WHO IS VELODONNAS?
Velodonnas is the first and only female cycling club in Winnipeg. Established in 2003, Velodonnas was the brainchild of former National Team member and St. Annes, MB resident Erin Carter. As a successful competitor with a life-long love of cycling, Erin recognized that Manitoba needed a female-focused cycling club to inform, instruct and inspire female cyclists of all levels in a supportive environment. So, with the help of other like-minded cyclists, Karin McSherry, Deanne Cote & Kimberly Anne Falk, Velodonnas was born.
OUR MISSION – To inform, instruct and inspire female riders of all abilities
OUR VISION – We want to see more women with the skills and confidence to be effective leaders in our cycling community.
OUR PROMISE – We are dedicated to providing opportunities for women to gain riding confidence on the road or trail. Our riding time together will focus on skill development but we’ll mostly be having a good time and supporting each other.
“We have met many women over the years who would like to ride more – with their club, with their partners – but don’t, mostly due to a lack of confidence. We know that confidence increases when skills & fitness are improved.” ~Velodonnas founders
Over the years the Velodonnas group has brought female cyclists together for road, mountain bike and cyclocross clinics and rides and we created Manitoba’s first (and only) Women’s only bike race – The Dirt Skirt.
Come ride with us! Karin McSherry, Moni Robertson, Kim Mitchell, Lindsay Argue & Anna Schappert
WHAT IS THE DIRT SKIRT?
The Dirt Skirt started as a parking lot conversation between two women who love to ride. There was an open date on the Manitoba Cycling Association race calendar and Moni Robertson & Kim Mitchell thought, “We should host a race just for women.”. But what to call it? We knew we had to consult with the super clever and creative Winnipeg CycleChick. Five minutes later we decided on Dirt Skirt.
And just like that the race was born and it was Manitoba’s ONLY bike race just for girls and women. In the first year, 2012, we expected no more than 30 riders to show up. That year we were thrilled to host almost 50 riders at a mountain bike event in Birds Hill Park. It poured rain. We knew right then we were on to something…
We made the whole event very flexible – riders could choose 1, 2 or 3 laps of our local piece of single track AND riders could change how many laps they did mid race. The majority of women who came out to race that day were brand new to the cycling scene in Manitoba.
We always had this gut feeling that more women wanted to race but were deterred by the upfront expense of a race license plus the intimidation factor of entering an event where most of the competitors have a) more experience and b) more testosterone.
So, the following year, 2013, we created the Dirt Skirt Race Series adding a road race event and a cyclocross race.
Each year since has seen different events and different formats. Participation has not increased and we have found that women are more interested in our skill clinics, our regular group rides and special events like the 100km century ride etc.
So, there won’t always be a “Dirt Skirt” race event or series on the local racing calendar each year but the name lives on in Velodonnas club events and skill clinics.