Meet the Riders Revolutionizing Women’s Cycling

Photo: Abigale Youcha

Designed by women for women, PEARL iZUMi’s new WE Campaign is making it easier than ever to get into the saddle.

Lynn Bush has vivid memories of the first time she walked into a bike shop. She was in high school, had borrowed a bike from a boyfriend, and was getting into cycling for the first time.

“I needed a jersey and shorts,” Bush (she/her) recalls, “so I walked into a local bike shop, and I was so intimidated.” Bike parts and tools lined the walls. The store felt cramped, chaotic. “It was this visceral experience,” she adds. “I was so uncomfortable.” The shop only had two or three options for clothing in her size. Ultimately, she grabbed a plain white jersey and got out of there as fast as she could. 

Bush, who’s now the director of design for bike apparel and accessory brand PEARL iZUMi, kept cycling all through high school. Ultimately, she got into mountain biking and joined a women’s racing team, where she fell in love with the special kind of camaraderie and support that ladies-only groups can offer. She even went on to found her own team, the Tough Girls, which she ran for 10 years. Today, she uses her work at PEARL iZUMi to create fun, inviting, expressive options for women’s cycling gear—options that she wished had existed in that bike shop she walked into so many years ago. 

Now, Bush is helping bring to life a new campaign that puts women first. It’s called the WE Campaign (WE is short for “Women Empower”), anchored by an online platform that hosts stories and tips from female riders, as well as a ride locator tool that’s populated with group rides and events from cycling clubs and bike shops across the country.

A Pearl Izumi group ride. Photo: Abigale Youcha

The whole project is a labor of love from the women riders at PEARL iZUMi, says company Brand Marketing Specialist Abigail Youcha (she/her). 

“We realized that when women come together in the cycling community, good things happen,” Youcha says. She adds that this has certainly been true at PEARL iZUMi, where she’s worked for the past six years. The brand employs and supports a ton of women cyclists, from casual commuters to professional racers. That commitment has helped create a passionate internal force that’s been driving the design of women’s-specific cycling gear at the brand for decades. 

The number of women riders is still growing, Youcha adds. Over the last two years, she’s seen a huge uptick in the number of cyclists. Between the closure of gyms and the need for outdoor social outlets during the pandemic, cycling became appealing to people who hadn’t gotten on a bike since they were kids. 

The bad news: Not all those new cyclists will stick with it once the pandemic is over. With its pricey bikes, endless gear, and ultra-specialized clothing, the sport can feel off-putting to newcomers, says Youcha—so can elitist comments from other riders. 

“I remember on one of my first group rides, a gentleman mentioned something about what I was wearing and told me there was going to be some sale soon,” she recalls. At the time, Youcha was wearing department store leggings and an everyday windbreaker rather than a bike-specific jacket. “I was so embarrassed by that comment,” she says. “It was like, ‘Why does it matter what I’m wearing? I can still keep up with you!’”  

To that end, the WE Campaign isn’t focused on gear. Instead, its main goal is to connect women with other female riders and make women feel empowered to join group rides and communities near them. After all, falling in love with biking isn’t usually about finding your gear; it’s about finding your people.

“It doesn’t matter what clothes you wear or what gear you have,” says Youcha. “Any bike you’re riding is the right bike.” 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.