Bicyclists taking a ride against domestic violence

October 7, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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Trina Sooy, of Newcastle, was looking for an event to train for next year’s Seattle to Portland bicycle classic. Two months ago, she came across a women’s only, noncompetitive bicycle ride that went through Newcastle 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.

 

Trina Sooy, of Newcastle, takes a break at the 9-mile mark of the Cycle the Wave bike ride Sept 21 to benefit the Eastside Domestic Violence Program. Contributed

Trina Sooy, of Newcastle, takes a break at the 9-mile mark of the Cycle the Wave bike ride Sept 21 to benefit the Eastside Domestic Violence Program. Contributed

 “All women, untimed, a fun ride benefiting domestic violence — what could be better for me to help me reach my goal while helping hundreds of other women who are in a bad situation?” Sooy asked.

In the weeks leading up to the Cycle the Wave bike ride, Sooy rode around Newcastle and traveled to Seattle’s Beacon Hill and back. She also ran daily for 30-45 minutes.  

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

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

McFarland rode with her 15-year-old daughter Tessa.

Riders chose between a 25-mile Girly Girl route in southeast Bellevue and Issaquah, or a 62-mile Burly Girl route that covered Issaquah, Newcastle, Bellevue, Maple Valley and Renton.

Sooy participated in the 25-mile event with a friend.

“I probably would’ve done the 62-mile if it were just myself,” she said. “I’ve never been called a girly girl. It sounds rather prissy, if you ask me. And I don’t think a 25-mile bike ride is all that prissy, but I didn’t make up these names.”

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

The routes featured 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 grew up on Cougar Mountain and took up cycling a couple of years ago. She rode 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.

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