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Cycling group riding, inspiring

When Lynda Damen’s sons were teenagers, she bought them both road bikes to keep them off drugs.

When Lynda Damen’s sons were teenagers, she bought them both road bikes to keep them off drugs.

For her birthday two years ago, Damen’s adult sons returned the favour, giving her a custom-built bike.

She now describes cycling as her drug of choice.

“When I got the bike, I didn’t know how to change the gears,” said Damen.

“Now it’s become a way of life.”

Damen gives much of the credit for her transformation from bike owner to avid cyclist to the Cyclefit Chicks group, which she met one day while out for a solo ride.

Cyclefit Chicks is an Ottawa-based, women’s-only cycling club for adult riders of all skill levels, explained owner Sylvie D’Aoust to a packed crowd at the group’s recent open house.

“It’s a comfortable, non-intimidating, supportive atmosphere where women can improve on their cycling skills,” she said.

Members are able to take advantage of weekly skills clinics put on by qualified cycling coaches that aim to teach riders how to properly use their bikes, explained D’Aoust. This includes lessons on how to climb hills, ride in groups and even, as Damen experienced, how to properly use bike gears.

The group holds club rides each Sunday to give members the opportunity to test out newly acquired skills.

“We are here to help and inspire women,” said D’Aoust. “And, of course, to get better at cycling.”

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