One of the blogs I follow is Revolution Bike Style Now!, written by Laura/ shecycles. The blog is not updated all that frequently, but I really appreciate Laura's voice as she describes her experiences as a WTF cyclist. With her permission, I am re-posting an excerpt that I found particularly moving.
...since I've started cycling my whole outlook on life has totally changed. I've always tried to be someone who lived by the D.I.Y ethic and I tried to keep active, live healthily and create as much as I can, but usually I'd just end up sitting at home on my laptop looking at things other people had done.
But then I bought a bike and started to cycle all the journeys I used to make by bus or tube. And I suddenly felt completely free, I wasn't paying extortionate amounts to sit on a crowed train and I could get there quicker. I could go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. I really don't know how to describe the feeling of freedom that cycling gives you. I started to learn about the backstreets of London, see all the things you miss when you're stuck underground and I started to learn how to even fix my own bike.
I love stories of liberation via bicycle from WTFs just like you and me! I think we can all identify with the feeling of freedom that riding a bicycle can bring.
In one post, she describes how she meets up with a group of women for a group ride but is completely left out and made to feel inferior. This broke my heart.
One of the top reasons that females cite for not wanting to bike is that female cyclists are unfriendly. What?! It is a personal campaign of mine, because of a study I read pointing out the perceived "unfriendliness" factor, to be extra friendly when I am anywhere near a bicycle. I would never treat a WTF (or anyone, for that matter) willing to ride their bicycle as anything less than an equal even if they did not have the "right" kit or knowledge.
Laura has an upbeat outlook and finds a positive side to her negative experience.
I'm not going to change and try and fit in with these girls. Instead I want to work to create my own supportive and friendly girl cycling gang! I want to teach other girls how to fix their bikes and go on rides around town with them!
Wonderful! I suggest she starts her own Grease Rag in London... If you can't find what you need, build it. Build a friendly, inclusive scene for other WTFs like yourself and they will come- have faith.
Laura recently sent me an update, via email.
That experience of the girl bike ride has turned into quite a positive one thankfully, for a few days afterward I started having really negative feelings about cycling and lost a bit of confidence, but reading all the lovely comments I got really helped me put that behind me and spurred me on to changing that. I'm really looking forward to doing the mechanics course now, so that I can pass on the knowledge I gain to other women.
We wish you the best of luck! Please keep in touch!