By Tiffany Jarva
Thunder Bay Cycling Club’s diverse programs are up and running again, including Women on Wheels (WOW). “Pandemic restrictions have impacted the programming that the club was able to provide for the past two years,” says Caitlin Guarasci, volunteer board member and WOW director. “We are thrilled to have it back this spring and summer, along with all of our other divisions.”
Guarasci says that the halt in organized activity only served to reinforce the importance of what the TBCC offers its members. “It’s more than just cycling; it’s a social, mental and physical well-being pillar in our community.”
According to Guarasci, who has been riding for about ten years, WOW is all about increasing confidence, safe road practice, and building community. Her passion for cycling is palpable. “After months of riding on my own in the basement, I forgot how amazing being on the road feels,” she says. “I want to share that magic and build the women’s riding community like never before.” In addition to fostering a love of cycling, WOW is also about appreciating the beautiful environment that surrounds us in Northwestern Ontario. Guarasci adds that the women’s group rides are also about “knowing there is a community of support to help you tackle the obstacles—the distance, the wind, and anything else that may come your way.”
WOW is mostly geared to beginner and intermediate riders, with experienced cyclists as leads and sweepers.The program is focused primarily on recreational group riding and safety in numbers. It also offers getting-to-know-your-bike clinics, such as teaching how to change a tire. “If riders know how to fix their bike on their own, it increases their confidence and independence,” explains Guarasci.
Rides are typically built around destinations, supporting local businesses like Dawson General Store, Neebing Roadhouse, Metropolitan Moose Cafe, 5 Forks Restaurant, and more. Members can choose between short, medium, and longer distances. At the end of the season, usually sometime in August, there is an annual century (100 km) ride, with stops along the way at local establishments, ending with a barbecue. Also, as part of membership, WOW hosts once-a-month socials. It is all about being able to lean on the support of a community of women. “When you are tired or have had a bad day, we overcome that together, or if you have something wonderful to share, we celebrate each other,” emphasizes Guarasci. “Women are powerful and the larger the group, the stronger we become together.”
WOW meets Tuesdays at 6:30 pm at various locations. The first scheduled group ride will be May 10, weather permitting. For more information on WOW membership and other Thunder Bay Cycling Club programs like the co-ed touring group, time trials and road racing, visit tbaycc.ca.