Last summer when I received a call from Dr. Cathryn Zeglinski asking me if I would ride for her Northlands Medical Clinic cycling team, I was curious.
As it turns out, the Northlands team, nicknamed Team Pink, is sponsored by Zeglinski and her Whistler-based medical practice.
After three years with the National Team, Zeglinski took a break to continue medical school, have a child and begin building her medical practice. Several years later when she returned to mountain bike racing, she was competing for herself and realized she didn't want to wear someone else's jersey- she wanted to wear her own.
The desire to design her own jersey came from her interest in the colour pink, a colour associated with femininity, and the response she got whenever she wore it when she cycled. Zeglinski found she drew more encouragement and support every time she raced in the colour.
She came to believe fans liked it because, as a female racer, the pink kit made her stand out in a sport dominated by men. "Women can celebrate being a woman and still have prowess on a bike," said Zeglinski.
Strangers approached her, sparking conversations she'd never had before about sportswear: Where did it come from? Who was the sponsor? How could they get one? This spontaneous attention, coupled with a scarcity of women in the sport of cycling, inspired Zeglinski to produce more pink women's cycling kits.
Although she first imagined attracting competitive women who would train and race together, Zeglinski realized the majority of women don't ride for the sole purpose of racing. (I applaud all women who cycle, whatever their reason.) Training for something specific, such as a race or gran fondo, not only makes us work harder but more importantly it makes women (and men) feel like we are a part of something that matters.
Zeglinski developed Team Pink to help bridge the gap for women in cycling by giving them something to be a part of.
"Bike racing is a tough sport," she said, "and if you aren't in the top 10, then you are probably lonely as everyone only cares about who is at the top, especially when it comes to female cyclists."
The team is now made up of women who cycle for their own reasons. Every time I wear my Team Pink kit, either when I coach, race or train, I always get stopped by someone who wants to know more. I tell them the kit is a sign of support for women in cycling, that it brings awareness to their participation and hopefully draws more women to this awesome sport.
Kristina Bangma is a coach, personal trainer and writer with a love of riding and racing. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.