I Love Girl Riders 2013

This video made me tear up a little bit. Also made me want to be a rad racer like many of the women in the video. BMX track racing is calling my name! One day, when I move back to Quito and there is a BMX track within easy distance from wherever I’m living, I will race BMX. It will happen.

Kittie Knox – 1800s Bike Hero

Kittie Knox
Kittie Knox

An all-star volunteer at work recently sent me the print version of this Boston Globe article from this fall called ‘Kittie Knox: Pluck on Wheels.’ In recent years there has been a renaissance of bike organizers talking about Annie Londonderry as a trail-blazing cyclist: the first woman to ‘ride’ around the world (I say ‘ride’ and not ride because it’s well documented that she didn’t really ride the whole way – but that is besides the point). But this article about Kittie Knox profiles a little-known barrier-breaking cyclist.

Knox, a seamstress born in 1874 to a free black father and a white mother, became a prominent and accomplished cyclist by the 1890s in Boston. But her mixed racial heritage raised eyebrows, as did her insistence on riding a man’s bike and wearing pantaloons of her own design instead of the long, heavy skirts prescribed by Hopkins and her ilk.

The article talks about her various accomplishments racing in the 1890s, and the uproar she started within the National League of American Wheelmen. It’s definitely worth checking out the article, and learning a bit about this little known piece of biking history.

Wadjda

If you haven’t seen Wadjda yet, GO! Wadjda is a Saudi film about a young girl who sees a bicycle on the back of a truck, and immediately knows that she must have it. She is a spunky, curious eleven year old, who is navigating coming of age in Saudi society. She starts different money making schemes to earn money to buy the bike (forbidden for girls) and runs into trouble at first. Instead she enters a contest at school reciting the Koran to try to win the cash prize to buy the bike.

Wadjda Movie Poster
Wadjda Movie Poster

This film has been on my radar for a while, and I’d really wanted to see it but hadn’t had time. Finally today I looked up the times and decided to go by myself – and I was just in the knick of time, because today is the last day it’s showing in Boston!

There are a lot of things I liked about the film. I am often cautious about films that seem like they are going to simplify all of Islam as bad for women (which I was afraid of going into the film), but I thought the film did a good job of complicating that notion. As the director said:

I think a lot of people expect the film to be more confrontational, and maybe more radical in its delivery. But my film is less a criticism of the system as it is of people who think they are powerless to change their place within it. I wanted to show that the characters have choices, and that the easiest choice is always to conform, and that the choice to break away can be difficult but also incredibly rewarding. I also wanted to make a film Saudis could be proud of, and one that would make film as a medium seem less threatening.

The movie also showcases issues of gender, class, sexuality, and ethnicity in Saudi Arabia in a way that feels genuine, and doesn’t present easy answers for the viewer.

If you haven’t seen it, check it out soon before it’s out of theaters!

Grease Rag and Facilitating Safe Spaces

My friend, and Minneapolis Bike Hero, Laura Kling recently wrote up some responses to frequently asked questions about Grease Rag.

Grease Rag Ride & Wrench aims to encourage WTF (women, transgender, femme) cyclists by facilitating fun and supportive open shop nights, group rides, educational seminars and social events. We are an entirely volunteer-run organization, fueled by enthusiasm and a drive to grow our community. Grease Rag would like to make bicycling in the Twin Cities more inclusive of WTF cyclists, especially focusing on including and building confidence in new cyclists, and cyclists new to bicycle mechanics. In the past year we have gotten a lot of new cyclists biking and excited to bike around the Twin Cities.

I used to help facilitate Grease Rag while living in Minneapolis, and it is one of the most incredible bike spaces I’ve ever been a part of. The environment is so supportive and positive, and I think that the whole Grease Rag community has something really incredible and special going on. The FAQ’s also address why safe spaces for WTF cyclists are important, and different methods Grease Rag uses to try to facilitate that kind of space. I know that this is something that Laura thinks a lot about, and her responses are insightful and useful to others who are trying to organize safe spaces.

Continue reading “Grease Rag and Facilitating Safe Spaces”