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!

22 Apr
2016

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Together a More Inclusive Cycling Scene

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on April 22, 2016   comments 0

Together a More Inclusive Cycling Scene:
QBP Women’s Mechanic Scholarship Experience at United Bicycle Institute

By Cali Jirsa

For over a decade I have dreamed of mechanical certification.  My bicycle repair education began at a community shop where advanced techniques for high performance materials were obsolete - working to promote safety by doing things such as installing hardware in lieu of duct tape.  My love of teaching bicycle repair eventually became a career path.  I was confident about my skills gained through books, experienced acquaintances, and hands-on education.  Despite seven years in the industry, I never thought of myself as a professional mechanic.  Now at five years into being an owner of a shop, I was given an opportunity to gain expertise, confidence, and a sense of greater legitimacy through being awarded the QBP Women’s Mechanic Scholarship for Professional Repair and Shop Operations at United Bicycle Institute and become a certified bicycle technician.  Now, I will pair this honor with the responsibility of sharing my knowledge and vision for inclusivity.

United Bicycle Institute has two locations, over 120 years of combined experience in the bicycle industry and 35 years of teaching—and justifying—their methods to students.  Having personally taught a great number of individuals bicycle repair, I know that many people approach teachers with skepticism.  I have a deep respect for UBI and wholeheartedly encourage anyone and everyone interested in bicycle repair to attend.  I value the education immensely.  I found much value after having had many years of experience, but people new to mechanics learned a lot as well.  All the women at UBI passed the course AND test!!! Over half of the women had very limited bicycle repair knowledge and our class marked the third time in 35 years that an entire class passed!!  UBI was undeniably professional.  It was a very productive learning environment because the instructors were knowledgeable, patient, kind, attentive, professional, and energetic.  Last year’s scholarship winners were so engaged and positive about learning it left the instructors counting down the days to our class like kids at Christmas. All of the UBI instructors showed their encouragement offering assistance going forward, should come in handy.  I learned an immense amount and I now have a network of support.  If you are curious about bicycle repair or are an experienced mechanic, UBI is the perfect place to find support and hone your knowledge.

All 16 scholarship recipients were so appreciative of this opportunity and excited to meet each other.  The enthusiasm in the classroom far superseded my apprehension for interpersonal dynamics and residual fear of academia.  There were no bad attitudes, exclusivity, or elitism that I often perceive in groups.  Some women led rides, others taught classes, a few had blogs, and some had Girl Scout troops.  There were no negative attitudes, only collaborative energy.  They offered support and advice freely.  Outside of class hours I studied hard so that I understood the material and could ask questions during school.  Despite this, I still had opportunities to connect, share stories, and learn from the others who are also working to provide support and space for women.   I now can connect with these women and work to promote each other’s goals and more equity in cycling through sharing struggles, recommendations, and successes.

 

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QBP Scholarship Winners - 2016

The owners also voiced their support!  Through conversations with the owners of UBI, I learned that they see the gender disparities in the bicycle industry, as well as the need for shops to focus on creating welcoming environments for all individuals, regardless of race, religion, orientation, gender, ages, abilities, interest, or bicycle type, quality, or condition.  We agreed wholeheartedly that shops should have the mission to show respect to all individuals.  The owner even mentioned that studies showed that a mechanic with better customer service retains more customers than one with more technical experience and that female mechanics in shops encourages female clientele.  Currently at UBI there are no WTF instructors. However UBI voiced their support, and encouraged the class to apply when a position became available.  Having accurate representation within their organization may push their curriculum to include more about mechanics’ conduct, safer spaces, and communication methods to teach mechanics a culture of respect that will be reflected in the industry and cycling scene at large. If you are a WTF who is experienced in bicycle repair education, please consider applying: www.bikeschool.com

While the lectures taught me the finer points of repair, the hands-on experiences were valuable in learning how to teach these new methods to others.  My education will be shared at a course offered to Grease Rag facilitators and participants for free, a nominal fee, or volunteer time.  The Cherry Cycling Club and Vanguard Racing Team will also be learning through these courses in order to prepare us in our goals of working with the community in North Minneapolis to start a do-it-yourself open shop.  If taking these courses, joining the club, or collaborating in this project appeals to you, no experience is necessary, please contact info@cherrycycles.com!

Three years ago women at SRAM components and Quality Bike Products started a scholarship to educate women who are already in the industry continue to advance and strengthen their skills.  Many companies came together to support women in the industry by providing free education at the United Bicycle Institute, a bike school which offers courses and certifies mechanics.  Last year had around a thousand applicants, so this year’s application was geared towards those applicants who  help increase women in cycling.  I want to work with the women organizing the scholarship to offer financial support more equitably and to include more trans, femmes, and WTF’s of color.  I hope to do this through being involved in the application writing process, working to promote the scholarship opportunity to a more diverse audience, and to offer to be a mentor, editor, and advisor to potential applicants.  Please consider contacting Quality Bicycle Products to offer support of these initiatives and APPLY if you would like to continue to grow and support women/trans/femme in cycling by becoming a certified bicycle technician!

While half of my heart lays in scraping away the layers of grease embedded on derailleurs, the other half is motivated to expose and alleviate the limitations and prejudices that I see encumbering the cycling industry and community.  I am working with individuals and organizations to foster a more broad and interconnected cycling scene. If you want to get involved, you can find me, wrench in hand, grease on face, and a whole lot in mind, at Cherry Cycles:  www.cherrycycles.com

I am now proud to have the qualification of years of experience PLUS professional mechanic certification.  This is weight off of my shoulders and justification that I am on the right track.  Many businesses came together to contribute to this scholarship fund.  I am incredibly grateful for all of the sponsors and want to encourage you all to support the business that are encouraging more equity in the cycling community:

Surly Bikes
SRAM
Park Tool
Dero Racks
Saris Racks
Ergon Bike
Rock Shox
Michelin Bike US
Liv Cycling

To read more about the scholarship recipients and their experiences at UBI: qbp.com/womensscholarship

Anna Maria Diaz-Balart: www.prettydamnedfast.com

Cassandra Habel: https://spokehaven.com/2016/03/15/adult-summer-camp-for-bike-nerds/

Kyla Saucillo Forsberg: http://www.greenrivercyclery.bike/#!QBP-Womans-Scholarship-Kylas-experience/c105o/56ed8fa20cf29acca8a3a72d

 

01 Apr
2016

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DarkMatter and Making Grease Rag Safer for WTFs

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on April 1, 2016   comments 0

DarkMatter is a poetry and performance duo made up of two trans South Asian artists, Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian.  They perform pieces about colonialism, racism, gender violence, and trans and non-binary identity.  I'd love to introduce you to some of the work they have produced recently that has affected me, and how Grease Rag is attempting to make better spaces for trans and non-binary folks.

DarkMatter

Janani, The Laura Flanders Show:

"Dark matter and dark energy together comprise 96% of the universe but are only understood in their effects."

Trans inclusive feminism is a cis construct

Alok writes about "trans inclusive" feminism as a cis construct, because it centers around "including" trans people in presumably "cis" feminism on their blog, Return the Gayze.

Trans inclusive feminism does not just look like cisgender women gatekeeping who is allowed to speak about gender violence. Trans inclusive feminism does not look like only incorporating binary trans women who fit normative conventions of what a woman should look, act, speak, and experience violence like. Trans inclusive feminism does not look like requiring trans and gender non-conforming people to narrate our experiences and identities through the rubric of “woman,” or else just dismissing us as “men.” Trans inclusive feminism does not look like reinforcing the gender binary by maintaining that all women are victims and all men are perpetrators. It does not look like reducing gender to our bodies, it does not look like making assumptions about people’s histories based off of what they look like, in fact it does not look like requiring someone to look like anything at all.

"Including" transgender people in feminism is like "diversifying" white spaces by inviting people of color to a table that does not truly welcome us.

Trans feminism looks like recognizing that gendering people without their consent is a form of gender violence. Trans feminism looks like recognizing that you don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist because you don’t have to be a woman to experience sexism and trans/misogyny. Trans feminism looks like decoupling “femininity” from “womanhood,” and holding space for a vast spectrum of femininities that grace many bodies who do not identify as women. Trans feminism looks like recognizing that we will never win if we continue to fight patriarchy with the gender binary because patriarchy is the systematic policing and regulation of the gender binary. Trans feminism looks like holding space and accountability for all of the ways that all of us (regardless of our gender) are capable of enacting patriarchal violence on one another.

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Darkmatter on Facebook, "TGIF- Thank goddess I'm femme"

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31 Mar
2016

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Trans Day of Visibility 2016

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on March 31, 2016   comments 0

Trans Day of Visibility is March 31, 2016.

#tdov #morethanvisibility

TDOV is a day to show your support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading knowledge of the trans community. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition we deserve!

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Let's show up!

Today, wear purple in solidarity, rally at the State Office Building at 1:30, and make sure we check our cis privilege and truly see our beautiful trans community today.

Why do I have to check my cis privilege?

Hetero patriarchy is one of those messed up systems that enforces binaries (man or woman are the only valid choices allowed) and also objectifies women in a way where value is directly tied to how closely you fit the narrow ideal of a sexually desirable woman.

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24 Mar
2016

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What to do when your bike is stolen

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on March 24, 2016   comments 0

Grease Rag Friend Ninjarita O'Brien is one of the admins of the Facebook group, Twin Cities Stolen Bikes, and has done a great job documenting how to hang onto your bike, be able to identify your bike if it is stolen, and provide information on how to find your bike and reunite found bikes.

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Bikeidcard2.jpg

High resolution download

Keeping your bike secure

Here are some general tips on securing your bicycle

  • Use a u-lock and another type of lock
  • Lock up in well-lit, well-trafficked areas
  • Lock your wheels and frame to something immoveable that your bike can't be lifted off of, like a sign pole without a sign on top
  • At minimum lock your frame
  • Store your bike indoors in a secure location as much as possible
  • Make sure your mobile apps (Strava, MapMyRide, etc.) are not broadcasting your current location
  • Watch a video on locking techniques
  • Secure your bike to something immoveable even when it is in your garage or shed
  • Use locking skewers on your wheels
  • More tips from the Minneapolis PD

Identifying your bike

Try these techniques to provide enough information if your bike is stolen, and to help other people spot it if it is riding around town without you.

  • Store this data someplace where it can't be easily deleted
  • Take a picture of you and your bike periodically, showing the drive train side of the bike
  • Write down the serial number on your bike, often under the bottom bracket shell
  • Register your bike with bikeindex.org
  • You can register your bicycle with the Minneapolis Police Department online, or call 311, or use 311's phone app.
  • Make a list of how to ID your bike, from color to brand to parts and any other details

What to do when your bike is stolen Read More

24 Mar
2016

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This is not a "bathroom" issue

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on March 24, 2016   comments 0

DIRECT ACTION NEEDED. SUPPORT OUR TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY. WTF SOLIDARITY.

We need to act now because this is not a "bathroom" issue. This is a safety issue for transgender people (not cis people). This is blatantly transphobic.

1. Contact State Senator Scott Newman about his comments that he is being bullied by the trans community for standing up to his transphobic bill

2. Write to your state senator or state representative

Details below. Boost this.

State Senator Scott Newman and State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen unveiled their anti-trans bathroom bill today at a press conference:  

"Newman...described the many phone calls his office has received on the topic. He said the response by the transgender community has been 'coarse, they are threatening. They’re crude.... not the bullied. They are the bullies.'"

More information about the 44 MN House Republicans backing bans on transgender employees using the bathroom.

Image reposted from Grease Rag Ride & Wrench friend, Remy:

 peesafelybathroom.jpg

From Cate Crowe:

Newman thinks we're crude and coarse. I appreciate the compliment. And, I'd rather be crude and coarse than the embodiment of evil. Attempts to eradicate vulnerable populations by WASP 'Murcan men are evil. If passed, this bill would push trans Minnesotans to de-transition, move, or commit suicide. Newman fails to realize that makes this personal.

1. If you'd like, you may reach Newman at 651-296-4131, call his assistant (Evan at 651-296-5246), and/or send Newman an email at sen.scott.newman@senate.mn. Perhaps instead of assuming you're a crude, coarse bully, Senator Newman will have a nice chat with you about your concerns. Don't count on it.

2. Please consider writing your state senator and/or state rep regarding this matter. You can determine who your senator and rep are here--You can identify your senator here: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/.

Here's a template for writing a letter you may find helpful:

The Honorable [First Name] [Last Name]
Minnesota State [House/Senate]
[Address]
[Address]
[Address]

Dear [Senator/Representative] [Last Name]:

SF3002, HF 3374, and HF3395, now in committee, concerning the elimination of access to locker rooms and bathrooms by transgender Minnesotans is of paramount interest to me because I am a [trans woman, trans man, ally, brother to a trans woman, etc.] This issue directly impacts [my employment, my housing, my ability to go out in public, etc.]
I am primarily concerned about those portions of the bill that would roll back existing anti-discrimination statutes because [I would no longer be able to use the bathroom at work]. Other language in the bill would [severely limit my ability to go to the gym or go out to eat].
I understand that you [authored this bill, co-authored this bill, are on the Judiciary committee, are my State Senator/Rep]. As such, you are in a position to advocate for the civil and human rights of transgender Minnesotans. I expect that you will do so, since you are required to uphold the Equal Protection clauses of our State and U.S. Constitutions. This bill is—at best—an inept and inane replay of Plessy v. Ferguson 120 years later. Separate but equal facilities are unacceptable to our courts—and to me.
Thank you for your consideration of my viewpoint on this matter. I believe it is an important issue, and would like to see the legislation fail to ensure that transgender Minnesotans can work and live without being made pariahs.

Sincerely,

[Your name]
[Address]
[Phone Number]
[Email Address]

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