Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bike Racing? Really?

When I created Sarah Conrad, the main character in my series, I immediately knew that the school that she would go to would have a cycling team and that she would join it.

“Cycling team?” you may wonder. I decided to have my heroine take up this sport because, apart from coverage of the Tour de France each year, it isn’t in the mainstream and is dominated by men. I was intrigued by one question:
how would a shy and bookish fourteen-year-old girl grow on a team that has one other girl and 11 boys?

I also had some personal inspiration. My husband and I have coached a local college's cycling team for the past five years. When we started we learned that women face a daunting number of hurdles to get into, and stay in, the sport. Over the years we worked hard to create an environment that is welcoming to women who want to race bikes. Despite our efforts and the efforts of others, there is still something pioneering about the girls and women who compete in bike races.

When I created Sarah’s fictional team, I had a problem. How does a shy fourteen-year-old girl, who’s never done a sport before, take on such a pioneering role? The answer: with a little help from her friends. I created a coach that channeled the normally macho boys into the experienced teachers that Sarah needed. I also created Veronica, Sarah’s intense, tomboyish friend who can ride faster than most of the boys. In the end, Sarah does not go on to great success in the races. She’s a hard worker with few physical gifts. But by being thrust into the role of the pioneer she grows in directions she never thought possible.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sam!

    Emily has talked to me on and off about your books; I hope the writing has been going well!

    I like the sound of this cycling element in particular-I always appreciate it when writers have experitise in a very particular subject, and include it in their writing!