Riding With CycloFemme

19 May, 2017

On Sunday, CycloFemme hosted 270 rides, in 28 countries, raising 218 bikes for schoolgirls in Kenya with partnered efforts with World Bicycle ReliefBy going the distance together, we put more bicycles into the hands of girls and women fighting for their education and independence. To me that is astounding but this is just the beginning as there is always the goal of putting more women on bikes. As we build communities together, on and off the bike, we set a motion forward for the next generation of female cyclists and to be honest, I'm already excited for next years goal for putting more girls on a bike.

Looking in hindsight, I wasn't sure I was going to attend this ride. Mainly because it was a very wet week and forecasting to be a very wet weekend. At some point, I had to just suck it up and set my focus on the positive, I was riding for a good cause and I was going to meet women who loved cycling too. So I packed up my weekend bag and bike in the car and headed down to NYC in the heavy rains to be welcomed and hosted by my new friend and new cyclists Shannon. To kick off the bicycle filled weekend, we celebrated our new friendship over fish tacos, cider, and conversations of the bike life.
Saturday night we prepare for an early Sunday morning rise, setting aside our kit, prepping our bikes, morning breakfast, and snacks for the ride ahead. Waking up for an early 7:30am meet up for a ride almost sounded crazy to me for a Sunday but when I rolled into SOHO in the morning sunlight, I understood why: the streets were glistened in solitude and silence. 

Bicycle Habitat, along with Women's Cycling NYC, were our hosts organizers for the ride. When I entered the shop, the vibe was a morning chill yet everybody's eyes were glistened with tiredness and excitement. We knew our purpose for this ride which was enough to get us up so early on a Sunday. 

As our organizers began the event, they opened with a warm welcome and brief reminder of why we were doing this ride. A sleep inducing yoga session was had and then we set our way into our ride groups. The ride was sorted into three groups, all suitable for those who were having their first group ride and for those who were experienced in group riding with a choice in distance. As we each meet our groups, smiles were exchanged, new bonds were made, and away we set pedaling.
When riding with a group of just women, something stirred in me. I thought about my weekend rides with my cycling club and recognized how different it was in comparison. In this group of women, I felt acceptance, a desire to bond, an openness to feedback, and overall care for one another's safety. There was a point where I forgot my city cycling etiquette and a gentle reminder that a cop may look for an opportunity to ticket me was enough to remind me of everything I knew of city commuting.

At our destination, friendly exchanges were made, snacks were eaten, and a bit of city knowledge was shared. Heading back to Bicycle Habitat, the ride back became a bit more challenging. There were runners, other cyclists, and families along the way. Safety was definitely on the radar. For some new to group riding, I could see the unsure tension in their pedal, and for those experienced, I could see the sense of control in their directions. What I saw in these exchanges was interesting to me. It certainly reminded me of my early days of cycling, not knowing how to behave on the road and not knowing if I was adequate in my skills. I think there is a lot to say for those leading our group ride, the confidence and care for riding safely together was certainly infectious and comforting.

When we made it back to Bicycle Habitat, we all sighed with a wow. It felt empowering, riding with a group of women who were confident on the city roads made me feel invincible, as if we were parading down the open avenues. That feeling is what I always hope to bring with me on a ride now. It's what I hope all women new and old in cycling will feel on a ride. It's what I hope the girls and women in Kenya will feel. And I think that feeling is what will drive me to ride with more women and get more on bikes at home too.

photo courtesy: womenscyclingnyc

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