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 Shops are the hub of our activities and happen multiple times a month in Minneapolis and St. Paul (Minnesota). Find an open shop on the map (below) or explore the events calendar for all of our open shops and activities.

Find a Grease Rag open shop night near you

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

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

11 Feb
2016

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Day 11 of Loving Winter 2016

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on February 11, 2016   comments 0

 I #lovemnwinter!  Today, I love working up to showing up for it.

I know this is going to be an odd way to begin a love letter to winter biking, but bear with me:
Sometimes winter biking can be awful.

The brutal Winter of 2013-2014 was my 4th winter living and biking in Minneapolis, my first with a commute into St. Paul, and my first where I had trouble with my winter riding. During the worst of it, I was off the bike at least a day or two a week. I felt defeated. I even used some online app to made a cartoon for it:

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Yes, I made a cartoon version of myself simultaneously hacking and crying my way up Marshall Hill.  I love that (two years later) I can both laugh at it and respect that ways in which winter biking was just *not working* for me so many days that year.

One thing I love about winter biking is working up to showing up for it.
Which is to say, I love the sometimes-long arc of winter biking that takes us from an impossible moment to a moment of impossible beauty.

I really want to send some love out to every one of you who has ever been off the bike at any time in Winter because it just wasn't working for you. If you've ever read "no bad weather, only bad gear!" and felt like there must be a dark cloud or especially bitter headwind that just had your name on it, I feel you. You’re not failing! That’s just where you are on the arc.

Step back and imagine: next week, month, or year could work out better for you. It could be good weather luck, it could be trial and error, it could be finally stumbling on the gear that solves your “unsolvable” problem. Figuring out the right gear for your body, your level of winter depression (true facts), and your ride length can be a frustrating journey. Setting boundaries in the meantime is a way of respecting yourself. You’re still a winter biker! You’re working up to showing up -- at all, more, longer, more-relaxedly, faster -- however you define your next goal.

And there’s magic in showing up.  You may go day after sloppy grey day getting from A to B, but eventually you’ll run into a shocking moment of gratitude and awe at the world:

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That night when the cold clear sky and leafless trees deliver the perfect skyline.

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That ride home when you find yourself in a snowglobe.

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That sunny morning on the trail after a snow when everything is so crisp and gorgeous you can't help wondering-- what if I hadn't been here for this?

Winter biking love is a lot like any other kind of love. To be present for surprise beauty, you have to make a practice of showing up -- and showing up vulnerable. You truly have to leave your bubble behind and go out knowing you could get hurt (even if that hurt is just windchill you didn't dress for). Because when those amazing moments hit, you'll be *in* them -- not behind a window trying to catch a glimpse.

So, wherever you are on your winter biking arc -- don't worry, Winter will keep coming around. Whenever and however you are ready to embrace it, it's cool with that. And, every once in a while, it will make a big deal of reminding you how glad you are that you do.

Michelle C. Funk

Michelle is a year-round bike commuter and coder in Minneapolis.

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Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.

10 Feb
2016

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Day 10 #lovemnwinter 2016: Excuse Me While I Slip Into Something a Little Less Comfortable

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on February 10, 2016   comments 0

I #lovemnwinter!  Today, I love trying new things.

By Maggie M.

I tend to be a pretty cautious person, which makes me a horrible mountain biker. And a horrible skier. And a horrible walker-across-slippery rocks.

Like other contributors to this blog, I love winter’s stillness and the ability to pile on the fleece. What I’ve come to appreciate most, though, is how when I turned 40, I magically gave myself permission to try new activities each winter without judging or pressuring myself. This has given me extra ways to stay active and sane over the past few years and learn some things.

The winter I turned 40, in a (hopefully) pre-midlife crisis moment, I signed up for a lot of summer events, but realized my winter was sort of empty. I decided to pass the time teaching myself how to ice skate at the park down the street from my house.

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It was okay. I amused my nephews, so it was worth a shot. Unfortunately, the skates still look pretty new.

The winter I turned 41, I got a fat bike. I rode on trails and gained confidence riding in the snow.

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This one has stuck, although I haven’t been out on it too much this year. I suspect I’ll ramp things up now so that I can finish the Birkie in March.
 
The winter I turned 42 (don’t worry, I’m not 75 years old – we’re almost there!), I took swimming lessons, and learned how to swim with my face in the water, breathe, and stick my face back in. This one has stuck, too, and I thankfully have yet to use this skill when on a bike ride.

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Photo of my friends during a particularly wet MS150 training ride.

This winter, I turned 43. With the help of the Grease Rag community’s support, I have started commuting with studded tires. I don’t ride every day, but I ride at least once each week – something I never would have considered a few years ago, when I used to put away the bike as soon as the temps dropped to 30 or there was any frozen moisture. Perhaps even more shockingly, I’ve also started taking Irish dance classes – sans wig – this winter. It’s a good thing I have a policy against self-judgment in the winter, both in terms of how much I’ve been/not riding or how well I dance.

I’m moving and growing, and that’s what counts.

Grease_Rag_Leprechaun.jpgPhoto credit: www.newmilfordbike.com

 

 

Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.

09 Feb
2016

1 Comments

Day 9 of Loving Winter 2016

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on February 9, 2016   comments 1

I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love squeeky snow.

Guest blogger Rachel consistently surprises others with how small she is, she's like a small dog with a large bark running around the corner, bringing out a chuckle in everyone. That is, her bark is bigger than her bite.

I walk a lot in the winter. There's a quietness that one can find nowhere else but here, on the sidewalk, muscles all ready for the small bit of ice that could send me tumbling to the concrete. I wear headphones, but frequently they remain silent, more a visual representation to the world that I am to be left alone. The unshoveled patches that squeak beneath my boots, the bitter wind that i wrap my scarf tighter against, the emptiness of the streets. It's a stark contrast to the inevitable summer with the omnipresent voices telling me loudly what they want to do with my ... And how.

The winter is mine and I take it, silently and slow. Everything solidifying and becoming whole. Ice is the state where water molecules become less active and that surrounds me and fills me and my mind too slows as I breath out great puffs of humid steam, alone on the streets, on my way to nowhere special.

There's a yoga sutra II:46 "sthira sukham asanam" it means let your connection, or seat, be steady and sweet. I walk with this in mind. Steadiness, sthira, implying not a "hold the course" attitude, but rather an ability to steer around obstacles calmly, like a mountain biker. Sweetness or joyfulness, sukham, is that feeling when the oxytocin has faded in new love and morphed into the comfort of lasting love. Asanam is the way that we connect. I find that this concept has provided me with much meaning in my life, as practicing a consistently joyful attitude towards the way I connect with anything is profoundly challenging. Walking on icy sidewalks is a place I can practice with ease, nobody watching.


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Sometimes I take my bike out in the falling snow, in the heavy wind driven snow, and ride among cars, to see if the slower moving molecules in my soul can stay, but alas, usually the cars thaw them into steam and my heart beats rapidly, releasing heavy streams of endorphins. This too I enjoy, though differently. Tiny bubbles of laughter cascade from my lips, and tears freeze in my eyelashes as in this tiniest act of freedom, riding amongst the petroleum fueled capsules, the beasts of burden of our culture, those eyeless, stupid creatures that find me a wasp in their herd and swat at me. But I pass them. I ride through and beyond them as they lurch forward towards their far off and yet so near destination.

In the winter I find joy in the nakedness of the trees, seeing their perfect skeletons. I find it in the murders of crows congregating, sometimes stopping for a rest in my backyard. I find it in the solitude, the silence, the steadiness, I find that when there is less, I can connect more.

And it is oh so sweet.

 

Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.

Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts. - See more at: http://greaserag.org/user_blogs/greaseragguest/day-7-of-loving-winter-2016/#sthash.oyFZ0LO7.dpuf

08 Feb
2016

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Day 8 #lovemnwinter 2016: A Photo Essay

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on February 8, 2016   comments 1

I #lovemnwinter! Today I love winter in photos.

 

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After one of the first snowfalls of the season, someone in Loring Park left a love letter to winter, squirrels, and all the park walkers and bikers. 

 

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I look forward to bicycling over the Mississippi River in winter - the dance of ice, water and sun is so beautiful!

 

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After a week of frigid temperatures, the Minnehaha Creek waterfall was finally frozen enough to capture the colors of the minerals that normally tumble over the rocks too quickly to be glimpsed.

 

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Another warm stretch and the creek was again a haven for ducks seeking open water. Their tracks crowded the snowy Minnehaha banks.

 

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If you're going to live in a cold place, it's fun to have a variety of boot choices!

 

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The Art Shanties have become a well-loved tradition winter. I finally got a chance to pedal the Polar Bear and get a close-up look out its maw.

 

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Even though it wasn't too cold the day I visited the Art Shanties, a spot of tea at the Botanical ShanTea was a terrific way to warm my insides.

 

Winter is a part of my little home making its yearly trek through the vastness of the universe to circle the sun. Thanks for sharing this month of lovingMNwinter together and I hope that you too are building a trove of beloved winter moments!

 

 

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The author on White Bear Lake enjoying some MN winter fun. Photo credit: Linda Pate

 

07 Feb
2016

1 Comments

Day 7 of Loving Winter 2016

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on February 7, 2016   comments 1

I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love lights.

By Heidi S.

When I had lived here for a grand total of three months, I called the Fort Snelling State Park office to see if they were still going to hold the New Year's Eve candlelight walk because the forecast called for it to be 10 degrees. Above zero. Hey, I had just moved here from Missouri, so 10 degrees seemed like grounds for possible event cancellation. Now I know!

This is my fourth Minnesota winter, and my first two were pretty rough adjustments. The 2013-2014 winter that Holly described earlier was my second, and after that one I wasn't sure I wanted to do this. For my third winter, I went on the offense, going to the Grease Rag Winter Skill Share (yeah!), learning how to better layer for outdoor activity by jogging on the trail across the street from me, using a light therapy light.

But I learned one of the secrets early, which for me was LIGHTS. Candlelight hikes in state parks, the Luminary Loppet, holiday lights left on in living room windows long past the new year as long as it was still dark early, candles inside for that Scandinavian hygge, disco lights on bike wheels. Anything to brighten and cheer during the long days.

My first Luminary Loppet was a revelation. The memory still feels like magic to me. I had never walked on a frozen lake, and the beauty was uniquely Minnesotan. It couldn't have happened anywhere else I've ever lived in Missouri, Colorado, or New York. I loved everything about it, and as a bonus, I finally achieved my first perfect layering where I felt just right, not too hot and not too cold in the 6 degree weather.

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One of the pecha kucha presentations at the Winter Cycling Congress this past week was a beautiful one about light and how it can connect us through the dark. At the end of the presentation, Glenn Kubish turned on the lights on the heart on his shirt. Perfect! How can you not smile at cheery lights in the dark?

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That's my secret.


Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.

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