There are many recreational rides throughout Washington State but few carry a message as strong as the Cycle the WAVE ride on Sept.16. Now in its fifth year, Cycle the WAVE (Women Against Domestic Violence Everywhere) is a non-competitive, women-only cycling experience intended to unite women and their communities to increase awareness of domestic violence and raise critical funds for domestic violence programs.
While the domestic violence statistics are grim–one in four women are affected by domestic violence–the event is meant to inspire fitness and camaraderie while increasing awareness and instilling hope.
“In addition to raising money, it was very important to us to raise awareness and to give hope to women in those situations and let them know that there are resources. There is help,” said Sharon Anderson, Cascade member and founder and ride coordinator of Cycle the Wave.
Additionally, the ride itself is a fun, safe, girl power-inspiring event.
“When we started we had no idea it would be such a great draw for women. There’s a large demand for women-only rides,” said Anderson. The ride celebrates women by pampering its riders with well-stocked rest stops, gift bags, flowers, spa treatments at the finish line and “other fun, girly stuff,” said Anderson.
Cycle the WAVE is the brainchild of Anderson and her fellow organizers from the Lakemont Ladies Cycling Club, a women’s recreational club, and Rising Star Guild, a group of Eastside moms who wanted to remain engaged in their community in a purposeful way as their school-age children grew up by raising funds for the Eastside Domestic Violence Program (now LifeWire). Both troubled by the tragic impact of domestic violence, the groups came together to host the 2008 Cycle the Wave event.
“It was a perfect way to combine my passion for cycling and to continue my community service,” said Anderson.
The inaugural event drew 233 riders and raised $20,000 for Eastside Domestic Violence Program. The following year it grew to 604 riders and more than $66,000 was raised. By 2011, the word had spread and 1,115 female riders came out to support the event, raising $130,000.
“This year we are hoping for 1300 riders, weather dependent,” said Anderson.
Anderson said that many survivors join the ride, and some even share their stories.
“It’s really empowering for them to get on a bike and complete an all-women’s ride like this,” she said.
To entice women of all fitness levels, Cycle the WAVE offers four different rides. There’s a 12-mile “Little Sister” route for new or younger cyclists, a 25-mile “Girly Girl” ride through the rolling hills of Bellevue’s quiet neighborhoods, a 42-mile “Middle Sister” route, and a 62-mile “Burly Girl” route which offers hills and challenges for stronger riders.
All routes start and end in Issaquah and weave through Bellevue, Maple Valley, Renton and Newcastle–which are communities all served by LifeWire.
And while men can’t ride in Cycle the Wave, they are an important part of making the event a success.
“We love our men. They are an incredible piece of helping the riders by fixing flats, encouraging riders, and volunteering.”
Registration for riders and volunteers is still open, so visit www.cyclethewave.org to register and learn more about Cycle the WAVE.