Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wanna ride my bike? No, seriously. I want you to ride my bike.

(click on pictures to get a better look. I don't know why this stupid app makes them so blurry)

I decided to make a resolution this month to participate in at least one organized ride each weekend in the month of December. As the weather gets colder and grayer, my motivation to get on my bike any more than I have to starts to deplete.

I started off the month by doing two rides last weekend. A "Women on Bikes" video ride from WABA on Saturday, and BicycleSPACE's (a local bike shop) "City Explorers" ride on Sunday.

I'm going to start by telling you about the City Explorers ride--this is a small group ride that happens every weekend (the shop actually has quite a few different themed rides; this was one of them). There is a different route each time, and the idea is guessed, it...explore the city. This particular ride happened to be based around bridges--the idea was to ride over every bridge in DC. Neat idea, right? How many bridges can there possibly be?

A group of 8 of us headed out from the shop. We all rode different bikes; from Brooks-accessorized vintage-style bikes to fancy road racers, everyone had their own style. This was meant to be a meandering group ride, so the pace was very easy. Most of the group are "regulars" and do these rides every weekend. I felt very comfortable joining in.

A good portion of the route took place on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail--a trail I had never been on before. I *loved* it. I can't wait to explore the whole thing (plus it goes right by the Anacostia Skate Park, another item on my to-do list). We also briefly stopped by Kingman Island, another place I had never had the chance to visit before. We lamented at out lack of picnic items, because it was the perfect day for a picnic. Next time, maybe.

In the end, we rode just under 30 miles and had hit every bridge except for one: the Chain Bridge. Our fearless ride leader, Eric, wanted to push ahead and go for it, but in the end the group declined. I know I was starving (I underestimated how long the ride was going to be and didn't bring anything along), and I had brunch plans which I was already running late for (totally worth it though). Next time, I am definitely going to ride that bridge too.

Our route:

I highly recommend doing one of these rides if you happen to be in town on a weekend. I can't wait to go on another one and see what else I can discover about DC. As we were departing Kingman Island, I was reminded how cycling really opened up this city for me: I would never have known about or bothered to participate in so many activities and places if I didn't bike. Truly.

Riding on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (with one of our bridges ahead in the distance)

No hands cycling on a beautiful day. Yes, this is in DC proper.

Kingman Island. I bet its really beautiful here in the Spring/Summer.


Brooks lovers.

Dead End. But not for long. The trail will be extended out to Maryland, I believe.

A great way to start off a Sunday. Again, I can't wait to do it again.

Now, for some even more exciting things I want to tell you about. I mentioned that I also did a ride on Saturday--a Women on Bikes "video ride". I wasn't quite sure what this ride was either. All I know is that it said Women and Bikes and that it started right across the street from where I live, so I had no excuse not to go. Turns out that WABA (the Washington Area Bicyclist Association) is putting together a Women on Bikes program, and this ride was going to be recorded to help showcase that program.

Although cycling has become more popular in DC, it's still (apparently) lopsided when it comes to genders. I say apparently because my eyes tell me differently: I see plenty of women riding everyday. However, statistics say otherwise. WABA wants to change that and get more women out on bikes. Can't argue with that.

A group of about 15 of us gathered at the start of the ride, and our lovely ride leader & WABA guru Nelle had us introduce ourselves to each other, and she also spoke a little bit about her personal experience with having a bike mentor. She mentioned that when she first began cycling, it helped her tremendously to have someone that she could ask questions and bounce ideas off of; however, these people were mostly men. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but when it came to certain issues, she admitted feeling a little uncomfortable asking a dude or they wouldn't understand. There are definitely issues that women face that men might not understand/identify with; things like street harassment (cat-calling, and the like), fear of crime/violence, feminine issues (saddle chafing, bike clothing fit), learning bike repair/maintenance and just not wanting to put up with the condescending/patronizing attitude guys can adopt when it comes to teaching women anything.

This certainly made me think. I didn't really have a "bike mentor" when I started biking in DC--I just basically started on my own. I had influencers-people that I observed biking and figured that if they could do it, I could do it. I learned by trial and error, and google was (and still is) my best friend. I don't regret it, but it sure would have made my life easier (and more fun) if I had someone I could ride with and ask questions of. Even now, I still get a little hesitant when it comes to doing certain cycling-related things (I don't like to ride too far on my own, because I panic at the thought of getting lost and not being able to get home, or having a mechanical issue and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere on my own. I also would like to learn some more technical riding skills).

So....for my exciting news. I want to help out with this "Women on Bikes" movement. I want to make myself available to help local ladies be more comfortable with biking in DC. I have quite a few bicycles, and one in particular seems to be just simply gathering dust lately. Why not put it to good use?

I have an extra bicycle and I want you to ride it.

Have you been thinking about riding a bike in DC? Want to commute to work by bike? Run errands by bike? Maybe you're not sure about this and don't want to commit to buying a bike YET?

Why not use mine?

I have a 2007 Jamis Coda Sport that you can use. The bike comes with a rear rack, full fenders, a bell & lights. I will probably also throw in a u-lock as well (I will have to purchase another one). It's a flat-bar hybrid bike-perfect for biking in DC. The frame is 17.5" (I'm 5'5", if that helps you figure out whether it will be the right size for you).

Here's a crappy picture of it.

If you are a woman (sorry guys), live/work in DC (although if you commute to the nearby burbs, that's fine) and are curious about biking in DC, then get in contact with me (girlonabikedc AT gmail DOT com).

I'm willing to loan my bike out to you. Depending on how much interest I get will determine how long you get the bike for.

I will even ride with you. If you aren't sure about this whole "biking" thing or want someone to give you pointers/tips/routes/etc, I am more than willing to help you out and even ride with you if you would like.

Yes, I'm aware that Capital Bikeshare is an option for bike-less ladies, but bikeshare doesn't really provide the whole "bike experience" for those that might make it a more permanent part of their lives. Maybe you want to practice storing a bike in your apartment or job. Maybe you want to be able to take longer trips and not have to worry about how much its going to cost. Maybe you want to practice basic bike maintenance skills. Maybe you want more than 3 gears. Maybe you are a weirdo that wants to ride other people's bikes. I don't know. But you now have this option too. Plus it comes with me!

There are a few rules:

1. You must be at least 18 years of age, a woman, and reside in Washington, DC.

1. You have to actually ride it.

2. You are responsible for any damages/loss.

3. You have to help spread the word and let other women know about this as well.

4. The maximum amount of time you can borrow my bike is 30 days. It may be less due to demand. Of course, this is negotiable. I'm pretty easy-going.

5. If you want to take me up on my offer of riding with you, keep in mind that my free days are generally Sunday/Monday, and I am available before noon most other days.

The bike will be available for borrowing soon--I am going to take it to my local bike shop for an overhaul because it needs one, and because I want to make sure its in tip-top shape before you get on it. I plan on dropping it off this weekend (thanks to a tune-up/overhaul holiday special BicycleSPACE was running, yay).

Part 2 of this exciting news is this:

A twitter follower retweeted this awesome idea from @VegginMegabeth: The Hains Point 100. She (Megan) and a few other folks (quite possibly myself) are going to ride around and around and around the Hains Point loop for 100 miles. Crazy? Yes. Insane? Yes. Boring? Yes. Awesome? Yes (I say this now, but I know I will be hating it while I do it). Why? To raise awareness and funds for the WABA's Women & Bicycles Program.

Yes, I said funds. I'm gonna need your help here. To help get me motivated to ride 100 miles in circles, I need you to donate a little $$. Just a little. Each $=1 mile. For every $1, I will ride 1 mile. My ultimate goal is to ride 100 miles.

What happens if there's more than $100? I will ride the remainder on a following weekend.

So please donate. This program is very important.

You can donate through this link, or you can donate in person the day of the event--there will be a cash jar available. If you donate online, please note in the "In Honor" of field that its for the Women & Bicycles program and include my name (Kate) so I now how many miles I will ride.

Also, you can ride my bike in this! Interested in doing this too? (are you crazy?) You can borrow my Jamis to ride with me. This assumes that the overhaul will be complete by then, of course. It should be. But do consider participating in the ride, even if its just for a few laps. ESPECIALLY if you are a woman--I see a lot of dudes on twitter getting excited about this ride (which is cool) but it will be very disappointing to me if this ride, which is supposed to benefit the WOMEN & Bicycles program, is made up of mostly men. Hurumph.

Don't have the $$$ to donate right now because its the holidays and everyone is broke from shopping? Considering coming out and supporting the riders. We will probably need:

-Folks to donate water/gatorade/snacks/etc.
-Folks to help transport/distribute said water/gatorade/snacks/etc
-Cheerleaders! Riding in circles can get very tedious. Having people there to help cheer us on will help tremendously. Even if its just one person holding up a sign.

Isn't this an awesome idea from Megan? Yes, it is. I'm excited.


  1. Brilliant post. I'm a sucker for a gimmick. Rather than ride, I'll donate and, if the weather is nice and I can wake up in time, I'll come up to check out the scene. Look for Big Nellie. She's hard to miss.

  2. How awesome! We support your mission and want to ride with you too/two!

  3. Thank you both!!

    @rootchopper: I hope you do come out!