So who comes to Grease Rag? You’ve put your fear in your pocket for the night--who should you expect to meet the first time you come to Grease Rag?
We are an eclectic group of women/trans/femme (WTF) bicycle enthusiasts. We don’t go in for boxes or labels, but maybe a list of descriptive words, in alphabetical and reverse alphabetical order, will show you who we are, and that there is space for you to join us. These came from an informal survey of some of the Grease Rag'ers I've seen recently. Think of them as removable, changeable, interchangeable, erasable, self-edited labels. Please mix and match and add some words so we can describe you too.
We have so many things in common and so many differences. We believe in the inherent strength of WTFs and our ability to learn new things, celebrate our bike-powering bodies, and build an awesome community of empowered cycling friends.
On to the lists!
Pastimes and professions (nouns and gerunds)
Music we like
The Grease Rag Menagerie
(do houseplants count?)
Places we ride and types of riding we do
exploring for fun
I see a lot of words that are missing. Any firefighters? Lizard owners? Who like jazz? Does anyone out there ride a handcycle or a tandem?
It’s Grease Rag. We’re an awesome, queer-friendly, safer space and we’re waiting for you to join us. We don’t actually need the labels. We just are who we are.
Yesterday was the first (calendar) day of spring, so I suppose this is as good a time as any to recap my winter riding experience, no matter what the weather throws at us. This was my first winter commuting in Minnesota and the first winter here that I can remember. The last winter I lived in Minnesota I was wearing a red size 2T snowsuit and I had a very tenuous grasp on how to ride a bike.
Photo credit: my parents
Image shows a toddler bundled up in a red snowsuit with a hood. She is riding a blue push bike on the sidewalk. All of the grass is brown and there is some snow still on the ground. Caption: Me then.
So I declare it: I survived the winter. Final exams hit me pretty hard in December, but I've been riding as often as possible since January. This winter I learned to ride on ice and how to dress for winter riding (still working on that). I got lost, lost circulation in my toes, changed my socks a whole bunch, fell, went on a very icy Sober Ride, and rode with a windchill of -10 F. My scarf froze pretty often, but I never got any (un)beardsicles, so I suppose that's a good goal for the next cold snap.
First off, a reminder that we have a fantastic brrrunch coming up tomorrow. There will be waffles! And vegan pancakes!
I love riding with other people, but the bulk of my riding is done alone. (But is one really ever alone with a bicycle? Or a rubber ducky?) Me, my bike, my thoughts, listening to all the sounds of my bike interacting with the world. I love the sounds of winter riding:
-the quiet susurration of my wheels on the snow
-the buzz of studded tires as they zip over ice
-the busy hum of the same tires on pavement
-little icy crunching noises!
Some days it's nice to see other people on the greenway, but some days it's nice to be totally alone with the winter.
Neglected bikes are coming up out of the snowbanks like crocuses.
Image shows the handlebars and stem of a bike stuck in a snowbank. The snow is very dirty and beginning to melt away, exposing the bike. Caption: Neglected bikes are coming up out of the snowbanks like crocuses. Read More
Oh, Stupor Bowl. I agree with Lowrah on a few counts here. Stupor Bowl was much more awesome than I knew it could be (she may have already figured that out), I'm a little inspired to ride next year, and it is time to hear from to hear from some of the women.
Up today is a race report from Lee Penn, who finished third in the women's speed race. Lee races her bikes on all sorts of courses ('cross, road, alley cat, dirt) in all sorts of weather [video is uncaptioned KARE-11 coverage of the MN State Cyclocross Championship, which took place in the snow this year]. She's one of our go-to people when it's time for the winter skill share and has written about winter handling skills here before (spring might be almost here, but there's still time to grab a little bit of a winter ride).
Lee, in yellow jacket, preparing to leave the afterparty.
The image shows two bikers standing late at night on the edge of a snow-lined street. In the foreground is a yellow utility pole with a snow-encrusted bike leaning against it. The cyclists look as if they may be having a conversation. On the left is a man in a gray jacket and red helmet. He is facing Lee, who is wearing a yellow jacket and olive green backpack with reflective stripes. Lee is leaning on her bike with her back to the camera.
A Race Report by Lee Penn
I’d thought about racing Stupor Bowl over the last few years, but this was my first time actually racing it. Even earlier in the week, I was unsure about racing, considering all kinds of options, including the Loppet Ice Bike race, which is always on the same day as Stupor Bowl and I did last year.
What had I heard about Stupor Bowl? Loads of drinking… and fun… but really not much else. So, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Read More
By Naomi Shihab Nye
A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.
This poem makes me think about why I ride my bike. Running from loneliness, running from anger, chasing sunshine, chasing joy, reveling in the weather, exploring new places, celebrating my body. As a newcomer to the cities, I wasn’t sure how far into winter I was going to keep riding. First I said, “Until I think it gets too cold.” Then it was, “Well, maybe until it snows.” And then it snowed and Grease Rag had a winter riding skillshare, and I just couldn’t stop riding. Read More