The eighth annual Cycle the WAVE will begin at Bellevue College on Sunday, Sept. 20. It is an all-women’s cycling experience benefiting domestic violence programs. The Women Against Violence Everywhere Foundation, established in 2011, has a mission to end domestic violence by increasing awareness and raising critical funds for programs by providing life-changing services for all those experience abuse.
Sharon Anderson, WAVE Foundation president and board chair, said the idea for the ride arose while she was talking with a friend of hers, a member of the Lakemont Ladies Cycling Club. She then sent out inquiry emails, and “the response was just huge,” she explained,“Women wanted to ride with other women.”
Adding to the organized bike ride the mission to help support domestic violence resources seemed natural for women who had already been working to raise funds for the Eastside Domestic Violence Program.
“Riding a bike is so empowering and so freeing that it really does relate to the prevention of domestic violence,” Anderson said.
Cycle the WAVE has raised more than $800,000 since 2008, with all funds raised going the WAVE Foundation. Then various programs based in Washington apply for grants from the foundation. “Based on the applications, we’ll divide the money and give it to the different organizations,” said WAVE Foundation Board Member Anne-Gigi Chan.
The first ride, which took off from a local park, had fewer than 300 participants. The annual ride event has since grown steadily each year, and the starting venue has subsequently expanded with the group. Last year, there were nearly 1,000 riders. This year, the goal is 1,500.
“We’ve got something for everyone,” Chan said. The various routes that participants can bike through are named accordingly. “Little Sister,” the shortest and smoothest ride, is 12-14 miles long. Girly Girl follows at 29.5 miles, then Middle Sister steps up to 37 miles or 45 miles, if participants opt to add the Newcastle loop to their ride with the Burly Girls riders. Burly Girls, the most challenging ride, is 61 miles.
Each of the routes will run through various terrains, including roads, trails, climbs and descents.
Along the way there are rest stops which allow riders a chance to eat and drink snacks and refreshments, use the restroom or tune up their bikes if necessary.
Though the riders within the groups are all women, they are not without allies along the way. Supporters can volunteer at the event or cheer on the riders alongside any of the four routes.
Men from the Lakemont Cycling Club support the women riders. “We call them ‘the guys on bikes,’” Chan said. “They’re basically patrolling the route.” Those helpers, along with a support car that can come to anyone who calls for mechanical assistance or needs help, ensure safe and pleasant rides for the bikers.
During the event, poster boards similar to the ones held up by roadside employees promoting mattress sales nearby will be held up for people to write pledges on. “We want to break the cycle of this pattern that happens over and over within intimate relationships,” said Salvo.
“Some people are survivors, and everyone there is supporting the cause and wants help,” Salvo said. “There are a lot of tangible things you can do. One of the biggest things is educating ourselves.” She explained that there are vast amounts of information available, and the WAVE Foundation tries to act as a facilitator, “almost a clearing house to try and weed through information and present the best of the best.”
Salvo encourages people to consider the fact that “there are a lot of other components of domestic violence that have nothing to do with hitting that are equally and sometimes more damaging psychologically.” Everyone can make a pledge to do whatever it is they feel capable and willing to do to help break the cycle.
“It gives a call to action to everyone who’s riding and volunteering,” added Anderson.
Each ride takes off at a different time during the day, with the goal that all participants end up back at the base within a timeframe of a couple hours. “There’s a window of party time” at the end of the ride, Anderson said.
“Everybody’s so excited after finishing,” Salvo said.
“It’s not like the end of a ride and you get a bagel,” Salvo said. “We’re known for our amazing food,” Anderson added.
Registration and volunteer information for the event can be found online. Those needing scholarships can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cycle the WAVE is offering a 50 percent discount to Bellevue College students. Enter the code “BCSTUDENT” when registering online and present a formal student ID card at packet-pickup on Sept. 20.