27 Jul


Call for GreaseRag.org Contributors


on July 27, 2014   comments 0

I think sharing our experiences has the ability to encourage and build a strong community.  Images of active WTFs as the protagonists of their own stories show us what we can do, and what we can be, and that we are not alone in our desire to be more than arm candy or a passive object!  We don't need more magazines and blogs that only feature competitive, predominately white, cis males like that is the definition of what a cyclist should look like.  Let's get some images of us looking good ON the bike.  Let's tell our stories in our own words.

Photo from Flickr user Alec Couros, "Writing"

Here at GreaseRag.org we have a variety of different kinds of stories and images.

Almanzo 2014 stories, Riotgrrravel 2014 storiesBabes in Bikeland 2013.  Brenda finds her way around with a bicycle, Lilah gets into track racing, and JJ and Moosebikes Ride the Northstar.  Grease Rag campers get rained on, Rachel connected with a cool bike organization while traveling, and we remember our Pizza by the Pond Bike Tour, 2012.

Whether you're sharing a ride report, race recap, or writing about your bike hero, Annie Londonderry, you shoud consider GreaseRag.org a place to share, and be inspired by WTF stories and images.  So far, contributions have come in fits and starts.  It's been great, but we want to increase the ask...

We need regular WTF contributors to GreaseRag.org.

It is important that we tell our own stories, and dictate our own images

The more WTF voices and diversity represented, the better

We will give you your own blog space, repost from your blog, or post entries for you

Commit to four posts a year, of any length or format

We can help with editing, content suggestions, images, whatever support you need

Do you want to become a regular contributor?  Email greaseragmpls@gmail.com and let's start sharing.

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26 Jul


The Bike, The Turf, The Freedom


on July 26, 2014   comments 0

Brenda wrote this great piece about "learning" how to ride a bike in the city, and all of the new skills that includes.  Hooray for little blue Schwinn bicycles!

I arrived in Minneapolis in late August of 2003, not-so-fresh off the Amtrak train with only two suitcases of possessions to my name.  I was 22 years old, had no experience living in a city, and no real life experience other than living on a farm in southeastern Minnesota. Instead of feeling free and excited to be here, I felt anxious, depressed, and trapped.  At that time, north Minneapolis looked and felt quite different than it does today- imagine endless pavement, no trees, giant dirt pits with no sign of work, and random groups of small children chasing each other with sticks.  

The biggest problem I had transitioning to life in a city was simply orienting myself.  I grew up in the Bluffs and in a small town where trips were navigated solely by landmarks. The Twin Cities are incredibly flat in comparison, with very few large landmarks to give one a sense of north, south, east, and west.  I remember standing on the sidewalk, just turning in a circle, trying to figure out where I was and where I was going.  The thing that helped me the most in this regard was getting a bicycle.

Each day after work, I would take my bike out for a spin and train myself in the topography of Minneapolis.  Ten blocks north, then ten blocks east, and so on, until I made a square to get back to my house.  I noted the hills and rises, the streets that had flowers, the yards that had sweet barbeque smells, the streets where cars whipped past me so fast that they left me shaking.  This being in the days before smart phones, I spent long minutes bent over my paper map of the Twin Cities, charting out each day’s completed journey.  I gradually developed a sense of direction that stays with me today.  I am proud to know most of Minneapolis and Saint Paul by bicycle, and I am familiar with the streets in a way that I don’t think a motorist could be.

Cycling gave me a lot of economic freedom during a time in my life when I had no money.  The first year that I lived in the Twin Cities, I made maybe $8000 from a volunteering stipend.  The next few years were almost as lean, as I tried to establish myself as a “professional.”  But because I didn’t have the expenses of a car, I had the economic freedom to explore work that fit my interests and developed my skills.  I was not forced to pursue higher-paying (but potentially boring) jobs just to pay my bills.  Of course, my cycling did tend to make me the office outlier- but instead of feeling like a weirdo, I felt confident that cycling instead of driving was the right choice for me.  

The third, and maybe most important, way that cycling has shaped my life is that it gave me a form of exercise that I found pleasurable, which I had never experienced before.  As a child, I was obese and hated all forms of exercise.  I was too fat to run with the other kids, so I would fall behind them and they would turn their heads to stare at me and whisper, which led me down a shame spiral of hating my body and hating myself, and then eating more junk to soothe those bad feelings.  I developed something of a grudge against physical exertion and I defensively mocked any people that enjoyed exercise, railing against “jock culture.”  What I didn’t know was that different kinds of exercise feel different to different individuals, and that I just hadn’t found my fun type of exercise yet.

When I rode up a hill and coasted down, I felt free.  I felt the city disappear around me, and I felt neighborhoods and families rise up.   On a bike, I no longer felt anonymous or like a stranger.  I felt like part of a community.  As I biked more and more often, I lost weight without even trying.  The first year that I cycled, I went from weighing 240 pounds to 180 pounds.  Then with a little effort, I got down to 165 pounds, which feels like a good weight on my 5’7” frame.  After discovering that I liked exercise, I was more willing to try other physical activities.  Now I swim, lift weights, do aerobics, and dance.  I would like to get into cross-country skiing and rock-climbing.  Twelve years ago, I never could have imagined this, and it all started with my little blue Schwinn bicycle.

22 Jul


Grease Rag NE is TONIGHT, July 22!


on July 22, 2014   comments 0

Hello friends,

Your GRNE Co-Facilitators are happy to invite you to this week's installment of Grease Rag NE. FYI, NO GROUP RIDE tonight.

Join us tonight at Recovery Bike Shop (2504 Central Ave NE) at 7pm for our discussion and open shop night.  In honor of the weather SHIFT from Spring to Summer, from 7pm – 730pm we’ll be talking about SHIFTING on your bike! Wondering the difference between the main types of shifting systems and what the pros and cons of each are? Swing on over! Janni promises not to talk as long as last time (though, can you blame her? Tires are easy to go on about!)  Open Shop starts up at 730p, so bring in your iron horse and your eager minds and let's get cranking.

Oh, and you know there will be coffee.

See you there!


Location: Northeast

21 Jul


Maiden Voyage of the Prairie Crow


on July 21, 2014   comments 0

New Bike Day came for me last week, and I have recently been getting acquainted with my Prairie Crow Bikeworks custom frame.  Alex did an amazing job working with me as he built the frame, from helping me visualize the final build, to listening to what I wanted, making measurements, and communicating with me about all the details I never thought to consider!  I would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone that has a steel frame that needs repair, or would like a custom frame.  The build process took about three months, but from conception to completion, with changes and how long it took me to get the parts I wanted together, this bike took about a year to complete.

I have been tinkering and adjusting and dialing in the fit and getting to know the bike over the last week.  This weekend I took the PCB to Willow River State Park in Wisconsin to see how it did when it was loaded down with my camping gear.

Willow River is a state park, and in Minnesota and Wisconsin there is an official policy that they will not turn you away if you arrive by bicycle, even if you show up and all of their sites are full.  This is handy, because when I checked the weather on Friday night and decided I wanted to go camping the next day, the campground was totally reserved.  So I packed my bags, threw some snacks into my bag, and rolled out the next morning!
I took the U of M Transitway to Como, then up Wheelock to the Gateway Trail.  I turned off toward Stillwater, crossed the lift bridge.  This is when the hills started.  Ten miles later, we rolled into Willow River!
Here are some of my favorite moments from the trip.
1. Drive-up high five! A friend pulled over and hopped out of their car to give out a high five as I biked by.  It made my day!
2. Deli sandwiches from Lens Family Foods in Stillwater.  Cheap and yummy, I like to eat half, and save the other half for later.
3. Walking through and exploring the Willow River Waterfall, including climbing up to the gorge outlook.
4. Watching a duck shred gnar, surfing and getting blasted by the waterfall current.  And then hopping out on the other side, shaking the water off its tail feathers, and waddling off.
5. Morning swim in cold water before packing up and heading out.
6. The weather was perfect.  Cloudy and warm the first day, and muggy and hot the second day, which necessitated a DQ stop!
7. Stopping at a German restaurant on the way home for beer and sausages
8. High fives after big hills: Celebrate successes!
9. Turtle sunning itself on the highway shoulder, neck stretched out.  The hot sun warming its reptilian blood.
10. Bombing hills!  My top speed was 32 mph!
The Prairie Crow performed wonderfully.  I can't put into words how happy I am to have a new hauling-stuff and camping bike!  Here's to a long and happy relationship, PCB.  

21 Jul


Fresh and Fancy Recap


on July 21, 2014   comments 0

Grease Rag members are a wealth of resources and knowledge about how to bike around town, as WTFs with places to be and people to see.  Spurred by a Facebook comment about sweating on our commutes, I organized a "Fresh and Fancy" event this past weekend, where we shared our tips and tricks for arriving at our destinations, Fresh, and Fancy.

Photo from Erik's camera, not all riders were present for the photo!

We discussed...

Favorite bike-friendly fashion accessory that kicks your outfit up a notch?

A product you swear by to make you feel beautiful or your ride more comfortable?

Favorite products or techniques for glamming up or cooling down, for your face?

Skirt flying up in the wind?  Try, "Penny in your pants."

1. Find a penny. Or you could use a pebble, a marble or other similar objects.
2. Find a rubber band. Better yet, use an old inner tube cut into rings. Super strong and super sustainable.
3. Now put on your favourite skirt.
4. Push the penny from the back to the front, through both layers.Watch our video if you need some extra help.
5. Form a button.
6. Wrap the band around the button so it’s secure.
7. Now and enjoy your new found freedom with your favourite skirt!

Best cool-down tricks?

How do you avoid helmet hair or a wind-whipped mess? Best bike friendly hair tips and tricks for showing up looking fly.

We rode a long and wonderful route together, while looking fabulous.  I had such a wonderful time!  Grease Rag bought a round of treats, and we had some fancy cocktails at Jax Cafe in NE together, before we rode back to Sunrise.  Thank you to everyone for making it a special night.

At Jax, we informally discussed Fresh and Fancy tips, and I jotted down the top three that I overheard.

1. Wearing rompers seems like a good idea, but they are just as difficult as bibshorts when you have to use the bathroom.

2. Cornstarch is a great anti-chafe on inner thighs and under breasts.

3.  Cornstarch is a good "dry shampoo" for fair-hair, and cornstarch + cocoa powder is a good dry shampoo for dark-hair.  Bonus- If you use the cocoa powder, you'll smell like chocolate!

XO Vain has a series of articles that are relevant, check them out if you want even more tips for staying fresh, and fancy.

How To Arrive Gorgeous When You're Biking Everywhere In The Winter

How To Make Your Hair Look Even Better After Cycling Than It Did Before

Helmet Hair: How To Avoid It While Still Riding Your Bike Like The Safety-Conscious, Law-Abiding Citizen You Undoubtedly Are

If I'm On My Bike, I'm Carrying This Tiny, Jam-Packed Personal-Care Kit

The Knotted Hairstyle That Looks Awesome Under A Bike Helmet

3 Hairstyles To Wear Under Your Bike Helmet

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