This month Plucky Polly Award goes to Alfonsina Strada. For the last couple of months Mermaid has been asking for a bike. She is convinced that she is going to get one for her birthday. During a trip to Target the other day we had to stop and pet the bikes while she talked about all the things she is going to do when she gets one. Of course being 3 years old the list is pretty short – ride to the end of the driveway, ride it around the back yard, take it to Nonny’s house, take it to the park. But one day she can do more and I want her to keep dreaming about what she can do. So I started looking up women cyclists that she can look up to. I found so many women who have done great things with a bike it was hard to chose one. Then I found the story of Alfonsina Strada.
Alfonsina Strada was born In 1891 in Italy. She dreamed of being a cyclist, her parents didn’t encourage her but on her wedding day her husband gave her a bike. He encouraged her to follow her dreams. In 1924 she was the first woman to compete in Giro d’Italia. It is a 21 day race that goes over steep mountains in southern Europe. The year she competed was 1924, it was the 12th year of the race. At the starting line there were 89 men, and 1 woman. Only 29 men, and 1 woman made it to the finish line. Before the race she was ridiculed and harassed. There were cartoons making fun of her in the papers. None of that deterred her. She showed up to the race and she owned it. Not only did she own that race she did it with a 44 pound bike that only had one gear. Seriously one gear. The next year when she tried to sign up she was denied. The officials told her the race was only for men and she could not participate. Never the less she persisted – she raced along side the official participants. That year not only did she finish the race but she set a speed record that lasted for 26 years.
If that is not the definition of a Plucky Polly then I have no idea what is. I think I will be getting Mermaid a bike for her birthday next month. Right now she is going to be trapped in the driveway, but who knows maybe one day she will ride a bike across Europe leaving men in her dust and inspiring another generation of women.
Looking for other role models? Check out my Plucky Polly Awards.