|Liz (R) showing two cyclists how to repair an innertube.|
Liz Jose, the founder and president of WE Bike (Women Empowered through Bicycles) used the bike to transport a table tools and various WE Bike schwag to a repair workshop/recruitment drive held at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn.
|We volunteered our own bikes for "the cause"!|
Actually, some might argue it wasn't a full-blown repair shop. What we did was to teach some female cyclists (and, in a few cases, men who accompanied them) how to fix flats. If a cyclist--especially a female rider-- learns to do only one repair, this should be the one. If nothing else, knowing this basic skill can keep you from getting stranded.
|Erin (facing to the side), Shelley (in pink t-shirt) and Liz (seated).|
The fear of getting stranded by a deflated tire, and not knowing how to fix it, is one of the most common reasons why people won't take longer rides or use their bikes for transportation. I think this fear is greater among female cyclists, for we (well, many of us, anyway) have more reason to fear for our safety if we are stuck in the middle of an unfamiliar or unsafe area by ourselves. Also, I think that many women have been taught, implicitly or explicitly, to distrust their own abilities to fix even very basic things, not to mention to be self-sufficient in any number of other ways.
Having been raised as male, I wasn't inculcated with that same distrust of my abilities. Of course, I did not understand that until I started the transition that has culminated in living in the female gender of my mind and spirit. I suppose that, in addition to some skills that I possess, that self-confidence might be what I can offer the women and girls who join and ride with WE Bike.
I hope that doesn't sound condescending, or as if I'm some well-intentioned but misguided do-gooder. I have been known to do things at least partially for altruistic reasons, and I can say that joining WE Bike is one of those things. But the most important reason why I've decided to involve myself with it is that, since my transition, I've come to feel out of place in both the formal and impromptu men's cycling groups in which I've participated. Even the so-called co-ed groups are dominated by males. Not that I have anything against them: I simply feel that I want and need other things now, as my motivations for (and, most likely, style of ) riding have changed.
Plus, so far, I'm enjoying the company of the women in WE Bike. Isn't that the real reason to be involved with any group, whether or not it's formally organized?
As for the dilemma I faced: I managed to look presentable enough, I suppose, for the writing workshop. I don't know whether anybody there noticed, but I was wearing a cardigan/jacket over the sundress in which I rode to the workshop--and to the WE Bike workshop. But once I got to the latter event, I covered the top of my dress with something else:
I'd say that the fit might've been a bit snug, but the color worked! And somehow I managed not to smudge the T-shirt or sundress in spite of the grease and dirt on my hands!