Women have different ways of biking, different needs, and different experiences!

By : edurkee · July 10, 2009

Why would we need a forum just for women who bike? I think before we think of anything else we need to really think about that question. What is it that makes biking different for women than men? What is it that makes biking so different for individual women?

We all have such variable reasons for biking. Someone just needs to get from point A to B and someone else wants to take long leisurely rides a few times a week, and others want to bomb around the city. Either way, any one who rides a bicycle at some point finds it necessary to take care of their bike, buy equiptment, and feel confident when they are riding. For women, the experiences surrounding these seemingly mundane concerns can be quite complicated. Thus, we need a forum to discuss and come together to increase our understanding of bicycling needs in all of their diverse forms.

Why only women, you say? If anyone out there is like me, I had never held a wrench until well into my first summer of biking. I'd grown up able to cook a meal for 8 people like it was easy but not used to tools, mechanics, understanding balance or how to keep myself safe on the road. I feel like I never had the chance to really bike due to my own family's culture and a lot of fear about letting a young girl go out alone on her bike. I also didn't have male friends or anyone female who had the adventurous and independent spirit it takes to get on a bike and test the limits. I think this is a pretty common experience!

But once I got on my first bike, my good old Raleigh Rapide with the bent fork and terrible seat, I felt so strong and enjoyed going so fast! And as I determined what I could fix on the bike myself and started finding people who could help me and were into bikes  it became a way of life. I also noticed that going to mechanics was intimidating and a lot of times I felt stupid for getting things fixed that I knew I should do myself but just didn't know anything about. I also noticed that most of my friends who were really into biking were dudes.

In the past couple of years, though, there has been such a rapid increase in not only bicycle traffic in general, but especially women on bikes that I think it is past time to come together and think about how our needs are different as cyclists in terms of why we bike, what our expectations are and how we feel about biking.

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I definitely agree that we need a forum for women that bike, or would like to start biking, in the Twin Cities. Ladies that bike range from novice to experienced riders. Some of us race, some commute, some ride road bikes, some ride mountain bikes, some of us do all of the above!

Maybe the most effective way to get a conversation started about biking in the Twin Cities is to focus on some general skills that can help all of the ladies out there, and also talk about some specific experiences from different types of riders.

I feel like answering specific mechanical questions might be reinventing the wheel. I am operating on the assumption that most mechanical questions can be described elsewhere on the internet. That said, for the most effective answer to a mechanical issue, we can go to the Grease Rag Ride every other Thursday to get one on one, hands-on help. Maybe, in regards to specific mechanical questions, this blog could link to tutorials or general information resources which we can use to educate ourselves.

Instead of answering specific mechanical questions on the blog, why not post solutions to scenarios that women might encounter in the Twin Cities? For example, instead of explaining how to change a flat, which you could find elsewhere on the internet or could be demonstrated at the Grease Rag Ride, maybe explain what tools you should carry to deal with a flat, or discuss the option of locking your bike someplace and taking the bus if you’re not able to deal with the problem right away. Not feeling prepared and confident can be the scariest part of riding. Maybe we could have a discussion about using panniers for getting yourself to work, or how to make commuting doable. We could discuss general safety issues on trails, etiquette, and how to deal with rude or aggressive drivers and bikers. My suggestions are aimed at ladies that may not be familiar with biking, but I think it might be a good place to start!
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