There have been some questions as to why I would be co-hosting a women’s ride and I think it’s important that I clarify why such an event is important and why I am a part of it.
As a biker in both Jacksonville and Philadelphia, I have had to deal with a lot of intimidation. The fixed gear community is a male majority. Going to bike shops both here and in Philadelphia, I’ve had to deal with a lot of shit from bike mechanics deciding I didn’t know what I wanted. A couple examples from Philly, when I first went in to have my polo bike set up, thinking it would be better to get a ‘professional’ to install the braking system, I had to go in three times before it was done how I wanted it, because the guys didn’t think I knew what I was doing with my brake set up. It took a lot for me to even begin playing bicycle polo in such a decidedly male messenger town. Most weeks I was the only girl, and it was a balancing act trying to assert that no, I wasn’t there to hook up with a “hot” messenger, that I just wanted to learn, but at the same time not coming off as a “bitch” and proving I could play. It was frustrating, and at least once I almost quit, but I loved playing so I kept going.
I don’t want Jacksonville to be that male-dominated biking town (and I’m not saying that it is). I don’t want other girls who’re getting into biking to face the same sort of stumbling blocks. I want to see chicks on every level of the biking community. Because biking is fun, it’s liberating and it’s a great form of transportation. I’ve talked to a lot of people (not just girls) who have told me they don’t like doing the weekly Jax ride known as ‘midnight mass’ because they feel intimidated, because their bike isn’t “cool” enough, that they don’t feel comfortable in the mostly male, cliquish, environment. It’s become a somewhat macho thing.
Well Aimeee and I are establishing alternatives rides. We want everyone to feel included, with also a possibly more convenient time. The first step is going to be this women’s ride. We want to see every type of bike there, from cruiser to bmx. We want women to feel included, no judging, just fun.
After this ride there will be more, and not gender inclusive. This is just the beginning and we are looking forward to hosting a series of just fun, themed rides in the near future. So if you’re a boy, keep your eyes out; if you’re a girl who couldn’t make it to this one, keep aware. Jacksonville can be a sweet biking town with an inclusive bike community. But nothing happens overnight, and this is just a step, one we hope in the right direction.
Also, just a post note. I am not saying that midnight mass is a horrible ride, I’ve gone several times and it is fun. I apologize if this reads like I’m attacking anything/anyone, that is not my intention. For events/movements/etc. to be successful, one has to constantly question why, and improve upon things found lacking. There can be more than one ride; there can be more than one group.
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