What started as a blog to empower women in cycling has become a cycling club, one-stop website for women cyclists, a service (coaching, fitting, bike repair) and an internet movement. In January, BikeShopGirl.com’s founder and editor, Arleigh Jenkins, was nice enough to take a moment and answer a few questions.
The Clymb: How long have you been cycling? Your cycling has consisted of mountain biking, commuting and cyclo-cross. Which do you prefer?
AJ: I’ve been actively riding since I was 12, competitively since I was 14. I prefer mountain biking, but cyclo-cross is becoming a quick love of mine if only I could get in better shape faster!
TC: A few months ago, you were hit by a car while riding your bike. Can you tell me about the accident? How has that affected your desire to ride/the way you ride?
AJ: You can read all about my acts of recovery on BikeShopGirl.com
The cliff notes is I was riding the mile from work to the bus stop and an oncoming car didn’t see me in an intersection, taking a left hand turn into me. My bike was totaled and I was pretty shaken up from the accident. I purchased a car two weeks later and didn’t ride on the road bike until just last week! Mentally, I’ve been different — crabbier and pessimistic. I was craving to ride but very scared to do so. Mountain biking is my biggest love but that didn’t seem to fill the entire need. Now that I rode last week on the road, it felt like I was free finally.
TC: What is most important in being an effective reviewer of bike gear/apparel, etc?
AJ: Being honest, and being subjective. I try to look at it from as many views as possible. It may not be for me, but it maybe for someone else. Who is that person and tell it as so. For example, tires that stink where I ride but seem to be perfect on different terrain. I state that, I state where I live and the type of soil, I tell how I ride and why things weren’t perfect. Hopefully you’ll be able to pull from that to your own experience.
TC: Let’s say there’s someone who hasn’t ridden a bike since childhood, what would your pitch be to get them riding? What are the benefits?
AJ: Riding is liberating, it can make you feel free and in complete control. There are so many different types of riding from road, to mountain and the hybrid on the boardwalk. You can start anywhere.
TC: In the “About” section of BikeShopGirl, you say this: “We believe that bicycles can solve many of the worlds issues, relieve stress, and create a healthy lifestyle.” How can bicycles solve some of the world’s issues?
AJ: Pollution, road congestion, stress, childhood obesity, mid-life crisis. I don’t think I need to explain any of these
TC: You spend time talking to brand managers in an effort to help them grow their womens lines. Have you found this difficult? How would you say bikes/cycling is marketed differently towards men and women?
AJ: Brands and companies are more aware these days that they need to speak the speak to women. It isn’t about painting their bikes pink, adding flowers to their jerseys or making shoes white.
Marketing to women start from the magazines, just like guys, but the difference is it mattes in the shop to the dressing room or test ride, to how the mechanic speaks to them and how the group ride embraces them. Companies that are creating communities,and giving staff training are making the difference. I don’t think marketing is different, I think men are more willing to ignore some of the mistakes we’ve been making in marketing over the years.
Arleigh Jenkins is the owner and editor of Bike Shop Girl. She is a cyclist and cycling advocate living in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC with her girlfriend, two kids, two dogs, two cats and too many bikes. You can find her on the weekends or at night at one of the regional races or events, mainly between mountain biking, cyclocross and bike commuting. After working within the cycling industry for 12 years Arleigh left to fry bigger fish in the international marketing industry. With a broader (not affiliated) view of cycling, and more time to ride or write she has expanded Bike Shop Girl for 2011 into more than a website. You can follow BikeShop Girl on Twitter here.
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