The best part of having a new mountain bike is having new mountain bike buddies to go out riding with and a reason to explore new areas in the Boston area. I only wish that winter would never come and that the trail exploring could go on forever!
I went into Babes In Bikeland 8 with one goal: to not flip over my handlebars. Which really wasn’t a very hard goal to set. The only other time I had participated in Babes in Bikeland, the largest WTF (women/trans/femme) alley-cat in the world started in Minneapolis (unverified claim, but I’m 99% sure is accurate), I broke the chain on my fixie and flipped over my handlebars in the first three blocks of the race. Afterward I slowly rode to a few stops and stopped by the after party, but left quickly because I felt pretty shaken up. So my goal of Babes being better than the last time was a pretty easy goal to achieve. I also had other goals: have fun, ride hard, finish all the stops, cheer for everyone I passed on the roads, but not flipping over my handlebars was pretty high on the list.
And let me tell you, it was beyond great. It’s hard to find the words to describe how wonderful, empowering, and rad Babes in Bikeland is.
One of my favorite things about Babes is that it isn’t just about the race – it’s a whole weekend of events. The night before there is a pre-ride, the morning of there is a brunch, then there is the race and the after party, and the next day Open Streets essentially acts as the Babes cool down.
The weekend kicked off Friday night with the Pre-Babes Wanderabout. My friend Low with a team of other rad folks have been organizing the Wanderabout for 3 years. Its a ride meant for new people who have never raced an alley-cat before and are looking for an introduction as to what to expect, want to meet some people so that they’ll see some familiar faces at the start line, and want to familiarize themselves with at least two stops of the race (the beginning and the end). I wanted to attend the Wanderabout because although I like to think of myself as a seasoned racer, I am always looking to attend events that are advertised as an inclusive environment for new cyclists, and I’m constantly trying to learn from these events as to how to bring this back to my own community. Anyways – the wanderabout was awesome. We casually rode for 10 miles, stopped by the beautiful Minnehaha Falls, and ended at SPOKES with beer and pizza. It sets off the Babes weekend on the perfect note saying that this is a race that is welcome to everyone and encouraging new folks to come out.
Then the big day arrived. Babes in Bikeland. It’s hard to describe what its like to see 400+ WTF riders converging in this one park, some dressed in crazy costumes, others in full kits with their game faces on, and everyone super pumped to be there. I wasn’t really sure what my race plan was as I arrived at registration. I hadn’t decided if I wanted to really race, ride casually, or somewhere in between. I didn’t have a ride partner, and I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted one. And then I saw her. My old co-worker Janne was in line for registration. And I thought ‘Perfect. She is the perfect ride partner.’ After hugs and such we agreed to ride together with the motto ‘fun before fast.’ We wanted to ride fast, but still use the time to chat, catch up, and, most importantly, have fun.
The leaves are beginning to fall on the Southwest Corridor (my main route to work), so I spent last weekend panicked that summer is ending. I had this feeling of urgency that I needed to ride my bike as much as possible and spend all day, everyday outside. This was amplified by my rising anxiety about the D2R2, and the sinking feeling that I’m not ready for 100K of gravel and 10,000+ ft of climbing. I think that I’ve finally convinced myself that I am prepared. We’ll see.
That being said, I spent as much of the weekend as possible out riding. I took full advantage of my 3-day Friday-Sunday weekend. I rode between drinking beers with friends, played bike polo three of the nights, biked to eat delicious meals, went on a brewery tour, attended a women’s bike festival, and raced an alleycat for the first time in two years. With the exception of a 12 mile race, I rode 110+ miles over four days without intentionally going out ‘riding’ once.
I tried to recreate most of the weekend on Google Maps.
It started Thursday after work – I rode from work to a beer on the Esplanade, attended a National Moment of Silence for Victims of Police Brutality, made a quick trip home and then decided to go to polo because… well because its polo.
And then Friday morning I kicked it off with some dim sum, then explored the Arboretum with someone new to town, played polo and had a beer to celebrate a friend’s birthday to round out the night.
Saturday I went to Boston Bikes’ Women’s Bike Festival (more on that later this week) in West Roxbury, fixed up my bike, and then some friends and I did our monthly 6-pack shuffle ride.
And lastly Sunday I unintentionally rode 20 miles, played 2-3 hours of polo, and then decided it would be a good idea to race what was supposedly a 6 mile sprint race, but was really a 12 mile alley-cat. Oops. I don’t really have any idea how I routed through some parts of Boston, but this map is my best estimation.
[Aside: I had a fun time racing and I’m glad I did, but I have to say that it was sort of disappointing to go to my first alleycat in 2 years, and out of a field of 50ish racers I was 1 of 2 women. Sorta feels like fixie bro culture hasn’t changed much in the last 7 years. ]
In all, it was an excellent late summer weekend of drinking beers outside by bodies of water, playing polo until the lights went out, playing polo in the daylight, riding up big hills carrying 25 pounds of smoothie ingredients, eating three different kinds of pork in one meal, eating burritos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (yes, that really did happen in one day), enjoying a leisurely brunch with friends, hanging out on a castle ledge looking out over downtown Boston, and remembering that feeling of sort of wanting to puke during an alleycat.
From Friday night to Sunday night I probably spent around 20 hours on (or very near) my bike. I kicked off the weekend with some Friday night polo, spent Saturday morning exploring Middlesex Fells, covered 25 miles of Boston on an epic Saturday night bike ride til 2am (ending at Tasty Burger… obviously), and rounded out the weekend with some Sunday afternoon polo. I explored so many new spots in Boston I had never seen before, and spent a lot of time sitting near my bike near bodies of water. It was an awesome weekend of exploring, and the quintessential summer bike weekend.
Hope you all had an excellent summer biking weekend too.
The other day my co-worker and I were joking about how we only own bike t-shirts, and after I went home I rummaged through my dresser to confirm that it’s true. I more or less own two types of t-shirts: bike t-shirts and plain shirts with very few exceptions. And within that my bike t-shirts more or less fall into three categories: bike polo, bike feminism, and Bikes Not Bombs. I clearly have very specific interests. It’s also sort of funny to take these photos and blog about this now considering that I threw out/donated a bunch of my t-shirts a few months ago, and these were the shirts I decided I couldn’t part with.
I’m also now realizing I missed a few that are at work/in the laundry/in that drawer of my dresser that I always forget I keep my overflow t-shirts in. This is at least a good sampling.
Mountain biking is pretty much the best thing. Ever. (After bike polo – lets be honest). I am reminded of this as Jason just sent me these pics he took of our ride last week.
Makes me wonder where my priorities are at that I am not mountain biking all the time when I am back in the states… I’ll have to fix that this summer. Vermont trails are calling.
After spending a couple of days being pretty ill, I woke up on Monday feeling marginally better and so Jason, Harley, and I went out for a ride in the bush outside Techiman. This was both a great and terrible idea. It was terrible because my body was exhausted from 2 days of expelling everything that had been in it, and heading out during the middle of the day with the sun so high was also probably not the greatest idea. We had to cut the ride shorter than we had intended because my body just couldn’t hack it. Oops.
But it was also awesome because we went out riding in an area where Village Bicycle Project has done a lot of programming, and we ran into a few folks with their bikes out on the farms.
We interviewed these two guys about their bikes, and were especially keen to ask how many repairs they had needed, where they repaired their bikes, and if they had any tools. So many bikes in Ghana get literally ridden to death because people don’t know how to recognize when repairs need to be done or there is no repair infrastructure around to fix the bikes. Both of the people we ran into kept their bikes in good shape, had had repairs done, and one of them had attended an advanced tools workshop and clearly enjoyed wrenching on his bike.
So even though I spent some time dry heaving on the side of the road, it was still totally worth it.
I’ll load more pictures next week – my connection right now is slow, and this internet place is playing New Direction on repeat and I need to leave. Laterz.