Editor’s Note: This city’s getting more bike lanes. And it’s no coincidence. Folks here care about bikes, talk about bikes, and are definitely riding bikes. THE HUB is a new collaborative space for bike enthusiasts of every type — from racers to tricksters, explorers to commuters. Each month, one of the HUB contributors will take the mic and talk bike. Here you’ll get information on events, new stylings, local biker profiles, and commentary on the two-wheel life.
Today, we hear from Katie Hunter-Lowrey about the Women’s Cycling Series.
This time last year, a small group of female riders hit the streets bright and early to bike 65 miles together in the sweaty Southern summer. It was just one of many 100-kilometer rides taking place all over the world as part of the Rapha Women’s 100.
This year, in addition to a great new route and more riders, New Orleans has an entire Women’s Cycling Series that culminates with the second 100k event on Sunday, July 20. Cyclists,volunteers and businesses (such as Dashing Bicycles & Accessories and Rouler Cycling) have been working hard to launch this inaugural series that includes mixers, workshops, film screenings and more.
Ladies riding bicycles for everything from commuting to racing is by no means a new phenomenon. Susan B. Anthony said it best: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel … the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
Decades later, this still holds true. Here in New Orleans, community bike shops like Plan B have for years been holding Women and Trans nights to create safe spaces. Large companies are finally creating gear and products that suit female bodies and shapes. More conversations are taking place about not only increasing advocacy and equality for women on bikes, but also trans folks and communities of color.
For me, my bicycle is linked directly to my liberation. I never feel as free or strong or fast or fun as I do when riding. My bike history is varied, utilizing this awesome machine for exploring the country, transportation, Alley Cat races and cute dates. But it wasn’t until recently that I began additionally thinking about cycling as a sport and challenge for myself. When I started joining group rides early last year, I found myself riding with mostly men; there was not a solid community of women and queers to shred with.
This has been changing here in a really exciting way. Although there are still organizing challenges and communities that have not been reached, the momentum is there. Groups have been formed such as Nola Women on Bikes, and events put together such as Loose Bloomers training rides, which ask men to take a step back. The Youth Empowerment Project offers students training in bicycle repair, “including an all-girls cohort (which is the first in the world funded by the Trafigura Foundation).”
The goal of the Women’s Cycling Series is to bring all these different folks together. Whether you ride your cruiser along the bayou for fun, road race, or want to start biking to work, your voice is important. Use the series to find others like you, or a new take on the bike itself.
GET IT GURL
Information on the first annual New Orleans Women’s Cycling Series can be found here, with specific tips and what to bring for the ride. The Rapha Women’s 100 will meet Sunday at Cafe du Monde and roll out at 7 a.m. Support cars will provide water, snacks and mechanical assistance along the way. Any interested women-identified riders are asked to register and hydrate hydrate hydrate in advance. These 60+ miles of riding will allow for lots of conversation, new sights to see and an incredibly rewarding experience. See you on the road!
About the author: Katie Hunter-Lowrey bought her first big girl bicycle, a purple Schwinn named Rosemary, for $10 from a thrift store almost 10 years ago. She’s now an organizer for Nola to Angola, a prison solidarity bike ride that raises money to provide free buses for friends and family to visit their incarcerated loved ones. She is an occasional contributor to the blog Yeah You Ride! and often leads the Loose Bloomers training rides. KDHL can be found riding around New Orleans on her bike, mashing the patriarchy into the pavement and singin’ real loud.