Women’s racing teams not only encourage female cyclists to race, they also can create a community that supports other riders.
Revolution Velo Racing (REVO) was one of the first racing teams just for women on Zwift. The team branched out into leading rides and now holds 8 rides per week. Some of these are dedicated to climbing, and others are easier spins on flat terrain. The group even has a climbing ride especially for Athena and Clydesdale riders (those who are bigger than the average cyclist).
“Anyone is welcome, but we celebrate Zwifters with substance on this ride,” says Melissa Hunter, team director for Revolution Velo. “Two other rides are women only, and the rest are mixed gender. At the end of each ride you’ll unlock our beautiful kit for your virtual garage, and if you join our Facebook group (Revolution Velo Fans) you’ll even be able to purchase it IRL (in real life) soon!”
Melissa has been cycling regularly since 2013, after foot injuries kept her away from distance running. The Minnesota resident rides road, gravel, mountain, and fat bikes, and even a handcycle sometimes. She loves long-distance, ultra-endurance rides the most.
“Zwift became very important to me after spinal fusion in 2017,” Melissa says. “I was not allowed to ride outside for fear of wrecking my newly acquired titanium hardware, but I was allowed to pedal on Zwift just a week after surgery!”
We recently asked her about the history of REVO and what the group is all about, and this is what she shared with us.
(For more information, visit the Revolution Velo Fans group on Facebook. You can find a schedule of REVO’s rides below.)
Zwift: When did Revolution Velo form, and who started it?
Melissa Hunter: Revolution Velo Racing (REVO) was created in the summer of 2018 when a group of riders and racers decided to create the first Zwift team that openly welcomed anyone identifying and living as a woman. From the start, we were always going to be a strong, motivated group determined to create something that we felt included the practices, processes, and beliefs that were missing from previous teams we tried on Zwift. In that spirit, we founded Revolution Velo.
Z: What would you say the group’s core purpose and goals are? Why do you believe your group is important to the Zwift community?
M: Our team started to address inequalities we saw on Zwift and have become so much more. We strive to encourage and support women racing at all levels on Zwift, fostering a sense of community among our riders. We have capped our membership in order to keep a smaller, inclusive feel vs. some of the giant teams on Zwift. In addition to racing, we have a large collection of rides that we lead weekly that stick to the advertised pace or goals, and have a fantastic social aspect to our team. Due to the smaller size we feel like we know each teammate and can celebrate and support each member through all the ebbs and flows of life. It really is like a little family that spans across the globe.
Z: Who are the group’s leaders?
M: Oh my! It’s a long list. Our current board members are Melissa Hunter, Gail Kocher, Christine Culver, Christina Hanson, and Sarah Strange.
In addition to our board members, we have 28 ride leaders who keep our 8 rides per week running smoothly. Here are some of our most frequent leads, since a list of 28 folks would be too long! Diana Steel, Emma Brinkley, Erin Ayala, Karen Bestwick, Kate Lane, Linda Brocato, Natasha Williams, and Stacey Larkin.
Z: Is your group affiliated with a Zwift racing team?
M: Our team IS primarily a racing team, and women riding and racing regularly on Zwift are eligible to join. However, our membership is closed at this time as we’ve gone to an invite-only basis. We have women who race across all categories and abilities and support and celebrate each success for all of our women. We have a Premier Division team in Season 2 of the Zwift Racing League, and many of our ladies have been invited to race for large-scale premier events.
Z: Sport can be a powerful platform for equality. How do you think participating in cycling can empower and benefit women and girls?
M: Seeing women represented at all levels of cycling will hopefully encourage more women and girls to consider hopping on their bikes to go for a ride! Sometimes women aren’t encouraged to be involved in sports in general, so being able to show that ANYONE can ride their bikes and be competitive if they desire is important. Our team encourages women of all shapes and sizes, ages and demographics, to ride their bicycles.
Z: What are the benefits of being involved in a community of women who ride?
M: Supportive environment, ability to ask questions that you may be uncomfortable asking in other venues, support not only for cycling things, but for life things, especially changes we all go through and how they affect our bodies or our cycling performance. It feels empowering to see all the strong women race at all levels and improve each time.
Z: Are there any special memories or experiences with this group that you’d like to share?
M: Revolution Velo brings joy to my life. I love how our women are willing to step up and help, whether it’s riding to support our team in a race series like the Zwift Racing League, hopping in the “team car” to help guide a teammate to victory, leading one of our 8 weekly group rides, or providing camaraderie and a social outlet during this bizarre pandemic.
REVO Climbers (mixed gender)
REVO Social SUB2 (mixed gender)
REVO Speedy Spin Sisters (women only)
REVO Slow Roll SUB1.5 (mixed gender)
REVO Spin Sisters Social (women only)
REVO Climbers: Athena and Clydesdale Edition (mixed gender)
See all REVO rides at zwift.com/events/tag/revo