Next installment in our #girlbikegangs series of amazing women working together to create local change in their communities. I recently got the chance to talk with Sheryl Keeme, the organizer for Girls Gone Riding about how the group got started, what’s ahead & ideas for others who might want to start up a women’s riding group.
Why did you decide to form the group? 

I originally formed the group as a team for the MS150. As an executive there, it was clear there were women cyclists who wanted to be associated with a group and also had scores of questions about preparing for a longer, two-day ride. The group grew from that into what it is today.

How is membership decided?
Membership is loose at this juncture. Once you Like the FAcebook page, you can receive updates of rides etc. I have begun an annual women’s ride that helps area charities. Those who participate are also automatically in the group.
How do you keep the group together? How are decisions made?
Members have different ways they participate. Some do everything, others do just the ride in February and still others participate occasionally in group rides and are not local. Decisions now are made solely by me, but a board is being formed in May and will make decisions collaboratively.
What projects have you done in the past?
As I mentioned, I have done an annual girls ride. It has grown from 25 in year one, to 125 in year four. With a committee behind it, it will likely see a break out year in 2013. We have held BBQ fundraisers, ridden in multiple MS rides in Arizona and California and Nevada. We also have volunteered for other community events and produced some clothing that members may order or buy online.
What projects are you looking forward to?
I would love to have a website with blogs for members, a women’s bike camp and a youth group.
Can you introduce each member and what they bring to the group?
There are nearly 500 in my email newsletter group and almost 300 on Facebook. So, I can’t identify everyone, however, I do know many. There are women of all ages and abilities.
What makes you a bicycle organization and not (for example) a public policy advocacy group – or how it both?
While personally, I do advocacy work for the Arizona coalition, GGR is not an advocacy group per se.
What changes would I like to see?
I would love to see more awareness created at the state and local levels of government about the valuable benefits of bicycling. WE could all reduce cars on the road, get in shape and do more socially if the roads were safer and more drivers and cyclists knew the rules and laws.
What are the obstacles?
Many do not realize how easy it can be to do short trips via bicycle. Also, many women are intimidated with learning how to ride, what kinds of bikes there are and what they are good for, what equipment is helpful and of course, how to manage when flats happen etc. More education offered to women in ways that are attractive for them is needed.
Advice to other women’s groups..
Form partnerships with bike shops. Offer free clinics to women and form a meetup.com group. Social media is another great resource and being consistent in your offerings are vitally important. If it’s too hit and miss, you’ll miss opportunities. Often, it’s a good idea to offer courses through continuing education at local schools too. I get FAR more than I give in my teaching and leading rides…if that’s any encouragement!
and their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GirlsGoneRiding
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