> You Belong Here | CITY GIRL RIDES

You Belong Here

04 May, 2011

Photo via Flickr
The other day when I was attempting to get on the train to commute home with my bike. I didn't think there was enough room to fit in with all the other Mash SF racers from Sunday's ride. As many as there was, I found myself intimidated by this crowd. One look at their bikes made me feel like I'm on training wheels! Aside from that, someone from this group had the kindness to reach out and give me a hand in fitting my step through frame with a front basket in the train car amongst 7 other track and fixed gear bikes. In a span of a 15 minute ride, I gained new friends and learned that they were from Oakland too, where they invited me to their bbq. Unfortunately, I had to turn down the offer but I thought all it takes is for someone to say, "Hey, there's enough space for you here with us."

When I first started blogging I was enthusiastic and curious to learn about bicycle mechanics, ways to make cycling fun, the cycling community, fun events to be part of and friends to share the experience with. My experiences on bike connected with many aspects in my life and I started using this space to give women a community to feel free to be able to ask questions, learn new things, share their experiences, and find empowerment to ride. I know from experience through blogging that it is hard to get acceptance into the cycling community when your new, not everyone welcomes you with a high five for getting on a bike and owning the streets, or even writing about it. the thing is that we each have our own valuable and unique experiences, something we can all learn from each other.

After yesterday's post I came to think about community and wondered if any of you out there feel welcomed in your cycling community, or even the interwebs cycling community? The bike culture is made up of many types but I'm wondering what it is in your community that makes you feel welcomed or unwelcomed to ride your bike with pride? And what is it that our communities (I include this blog) can do to be part of of a bigger and stronger community of cyclist that includes more women? Is it more women only based rides? More bike mechanic workshops? Tutorials? D.I.Y's? Bicycle safety lessons? Name it, i'd love to hear from you.
Shorty said...

Love that you are talking about this. I've had my beloved road bike, Sam, for 8 years, but lived with the shame of not really understanding how it worked or knowing how to fix it on my own till very recently. I was so intimidated by bike culture (especially dude bike culture), that I didn't even know where to begin. Last month, I started calling bike shops in my area and asking if they had basic classes in changing tires etc - super beginners stuff. I was embarrassed to even ask!

They all said no and were generally sort of lost as to where I should turn. So, for the first time, I posted something on craigslist. I put it all out there, saying that I needed very basic instruction, that I needed someone who was a patient teacher, and that I wanted someone disinclined to make sexist comments - I believe my exact words were "Yes, I'm a lady and I don't understand this machine, get over it." Anyways, I screened like 20 emails and finally chose a dude. He ended up coming over and totally non-judgmentally explaining everything to me from how gears and shifting work, to how to change a tire. I feel even more in love with my bike now, and with bike riding.

That was a really long post! But basically I wanted to say: yeah, I feel intimidated by bike culture, and I'm working on getting over that.

<3 Sarah, from Yum & Yuk

citygirlrides said...

thanks for sharing sarah, it's been a thing on my mind for the longest time and for many of us in the bike blogging webs. i'm glad you shared your story as i'm sure many other ladies out there can relate. i think addressing these things will allow us to think about how we fit in our cycling community, some food for thought.

Anonymous said...

For alot of the girls I know, safety is key when riding. Often, I find myself heading out on my bike alone and I get nervous at all the passing cars that may not know that their are bike laws in my state (Ohio).

I'm also intimidated. The bike culture is growing in my city but alot of current riders are snooty about newcomers, especially a gal that likes to ride in dresses.

Thanks for this post. It's nice to know I am not alone.

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