Come Wednesday, Mim Hiesterman is ready to roll. As a member of WOW — Women of Wednesdays — she joins a group of female bicyclists for a midweek excursion that offers much more than just exercise.
“Every Wednesday, I know that I am going to enjoy myself because it is biking, friendships, healthy and outdoors,” said Hiesterman, the group’s senior member at 86. “It’s just a precious time, and I’m getting exercise at the same time.”
The group, which has gone by several different names, was started in 1989 by Bob Holliday, who owned the Bicycler Pedaler with his wife, Ruth. Between running the store and raising kids, Ruth was having a hard time finding time to get outside and ride.
Ruth took it over two years later and has been overseeing the ride since.
The group meets every Wednesday morning, riding 5 to 12 miles in cold weather and 20 to 25 miles when it’s warm. If the weather is too unpleasant, members park their bikes and trikes and meet for brunch. They ride around 10 miles per hour and require each rider to wear a helmet. The group makes sure that nobody is left behind.
Between 10 and 25 people usually show up. Members range in age from their 30s to their 80s, with at least one member representing each decade. Some are retired and others plan days off on Wednesdays so they can ride.
Holliday and some of the other more experienced riders often teach basic biking tips to the less experienced ones, and periodically Holliday will teach bike maintenance workshops to the women.
They plan their rides around safe routes, usually alternating between the east and west sides of Wichita but sometimes meeting at Exploration Place for a cruise along the Arkansas River. The Redbud Trail, which runs east from downtown, and Prairie Sunset Trail, from west Wichita to Goddard, are typical routes.
They also like to change things up. Last October, they met at Hiesterman’s College Hill home and did a daytime tour of the Halloween-decorated homes in the area before finishing with a potluck lunch at Hiesterman’s home.
Cindy Thompson has been riding with the group since 1989. Thompson is a 63 year-old oboist in the Wichita Symphony and teaches the instrument at Friends University and Bethel College.
“It’s a great group of friends,” said Thompson. “A lot of these women that I ride with I’m not sure I would’ve met had it not been for WOW, and that’s been very enriching for me and my life.”
To be included in the group’s weekly emails, contact Ruth Holliday at email@example.com. You can also find the group on Facebook at WOW – Wichita.