05 Oct
2015

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The Journey is the Destination

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on October 5, 2015   comments 0

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Delirious with feevah

The Feevah

When I go out with Holly and Zack, we all get struck with the feevah (fever): Mushroom Feevah! And not just Mushroom Feevah , but Ramp Feevah , Fruit Tree Feevah , Lilac Feevah! It's hip to call the feevah "foraging," but whatever you call it, can't you feel it? Burning inside of you? The urge to scoop up things growing and thriving all around you to ferment them and cook with them and share them?  The feeling that pulls you into the woods, because there might be an edible a little further down?  Just past that next bend?

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When you have the Feevah, you evaluate the world as such

On a most gorgeous fall afternoon, we set out on a journey to an apple orchard 26 miles away. We poked along and rode through weird suburban bike "infrastructure," arriving at the consumerist melee which is an orchard in the fall. "All hail monoculture and apple-themed merchandise!" We drank a beer by the nearby creek, demolished a pie with plastic forks, and napped. I brought an empty pannier, expecting the bounty of my 1/2 peck of apples, a frozen pie, what was left of the other pie we tucked into, and some cinnamon apple donuts. The jam band was like Jimmy Buffet doing Neil Young impressions, and there were kids with sticky fingers everywhere... but it was still a great time with pals.

When we left, we picked up the pace to beat darkness. Although... our speediness was probably negated by the few wrong turns I lead us down. On one of our detours, Holly got the feevah when she spotted a tree in a vet parking lot. Pear Feevah!

Pear Feevah

We dramatically u-turned into the parking lot where an older person, with beautiful black hair and a thick purple wool cape had a long telescoping pole and was poking it into the pear tree.

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15 Sep
2015

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Our bodies are not your billboards

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on September 15, 2015   comments 6

(This is a visually boring post because I refuse to repost the sexist images.  They are linked if you really need to know.)

The bike industry is an exclusive, white male-centric industry with rampant systemic problems with sexism, racism, and transphobia.  

These problems are communicated and reinforced through marketing.

#nopodiumgirls!

"Is this bike thing sexist?" test

"Is this bike thing sexist" test applied

Female blogger leaves major publication because of abusive, sexist commenters and unsupportive staff

Bike company markets women's bikes for looking good and not exerting yourself

Sexist "shrink" and "pink" products at Interbike

Systemic and cultural exclusion of WTFs in bike shops

Using sex to sell is common.  It's lazy.  And it is also dumb, considering EVERYTHING WE KNOW TELLS US IT DOESN'T WORK.

The examples of how WTFs are excluded from the bike industry are endless.  Two images have been circulating on social media the past few days and are perfect reminders of how companies and the bike industry can be completely insensitive and alienate their WTF customer base.  Here, I want to focus on how we can use our voice to slowly chip away at these institutions which harm us with their sexualization and objectification of our bodies, the erasure of our image, and dismissal of our strength and experience.

1. Our bodies are not your billboards

First, a company that caters to "messengers" sexualizes bodies to be edgy in an advertisement.  The WBMA (Women's Bike Messanger Association) had a great response to the image.  

Last weekend, the Women's Bike Messenger Association (WBMA) held its first meeting at the Denver NACCC. The meeting itself was full of high spirits and great ideas, but we were occasionally met with the question of why it was necessary.

Yesterday, Chrome Industries posted a photo of a woman, wearing little more than one of their bags and their shoes, handing out promo during fashion week. This was seen as a clever "anti-fashion" statement on their part, and was defended based on the fact that there was a man involved and therefore gender neutral, even empowering.

As a company with a significant following and longevity in this scene that has always attempted to straddle the line between representing messengers while still utilizing our culture a part of your "lifestyle brand," we would hope the team responsible for posting to your social media would think twice before stooping to traditional corporate means of sexualizing women, specifically white and skinny women, in marketing. Proportionally, there are far fewer women cyclists, and certainly female messengers, and all of us have fought to be taken seriously as cyclists above and beyond our bodies and gender.

We call for Chrome to seriously take into consideration the number of women who have voiced their opinion on this. Your dismissal of our frustration and anger as just one of many opinions is not only disappointing, but disrespectful. We ask that Chrome remove their post, sincerely apologize for their actions as well as take actual strides in including the voices and opinions of women if they expect to be welcomed into the community upon which their reputation was built. We expect genuine recognition of why this is bothersome rather than PR commentary that does little to apologize for or rectify the real issue at hand.

This is why there's a WBMA.

The image was taken down without an apology.

This is why there's a Grease Rag.

This is why every women, trans, femme space, and every GLBT space, and every space for people of color exists. The dominant group does not see us as whole, capable, equal members of society. Sexualization and objectification are a part of rape culture.

SEE these WTFs coming together with a strong unified voice against sexist marketing! Respect. See a cowardly company refusing to respond, and see the less awake humans defending their harmful marketing.

2. Our bodies do not belong in your "goodie bags"

Second, the largest bike industry show in the country gives out socks with sexualized bodies in their "welcome goodie bags."  (The show is held in Las Vegas, a town known for using sex to sell.)  Women were disgusted and Pretty. Damned. Fast posted to social media.

For an industry that claims to want women to feel included, play a larger role, and spend more money, this was a really bad promotional item to include in the welcome bag. I think it's sad that Interbike is hosting panel discussions and seminars on what women want from the cycling industry. Well one thing women want is to be free from garbage like this. Not cool Interbike

The socks were removed from bags and a "non-apology" was issued.

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The comment from the company that makes the socks was even more tone-deaf.  This post deflects responsibility and essentially says, "My contribution to sexually objectifying women and contributing to rape culture was meant to be fun." Thumbs down.

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Thank you to all the people standing up for our bodies, and against this behavior

People have been blasting on social media and asking companies to be accountable.  Thank you to Jules, employee and blogger for local company Surly, for stepping up to write about these incidents.  Please read this whole post.

There will be people both male and female that just don't understand how this sets our industry back. How this creates an environment for women to be assaulted both physically and verbally inside and outside of the workplace. I would like to ask those that do get it to continue to talk about these instances. Talk about them loudly and make these companies that make these mistakes understand why it was a mistake and that they will be held accountable. We need to educate people. We need to work to create an environment where people understand body love comes from the person in the body.

What can we learn from this?

Learn. Talk to us about this topic.  

Read this post.  Read about our experiences in bike shops.  Follow links.  Google.  If you have questions about why this is a "big deal, " or why this is not "empowering," or why it would not have the same issues if it featured sexualized male nudity, please ask.

Call out, call in.

Take your bros aside, and tell them why they shouldn't be having twitter fights with people against sexualizing women for marketing purposes.  Call out companies.  See examples above for how we can actually start whittling away at this institution.

Say you're sorry, and mean it.

These companies need to take responsibility and make a meaningful apology. We wrote a guide on how to give meaningful apologies, because we all make mistakes.  We are bound to be wrong some of the time.

02 Sep
2015

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How to Ask Someone to Share Knowledge and Lived Experience

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on September 2, 2015   comments 0

Leading up to, during, and after Babes in Bikeland 9, several people have reached out for my help.  They asked for my perspective and lived experience around topics like, gender 101, making a safer spaces policy, not being an offensive bro, and understanding tone policing.

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Photo by Lindsey Wallace, bikinginmpls.com

I am so honored that people see me as an accessible resource! I love to be helpful, and I want to work tirelessly toward safer and inclusive spaces. The most flattering thing about being asked for help is not that I feel proud of the expertise people perceive I hold. The most flattering thing is that people trust me and find me approachable enough to want to be vulnerable. And the fact that people are reaching out means they want to learn and grow, which makes the world a better place to live in.

How to ask for knowledge and perspective from someone who experiences oppression

By now, we should all know that just because you want to know more about the black experience, doesn't mean you can approach a black person and demand they share their thoughts and experiences with you.  If you want to know about what it is like to be a WTF, they don't owe you "WTF 101." But if you are genuine in your desire to learn, how do you ask someone for help with something outside of your understanding?  Here are some steps to respectfully asking someone to be vulnerable with you, and share their time and energy with you.

  1. Always remember to ask for consent! Nobody owes you anything, you aren't entitled to anything. e.g. "Would you like to have coffee on Friday to discuss ____?" Be able to take no for an answer. "No?  No problem! Thanks for being clear and honest with me.  If you ever change your mind know that I am interested."
  2. Do some research. Either on your own, or you can ask for some homework before we talk. You don't have to be an expert, but it helps if we have shared understandings of basic concepts, and if you have specific questions we can be extra productive. e.g. Google it first.
  3. Set goals and expectations. What do you expect to get out of this conversation? e.g. "I'd like to share something I got called out on that I don't understand. Could you help me get to the bottom of that?"
  4. Accept my knowledge and experience. My experience is just mine. I can't speak for anyone else. Telling me not to feel a certain way or that what I've experienced is not real is not cool. e.g. Don't say, "You need to stop being angry." Please say, "Thank you for your perspective!"
  5. Drop the 'ttude. Defensiveness is an understandable reaction when talking about difficult subjects, but that doesn't mean it is welcome. No one is perfect and we all have to start somewhere, so try to stop defending yourself and avoid blame and really think about what's being said. e.g. If you feel like saying "Not all..." just stop.
  6. Compensate me for my work. Talking about the trauma and pain of my identity is emotional work. Discussing the nuances of how to do better is work. WTFs, POC, and other folks are expected to do this work for the benefit of the people who benefit from systems that oppress us, just beause they ask. It is fair to compensate people for their time and work that has value.
  7. Thank me and appreciate my time and energy. Because I am thankful you asked, and I appreciate your time and energy.

My friend Nicole recently told me that having concrete examples is a good way to give people the tools to support you. Instead of "Be respectful," I'm saying, "Don't make 'jokes' about gay or trans people, because it is disrespectful." I'm practicing this communication in this list.

I am over the moon that an event like Babes and all of the language that has been swirling around in preparation for, and during Babes has catalyzed these conversations! Humans have an amazing capacity for learning and for empathy. I love that the more we learn, the more we feel the pain and triumph of others. Never stop learning. Never stop feeling.

We are all in this together.

02 Sep
2015

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Totally Spoked- Dana Invades Canadian Radiowaves

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on September 2, 2015   comments 0

Grease Rag friend Dana was on the radio in Canada last night! The station is like the KFAI of Kingston, Ontario and the program she was featured on was called, "Totally Spoked."

CC licensed photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreannegermain/3657279001

Visit http://www.cfrc.ca/program_archive and choose August 31, 4 pm  for Dana's show. (You can listen there or download the file.)

Awesome!

01 Sep
2015

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My Bikeland, 2015

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on September 1, 2015   comments 0

I usually work nights and weekends, but I asked for this past weekend off from work. "Cultural holiday." Babes in Bikeland 9 is something to celebrate!

Babes in Bikeland is more than a race

Babes in Bikeland is the largest all-WTF (women, trans, femme) alley cat race in the country. (And probably the largest race of its kind in the Universe, we just can't confirm that.)  Pre-Babes Wanderabout is an event that happens the night before the race, and is focused on friendship and socializing with WTFs.

But Babes is not just the race. Babes is the self-organizing that people do beforehand, pre-registering, finding people to ride with, and planning costumes and team names. Babes is the Pre-Babes Wanderabout, where people focus on friendship in an all-WTF space. Babes is the after party. Babes is the awards ceremony. Babes is wearing your t-shirt the day after and smiling at every WTF you see. Babes is flipping through the photo stop photos and looking at race standings and reconnecting with people you rode with, days after the race. Babes is about celebrating women, transgender, and femme power in a supportive and intentional environment.

What does Babes mean to you? Share your stories and images

ROOKIES! VETERANS! MASTERS! WTFS!! I need to hear from you. Send us your Facebook posts, your race reports, your narrative, your photos, your impressions. Please email greaseragmpls@gmail.com and I will compile your media, and we will be HEARD! Your voice will encourage others to partake next year, and your voice will show that we are active, supportive, biking BABES.

If you were able to attend Babes this year, you know how important it is to the vibe and energy of the event to pack the venue with amazing WTF presence. And if you are a WTF, you know how important it is to keep on publishing stories in our own words, and images of us being ourselves, and not sexualized, passive objects. I strongly believe that publishing what you write, photograph, record is important, regardless if it is an event like Babes or an account of your commute, or a cute photo of you and your kid enjoying bikes together. Let's show 'em how it's done.

(If you have feedback about the race itself, please help us make this event better!)

Stories and Images: Your Babes in Bikeland

BABES!  ROLLLL OUT!

Anna of Min Enterprises Photography LLC, shot this amazing video.  Check out the Grease Rag tent and ALL. THOSE. BABES.

Babes in Bikeland 2015 Rollout

The 9th annual bike race and ride for women, trans*, and femme identified cyclists started out near DeLaSalle high school; shortly riders would be seen throughout the city. Press HD while playing for best viewing!

Babes in Bikeland Photo Stop

Credit for photos goes to Alex MacGillis and crew.  I can't recommend flipping through each one and reading what our Babes have to say.  I got a little misty eyed...  Photo set here.

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Nicole

Nicole (@nicycle) wrote a beautiful recap of her Babes experience.  This is a snippet

I spent the remainder of the night very close to the Grease Rag tent... that purposeful purple awning of awesomeness that was literally paid for with community. I chipped in what I could to help make that tent happen, and every time I see it I am proud to be a small part of it. It’s a perfect metaphor for Grease Rag, really.

See, I stayed by that tent almost all night because I like looking at it. I like knowing it’s there, and that it exists, and that it is found by so many people. I have always felt peripheral to Grease Rag because I work nights and cannot often attend events. However, the Winter Skill share I made it to several years ago was one of the highlights of my biking life, helping me to understand many of the things that had felt like barriers to riding all year. Things like what to wear so I don’t freeze to death and how to not fall.

Grease Rag is all of us. While there are amazing organizers who do so much for the organization, it would not exist without you or I to want it. And I want it! I have delivered so many WTFs into the hands of Grease Rag, so I like to believe I am heavily involved by proxy. And now, we have this tent.

While hanging out near the tent I admired the amazing Abus lock I scored from the prize table, watched Liberty paint Karl’s toenails, had a sandwich delivered straight into my mouth, and ate a tootsie roll. I also had an amazing conversation with new friends about things that can’t be repeated here, but the kind of things that you get to talk about when you just crossed the whole town on your bike, and you allow yourself to be consumed by WTFs in one space. …The kind of opportunities that opens up. A big REASON WE HAVE THIS RACE, need this race. Community. Cavorting. Challenges.

Cheering. Captivating. Celebration. Coozies.

Kate Leibfried

I woke up this morning with a full heart and a grin on my face. Thank you to the amazing Babes volunteers for making this race fun and welcoming. And thank you to the loving, supportive, judgment-free WTF community for being just plain awesome. Y'all are rock stars!

Melanie Steinman Kelley

Some outfits Melanie saw at Babes:

  • Batman & Robin on the "tandem mobile"!
  • "Babes" the Blue Ox & the Pig!
  • The 9 to 5 Clerical Babes Extraordinaire!
  • Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg!!!!
  • Team Prince!!
  • Cotton Candy Holly!
  • glitter galore!!!
  • balloons on bikes!
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Team high visibility orange cape super hero babes
  • Lady bug
  • Babe-raham Lincolns
  • Minnesota Vikings!
  • Team Batwomen in bustles/half-tutus
  • Team Lumberjack Babes!

Ginny Marie Herman

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YOU! I love you all. This race is so important & every year I become more & more aware of how important WTF only spaces are. Thank you for creating an environment where I felt safe to be silly, sassy, sexy Ginny. (Those hats are the sexiest thing in the world! I turn myself on sometimes!) Now, think of how we can create these SAFER SPACES in our everyday lives. #noBrozone Stand up for yourself, others & call it when you see it. Support each other & find & celebrate those allies!!! Happy 9th Birthday Babes! Onto double digits next year!!!

Ashely Hall

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What an amazing race. Thank you Rachel for being my starter buddy and thank you Julia for taking over from there. You guys guided and pushed me to come in 1st Place Out of Town this year!

I love Babes so much and I can't wait to do it again next year!!

Kaytie Kamphoff

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Had a great time last night riding the always empowering Babes in Bikeland 9 bike race! Spent the night with two of my favorite women, biked 35 miles around my lovely city, and got to cheer for fellow babes as we passed each other into the night. Thank you Kat and Jessica for organizing such a wonderful event; thank you Alex, Alex, Ayako, and Patrick for hosting such fun checkpoints; and most importantly, thank you to all the beautiful babes that help each other feel more powerful and beautiful every day.

Also, can we get Jana to host a bike racing strategy 101 course (let's be real, it'd be at the 400+ level)?!? Dang, she's good!

Jana Velo

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Photo by Ben Hovland

Still buzzing from the awesome event, Babes in Bikeland 9!
Thank you Kat, Jessica and Karyn, for working so hard to make this it happen and for your **massive** support for the WTF community! You keep coming up with ever-cooler additions: more race categories and podium levels in each category, the killer prize table, the fantastic Babes jerseys, and the scholarship. Your months of hard work really showed!
Big ups to Grease Rag Ride & Wrench and Laura and Ginny who enlisted and prepared people for safe and fun riding.
Thanks to Solcana Crossfit for once again hosting the after party!
Kudos to all of the men who cheered, set-up, volunteered, reg'd, DJ'd, cleaned up and supported to allow the most possible WTFs to ride! And Jessica Baltzley. Everyone was really helpful and supportive.
This year my goal was to have a positive attitude throughout, since it's not been my strong suit when the combo of adrenaline, competition and bonkage kick in. I feel like things went pretty well, though there's always room for improvement.
Congrats to Kate, Nikki, Hailey, Anneka and the fast person with the great bow tie whose name escapes me. And to Jenny, Dana, Nickey & co, and all of the other podium folk! It was hard to see and hear everything over the crowd, so I didn't catch it all.
Thanks to The Hub Bike Co-op for sponsoring the Felt CX bike that I won, and to Six Degrees Uptown for the 1 month membership! I'm so excited to use both!
Check out all of the Babes sponsors, and support them for supporting us!
http://babesinbikeland.com/sponsors/
Thanks especially to my wonderful, handsome, #1 cheerleader, Phil Velo! I love you and so appreciate your moral and mechanical support.
Shout out to Erik Noren and Peacock Groove for my trusty bike (sponsored at Babes in Bikeland 2010)!
I'm grateful for the camaraderie and backing of Sh!tgoose Race Team and our sponsors Alt Bike Board, Terry Bicycles, Pabst Twin Cities, Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater, Wheelhouse, Dangerous Man Brewing Co, Grumpy's Northeast, Taco Cat, Wolf Tooth Components, LLC and Memory Lanes. And Rock-It Bicycle Delivery, for adding this rookie to the ranks.::)

Hailey Perkins

4 years ago, I entered my first ever bike race, Babes in Bikeland 6. It was full to the brim with positivity, love, support, and kindness. It set a high standard for racing that was quickly put into perspective once I entered other races that were not exclusively femme/trans/women racers. Those races were male-dominated, macho ‪#‎brozones‬ that I wanted NO part of. Today was my 4th Babes race and I completely unexpectedly placed 3rd. I am so proud of myself and all the other riders who shared their smiles, glitter, and love for bikes with me. I am so lucky to be a part of a community that creates safe spaces for WTF's so that maybe one day, those vibes will rub off on all other races.

Bjorn Christianson's photo set

Bjorn has captured amazing photos of every Babes race, and this year was no exception.  Flip through the entire photoset, but this one is my favorite.

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Our fearless leaders, Karyn, Kat, and Jessica

Upcoming WTF events

Spinning Stories: Grease Rag

September 5th- Spinning Stories is a place-based storytelling series that travels by bike. We produce true, Twin-Cities stories, and bring you back to where each story first happened with a slow paced group bike ride. It's about art, it's about connecting with new people, it's about connecting with the Twin Cities in a totally new way, and - yeah - it's a super fun group bike ride, too!

This month we're partnering with Grease Rag Wrench & Ride (greaserag.org), to bring you three stories centered around women/trans*/femme (WTF) identities. Struggles, triumphs, intersectional feminism - these stories have got it all.  Check it out!

Full Moon Ride: Halloween edition

September 27th- Stay tuned!

WTF Pussycat

October 17th- For anybody looking for more WTF allycat action this fall and want a road trip- Carolyn Weber and Milwaukee's women have a date and are planning our new annual race. Thought to pass it on as Babes has been an inspiration and a pleasure to race twice- and hopefully again next year!  Check it out!

My Time in Bikeland, by Low

Read my recap of our Pre-Babes Wanderabout ride!

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