By: Crystal Kovacs
Sometimes we all luck into something. We may or may not believe in it prior to the event, but leaving we know that things have changed.
The above statement would describe my first women’s forum exactly. I was really excited to get to talk with women from all over the nation about a sport I was passionate about. What I was not expecting was to leave with friends, a support system and my tank filled.
Women empowering women…small statement but HUGE meaning. I have worked in industries my entire life that were predominantly men at the “top”. I have played in those same industries. I understand the meaning of a glass ceiling and have felt it first-hand. That is not what this statement is about. How as women do we get women to join our industry and want to stay?
I love competition, heck I thrive on it. I’m for all intents and purposes a type A personality. I can see what needs done, am not afraid to do what is required to get it done and then move on. But when I started leading women’s groups I found that there was a shift in my mentality.
It’s not because women are not competitive. I would argue that we are very much the opposite. Women were raised in a society to judge each other at all turns of the road…literally every second. The shift in my mind happened when I found that I wanted to be in all women’s groups, on women’s podcasts and where I was understood.
In 2021 I founded a bike packing company for women. The goal was to break down perceived barriers for women entering the world of adventure. Nomadic Adventure Co’s catch line was “what if I told you could do something that you can’t do today, in a place you have never been, and be successful”. The response was overwhelming!
My mental shift was in full motion. I was transforming the thought process for six women to venture through the desert while also changing my own thought patterns. We were growing together. I was taking people to somewhere that they were not comfortable, holding them there for the duration of the trip, and letting them return to a new comfort zone.
Our trip was not a race but an adventure. I repeated this phrase over and over during the zoom calls, phone calls and every day on the route. If you want to take a photo, stop and do so. If you want to walk, get off and walk…this is YOUR adventure.
The transformation was inspiring as it unfolded on the trail. I did not hear one word of competition the entire week. What I did hear was cheering for everyone time after time. Encouraging words were repeated and shouted out as we rode up and down the hills. Smiles were spread across everyone’s faces. We had entered this trip as relative strangers and left as friends.
How do we set ourselves up for success when it comes to empowering others? We turn the tables 180 degrees, we encourage every chance we get and we help our fellow riders make positive decisions. Empowering others is a space that competition has no traction.
For me, the biggest change was starting positive self-talk. I don’t tell myself anything that I would not tell anyone reading this blog. I would NEVER say to you “you are too old, fat and slow for this”! But I sure have told myself those very same words time after time in my head…and I suspect we all have told ourselves that in some form. Turn those words into positive ones, use your own name, and talk to yourself (you choose out loud or in your head) the way you would talk to your friends. “Crystal you can do this, you got this!” You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
How we change the narrative of women on the bike starts with YOU. It starts inside your own head. The change starts with each one of us.
You will be surprised how wide the smile is on the most tired cyclist when you say “you got this” or loudly yell “Dig deep I’m cheering for you”. Be the change that you want to see, encourage more people to join your sport and be kind to yourself!
I can’t wait to see you out there!