Stepping up on the bright blue Amgen Tour of California stage moments after the awards for the stage 5 winners were presented, SBBIKE leader Ed France announced, “Now we celebrate not the elite men who have just shown their prowess in the racing arena but here in the local, multicultural Santa Barbara cycling community--the elite women.”
The annual Velo Wings Award honors women in the community who’ve championed cycling--and the three women selected for this year’s third annual award demonstrate leadership skills and inspire others.
Erika Lindemann, “a roll-up-her-sleeves, get-things-done kind of woman” – was France’s co-founder in what has become today’s Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition (SBBIKE).
France talked about how her roots as “a woman who is passionate about bicycling” go back to her younger days, when she was a Bike Monkey at Santa Barbara Middle School and noted that, after attending college at UC Santa Cruz, Lindemann returned to Santa Barbara “inspired to bring what is possible to our community.”
Lindemann made good on that dream, with six years of phenomenal effort helping to found Bici Centro, aiding with CycleMAYnia, and work improving local mountain biking trails. France called the former SBBIKE board president “a beacon of bilingual outreach, bringing cycling to all of this community.”
Wendy Manning, an inspiration in perseverance – wasn’t allowed to bike downtown until she was twelve years old. She still remembers cycling on her twelfth birthday over the bridge and into Goleta.
Manning later joined the Goleta Valley Cycling Club. The group rides opened her eyes to all the places to ride in the community, as well of the joy of cycling camaraderie. From there, she went on to leading a group of women who regularly did 100- and 200-mile rides.
In 1990, Manning fractured both her arms. But she didn’t give up. She was back to riding as soon as possible--on a tandem--an exercise she found emotionally, spiritually, and physically healing. In 2004, she battled cancer.
Next, she joined B4-T9, a woman’s cycling team once nicknamed “the Pink Hurricane.” Membership gave her the encouragement she needed to keep going, and she “continued to ride tough,” said France. She even rode the Tour of the California Alps, known as the “Death Ride” (officially), a century with 15,000 feet of grueling climbs.
Manning feels gratitude every time she gets on a bike.
Nancy Mulholland a woman who “leads by doing” – wants others to discover and enjoy the world of biking, says France, who thanked for her recent support.
Mulholland and her husband, Mark, live car free and have traveled over the last twenty years by bike--all over the world, including a pilgrimage route from Amsterdam to Santiago de Compostela. This fall, they plan to head to Italy for a bike tour.
France says Mulholland has helped bring bicycling to others in countless ways over the past twenty years. The current passion of the former SBBIKE board member is the coalition’s Connecting Our Community campaign.
With her grandkids, who ride as well, Mulholland embodies the range of bicyclists the campaign aims to provide access to (“riders from eight to eighty” is part of the campaign logo). In her future, France says, Mulholland will be “riding in her eighties on safe, continuous paths--right here at home.”
Mulholland has led the coalition in helping to make bicycling accessible to everyone in Santa Barbara--not just the strong or those with the gumption to ride head-on in traffic.
“With Nancy’s continued leadership,” France concluded, to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd, “Santa Barbara will be the number one cycling destination in the nation.”
The women were presented certificates on behalf of Congresswoman Lois Capps, State Senator Hannah Beth Jack Jackson, and State Assemblyman Das Williams, whose representative, Hillary Black, said the women inspire her to “kick myself in the butt and get on my bike.”
Mayor Helene Schneider pointed to the upcoming restructuring of regional Bicycle Master Plans (documents outlining long-range planning for an area’s bicycle infrastructure) and thanked the women “for keeping us accountable here in the city and in the region.”