Bicyclists take a ride against domestic violence

September 19, 2008

By Jim Feehan

A women’s only, noncompetitive bicycle ride will take place in Issaquah and neighboring cities Sept. 21 to raise awareness for a nonprofit organization that helps women and children who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Women passionate about cycling who have bonded through friendship, fitness and the desire to make a difference in the community created the first Women Against Violence Everywhere ride to benefit Eastside Domestic Violence Program, rider Carol McFarland said.

“This is a huge issue in our community,” said McFarland, 48, who lives on Cougar Mountain. “Participating in the event was a no-brainer for me. It’s ladies out for ladies.”

McFarland will ride with her 15-year-old daughter Tessa.

The event will begin and conclude at Tibbetts Valley Park in Issaquah. Riders can choose between a 25-mile Girly Girl route in southeast Bellevue and Issaquah, or a 62-mile Burly Girl route that covers Issaquah, Newcastle, Bellevue, Maple Valley and Renton.

While men won’t ride, they will provide mechanical and technical support along the route, McFarland said.

Tessa said she has friends who have used the Eastside Domestic Violence Program.

“It’s a good cause,” she said.

Tessa, a triathlete, said she plans to use the ride as training.

“I want to ride fast enough so I can get to church on time,” she said.

Alison Conner, 23, who grew up in Issaquah and now lives in Seattle, took up bicycling a few months ago.

“There is no pressure to go fast,” she said. “It’s just a bunch of women out there for a good cause.”

Event sponsors include the Rising Star Guild, a support group that raises money for Eastside Domestic Violence, and the Lakemont Ladies Cycling Club.

The routes will feature signs with information about domestic violence statistics and the services provided by the Eastside Domestic Violence Program, which has served 96,000 victims of domestic violence since 1982.

“Domestic abuse is often thought of as a problem that doesn’t affect those we love the most, but the work that Eastside Domestic Violence Program is doing right here in our community shows that abuse can touch anyone, anywhere,” said Ride Director Sharon Anderson. “We’ve organized this fun event in an effort to bring women in our community together, to show our support and to convey that we won’t stand for violence, not here or anywhere.”

The ride intentionally weaves through Issaquah and Bellevue as a reminder that last year, Eastside Domestic Violence Program served about 2,000 women and children in the two cities alone, Anderson said.

Caprice Brochu, 39, grew up on Cougar Mountain and took up cycling a couple of years ago. She plans to ride the 62-mile Burly Girl route.

“The figures were a real eye opener for me,” she said regarding domestic violence statistics. “And this is happening in a relatively affluent community. It’s not a bunch of homeless women, but working people in our community with children who are also touched by violence.”

The number of people touched by domestic violence is sobering, said McFarland, a registered nurse. Earlier this year, when she received her license renewal, a flyer from the state Department of Health said one in three patients that health providers see during the year could be a victim of domestic violence.

“I’ve got two daughters that I’m trying to raise and anything we can do to raise awareness about domestic violence is important,” she said.

Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com.

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