Fast forward four hours from my "First Long Ride of Spring..."
I attended a workshop this evening. As I listened to S. Bear Bergman educate us about trans* health issues, I watched a storm quickly roll in behind him through the windows of the Smitten Kitten storefront.
The sky swirled purple and grey as the wind that had kicked me around on my ride earlier shook the window awnings and caused the trees to strain. The sun set, but I could still see in the street lights and passing windshield wipers that it was really coming down. I watched the rain come first in streaks, then sheets, then buckets, then dump trucks. And then the lightning. And more lightning. And a little thunder too. A tiny seed of dread started to sprout as I watched umbrellas turning inside out and heard emergency vehicle sirens amplifying the noise of the storm.
But there is no time for dread or doubt when all you really want is to go home and get to bed.
The workshop ended and I ceremoniously suited up. Whipped out the Emergency Rain Jacket, checked my straps and buckles and clips and zippers, and finished with pulling on my gloves. I stood staring out the window for five minutes waiting for the rain to magically and suddenly stop, and then resigned to just get really wet on my way home. I'm not made out of sugar. I won't melt.
Once I was on my bike, my dread was replaced with excitement for the smell of rain, the sound of everything splashing, and the pure joy of riding a bike.
Lightning flashed in the dark sky as the cool rain refreshed me. I felt the energy of the storm in my body as I pedaled down the dark Greenway, avoiding puddles in low spots and coasting under the overpasses for a tiny little respite from the downpour. I could feel the dirt and dust and sweat and sunscreen melt off of my bare legs. Cool drops on my warm face and neck made me smile... this is spring! I found myself spinning faster and harder down the trail as I absorbed the lightning and the rain and the way every surface of the city shines during a storm.
I'm at home now, with all my wet clothes hung up, and a fan drying out my soggy shoes. I can hear the waning storm out the window as I sit in front of a glowing screen, my big ol' smile glowing right back at it.
This afternoon I biked 42 miles in gusting winds. My longest ride of the year so far!
It wasn't a huge gigantic challenge as far as distance or terrain, but it was a bit of a stretch and mostly it was a big challenge for me psychologically. I don't often get big chunks of time to myself, so using a precious day off for something other than sleeping in and lazing around is a hurdle I got to overcome today. There is also the very real mental barrier of that first long ride in spring.
You feel like you are out of shape. (Because you are! We just had six months of winter. Totally normal.) You make excuses for not getting back out there. "It's too windy," or, "It's too cold," or, "It's sleeting." But we all know that after that first ride you remember that it is going to be okay:
Biking is fun!
That first ride isn't as difficult or scary as you've built it up in your head!
You're going to get better!
So I ventured out, on a gorgeous and gusty day.
I was blasted with grit, my butt hurts, my skin was sticky with sunscreen and sweat, and I got frustrated a few times as I struggled into the wind. Everyone on the trail was in good spirits, we stopped for a patio beer, and some of the wind was a tail wind! And of course, I got to bust through that mental wall and remind myself that it's just biking, and because it's fun and I like to do it, I'll get stronger in no time.
Here's to a beautiful summer season!
Quarterly Organizing Meeting
Thank you to JJ (they/them pronouns, please) for hosting in their beautiful space.
Meeting place: please email greaseragmpls at gmail.com for JJ's address!
Saturday, April 18th, 10:30-2:30
10:30 Potluck! Bring something to share.
2:15 Wrap it up
What is this meeting?
Grease Rag organizers (including facilitators, volunteers, bloggers, participants, mechanics, and friends) get together quarterly to organize ourselves around the next quarter, and to discuss challenges and triumphs we've had. This meeting is a place for updates, skill sharing to make our events safer and better for WTFs, fun and food and conversation, and organizing into smaller, focused teams. This meeting is not where the bulk of the "work" in organizing Grease Rag happens. This meeting is where we connect and support each other and talk about the work we are doing around Grease Rag.
Who can come?
Any WTF interested in organizing with Grease Rag! Bring your experiences and skills, roll up your sleeves, and let's discuss how we are going to do the next quarter.
What's on the agenda?
This is the 4/18/2015 meeting agenda. It needs some work! But until we get it finalized, you can read the notes from the last meeting in January, here. We did a fun exercise and developed a list of values for 2015. If you have something you would like put on the agenda, just let us know.
Together, we make Grease Rag GO
Thank you for your continued commitment and passion for organizing around WTFs riding bikes! Grease Rag does not happen without your energy and love. <3
Short people are all but completely ignored by the bike industry. They basically pretend like people under 5'2" don't exist, leaving small people to buy adolescent bikes or drop big cash on custom frames. Giant Mendez writes about a positive experience with a bike she owns.
she/her/dude pronouns (I'll respond to just about anything, just don't call me Natalie.)
I'm passionate about getting more wtf's, people of color, and shorties riding comfortably as I most of of the above. I'd like to see more people that look like me being represented and recognized by the cycling industry.
I've said in the past "I love bikes and the cycling industry, they just doesn't seem to love me back"...yet.
Surly Straggler Review- for the vertically challenged
I've had to use custom bikes to be comfortable UNTIL Surly came out with the Straggler 650B.
Legitimately sooooo highly endorsed for those who are shorty shorty. I am 5' tall and I have NEVER EVER had a stock model bike fit me until I rode one of these.
The price point may be considered high for some folks but here is how I validate it:
- Steel frame, you will have it forever
- Rack and fender mounts for your every day or adventures
- Stock tires that don't slow me down in the city and fuckin' RIP on the dirt and gravel
- ED coating which means it's resistant to rust off the shelf (and that for me was where the price bump was totally ok because if you took a CrossCheck or any other non ED coated bike and wanted it to be resistant to rust you'd need to strip it to a bare frame, FrameSave it, and then rebuild it all up. If you LBS does that for you it's more than the cost of the extra $$ for built in ED coating*...
*Surly does not endorse the ED coating as a substitute for FrameSaver but I'm not really worried JUST MY OPINION GUYS)
Yeah I think that's it.
Also it's SPARKLY PURPLE BLING BLING (also comes in black if you are super stealth ninja)
I think this is the #1 most well spec'd bike for small people. I feel like they really did a great job with handlebar widths, cranks, stem lengths, etc. No wonky shit. Well done Surly. So much love.
Grease Rag Getting Busy & Making Me Think
Have you seen Holly's recap of the listening session we had with Gresae Rag bike shop partners and WTF experts? (If you are interested in the full notes, mostly usefull if you're interested in replicating the experiment, see this document.) We had a whole morning of discussion around creating safer spaces for WTF customers and employees in Grease Rag partner shops.
Without even really thinking about it, I’ve been avoiding bike shops for years. I’ve come to expect a shop full of exclusive, spandex-clad, know-it-alls who are waiting to talk my ear off about a product that I don’t even care about and probably suggest an over-priced hot-pink jacket that was precisely NOT what I wanted. It was probably just a few bad experiences that have stuck with me, but they leave lasting impressions. I was excited to sit down with shop employees/owners who recognize this problem. I’m ready for a change. - Holly
Making Safe(r) Spaces Cartoon by Rhea Ewing
Related to the listening session, and a recent post on this blog about safer spaces, here's a handy cartoon on how safer spaces can fail, and what we can do to make them better.
- Educate yourself.
- Practice active listening.
- IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU.
Image from: http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/03/steps-to-safer-spaces/
You can also learn about what we mean by safer spaces on our FAQ.