Cyclists celebrate sisterhood and support scholars

Venus de Miles rides again

Sullivan Studios

On Aug. 26, local women will be out on bikes, cycling to support a worthy cause. 

Men will be on the bike courses, too, but not cycling. These gentlemen, many of them hardcore cyclists and athletes, will be supporting the efforts of their female counterparts, all while dressed in drag.

The event promises to be inspiring, uplifting and a lot of fun.

Venus de Miles returns to the Front Range for the fifth year to celebrate cycling, sisterhood and to fundraise for Greenhouse Scholars, a Boulder-based nonprofit that offers financial assistance, mentorship and internship opportunities to high-achieving students from under-resourced families.

“This event really does support the feeling of sisterhood, which is something that I really wanted to bring to Boulder,” says Teresa Robbins, the event director and founder of Venus de Miles. “But it also supports a great cause and hopefully speaks to what everyday riders like me find inspiring.”

More than 1,200 female cyclists will tackle one of four courses, all created to appeal to the level and interest of the rider — from novice to advanced. The courses are described as the rolling 100-mile century ride, the calf-crunching 67-mile ride, the heart-pounding 51-mile ride and the 33-mile jaunt through scenic countryside.

“The important thing to stress is that this event is one-of-a-kind in how fun it is, the spirit of it, the atmosphere, and the great cause it supports,” says Maria Hennessey, public relations coordinator for the event. “It’s also special because it’s not a competition. It’s not a race. There are no awards. It’s about just enjoying yourself, and that’s refreshing.”

The cycling portion of the event culminates in Prospect Park in Longmont for a post-ride celebration that will include gourmet food from local food trucks, live music, spa services, bike demos and wine, beer and cocktails. Some of the above services are complimentary only to the riders, but friends and families are welcome to join the festivities, says Hennessey.

The concept for Venus de Miles began in 2007 when founder Robbins met students involved in Greenhouse Scholars and was impressed and inspired by their achievements. She wanted to create a fundraising event that would help further the work of the organization, while also strengthening the community of local women cyclists. She’d enjoyed that kind of community at events and with clubs while living in the Bay Area, and said she was surprised it didn’t seem to exist in Boulder. In five years, the event has gained widespread popularity, and 100 percent of the $225,000 that the organizers expect to raise will go to Greenhouse Scholars.

This year, in addition to a registration fee, all participants were required to donate an additional $75 directly to Greenhouse Scholars, which many raised by organizing bake sales for the cause or asking their employers to sponsor them. The idea for the donation was developed last year after only about half of the riders appeared to know what they were riding for, says Robbins.

“We’re working hard to bridge that gap because it’s important for people to know why they’re riding,” Robbins says. “Because of this year’s additional fundraising and awareness aspect, 100 percent of the riders will know why they’re there.”

Georgia Gould, who recently won the bronze medal in the women’s mountain bike cross-country race, and local pro mountain biker Heather Irmiger will participate to help support the cause.

“I am very excited to be part of the Venus de Miles,” Irmiger says. “For me, this event is a perfect mix of my passion for cycling, socializing, having fun with the girls, and supporting educational opportunity for the students who make up Greenhouse Scholars. I feel so fortunate that this event takes place in my backyard.”

Online registration has closed, but women who still wish to participate can register at the event on Sunday.

“I would encourage women to come out and join us on Aug. 26 to celebrate the spirit of sisterhood and to give back to the community,” says Robbins. “And then to finish the ride with a mojito, music and a massage.”