This month marks my tenth bicycle donation to 88bikes in honor of a heroic women in my life. It also happens to coincide with Dirty Kanza and the culmination of the 200 women riding 200 miles campaign that was created by Kristi Mohn of Dirty Kanza promotions. That being said, I can’t think of a better person to honor than Krsiti for this month’s donation. While I don’t know Kristi personally, she has definitely inspired me and Dirty Kanza has had a big impact on my life. I’ve been racing bikes for a few years now and Dirty Kanza is the first race where I truly felt welcomed as a female competitor. Here are ten ways that Dirty Kanza has raised the bar for the cycling industry when it comes to inclusion and outreach.
1. Reserving 200 spots specifically for women when DK200 registration opened
In case you aren’t aware, Dirty Kanza sold out in less than five minutes this year. The race has been increasing in popularity over the past 12 years but historically women represented less than ten percent of the field, this year DK promotions guaranteed that would change.
This hashtag, created by the DK Promotions team, started out as a fun way to document my training, but became an engine for creating community. I started following other women using the hashtag, watched their training progress and even got to see a few familiar faces during the race!
3. Women featured in Dirty Kanza media
The riders bible, support crew documents and all other media always included photographs of female participants. Another subtle way to encourage female cyclists. To quote Kristi, “if you can see it, you can be it!”
4. The #200women200miles water bottle
Packet pickup and race check in are always a nerve wrecking experience for me, I often feel like a small fish swimming upstream navigating my way through a sea of men amped up on testosterone and their own egos. When I was handed an extra water bottle just because I was one of the 200 women signed up I felt welcomed – it put a huge smile on my face.
5. Announcements at the athlete’s meeting and at the starting line
Several announcements were made to recognize the 200 women toeing the line, and to remind the majority of the participants (men) that we were there, to be nice to us, but also not to underestimate us!
6. Special swag just for women
After the race I bought this awesome shirt celebrating the 200 women campaign. Obviously it costs money to make these shirts, yet the DK Promotions team chose to create them knowing only a small segment of buyers would be interested in purchasing them.
7. The women’s round table
I wrote a little bit more about the women’s panel discussion in my race report, but this was one of my favorite parts of my Dirty Kanza experience. The panel was full of amazing and talented women that gave great advice and encouragement to all the DK riders in attendance. They also provided some great insight on what it takes to get more women on bikes..community and women supporting other women. I loved it! Check out the video here.
8. Recognizing women first at the awards ceremony
Self – explanatory, but often not done.
9. What was said at the awards ceremony
To kick of the awards ceremony the emcee said,
Twelve years in, 200 miles 200 women this year, let’s give a round of applause to every female rider in this room, what an amazing accomplishment. So cool. For you female riders, know that there are hundreds of little girls in Emporia and around the world that are inspired by your accomplishment, and your doing a great service to the gravel world and the riders.
I’m not going to lie, I got choked up when he said this, especially because I was sitting next to a Dad (who raced), and his young daughter. When this announcement was made I saw the Dad pat his daughter on the knee and the smile on her face was priceless.
10. Post-race follow up
The star treatment didn’t stop when race weekend ended. The following week I was sent a Thank You email with a discount code for Rebecca’s Private Idaho!