I #lovemnwinter because I love work and when you run a bike shop there is a never ending supply!
But before work, each morning, I drink a glass of water and dance five, ten, or fifteen minutes. I find that hip hop is the best for feeling empowered and impervious to cold. Over breakfast, I talk with my housemate with who was also a bike shop owner and a bike racer. If there were a fly in that room it would be jostled around by the waving of hands and wafts of steam from our oatmeal.
From there I head to the bike shop and train on my bike in the basement. I’m not much of a competitive person, but I wanted a shop club that would promote inclusivity and educate people on bike repair and commuting. Some folks came to the shop seeking a team sponsor and in sharing the same vision we developed a club. Come spring riders will be selected for a variety of types of racing for our multi-discipline team (track, road, and cyclo-cross primarily). I train to share the experience of the club members and I sometimes ride alone so I can be support during the evening group rides (two-four available per week in the shop, bikes and trainers available). Through this I am learning the fuzzy mathematics behind the human body. Coffee makes me anxious and mad, while a routine of green tea is like a brisk but sunny day. I am beginning to comprehend what my body needs and balancing it with the level of self-control I can expect from myself. While the club has a coach who provides guidelines for training, I love the additional goals I give myself. I am increasingly impressed by my progress in achieving small and then bigger and bigger things. By holding myself to two minutes, four minutes, or twenty minutes in a position or intensity against all impulses to give up, I am developing the discipline I have always wanted and never thought possible. This translates to other aspects of my life. I am turning “I really don’t want to” into “I must” and “I can and will” and it is overwhelmingly encouraging.
Post training I tidy the shop and often start a crock pot of curry or chili to be ready for club training. I am starting to get a grasp on insecurity around food and am learning to cook for myself and others! I used to HATE cooking but am encouraged by the support of the club who thank me in words and empty bowls. I was exposed to the concept of cooking as meditation. Given my apprehension in a kitchen, I never realized that a methodical process of preparing food would become a moment of just being. Doing dishes has become the same. Not activities that I dread, but ones where I feel my sense of giving back to the people who are focused on training, learning, volunteering, and being the kindest cyclists. “Ride. Respect. Repeat.” is our motto and it is impossible to not feel like an integral part of what is becoming to me a family of really compassionate people.
Throughout the day community organizers from groups such as Grease Rag, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, the Velodrome, as well as team leaders, artists, and other individuals stop by to collaborate over tea or wild rice soup. We talk about ways to increase the levels of inclusivity within the current and emerging cycling communities, make plans, and check back in. I am developing confidence and social skills to attend events and meet other people who are doing awesome things or seeking opportunities that I can share. I am continually asking “Where is there need? What can I offer? How can we work together?” Through the shop I can offer meeting space, studios, exhibition space, a wood shop, club support, bike repair education, and bike discounts. I seek collaborators in the Cherry Cycles Artist Collective (artists of color & WTF focusing on cycling, inclusivity, and social change), organizers for a Women/Trans/Femme Community Event and Expo (sharing all the good things about cycling and community involvement for WTF), and leaders for Bike Scouts, a merit based bike encouragement and education program (aimed at expanding social awareness, involvement, and cycling skills) with patches! It is inspiring to work with folks and watch these visions become clear reality!
Usually, a bike shop in winter is a desolate thing and become immaculate out of boredom. Where once tumbleweeds or crickets would have been welcome company, counters retain their moderate level of cleanliness while other work takes precedence. When I turn my focus towards working the shop, I light incense and use some lotion to repel ill-seasoned grime from becoming integral with my skin in a ritual where lavender and cedar merge and I think “Today is going to be a good day because it’s a day and I’m here!”
While I wrench on a bike to prepare it for spring a bike framebuilding co-op members bring items down to the basement shop including scaffolding, a shop-vac, a grinder, an alignment table, and a vent hood for welding. I never realized I would be so excited about these things, but the shop has become a candy store and I’m the kid! I have been welcomed into other builders’ spaces to learn more about building and am excited. Within the next three years I will be able to offer resources and education for POC and WTF interested in starting their own framebuilding companies.
Grease Rag Night at the shop is a new and magical experience. While one person is fluent and a Spanish educator, others are skilled in repair, and some know a bit of each. This is a totally new learning environment for me. I know about repair, I practice stepping back from my leadership role, and I get to learn a new language! In addition, a woman is coming through the shop weekly for a personal Spanish/Repair skillshare. Shop apprentices also come down to work bikes, install a decent sink (I’ve been informed that the club members are adults and can do their own dishes), and help organize the chaos that accumulated over the summer. Not a day goes by that I don’t see a friendly face of someone with whom I will share my knowledge and feel honored that they are willing to share their time and energy. My nervousness around learning a new language is negated by their support. My favorite tool is la llave which translates to “wrench” and also “key” in English. A wrench is exactly that! An object which opens doors to bike repair opportunity!!
This season I have worked to become compassionate support to friends who struggle with anxiety, depression, or physical maladies. Winter is hard and I have learned tactics to ease my seasonal depression which I would be most willing to share upon request. I have not always been entirely honest when people ask me how it is going because I can sense sadness and while positivity can be encouraging, I stifle my urge to yell “It’s AWESOME!!!!”
Thank you for this opportunity to share my excitement! Thank you for everything that you do to stay safe and happy and warm. To everyone who is sharing time with me, you are la llave. For the first time in my life, I have found the key to #lovemnwinter.