As Babes in Bikeland comes up next weekend, I wish I was there at least visiting and could ride it with you. So fun last year!
I just read the article that Low sent about WTFs in Mpls and it made me nostalgic. San Francisco is great for biking (waaay more hills) with an active Bike Coalition and tons of city infrastructure. But, something's been missing...community. It's so big and diverse here, everything settles into a clique and fragments. I have yet to find a community of ladies and gents, such as yourselves, that are of a like-mind.
Part of it is me. I'm changing. I'm getting faster and more determine to develop my skills as a rider. My fleet is also changing- poor BiBi is torn down (I got tired of gripping the brake levers for dear life on all of my downhill descents) and I have an All-City Nature Boy on the way in addition to my new plastic (carbon) road bike (which was a budget build and has performed beautifully for road riding. I just did my first century!!!) Bomber, as always, is indominable.
When we got to SF, I tried the SF Bike Kitchen. They are so well organized and have all the tools, stands, infrastructure you could want, and lots of shitty old bike parts to put together...but they were cold and a few of the men were pretentious, and following their yahoo group was like following a bitch-fest about who did what and who didn't do enough. I also tried the SF Bike Coalition. They were big and political, disorganized and the other volunteers didn't really click with me with their safety vests and were, perhaps, a little more aged than myself. I think we just have differing utopias- they would love SF to be like Amsterdam and I like to ride with cars as a vehicular cyclist.
Those were my two big options. A messenger race ended at my work-place and the party was riotous. They were happy and riding bikes with history, personalized and loved. I felt that this was the closest to what I was looking for- but I was intimidated and a little too clean. So, I'm moving on to my next big goal- to perhaps get into the casual race crowd. I'm pretty sure that there a lot of women out there like me who are lonely riding only with men in lycra, struggling to get faster and better at handling, women with interesting stories and a lot to teach me about creating space for inclusion.
I think about it a lot- the simple act of BEING THERE, of occupying space and being visible. The act of confidence and thoughtfulness to ride well and take care of your machines, to value what they do for you, and the ability to be realistic about what you want out of them and what they can give. With my changing place, having no-where to settle into with my old crickety BiBi, I have built the new and moved on gracefully. But it would be nice to find the like-minded who understand the will to improve without pretension, who like to geek out about tech stuff without idolizing $3000 bikes and carbon frames, the people to whom biking is a life-style and a way of moving oneself for pleasure and for utility. I'm looking for a little Mpls in my new city of San Francisco.
Cheers and come visit! The riding out here is amazing!