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What's Up With The Purple Pursuit?

By: Colleen Cameron

Dear WMBA of COS members,

We have had lots of interest in, and people wondering if WMBA will be hosting a 2019 Purple Pursuit bike race. The short answer is that no, we, as a board have decided that we will not host a race for 2019. The idea of the Purple Pursuit bike race is certainly not dead, it is just not in the cards this year.

The board of directors recently convened for a board retreat where we spent time focusing on our mission (our mission statement is new!) and figuring out how to create an even better experience for our membership this summer. We are so excited for our annual kick-off event that will be May 30th and for our 10-year anniversary as an organization. We have many improvements and fun things planned for 2019 in our effort to go “back to basics” and stay true to our mission statement: Building and empowering a community of women through group mountain bike rides.

Please note, we loved hosting the Purple Pursuit last year and feel like it was a huge success for us as an organization. The testimonies that we received following the race were truly inspirational. We think a race committee or something similar would be a great way to proceed in the future and we’ll be looking for interest from our amazing membership!

Finally, here are my musings on the race from last fall.

Reflections on the Purple Pursuit

Now that the dust has settled since the inaugural WMBA Purple Pursuit bike race, I have had some time to consider what the race meant to us as an organization and to me personally. The board’s impetus for planning the race had to do with a promise put in place a few years ago when a previous board raised $3,000 as part of the Indy Give initiative. It was decided, at that time, that this nest egg of money would be used for a women’s only mountain bike race. In the fall of 2017, the board decided that 2018 was the year for this race. We had fun vetting local parks, mapping routes and obtaining the necessary permissions. We finally decided on Falcon Trail and set about creating the Purple Pursuit.

As I tried to promote the race at our group rides this summer, I received varying responses from our members. We had those who were pumped, those who were tentatively excited, those who were curious, and finally, those who were not interested or said that they don’t “race”. At first, I wasn’t sure how to process all the different feedback that I was getting. Part of me wanted to be offended when members blatantly told me “no way am I gonna race!” Uh oh, I was putting time and energy into planning a race and now I wondered if anyone was going to show up! But then I realized that I wasn’t in the least bit worried, in fact, I was actually reassured by your reactions. The reasons why members didn’t want to race, are the very reasons that I love our organization so much. Our members show up every week in the summer and just want to ride. And when we ride on Thursdays…it’s free – well, except for the installment of time and energy everyone makes. And routinely, we have an average of 75 women who show up every week to ride, encourage each other and try routes and obstacles that they wouldn’t try otherwise. This, to me, is completely amazing.

The Purple Pursuit had 133 registered racers. 96 women raced and the category breakout was as follows: 14 women raced “advanced”, 42 raced “intermediate” and 40 raced “beginner”. These numbers are fabulous and judging from our group rides, representative of our membership. The thing that was also amazing to see was the teamwork that went into making the Purple Pursuit a success – and not just from the board members and the race team, but everyone. The feedback that I received from spouses and friends of WMBA members who don’t know much about our organization underscored to me that we had achieved what we set out to do – create a race that was approachable, affordable, rideable and fun. Many commented on the vibe of the day and how inclusive, warm and encouraging it was. This is the same vibe that I experience during our group rides and I know our board and ride leaders try to engender every week of the summer. These are the reasons that I am proud to be a member of the WMBA community – whether we are putting on an inaugural race or meeting up in the parking lot of Red Rocks at 6pm on a Thursday. Thank you WMBA of COS!

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