Juliana Meet Up: North America

October 23 — 2018 | Graeagle, CA

One weekend, 30 empowered women, and a forward looking cycling industry



Just a few weeks after the EU Ambassador Get Together, Juliana hosted a meet up in North America. Thirty women sat gathered around the fireplace at the Gray Eagle Lodge in Graeagle, California— a town of 737 at the base of the High Sierra— listening to Aneela McKenna hoot and holler and laugh infectiously while she told stories. Many know Aneela as a Juliana ambassador and co-owner of Go-Where Scotland mountain bike tours, but I’ll bet you don’t know that Aneela is also the Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Scottish Parliament. The story she told was about diversity in the inclusion of women in the cycling industry throughout history.

Standing on top of the world with legs like jelly, but at least there is great company! 

Aneela started her speech as any typical Scotswoman would, by toasting a shot of whiskey to all of the incredible women in the room and thanking them for coming (she of course brought her own bottle all the way from Scotland just for us. It seems to be the only thing of hers that made it across the ocean, all her other bags were lost). Then she dove into a small history lesson of women in cycling—I’ll spare you the details, but if you can imagine, women in cycling were not looked at fondly by the general public one hundred years ago and were strongly discouraged from riding bikes.

Fast forward to today, the women’s side of cycling is fast growing and in high demand. Yet, we still aren’t seeing nearly as many women on bikes or in the industry compared to our male counterparts. As a woman living in the US, I couldn’t help but think, “sounds a lot like the representation of women in politics…”. Bold women in the cycling industry come under a lot of scrutinies for speaking out about the obvious glass ceiling that exists for women in the industry, just as bold women in politics are called “crazy feminists” or “overly emotional” for demanding equal rights and pay.

The mood in the room changed as this conversation got more serious—here I was, sitting in a room surrounded by strong, intelligent women with careers like project managers for NASA, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, brand managers, occupational therapists, lawyers, etc. who were talking about their own unfair experiences in the cycling world. I thought to myself, as I do almost every time I listen to the news, “WTF?!”. Now, more than ever, we need change, but also now, more than ever, we have the power to create and influence the change. 

But as much frustration as I feel, I have equal amounts of hope because, like I said, I was sitting in a room with 30 women who are changing lives and helping reshape the culture of cycling. And that is what the cycling world needs… strong, bold, intelligent women to spread the love of mountain biking to other women, to speak up and make our voices and concerns heard, who aren’t afraid to shake things up. And it looks like we are not lacking there! But this isn’t a battle we can win alone—we need the support of men in the industry too. And lucky for us, there are many wonderful men who are on our side, fighting alongside us, and advocating for us. 

There is only one way to close out a weekend like this, pedal!

Our evening conversation ended with us plotting to take over the world by getting on our bikes, empowering more women to join us, and bringing the community together. So, next time you find yourself feeling frustrated about the current state of affairs for women, in politics or in cycling, remember that there are many reasons to be hopeful—I had thirty reasons right in front of me. 


*Alex Pavon is a Juliana Ambassador and our resident social media manager for the team. Keep an eye on her posts on Instagram and send your bike in for #womenswednesday!*


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