Every once in a while a woman on our team pulls me aside to say she’s so grateful for Petunia Mafia and what it’s brought to her. Some have gone as far as to say it’s changed her life. That’s a huge pronouncement. Are these compliments just sunshine, glitter, and rainbows told to the team president? While we embody all of the aforementioned (have you seen our kits?!), I truly believe these statements are less of a personal compliment to me as club organizer and more of an acknowledgement that we have something very, very special going on.
I believe these statements are heartfelt as I’ve experienced the same sentiment. Because of this community, my cycling is at a level I never dreamed of when I first mounted a “real” bike. I’ve raced and landed on the podium. I’ve climbed thousands of feet in elevation – even equivalent to a quarter of Everest in one event. I’ve progressed my skills, tried new routes, and learned how to push myself physically and mentally. However, the cycling part isn’t what rises to the top of mind when I say this team has changed my life. What I’ll remember just before I go to that great bike shop in the sky will be my teammates.
Without this team, I wouldn’t have met a fraction of these women. Some of whom are now my dear friends. I adore some who are wildly different in age than I. Who work in industries and companies I haven’t encountered. Who live in neighborhoods and towns I don’t frequent. Because of Petunia Mafia, we’ve crossed paths. We’ve sat side-by-side on a saddle for hours and learned about each other. Gone on team trips. Eaten Peeps Flambe, sessioned tricky sections until we nailed it, and drank bubbly around a campfire. After a while, acquaintance became friendship. It’s happened multiple times to lots of our teammates. This team is a connector like spokes on a wheel. Eventually we all come together.
I hope that what I’m saying about what we bring to women isn’t corny and contrived. The feedback I’ve heard is definitely a compliment and a powerful expression. Our sense of inclusion and community is something that our board of directors works hard on, yet can’t be manufactured. We’re changing lives for the better, and hope we do the same for you.