Grease Rag Ride & Wrench


We encourage and empower women/ trans/ femme (WTF) cyclists in a collaborative and fun learning environment through rides, discussions, shop nights and educational seminars in a safer space.

 

Grease Rag Open Shop events are the hub of our activities, and happen multiple times a month at various locations.  Find an event on the map (below) or explore the events calendar for all of our events.

Find a Grease Rag open shop night near you

Testing testing testing

 

This is our forum.

Connect to Grease Rag- Join the lively community Facebook group, organize and discuss Grease Rag on our Google Group, follow us @greaseragmpls

Still have questions about what we do and who we are?  Read our FAQ!

22 May
2015

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Inaugural POC-WTF Grease Rag Open House

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on May 22, 2015   comments 0

Do you identify as a person of color? Do you also identify as a woman, trans, or femme person who rides a bike and wants to meet other POC-WTF folks who ride and wrench?

POC-WTF Open House Facebook event

If so, please join us Monday June 1, 5:30-7:30p at Venture North, in the Harrison Neighborhood of North Minneapolis, for an Open House celbrating our first monthly Grease Rag Ride & Wrench open shop night specifically for POC!

venture_north_logo.png

Open House

This is our "soft" opening, so we won't have the full open shop set up yet. We will have some snacks, we will have some conversations about what we'd like to see in the space, and we will have "fix a flat" skill shares at 6p and 7p.  Monthly Grease Rag will be happening at this location on First Mondays.

Grease Rag volunteers Asialy, Natalia, Josey, and I (Low) will be facilitating the space. We are being supported by the mechanical staff at Venture North.

Please remember that this location is open to all women, trans, femme identifying people who also identify as people of color.  Intersections are a beautiful thing.

Friends who do not identify as people of color, please spread the word to your friends!!

Get Involved!

We need help to make this happen.  Bring treats, share skills and knowledge, welcome folks, promote events on Facebook... we need help with all of these things.  Contact us!  Let's work together to make this place more inclusive of people like us.

 

Alternate title for this post: It's about time!!

12 May
2015

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Sveta's 30 Days of Biking

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on May 12, 2015   comments 0

Another year of my participation in this event, and 2nd year of the organization in my former homeland - the Republic of Belarus. It was very nice that this year my country took part in the rally of about 1,000 people from different cities. I am very pleased to have found the guys who have helped take the local organization to distribute flyers, rides, etc.

This year, the day before the rally started, I learned that I was pregnant. So I had to change dramatically my plans, I decided to withdraw from a competition (because my favorite distance is 100 miles, and it's not very beneficial and could affect the development of the child). It was therefore decided to go to work, and easy ride on the weekend with my little daughter.

Daughter on bike

For me, to ride every day is not a problem, because I did it before the action began. For me, the bike is like a drug - I can not imagine my life without cycling. I'm enjoying every moment, every mile. Sometimes I think that I like "Train from Romashkovo" (old Soviet cartoon about the train, which was late all the time, because I wanted to see the first lilies of the valley, I hear the birds singing). I also like that the train is always enjoying nature and the change of seasons, it meets and escorts dawn to greet the bikers, who like me, ride every day on my route. I get up at five in the morning, not just to get to work - I always do 5-7 extra miles. 

Sveta and daughter on trail

Every day during the 30 Days of Biking campaign, I rode 20 to 30 miles a day. As a result, I got 1024 kilometers. This is less than in previous years, but I reached my target of 1,000 kilometers. I really like this rally. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I finish working late I have not had the opportunity to participate in group tours by the organizers. But the discovery of the action, I always attend. This year there were a lot of participants. It inspires and motivates. It's nice to go around the city and meet dozens of the same people as you.

Sveta on fatbike

This month I had a lot of interesting trips. I rode 5 different bikes (2 types of Fat bike, 29 er, Salsa fargo and work Trek with stroller). We traveled a lot with my daughter. Thanks to the organizers for a wonderful idea.

Sveta jumping on sand

When I read the reports from beginners - participants from Belarus, the soul becomes pleased by the fact that they biked, and in my country was held for the benefit: Quote: "I am a new rider, it was my first season. Frankly, not all the days rolled, not always had the chance. When we first got the rainy night on April 1 opening event - even could not think that step over a milestone in the four numbers 1 - 1111 km ... Let this little - but the victory, the incentive to move on. What I gave this action? She gave a lot of positive, gives self-confidence and confidence, showed the world on the other, previously unknown to the beautiful side. Open up new horizons, new adventurous ideas. It's a real understanding of what is sitting in a car you never feel the raw wind, and that such a warm breeze passing, you will not understand how to smell the freshness of the morning and never hear anything that is hidden from our ears around ... The world is beautiful, we roll on! "

12 May
2015

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Grease Rag NE is TONIGHT, May 12th!

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on May 12, 2015   comments 0

Women, Trans & Femme's Friendlies,

Your GRNE Co-Facilitators are would like to invite you to Grease Rag NE tonight! 

Come by our host & sponsor Recovery Bike Shop (2504 Central Ave NE) at 7pm for our discussion & open shop night. Today we'll have a quick discussion on the many upcoming events occurring in honor of Minneapolis Bike Week! Come by to discuss the hap's in the WTF cycling community, and share if you have an event you're planning to attend! Open Shop starts at 730p, so bring in your bike and we'll (you'll) get it rolling right.

Oh, and you know there will be coffee. Hopefully treats too; feel free to bring some along.

See you soon!

Location: Northeast

03 May
2015

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Five Reasons to Try a WTF Group Ride

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on May 3, 2015   comments 0

Five Reasons to Try a WTF Group Ride


Going to your first group ride can be intimidating.  Getting in the saddle with a bunch of strangers takes trust, courage, and sometimes a friend to tag along.  Whether you’re new to cycling or you usually hit the road alone, here’s a few reasons to give a WTF group ride a try.

A group of riders taking a break on a WTF gravel ride this spring.

  1. It’s a fun space.  Really.  I haven’t ever been on a WTF ride that wasn’t chocked-full of toothy grins.  From trying out polo at Babes in Bikeland to literally howling at the moon at a Full Moon ride, a WTF-only ride offers an opportunity for people to be silly with each other without having to worry about a cis male gaze.
  2. It’s a safe(r) space.  Riding in a WTF group doesn’t always mean there won’t be egos, microaggressions, judgment, or assumptions.  But, it does mean that everyone involved sees value in having a separate space for WTF riders.  A WTF ride recognizes there is something about cis male-centered cycling spaces that doesn’t work for everyone.  Many rides even start by setting an intentional tone and laying down some ground rules.  While a separate space isn’t everything, it can be a great jumping off point for larger conversations.    
  3. You will be setting an example.  Visibility means something.  It can be hard to break into a new activity or community when you don’t see yourself in it.  Don’t think for a second the person coming out of the global market and the youngster on training wheels don’t notice when you have fun riding with your friends.        
  4. You will meet some truly rad people.  I used to be the kind of girl who hung out with mostly guys and had a few close WTF friends.  In the past year I’ve met dozens of jaw-dropping-ly incredible WTFs and re-learned what it means to be in supportive, empowering, non-competitive friendships.  I owe most of my current relationships, and all of my new-found babe love, to the Twin Cities cycling community.        
  5. It feels awesome.  There’s nothing quite like riding in a group of WTFs.  I first got into cycling through a dude.  It took me a while to see the community of people who ride bikes as my own space.  It still feels novel every time I ride down the greenway in a group of four or more WTFs without a male ‘escort.’  But it feels awesome.  Like euphoric awesome.  I recommend it.  Highly.

Finding a Ride in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Interested in finding a WTF ride in the Twin Cities?  Lucky for you, it’s only May and we have months and months of excellent riding weather ahead of us. 

This Week

Group Ride and Open House for Cycles for Change Grease Rag – Spend Tuesday night with the movers and shakers at local non-profit Cycles for Change.  Join a ride leaving from downtown Saint Paul or South Minneapolis and learn about Grease Rag’s open shop nights at this stellar shop on University.

Wednesday Weekly WTF Ride at the Hub – Bring your bike and water bottle to the Hub’s Minnehaha location for a 20 mile, 15 mph no drop ride every Wednesday this summer.

Surly CycloFemme Ride 2015 – A free, supported bike camping trip leaving Sunday, May 10th and returning Monday, May 11th.  Join the group for all or part of this no drop, adventure-filled event.  Register here.

This Summer

Full Moon Rides – Hang with the Grease Rag crew on these low-key social rides occurring every full moon.  Check the Grease Rag calendar for updates on Full Moon rides and many others.

Women’s Track Clinic at the NSC Velodrome – Okay, so this isn’t exactly a ride.  But it’s a great place to start if you have a need for speed, or want to learn a new Olympic sport.  No track bike necessary (you can rent one for free!).  Check out the Facebook event here.

St. Paul Women on Bikes – Check out these advocates on wheels for rides, happy hours, and a chance to get involved in making St. Paul a more bike friendly city.  Head on over to their group ride page for a glimpse at what’s next.

Riotgrrravel – This year’s WTF Miesville gravel adventure will take place on June 20th.  Follow the event’s community Facebook page to stay in the loop.

Babes in Bikeland – Spend August 29th with hundreds of the coolest WTFs around.  Babes in Bikeland is part race, part scavenger hunt, all awesome. 

Nothing up your alley?  Not in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro?  Reach out to your friends, put your feelers out, and start your own ride if you want!  Every WTF ride was started by a person, just like you. 

Know of a group ride you would like to share?  Let us know in the comments!  

21 Apr
2015

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Pam's Bicycle Touring Experiences

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on April 21, 2015   comments 0

Pam led a bicycle touring clinic for Grease Rag and friends this winter. Here, she shares her tips, recommendations, and encouragement for folks interested in traveling by bike. Whether it's a weekend camping trip or a multi-week trek, Pam believes that anyone can do it! 

Selfie Milwaukee

I've been riding bicycles for quite a few years starting with a mountain bike, upgrading and adding more bikes along the way, expanding my biking experiences. I joined a club, searched out other women cyclists, rode with the guys, tried a variety of organized and unorganized rides. Then I met Beth. She filled my head with stories of adventures on the road with a bike. For years I listened and marveled at her 'moxy' to ride cross country, several times, mostly by herself.  Then I got to thinking...why not me? I could do this too, couldn't I? Start small, see if I liked it...of course I can!! But where to go? Not too far, but far enough to offer a challenge, a little challenge. Itasca State Park, head of the Mississippi River? Sounds perfect. Of course I didn't have to try very hard to get Beth on board; soon she's here with maps (and wine) in hand and we're planning a route.

After analyzing my current steeds, it was determined that none would suffice.  So, I added another bike to my stable, a touring bike. Good thing the bike was priced reasonably because outfitting said bike and gathering equipment was expensive when you start from nothing! Racks, bags, tent, sleeping bag, pad, stuff, and not to mention the upgrades to the bike. Yikes!  So started my love for touring.

Giant Milwaukee

On my first tour, Beth and her experience was priceless; she doesn't get rattled easily, has been-there-done-that, so I was in a good spot to  observe and learn, not to panic. While I had some sore legs and met lots of challenges (camping, hills, bugs, rain, hills), I was hooked!  Since then, I've done 2 mini-tours (Minneapolis to Nisswa, MN)  by myself without  the camping aspect, staying in motels rather than campgrounds. And last June I did a tour from Minneapolis to Reedsburg, WI with another rider.  It should be noted that originally, this tour was suppose to go all the way to Milwaukee, loop Fond du Lac and ride back.  Physical issues forced us to end at Reedsburg, WI. But lessons were learned, the scenery along the way was spectacular, the company was excellent, and we'll try again this year!

My next tour, June 2015.  Minneapolis to Chicago to Muskegon, take the ferry to Milwaukee and take the train back to Minneapolis. If you want to ride all the way or part way (many, many options), let me know! There are a few that want to ride from Mpls to Chicago, I added the Muskegon to Milwaukee piece because I will have the extra time. Camping, warmshowers, and an occasional motel will be the plan. There will also be at least one shake-out camping trip, so join us! The more the merrier!  


Here are some things I've learned in my very short touring career

Tips for on the Road

Roadside Lake Pepin

Be flexible.  Have a plan but be ready to change and be happy about it.

A BIKE FIT is a must!  Nothing compares physically to riding many miles, in multiple consecutive days with heavy loads. Your knees/legs/feet/hands/ shoulders will thank you.  

Safety first.  Wear a light colored or neo shirt/jacket and front and rear lights.  Consider a mirror attached to your helmet, sunglasses or handlebars.  I cannot count the number of times being able to see behind me saved me from being hit or run off the road. Also consider a RoadID or other identification bracelet for your group or first responders in case of an emergency.

Drink water - lots of water! I had two bottles on the bike and filled them a couple of time during the day. One friend uses a small camelback for just water and really likes the convenience.  Something I will try in the future.   I took Nuun (electrolyte) tablets with and at the end of every day I would add one to a bottle of water and drink it down while setting up camp for recovery. By day 3, I was adding 1/2 tablet to every bottle and a full tablet in the evening because I was feeling dehydrated.  

Don't take  off too fast.  Plan the initial stages with some easier miles and consider any hilly terrain. You can always increase the mileage later in the trip when your body has adjusted.  On both long tours I had sore legs after the second day and I believe it's because I went long and big (lots of hills) the first two days.  Lesson learned.

Get to know your bike and how to fix the easy stuff. Change a tire, change and adjust brake pads, etc.  Be sure to carry any tools and parts that are specific to your bike that might break or need repair.

Getting  lost is easier than you think. Some cyclists like to use purpose-built bicycle navigation systems but they are heavy energy users.  In my opnion, you can't beat old fashioned maps.  They are lightweight, easy to pack, never run out of battery or send you in the wrong direction and are fairly cheap.  Besides, if you're lucky, as soon as you pull out your map some local will make a beeline for you and help you plot the next few miles.


Tips for Camping

Camp in Maiderock

Camping is not that bad (I'm such a city girl).  My previous version of camping was either an RV or a tent with a blow-up queen sized mattress.   I practiced setting up my tent at home and that helped a lot.  That said, I have yet to set it up and/or take it down in the rain...oh boy, I can't wait.  I also have self-inflating sleeping pad which is very comfortable and packs small.  On my first tour I borrowed a down sleeping bag, but it was big.  I now have a REI Travel down +45 degree bag with a silk liner; I sleep warm and this works great. If it's going to be cooler, I also have a microfiber liner that adds 10-15 degrees.  

Buy a big enough tent. Your tent is not just for sleeping; it provides a dry space for you and your gear, a refuse from the rain and bugs, and  privacy when you just want some time alone. I have a Sierra Design 2-person, double vestibule tent that is very lightweight and stuffs fairly small into a compression bag.

We tried to cook at camp as much as possible and the camp meals we put together were awesome!  We tried to use fresh veggies everyday but when not available we still managed to cook and eat well by picking the best options. We needed one more bowl for meals both for prep and eating but we made due. Clementines turned out to be a nice refreshing snack. They traveled well and are easy to peel and eat.

My little Primus Express camp stove is a winner. It's not very big but works great. Add a windscreen and its even better. I originally carried two fuel canisters but since they are so readily available I'm now only carrying one.  That said, you will need to consider how many people are in the group. If necessary, a few people will each carry a canister.  I also added a coffee filter that fits over my coffee cup; everyone should have their own since it's a drag waiting to use a filter.

Test out all soaps, sprays, etc. that you intend to use on tour.  I didn't and reacted badly to the full strength soap I used. 

 

Tips for Packing

Groceries

The panniers were exactly right. I must practice loading; I still use a list so everything is packed the same way every time but I struggle. It's recommended to have 2/3 of the weight in your front panniers, 1/3 in the rear.  I never could get that right. The panniers all weighed the same no matter how I packed them and they rode fine. Remember to load the heaviest items in the bottom of the panniers, lighter stuff on top.  I designate one pannier to hold all cooking/eating gear and food.  That way, if needed, I only have one pannier to hoist into a tree (critter/bear). The handlebar bag was worth every penny; I took out the divider after the first two days and was pleased with the extra room.

I brought a backpack (Baggu) made of nylon that folds to the size of an envelope and weighs as much. We used it for groceries every day, sometimes I wore it and sometimes I strapped it to the rack.  

AND, it must be said: DON'T OVERPACK.  It has been suggested to take minimal clothing. Wear one set of cycling clothes, one or two extra cycling outfits, something to wear in the evening/around town and rain gear should suffice.   Unless your wilderness touring, don't carry extra health and hygiene products, you can pick them up along the way, this includes batteries and fuel.  The lighter the load, the easier it will be to pedal through a 30 mph head wind.

 

This may seem to be a lot of stuff to learn on a few short tours but I assure you, you learn this stuff quick!  I also have to interject that while I was able to buy a tour specific bike and new equipment, I know and have seen many people that tour using what they have and they make it work.  The best advise I've learned about starting to tour is:

Step 1.  Buy or acquire a bike.

Step 2.  Determine a direction to go.

Step 3.  GO!!!!!!!!!!

Final words....... I'M HOOKED!!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO GO AGAIN!!!!

Resources

I have gathered a few resources that I have used for gear, equipment, places to stay, etc.   I would love to hear of any alternatives and different experiences that you've had.  

Your local bike store -  use them whenever you can.

Gearscan.com - 40 outdoor merchants on one website including steepncheap and chainlove

warmshowers.org - free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists; sign up and find hosts and/or become a host

couchsurfing.org - hospitality exchange for travelers

crazyguyonabike.com - a place for bicycle tourists and their journals; blogs, forums, classifieds....all things touring

Wayne Boroughs at thetouringstore.com - This guys knows his stuff about bikes, racks and panniers! My bike was tricky because it has disc brakes....he knew exactly which rack would fit

roadID.com - emergency id band and service

ICEdot.org - emergency id and crash notification service

recreation.gov - for US camping reservations

Packing List

Here is a list of my equipment packing list - broken down by each pannier I carried.

Left Front Pannier: Clothes, helmet cover, extra gloves, toe covers, shoe covers, rain hood, hankerchiefs, long wool socks, beanie, neck gator, camp towels, bike shorts, bike jerseys, camp clothes. 

Right Front Pannier: day pack, bike lock, camp stove, cup, food bag with hoist rope, snacks, coconut oil, flask, fuel canniesters, camp goods (coffee, tea, sugar, creamer, etc.)

Left Rear Pannier: baggie with seat cover, tissues, and wipes.  Clear glasses, skirt/shorts cover, flip flops, floppy hat, chamois butter tube, extension cord, tennis shoes, sleeping bag and liner, sleeping pad, inflatable pillow. Outside pockets: leatherman, bug spray, bug net, pump. 

Right Rear Pannier: warm wear jersey, arm/leg warmers, rain jacket, rain vest, rain pants, first aid kit, rope, clothespins, corkscrew, toiletries bag with toilet paper, bear bell, matches, and cards.  Tent. Ouside pockets: chain lube, rag, plastic bike cover. 

Mississippi River
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