HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
My mom’s first bicycle was a 3-speed Hercules. It was blue, was a women’s style (suitable for wearing a skirt), with fenders and had a generator hub to power a headlight. They called these bikes “English Racers” because they had skinny tires and more than one gear. She rode it around her neighborhood in Washington DC, and up and down the rolling hills of Rock Creek Park with her brothers, when she was 11 or 12 years old. She didn’t ride much through high school or during college, but started riding again in the early 1970s when she was living in the Bronx, newly married to my dad. At that time she rode a Japanese road bike called a Velosolex. She would go out for exercise on the bike paths of the Bronx, to City Island and the bridges to Queens. Despite the reputation of the Bronx at that time, she felt safe enough on a bike; on the paths she was away from the cars, and never had much concern about a dangerous person lurking in the bushes somewhere.
Once she moved to the suburb of Port Chester, NY, she upgraded to a Bianchi and began to ride longer distances. She rode mostly with a male friend who had taken up cycling after being laid off from his teaching job. He raced for the Toga Bikes team in NYC and would go north for hill training. They would ride 30-40 miles a few times a week. through the hills of Westchester County and Connecticut. When I was growing up, my mom was often out riding 30-50+ miles with her friend on the weekend. I never went with her, because I was both lazy and nowhere near fit enough to keep up.
The sport of cycling in the 80s was still primarily dominated by guys. She didn’t have any female friends who rode bikes and she didn’t feel compelled to join a club or start racing in order to find riding partners. The cycling clothing was for men. The shorts were considered “unisex” and she wore them, size small, with a T-shirt. Cycling shoes were like stiff narrow sneakers designed to fit into toe cages. Helmets weren’t widely used, or even available at that time. There weren’t very many cyclists on the road and people looked at them, dressed in their tight kits, like they were total weirdos.
She started wearing a helmet in the early 80s, switched from toe clips to the first Look clipless pedals in the mid 80s (as soon as they came out), invested in jerseys and bicycle specific clothing, but rode that same Bianchi, which had since been outfitted with a full set of Campagnolo components from a friend’s bike which was wrecked in a crash, until 2008. Speaking of crashes, in the late 80s, she was involved in her only serious crash. We had gone on a family vacation, and she was coming home from a long ride, when she had a catastrophic quick-release failure and went down rounding a corner. Thankfully she didn’t get hit, but did fracture her elbow and wreck her fork.
In 2008 I was getting into cycling and started shopping for my first road bike. She went on a few test rides and after realizing the differences between a modern, carbon fiber, women-specific bike with brake shifters and her trusty steel Bianchi, she immediately bought a new bike, a Specialized Ruby Comp Triple, which has perfect geometry and gearing for long hilly rides in NY. We rode together on the weekends through lower Westchester while I was in medical school. When I was an intern in Manhattan she would put her bike in the car and come downtown to join me on rides in Central Park. She continues to ride 100+ miles a week during the warm months. When she visited me in Chicago, she rode my (too big) road bike with my (too big) road bike shoes on the Lakefront Path. She rode my fixed gear on a family ride around the neighborhood (my dad rode my cross bike!). Perhaps her biggest recent achievement was getting her certification at Chicago Velo Campus, the south side velodrome known for its impressive (and frighteningly steep) 50-degree banking through the corners. She had no problem riding a brakeless track bike and maintaining speed around the track, even getting the hang of pacelining in the velodrome!
So what’s next? Goals, aspirations?
“Not so much. Summer’s almost here. Just lots of riding.”
What do you think about on a ride?
“Pushing as hard as I can, trying to get my average speed up. I try not to let my mind wander, I’m very, very aware, like hyper-aware of what’s going on around me. You can’t think about anything other than cycling. And catching up with the cyclist in front of me. Constant pushing, good cadence, smart shifting, not too much coasting. Maybe a passing thought about what I’m going to eat when I get home.”
Your thoughts on riding fixed gear bikes in the city?
“It’s a preference. I have no attitudes as to whether it’s stupid or smart. It depends on people’s abilities. In a way, it’s a more pure form of cycling, but you have to know what you’re doing.”
How has cycling changed for women in the last 20-30 years?
“Obviously there are way more of them doing it. The sport of cycling has adapted to women, with women’s specific bikes and all the other gear for them. It’s a great sport for women because it’s so low impact. You don’t destroy your body, you make it better, you become more heart healthy, and it’s a great cross-training sport.”
Do you think cycling is a masculine sport or a boy’s club?
Drew Nowhere is a bike punk who camps with his dogs in the woods, smokes blunts over epic desert vistas, makes tofu scramble out of a back pack, tattoos his own thigh, and takes devastatingly beautiful photos.
This is lifestyle porn for those of us who fantasize about quitting our jobs and hitting the road with a touring bike. You can call homeboy an oogle all you want, but he’s also got some serious practical advice that could be useful to the fussiest randonneur on a brevet.
More photos after the jump, and MUCH more if you click any of these links:Read More
Krys Blakemore is a cyclist, bike mechanic, and badass I have had a huge girlcrush on forever. She’s one of the girls, fixing bikes in Dickies work dresses, working chaingrease into the crevices of elaborately painted nails, and getting rad tattoos on across her arms and thighs. She’s one of the boys, drinking hard in dive bars and riding bikes until the frame crumbles to dust between her legs.
“I hope that I can some way inspire other people that find themselves in similar predicaments to be thankful to just be alive and that things can always be worse.”
Krys was hit by a car –severely– 2 months shy of a year ago. Every cyclist’s worst fear that doesn’t involve dying happened to her. She’s endured two major, major reconstructive surgeries, and unfortunately there may be more on the horizon.
“Lutheran Hospital Trauma Center sent me home with a severely broken leg. They didn’t know how bad it was really broken. Neither did I. They even tried to get me to move it not knowing my ligaments were torn. I decided to go to a new hospital in Manhattan. I went to surgery alone. The first surgery, they put in 10cm of cadaver fibula, 10 screws, 2 pins and a 6in plate in my right shin.”
With scrappy Positive Mental Attitude, badass resolute determination, creativity, strength, and patience, she’s endured all this time off her bike with much more grace than I think I’d be able to handle.
“My friends have been such a huge support system for me. It’s kind of mind blowing sometimes just how much they’ve done for me so far. I probably wouldnt be as mentally okay as I am without them”.
Read on to find out the details of her completely fucked up accident. Check out her artwork. And please, please kick a few bones down on her fundraiser to help cover medical bills. If the situation was reversed, she’d do the same for you.Read More
Check her bomb down the crazy twisty steep hill on her skateboard at the end of this video, and you’ll understand why.Read More
Back in 1998, Susan Orlean wrote an amazing article for the Fall 1998 edition of Women Outside about the teenage surfer girls of Maui that invokes the same daredevil sisterhood I love about cycling.
Sometimes watching them I couldn’t believe that they could head out so offhandedly into the ocean; this ocean, which had rolls of white water coming in as fast as you could count them, and had a razor-blade reef hidden just below the surface, and was full of sharks. The girls, on the other hand, couldn’t believe I’d never surfed; never ridden a wave standing up or lying down, never cut back across the whitewash and sent up a lacy veil of spray, never felt a longboard slip out from under me and then felt myself pitched forward and under for that immaculate, quiet, black instant when all the weight in the world presses you down toward the ocean bottom until the moment passes and you get spat up on the beach. I explained I’d grown up in Ohio, where there is no surf, but that didn’t satisfy them; what I didn’t say was that I’m not sure that at 15 I had the abandon or the indomitable sense of myself that you seem to need in order to look at this wild water and think, I will glide on top of those waves.
Speaking of surfers, is anyone jealous of the clothes they get? They get bikinis and tiny little shorts and tank tops in candy colors and bright, splashy patterns; we get baggy, dowdy sleeveless tops in powder blue with a bird silkscreened in reflective ink over the heart and windproof jackets in black, black, and black. Ugh. Can someone from Roxy or Quicksilver start designing cycling apparel, please?
Quick note about race issues brought up by this article after the jump.Read More
Tiny Fix had a huge girlcrush on The Ovarian Psycos, a Latina bicycle advocacy woman’s collective from Los Angeles composed of complete and total badasses.
Riding as a women group has also made the riders more aware of the difficulties of riding in the city as a woman. Individually, or in small groups, Ova Elvira “Ashes” Arvizo has been catcalled by men on the street, and during one Luna Ride, the group noticed a male motorist was trailing the group. The women stopped and started to yell at the motorist, which caused him to flee.
Read this article on Streetsblog Los Angeles for the backstory, and check out their website for details on their events; no-drop group rides with sharing circles at the end, woman&trans only bike repair nights, and workshops.
Oh, and Ovas? If you ever find yourself in Chicago, you have a couch to stay on and some instant friends waiting for you.Read More