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!

19 Feb
2017

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Day 19 of Loving MN Winter

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on February 19, 2017   comments 1

 

I #LoveMNWinter! Today, I love Ice Bikes & Justice Shacks!

By Casey Wollschlaeger

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The best balaclava is a fake beard. Casey & Confession Shanty  Medicine Lake, MN, 2009

As I write this, it’s sunny and grazing 60° F in Minneapolis, MN. My winter bike (still the same Kabuki pictured above) has been back in the basement for weeks. I’m leaving my studded tires on just in case the snow promised for later this week sticks. Next weekend is the last chance of the season for biking with the snow beasts of the Art Shanty Projects on White Bear Lake, cold temps withstanding. The Art Shanty Projects have a special place in my heart as the fun and cozy intersection of an art, bike, and social justice Venn diagram on ice.

Casey2.pngLady Bear on Ice, White Bear Lake, 2016

The ice was slick at the Art Shanty Projects last weekend with studded tires and crampons getting their day in the sun. This weekend was the all-access weekend, which included audio described and ASL interpreted tours and kick sled and pedicab rides in the Seal Bike to assist with transportation. February 24 and 25 is the closing weekend and one last chance to peddle around the lake on sparkly faux fur covered bike bear saddles, warm up while writing a message to congress in the Justice Shack, share stories at the Sensa-station Shanty, and get one more ride out of your winter rig.

Casey3.pngJustice Shack, White Bear Lake, 2017

Back in town, the roads are dry and it’s t-shirt and slicks riding weather. Earlier today, I caught myself dreaming of spring rides along the river and summer bike tour plans. I can see and feel signs of the thaw all around me: smiles and waves have replaced anonymous, bundled nods of solidarity seen through glittering eyelash icicles as we plow through drifts of potato starch and sand in the bike lanes; my shoulders are starting to relax from bracing against the wind; and pogies and fat tires have given way to bare hands and scant tire clearance.

Casey4.pngInspirational Insulation in the Justice Shack, 2017

While I relish the sun on my skin and speed of getting ready without wearing my own weight in winter layers, I’m not quite ready for winter to be over. There is a soft, stillness to winter on the plains/prairie/lake country where humans get to hibernate inside of fluffy blankets and frosty balaclavas. Silently biking through a fresh, sparkling blanket of snow on a clear night feels like a secret. Hot drinks and flannel sheets are rewards for riding home in a sleet storm. Blizzards and snow emergencies make room for reading books and writing letters. Our eyes peer out from our hats and scarves. I recognize friends by their bikes, cadence and silhouettes against a backdrop of white and gray.

Casey5.pngSealBike, White Bear Lake, 2017

I love the contrast and the balance of the seasons. It’s one of the reasons I moved back to the upper Midwest after 5 years of desert dwelling. I love biking on top of frozen lakes then swimming in them 6 months later. I love watching families ride around on seal bikes and pedal bears then switch to Surreys in spring. I love the security of studded tires on ice and a good healthy snowpack before a hot dry summer. I love the committed community of cold weather cyclists that convene at Grease Rag Full Moon Rides, on frozen lakes, at marches, and in living rooms in the midst of this increasingly unstable global and political climate.

Casey6.pngNote to Justice Seekers in The Justice Shack, White Bear Lake, 2017

Info about The Art Shanty Projects: http://www.artshantyprojects.org/

Info about how climate change affects our communities: http://www.naacp.org/issues/environmental-justice/

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

18 Feb
2017

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Day 18 of Loving MN Winter 2017

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on February 18, 2017   comments 0

I #LoveMNWinter! Today, I love sundogs.

One of my favorite things about moving to a new region is learning things new to me that either didn't exist or weren't part of the culture where I lived before. Moving to Minnesota has meant learning about, among other things, neck gaiters, meat raffles, ice houses on frozen lakes, booya, and sundogs. For some reason it took me until my fourth Minnesotan winter to actually see sundogs.

One morning in January last year, it was -6F outside with a wind chill of -26F when I went to check the condition of my adopted site for the City of Minneapolis biking and walking winter maintenance conditions survey. 

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"Sundogs!" I shouted in excitement as I looked south of the Ford bridge. I finally saw sundogs!

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

17 Feb
2017

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Day 17 of Loving MN Winter

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on February 17, 2017   comments 0

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love biking in the 'burbs.

By Melody Hoffmann

bike-burbs.jpgI have been winter biking for about 10 years now. When riding around the city, I tire of all the exacerbated reactions. “You biked here?!” “How did you stay warm?!” “Aren’t you worried about a car hitting you?!” (FWIW, I am but that isn’t my responsibility. I stay in my skinny lane.)

Recently I ventured out to Coon Rapids with my bicycle and had a much different attitude about the whole thing. It wasn’t anything I prepped myself for. I just desperately needed some activity at the end of a cold snap. And a positive attitude followed.

I took my bicycle onto the 852 (thanks bus driver, for letting me on with it due to the full front bike rack) into Coon Rapids. The other bicyclists on the bus and I engaged in some chit chat (instant community when you carry bike gear). I requested a stop a few miles from my end destination. I hopped off at an intersection (the bus stops aren’t plowed in Coon Rapids) and enjoyed a leisurely ride to my errand destination.

I enjoyed the very generous road shoulders that allowed me to ride safely next to cars travelling 45 mph (the posted speed limit). When I rode onto skinnier sections of the road, drivers were surprisingly courteous. I was surprised because I just assumed suburban people who don’t interact with bicyclists would be less aware of the need to give me space. You know what they say about assumptions.

Then I pulled up to my errand spot and locked my bike to itself (I wasn’t too concerned about a fixed gear bike walking away in a car-centric shopping center). I carried my helmet in and engaged with the customer service worker. When they asked me if I biked, I affirmed but then added in something I usually don’t — a reason why. I said something like: “Yes, I did bike. It feels nice to get some exercise! It is such an easy way to get some activity in. And I stay warm because it’s like running. You get hot!” And I repeated this reasoning to the next person who asked me.

For some reason, I felt the need to be a bicycle ambassador that day. If I want more people to bike and more people to respect bicyclists on the road, then people need to hear why it is so beneficial. A lightbulb went off in my head. If I want people to give me space on the road out in Coon Rapids, it is best for me to smile and share a positive story. My hope is that it produces some empathy and that the next time that person passes a bicyclist they can put a symbolic face to the bicyclist.

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

15 Feb
2017

1 Comments

Day 15 of Loving MN Winter

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on February 15, 2017   comments 1

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love surprise nice weather!

By Colleen Detloff

Biking in the winter is an awesome, exhilarating, sometimes unpredictable experience. This is my first winter back in the Midwest after spending the last few years out in California — and I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I had heard of the magic of riding through fresh powdery snow, and was excited to experience it for myself. I was hoping to write a long post about winter bike magic after being inspired by a snowy ride, but as I look out my window, I don’t think it will happen tonight. So instead I’ll just post a few of my favorite pics of the past few months and go enjoy this balmy spring weather. Happy (bike) trails!

 

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Thrilled it's light enough to take a joy ride after my commute home!

 

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All bundled up for the wind chill

 

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A wintery wonderland

 

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Sheila, my trusty pink commuter

 

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

14 Feb
2017

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Day 14 of Loving MN Winter

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on February 14, 2017   comments 0

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love persistence.

By Kadence Hampton

Picture of author with beloved bicycle, Dale, set against snow

As a year-round bike commuter and winner of Babes in Bikeland 10 short course, I want to share with you my not-so-special-secret for How to Be a Bike Babe Badass, so that you, too, will become the Bike Babe Badass That You’ve Always Wanted to Be. First Action: Acquire Bike, Any Bike. Second Action: Show Up - Anywhere, Everywhere. Final Action: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. And that’s it – you don’t need the best bike equipment, although it’s nice to treat yourself; you don’t need to be brave, fast, or fearless in all of your bike-related endeavors – all you need to be bestowed your Bike Babe Badass badge is persistence.

If this process seems like an absurd oversimplification, you’re right, but it’s also how I became the winter and bike racing enthusiast that I never thought – or intended – to be. My journey begins in my hometown of Austin after winning a road bike in a game of black jack nearly seven years ago. Only after I moved to Minneapolis (and sold my car) in 2012 did I muster up enough confidence to be a fair-weather bike commuter. Still an inexperienced cyclist and intimidated by winter, I never even considered winter bike commuting as a possible, much less wise, course of action during my first three winters in Minnesota – until I found myself participating in cyclocross racing events in 2015.

First known picture of author participating in a cyclocross event

Wait, what? Yeah. I still find myself wondering what happened. As a person whom considers themselves a quiet, timid, risk averse, unathletic academic for whom trying new endeavors, especially Any and All Remotely Athletic Activities, requires ample external encouragement and several attempts, seeking out off-road and fast-paced riding opportunities has taken me by surprise. But something happened in 2014 that sparked a curiosity and desire to Try Something New. After watching my partner race (and petting lots and lots of dogs) at Green Acres, one of the state’s premier cyclocross race weekend events, my partner inspired me participate in That Thing Looks Fun: all I needed was a bike and a desire to start. 

Equipped with a bike and a desire to start, it took me almost a full year to build my confidence before finally participating in any cx-related activities. I nearly backed out of my first “race,” the All-City Championship bandit cx, due to a suffocating lack of self-confidence on a bike, but was encouraged by complete strangers to at least start. That was my first introduction to DFL > DNF > DFS, which translates into Dead F!@king Last is better than Did Not Finish which is still better than Did Not Start. It was the Hardest Thing I Had Ever Done.

The next chance I got to participate was at a beginner’s race as part of the Wednesday Night Cross (#WNCX) series. The following week, I threw up in my mouth before pulling off the course on my last lap. It was also the Hardest Thing I Had Ever Done, and it hated it. I was nearly convinced that the sufferfest that is cx wasn’t for me, but again there were those who encouraged me to keep participating; I would not have stuck around the cx community if not for the support of the Freewheel Bike cx club and members of the All-City X Fulton team among countless other folks.

Author smiling while shouldering bike up a sandpit during a cyclocross race.It took me four solid attempts before Something Clicked and I felt like I had broken through my biggest mental barriers. As it turns out, Cx Is Fun, and You Learn Stuff, too. Having the opportunity to test the waters by riding through mud, sand, dirt, gravel, dry grass, wet grass, beer and occasional donut handups in an auto-free environment surrounded by a supportive community was paramount to building enough confidence in my bike handling skills to try winter bike commuting.

Last year, this Texas transplant found a love in winter bike commuting that did not melt with the arrival of spring or evaporate on enjoyable hot summer days as I found myself craving the challenges presented by snow, ice, cold, and darkness long before this past winter solstice. It’s a weird feeling to me to crave winter, and an even weirder feeling to crave a physical challenge beyond the utilitarianism of bike commuting. In 2016, I participated in Riotgrrravel, took the track class at the velodrome, and raced (as opposed to just participating in) my first alleycat, the Koochella Classic, and came in 6th WTF!

But Babes in Bikeland was the ultimate test. Fueled only by fried State Fair food on zero hours of sleep due to a traumatizing ordeal involving online harassment and doxxing from Some Random, But Also Some Known People in the Ill-Defined Twin Cities Bike Community, the person I surprised the most when I came in first for short course was myself because I almost #DNS that day. I had just enough time to reach the race start until I became stranded at the fairgrounds post-volunteer shift with a flat tire and fading determination. I walked myself and my bike as close to MPLS as I could before the weight of not sleeping and feeling unsafe pushed me into the ground outside a gas station where I sat down, and cried. At a quarter to 4 p.m., I was rescued by the world's best partner with a hug, a ride, and a spare tube. Needing to Feel Something, Anything Else Other Than This Crushing Weight, my singular goal was to simply finish the BIBLX course. I did that, and more.

I won BIBLX not because I am Relatively Fast Compared to Those Who Are DFL But Especially Faster Than Those Who DNS, nor did I win the short course due to routing skills alone - I won BIBLX because I am persistent. This weathered persistence, cultivated with each desire to show up, exercised with every attempt on my bike, reinforced by the support of a community, is what kept me going through the emotionally exhausting days and moments leading up to BIBLX when I almost Could Not Even.

I’ve already achieved my 2017 Hardest Thing I Have Ever Done with what was also my first fat bike race, and then crossed it out and replaced it with the Dumbest Routing Mistake I Have Ever Made racing my first Speed Stupor Bowl, followed by That Was Truly the Hardest Race I’ve Ever Almost Quit a Dozen Times at the Loppet fat tire race

So, I encourage each and every one of y’all to find what fuels your desire and need to be persistent, and to let that persistence permeate all areas of your life. You already have so many tools, so what things will you show up to in 2017? Challenge yourself, but also be patient and kind to yourself and others.

Just remember: Be persistent. And if you want to get more involved with the racing community, join me and my team, @allcityxfulton on our community rides starting in April or check out Minnesota Cycling Federation on Facebook for training, ride, race, and clinic opportunities. 

Animated GIF of author as cat wearing cycling cap with #purrsistence

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

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