareness for various charities and for those in crisis or who have suffered in recent natural disasters.

Our friends at Massage Envy take care of our cycling community by providing us with literal hands-on service giving our tired bodies relief so we can continue riding strong.

Huma gel has met a need in the endurance athlete community for a quality nutrition product with a grassroots local effort that has grown to have nation-wide reach.

If you are reading this and want to know more about how to be involved in the cycling community, please let us know! There is plenty of room and we would love to have you!

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