bikes bikes bikes! Love to ride, love to learn. So happy to be part of the Grease Rag world!

09 Jun


Grease Rag NE is TONIGHT, June 9th!


Calling all Women, Trans & Femme folks,

Your GRNE Co-Facilitators would love to see you at Grease Rag NE tonight! 

Stop over to our host & sponsor Recovery Bike Shop (2504 Central Ave NE) at 7pm for our discussion & open shop night. Today we'll talk about looking for signs that you need new tires. Come by to learn what to watch for in tire wear & tear to head flats off at the pass, & gain insight on what makes certain tires cost double their counterparts. Open Shop starts at 730p, so bring in your bike and let's start cranking.

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

Hope to see you soon!


I like bikes.

03 Feb


Day 3 #lovemnwinter 2016


Day 3 #lovemnwinter 2016

I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love early mornings.

I'm an early riser. Maybe you can't take the farm out of the farm girl... I'm a high school teacher, and the students begin arriving as early as 7:00. Since I have to change from biking gear to school teacher get-up, and I like to have my day well organized as part of my daily practice, I leave home around 6 am, and bike my half hour ride in the quiet solitude of the morning.

There's something magical about the dark. The crunch of ice and snow under my studded tires. The slap of cold that makes my eyes water as I pick up speed to the first major intersection. Traffic is light, and I ride the first 15 minutes on city streets. My body warms, I settle in, and then I drift down to the Stone Arch Bridge, and the rest of my commute is on trails. 

I see my fellow early risers on my way. Cordelia (mother of one of my students) gives me a low 5 as I wish her "Buenos días!" The nice condo dweller with the large poodle is always cordial. As I pass the commuter train on the trail, I spy the human in the khaki parka, sleeping in the train window--just like always. Then it's under the stadium and out past the buildings. Magical thinking time. I run through conversations that I've had, or that I'd like to have. I think about my partner, my children, my siblings. Maybe a song niggles its way into my thoughts.

I love the peace and quiet of early winter morning. I love the swoosh of my wind pants, the rhythm of my cadence, the distant chattering of birds in a parking garage. I love that I get to have my thoughts and to really concentrate on my day. I'm so grateful to breathe fresh air, have a sip of brisk water upon my arrival to school, air-chilled from the ride. I sit on the same bench every morning, and I'm grateful for being here, grateful for the air and water, for my healthy body powering my commute to school, and I'm ready to start my day.


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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14 Mar


Guest Post: Alisa's First Winter Riding


A Guest post from Alisa about winter riding! Enjoy!


My first winter bike commuting


As winter in Minnesota is quickly drawing to a close (although I know Minnesota well enough to not put the winter bike away quite yet), I thought this would be a good time to share some random thoughts on my first winter bike commuting. I’ve been a bike commuter during the spring, summer and fall for the past five years, but I would put the bike away and start taking the bus after the first snowfall. It was the ice especially that made me nervous. During the past year, I tried to bike more and more to run errands and get around, and come November realized that this was the year I would become a winter bike commuter. The thought of having to wait to catch the bus at the end of the day – my least favorite part of my day – wasn’t a routine I was interested in getting back into.




My winter warrior: After doing some research on all my options, I decided to find a used, beater bike for my winter ride. Luckily, one trip to the Recovery Bike Shop was all I needed to find my winter bike. I decked it out with studded tires, fenders, a rack and new lights. I have to admit, I thought this bike was pretty ugly when I first purchased it, but I’ve come to appreciate it more and more as it’s carried me through a wide variety of winter conditions.


Biggest challenges: I wasn’t sure what my biggest challenges would be when I first started riding in the winter – the weather, road conditions, equipment, darkness, etc.? I faced all of these challenges at different times throughout the season. The road conditions were pretty tough after the first snowfall in November, but that just meant I learned a lot about winter riding in the first week. Although dressing for the weather has been surprisingly easy, I have often overdressed and occasionally underdressed at different times. In fact, I think I made a new rule of thumb for dressing for winter riding almost every time I ventured out. Remembering to charge my lights, struggling home in a brisk headwind, learning how to see in the dark with my rose-tinted goggles have all been challenges at some point, but overcoming these challenges have been a big part of the fun.


Favorite pieces of clothing:

I could go on and on about my different layers, but here are a few pieces that I couldn’t have gotten through winter without:

  • Scarf:  Figuring out how to keep my face warm while still being able to breathe was a huge challenge early on. Luckily, I dug out a scarf my grandma had made that had been sitting around for a few years.  I can wrap this scarf twice around my neck, pull it up over my face and still breathe! It was great to have something lying around the house that I never really used become a critical part of my daily commute.
  • Windshell jacket: I picked up this piece at the Grease Rag gear swap for FREE! I don’t wear it every day, but on the coldest days this thin shell keeps my surprisingly warm.
  • Thin, fleece hoodie: Another key piece of advice picked up at the Grease Rage winter skill share was that thin hoodies can provide a nice layer of warmth to both your core and your head. I found a few at a good price at Marshall’s, and wear one every day.
  • Lobster gloves: The cross-country skier in me already swore by lobster gloves, but I splurged on some biking-specific lobsters that provide a bit more wind protection. These have kept my hands warm enough at -30 windchills.




Least favorite riding conditions (early on): ½” or so of loose snow on top of the packed ice and snow. At first, my heart would jump into my throat every time my bike got a bit squirrely in these conditions.  To keep me going, I kept reminding myself how much better I would be at mountain biking after this winter! Which leads me to…


Least favorite riding conditions (now): I got more comfortable and things got less scary. My heart jumps into my throat a little bit less, and my least favorite riding conditions in winter now are clear, dry roads. I like the sound my tires make when riding on some packed snow, feeling like my studded tires are being put to good use.


Least favorite weather element: The wind. It makes things so much colder and harder than it needs to be.



Least favorite days: When I wasn’t able to ride! I found that no matter the weather – snowy, 20 degrees below, salty, muddy, etc. – I would miss the time I got to spend on my bike when I wasn’t able to ride. Riding in the winter has really changed my perspective on biking weather - to me, there really is no bad weather for riding anymore.


Favorite rides: Some of my favorites rides this winter have occurred in all sorts of conditions – I never knew when a ride would become one of my best rides. A few of the magical rides I’ve had this year:

  • -30 windchills when Minneapolis schools were cancelled. After deciding that no, I wasn’t crazy for riding my bike in this weather (I’d probably be colder waiting for the bus), I threw on an extra layer, made sure that I didn’t have any skin exposed and ventured out. Being dressed perfectly for some extreme weather made me feel invincible.
  • Enjoying the increasing daylight in late February and hanging out with some bald eagles on the shores of the Mississippi River on my way home (on what just happened to be International Winter Bike to Work Day).
  • Riding in newly falling snow at the beginning of March after a winter of yearning for more snow.




Least favorite label: Badass. I find that the conversations I have about riding in the winter with colleagues and friends tend to follow the same pattern. The person I’m talking to admires me for biking in the winter, but then expresses how they could never do it themselves. I find this so frustrating. I try to explain that they could – I’m just a normal, impatient person that loves biking and hates waiting for the bus! The more I have these conversations, the more I want people realize that biking in any season is very doable and not relegated to badasses (or at least, that anyone can be a badass!).



14 Feb


Day 14 of Loving MN Winter


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.

Winter Biking, #lovemnwinter


Kat is a GR facilitator at Sunrise, the Uptown location. Her favorite thing about open shop is meeting all the fabulous, motivated people who attend Grease Rag events.

15 Feb


Day 15 of Loving Winter 2016


I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love first tracks.


First Tracks

Imagine a fresh snow fall.
Imagine the flakes slowly filling in all the cracks in the sidewalk.
Imagine the fluff blanketing the roads, wrapping them snugly in a white sheet.
As it accumulates, imagine every blemish covered.
Everything is smooth, even, and calm. Everything is quite.
No critters or commuters to disturb the pristine dusting.
Except you. Except your tires cutting through the snow.  
A simple tire track pressed in to the white.
Evidence of one lone rider.
Just you and your bike. 

First Tracks



Kathleen Ryan

Kathleen migrated west to Denver via Mpls/Cleveland. She is interested in biking related topics and people...among many other things.

27 Feb


Day 27 of Loving Winter 2015


I don't know aobut you but winter saps my both of so much and I find I need to replenish my mind, body and soul more often. Below are a few things I found that really help & maybe you'll enjoy too! 

Replenish the mind

My mind often is checking off a bunch of to do lists and creating others; thinking, sorting, etc. And like every good mind it deserves a rest too. To do this I just BREATHE. Whenever I think about it, I take a few momentBy simply taking time to focus on the breath and nothing else it slows down my mind and body and replenishes the soul. What's nice is that you can do it anywhere and no one is the wiser! s to reset. A deep breath in, pause, deep full breath out. Repeat at lest three times. I have post its at work and home that just say breathe. It is such an easy tool yet so easy to forget to be mindful of the breath. 

Replenish the body

While I love winter my skin kind of hates it. My face gets crazy dry and chaffed from skiing and biking. I have found an awesome tool that works so well: Worker B balm, made in Minneapolis. This stuff is amazing. I put it on my face before getting on my bike or the slopes and it really does wonders to protect my skin. It is also great on hands, elbows, etc. whatever needs some added mositure. 

I also make this awesome sugar scrub. It is so easy. I use this Whole Foods recipe as a general guideline and add whatever essential oils I am needing in my life at that time. 

When things get really rough (literally) I also use Bag Balm out of Vermont to help seal in moisture and help my skin repair. 

Replenish the soul

Biking is cathartic but it can also suck my soul sometimes. I'm tired. This hill is big. My butt hurts. Am I almost there? It isn't always sinshine and lollipops. However,I find that yoga benefits my mind, body and soul. There is an awesome studio here in Denver called Container Collective, Brittany, a fellow cyclist put together this 12 min sequence that is geared towards release after biking. Check it out and if you’re ever in Denver see about taking a class!

There is also this awesome zine: Pedal, Stretch, Breathe The Yoga of Bicycling that I love to refer to and is only $5!

All in all, I have found this stuff beneficial to reset. I hope you enjoy.

Happy cycling & living!




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.

#lovemnwinter, lovemnwinter


I live in Minneapolis, and I ride to work, I ride to play, and I ride my bike everyday that I can. I've been attending Grease Rag since July, 2009, and I'm happy to be a part of this positive group of WTF cyclists.

06 Sep


It's Not All Downhill


itsnotalldownhill.jpg Check this out, Grease Rag!

9 years ago, Alisa Hoven, Betsy Popelka Massnick, and Sarah Broich rode their bicycles from Minnesota to New Orleans. And then they wrote a book about it!

Generously, they have decided to donate all their profits from their book (available here) to Grease Rag to support FTW bike tours. How rad is that?!


In the fall of 2008, Sarah, Betsy and Alisa packed up their bicycles and rode the length of the Mississippi River--from the headwaters in Minnesota to New Orleans, about 2,300 miles. It took them two months, they took their time, they lingered and listened to the river along the way. They gathered stories of life along the river, visited farms and cities and small towns and flooded out fields. They were curious about life along the river, and with the stories and people they met, they put together a book. A travelogue, of sorts, with short stories, poems, rants and their most humble sketches of their (mis)adventures. The book is titled It's Not all Downhill--which they self published and put together as three writers the year after they returned from the trip. In an effort to share their experiences, they've sold books here and there, and gave many away to folks they met along the river--but almost 10 years later--they are ready to donate the profit they've made from the book sales to Grease Rag!

Why Grease Rag?! Because we love FTW spaces! One of the most common occurring, infuriating comments we received along the trip was this: "Why don't you have any men with you?! You're not safe alone out here." It was a daily struggle to validate ourselves and claim the space we needed to have this experience, as folks who identify as women, without men protecting and guiding us. We are safe, brilliant, brave and powerful and we challenged a lot of folks who were socialized to believe we needed a male presence on this trip. We reflected on this--and appreciated the fem-space we created; a supportive learning environment in navigating the route and fixing our bikes, we made decisions collectively as to our pace and rhythm and our goals, we leaned into each other's strengths and challenged each other to grow where we needed to.  We weren't afraid to say "I don't know" or "I need help." We believe this kind of environment is critical and special and magical--and it is often challenged within the patriarchal system--so to make space and hold it--that is what made our trip what it was. And that is why we want to support Grease Rag!  We want to support the magic that happens when we come together and hold space--and get a little grease under our finger nails, take a new route and take risks together.  We are happy to donate and support Grease Rag!

Camping/ Touring, Fundraiser

Maery Rose

I live in Anoka and work in NE Minneapolis. I commute to work by train and bike whenever I can. I recently got a fat bike and am having a blast on it. In 2015, I hope to do my first bicycle tour and I want to learn from Grease Rag how to handle emergency bike repairs and regular maintenance. Because I’m in my late fifties, bicycling for me is about continuing to stay active and living with the childlike joy that bicycling brings to my life.

16 Feb


Day 16 of Loving Winter 2015


Day 16 of Loving Winter 2015

I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love the challenge of learning new winter skills  

snow wonder

As I begin this post about what I love about Minnesota winters, it’s 5 degrees fahrenheit outside, with a real feel of -13, thanks to wind gusts of up to 32 mph.

Hmmm… what was I saying about Minnesota winters?

Oh yeah, how much I love them!

I do love Minnesota winter fashion, with all its layers. I especially love tights with funky patterns and that fuzzily warm feeling. Winter clothes are cozy and comforting and forgiving.

winter hat and balaclava

Plus snow. I love lots and lots of snow! To keep from going insane during a Minnesota winter, it helps to have an attitude of making the best of it, which for me has meant learning how to cross county ski. I even tried skijoring but my dog, Java, didn’t quite grasp the concept of staying in front of me.

skijoring backwards

Horses are fun to ride after a fresh dump of the white stuff. It’s like moving in slow motion while bouncing on a trampoline.

horseback riding in fresh snow

This year, I was hoping to add fat biking through the snow to the mix.

fat biking

Instead, I’m trying to figure out how to afford studded tires because what we have this year is ice. When it’s your first winter of bike riding, that makes for a steeper learning curve than what I was prepared for.

bicycling on ice

So it’s been a bit of hit and miss on my outdoor adventures. I’ve gotten out a few times, but not as much as I had hoped for. I’m looking at this as a learning experience and hope to be better prepared next winter for icy conditions. But then, next year, there will probably be a ton of snow.

So maybe that’s what I really love about our winters, is what a sense of humor the Minnesota Snow Queen has.

bicycling along Mississippi River

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

Cross posted on

Winter Biking, #lovemnwinter, lovemnwinter