Eventbrite - Third Annual Day of Dialogue and Demonstrations Women Bike Chicago: 2014

Two Events to Welcome Winter Women Biking

First, Tuesday December 9th Happy Hour at gooseisland.com Goose Island, 6pm-9pm. Bring a friend!

Join fellow women biking in Chicago for a Women Bike Chicago Happy Hour. Drop on by Goose Island to meet great company, drink a beer, snack on a burger or other great food, and talk bikes.

We met many new friends at our last social event in September, and would love to meet you too.  

Second, Sunday December 14th - the Annual Make It Reflective Workshop at REI (Lincoln Park). 2-5pm, co-sponsored with Bike Winter.

Learn about passive vs active visibility, get tips on what to use and where to place it, update your favorite coat or bag with extra-sparkly 3M visibility.   

Click here to RSVP - encouraged but not required.

Slow Roll Chicago--Ride your Bike; Meet New People; Learn about Chicago; Build Community

Maybe you read about Slow Roll in Streetsblog?  Or perhaps you have heard some chatter on the street.  Slow Roll is about people on bikes--families, young, old, black, white, Latino.  Everyone is welcome.  The rides are slow, and they are friendly.  The Slow Roll folks are just the kind of people Women Bike Chicago loves.  Rather than try to explain it, let the founders of Slow Roll talk about the last ride of this season:

Why We Ride...
Slow Roll Chicago is partnering with the Chicago Police Department’s 11th District CAPS Community Policing Office to bring the City of Chicago a family- and youth-focused ride in honor of peace on Chicago streets, utilizing the activity of bicycling to reduce violence on the Westside of Chicago and throughout the City. This ride promises to be an incredibly energetic ride as we celebrate youth achievement and mark the end of Slow Roll Chicago’s 2014 inaugural launch season.

Slow Roll Chicago's final community bicycle ride of 2014 takes us on a gorgeously picturesque route from the Westside of Chicago to Northerly Island and back again. We roll slow through the Lawndale, East Garfield Park, West Town, South Loop, and University Village neighborhoods. We roll slow pass many beautiful sites such as the United Center, UIC Campus, Medical District, Little Italy, and the Museum Campus. We stop at the wonderful Northerly Island to soak up a grand natural landscape within the urban megalopolis that is the City of Chicago. The ride will return to the CPD 11th District for a youth recognition event and a celebratory pizza party.

Slow Roll Chicago rides on the Westside to inspire youth to dream big and work hard. We ride to utilize the activity of bicycling as a tool to strengthen neighborhoods, connect neighbors, and transform communities. This bicycle ride is an important step towards improving the relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the community. It will be a tremendous effort in creating a relationship between the community and CPD that is built on trust and familiarity, where there is an active collaborative effort focused on making our neighborhoods safer and more liveable. This ride will continue the important and ongoing work to connect with young people and share experiences that open their eyes to their inherent potential to achieve greatness in Chicago and around the world. Slow Roll Chicago rides on the Westside of Chicago to create a deeply transformative experience for the young people who ride and everyone involved.
Mission & Vision: 
Slow Roll Chicago is a community-based organization utilizing the activity of bicycling to connect a diverse group of people and improve the condition of communities by organizing community bicycle rides and other bicycling-related programs throughout the greater Chicago area. Slow Roll Chicago works to achieve equity in bicycle access, bicycle usage, bicycle infrastructure, bicycle safety, bicycle culture, and other bicycle-related resources in Chicago with particular focus on communities on the Southside and Westside, making our communities healthier, more empowered, more economically viable, more socially cohesive, more bikeable, and ultimately more liveable.

So even though the forecast for Saturday is on the chilly side, put on your layers and join in the season finale ride.

The details:

Slow Roll Chicago presents...
A Community Bicycle Ride for
Peace on Chicago Streets

In partnership with Chicago Police Department's
11th District CAPS Community Policing Office

Saturday, November 15, 2014
11AM Meet & Greet + Refreshments
12PM Ride

Starting Point & End Point:
Chicago Police Department
11th District CAPS Office
3151 W. Harrison St.

Mid Point:
Museum Campus & Northerly Island

Light refreshments at the beginning of the ride.
Pizza party & youth recognition event at the end of the ride.
Donation suggested.

Pilsen Architecture and Mural Ride This Sunday 10/19! Led By WBC Volunteer Ruth Rosas

WBC followers are invited on a Chicago Cycling Club ride hosted by WBC Volunteer Ruth Rosas:

18th Street Pink Line
Pilsen has historically been a neighborhood for American immigrants. These generation of immigrants built an extraordinary urban landscape. In the 19th century, Bohemian settlers constructed many mixed-use buildings based on the style of their homeland. In the 1970s, murals began as a cooperative effort between Slavs and Mexicans and large murals surfaced throughout Pilsen. Today, an initiative to restore and create new murals have preserved this vibrant and artistic neighborhood.
First, we'll meet at the National Museum of Mexican Art, located at 1852 W 19th St. The museum is very close to public transit, the Damen bus and the Pink Line. We'll ride through the neighborhood and see beautiful ornate churches and historic buildings reminiscent of Eastern Europe baroque architecture erected by Bohemian settlers. We will also be stopping (somewhat frequently) throughout the neighborhood and looking at many old and modern murals. We'll be seeing art by Francisco Mendoza, Jose Guerrero, Gabriel Villa, Chema Skandal, Jake Castro, and many others. Join us afterwards for lunch at one of the many delicious Mexican restaurants near the heart of Pilsen (18th St).

There are also other events around Pilsen and Chicago that you can visit after the ride: Pilsen Open StudiosOpen House Chicago hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the annual Day of the Dead exhibiton at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Date: Sunday Oct 19, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Distance:  12 Miles
Pace:  10-12 MPH
:  National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W 19th St. 

For updated information or RSVP/contact info, visit http://chicagocyclingclub.org/Home/ViewEvent/6ce21733-9231-4ffb-87b1-fd43f97848b2

Women helping women

Women Bike Chicago had its first mentor/mentee meet-up on Saturday, May 31 at the Formal Gardens in Humboldt Park.  Despite street closures all around, transit issues, and an organized walk/run in the park, a bright and enthusiastic group of women gathered to start the process of helping women be more comfortable riding bikes in Chicago.  We came from Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Logan Square, Belmont-Cragin, Lakeview, River North, Humboldt Park, West Town, and Wicker Park for about an hour and a half of learning about ABC Quick Check, bike fit, lighting, riding in traffic, making turns, riding on multi-use paths, locking securely, and what to wear. 

There were lots of really good questions and interesting exchanges of experiences. We could not believe that we ran out of time before even getting on our bikes!  All agreed that we will meet again in June to get some on bike work in, and, we hope, a little riding.  Anyone already on our e-mail distribution will be asked to participate in choosing the next date even if you were not able to be there this past Saturday.

Not on our list but interested in joining us as a mentee or a mentor?  Please contact us at womenbikechicagomentors@gmail.com  We will make sure you are in the loop for choosing our next date.

June--Women's Bike Month

Divvy has declared June Women's Bike Month! And why not?  We have had two glorious days in a row, Bike the Drive was a roaring success, and there were lots of women and families out enjoying the ride.  Let's continue the trend--ride your bike to work, to the store, with your families, for fun.

Join other women who ride bikes on Sunday, June 8 at 11:30 for a pot luck brunch on the Great Lawn at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.  There are bike racks around the lawn.  Bring a blanket and a brunchy thing to share, and enjoy great conversation.  Children are welcome, and I have heard there will be virgin Mimosas for them (and anyone else who wants one.)

BFF Bikes at 2113 W. Armitage is having a Bike Maintenance clinic on June 2 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. They are also hosting a Commuter Clinic on Friday, June 13 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to kick of Bike to Work Week.  Maybe you will find a ride buddy there.

We will be working on a fun ride for later in June.  Watch this space!  Happy cycling!

Not Quite Comfortable Riding in the City?

Women Bike Chicago is ready to launch its program to match women who want help riding for transportation and fun with more experienced women cyclists.  Learn to be a more confident rider, to choose a route that is comfortable for you, and to feel safe riding in traffic.  And meet some really cool women who love riding bikes!  We are starting at the end of May.

E-mail womenbikechicagomentors@gmail.com to sign up or for more information.

Our DDD Wrap-Up

Hi all! Intern Lucy here. Our second annual Day of Dialogue and Demonstration was two Saturdays ago and it was the best! I’m here to wrap it all up for you, for those who were attendance as well as those who couldn’t make it this year.

It was a beautiful day at Dvorak Park in lovely Pilsen. We could have not asked for a better spring day or a more appropriate venue for our event. Outside was our bike corral, where ladies stopped by all day to check out bikes from vendors including Legacy Frameworks as well as share rides on their own bikes. Ladies also helped one another with basic bike maintenance and discussed care of bikes as well as cargo bike options (for heavy loads — and kids!). It was a treat to get to try out many different types of bikes, especially for those of us with just one main ride.

Keynote speaker Angela Ford kicked off the day with a great talk about what being a cyclist means to her. She began her talk by reminiscing, “Like many of us, I abandoned bike riding at the age of 16 when I got my driver’s license.” She went on to discuss her journey rediscovering biking as not only a way to get around but a way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. As the CEO of her own sustainability consulting firm, her bike is now a very important part of her life.

Angela asked all of us to leave the event with three groups of friends who we would take on a bike ride, to spread the wealth of knowledge we learned during the day with a new crew of people. I reflected on my own community of bicycling, which I want to expand to a larger circle of friends. With summer fast approaching, I am excited to recruit my friends, family and coworkers to ride all summer long with me.

Throughout the day, we had six workshops. The first workshop I attended was Commuting, orchestrated by Anne and Veronica. One of the key points of this discussion was public transit, and how to configure taking a bike on public transportation to accommodate the various needs of a busy schedule. Anne and Veronica were very thorough in their explanations of bike rules on the CTA and Metra, and there was no other workshop I attended that day where quite so many thoughtful questions were answered with just as much thoughtfulness. It was a success.

A highlight of the day was Anne and Eboni’s workshop, “How To Plan a Ride.” After briefly discussing routes and safety, we split up into two groups to plan hypothetical group rides. The first group opted for a lengthy route along the upcoming bike path, The 606, which consisted of a hilly terrain and an informal architecture tour of the industry in the area. My group planned a more casual ride; about 5 miles of biking and 4 stops at ice cream and sweets shops made up this “Sweets and Treats” excursion. Both have merit and both would be very easy to plan in realty — so stay tuned! Everyone was a fan of this interactive planning dialogue. No better way to conceptualize a bike ride than actually planning one.

The last workshop I had the privilege to attend was Julie and Samantha’s “Biking Safety, Comfort and Style.” They discussed bike clothing at length and addressed concerns about bike comfort on all different types of bikes. I learned everything I never knew I needed to know about layering while biking.

The icing on top of the day was the raffle that concluded our festivities, and there were plenty of prizes to go around. Highlights included a year-long Divvy membership and several pairs of mountain biking shoes donated by Beverly Bikes.

I was inspired by how many women attended who have been long-time riders. As a young person who commutes almost solely by bicycle, I think of myself doing that because I have multiple jobs and it is a cheap and fast way for me to get around Chicago. However, seeing women who have established lives and even families ride their bikes daily puts the importance of biking into perspective for me.

Thank you to all who attended Women Bike Chicago’s 2014 Day of Dialogue and Demonstration. The event has grown so much in just one year, and we cannot wait to see where next year takes us! Happy biking, and happy spring to all!

Great Job on the Weather

Although for a while it looked like we would be visited by thunderstorms, it turned into a marvelous weather day.  Thanks to all who joined us on Saturday, April 12 at Dvorak Park. You must have used your woman power to hold off the storms.

So many people made the day possible.  Special thanks to our presenters:

Angela Ford
Vanessa Buccella
Anne Alt
Veronica Joyner
Eboni Hawkins
Joanne McSweeney
Marlene Paez
Justyna Frank
Julie Hochstadter
Samantha Arnold

Kudos to our intern extraordinaire, Lucy Freccia for keeping everything on track.

To the volunteers who womaned the registration table, the bike corral, and the child care--we could not have done it without you.

Did you have a chance to try Divvy for the first time?  Thank you Divvy for giving us that opportunity.

Thanks to everyone who brought their own bikes so that others could test ride them.  And if you loved one of the bikes so generously loaned by BFF BikesLegacy FrameworksOn the Route, or Rapid Transit Cycles, talk to them!  They will all be happy to help you find the bike that YOU want.

Don't forget our other contributors:  Active Transportation AllianceHardboiled Coffee Company, REI Lincoln ParkBeverly BikesKozie Prery CapsPo Campo BagsJeni's Splendid Ice CreamFreeman Kevenides Law FirmWomen and Children First book shopCaribou CoffeeThe ChainlinkTurin Bicycle in Chicago.

Finally,  Melissa Manak wrote a wonderful article about the day for Streetsblog.  We could not have said it better ourselves.

Stay tuned for more information about the Women Bike Chicago mentoring program and Women Bike Chicago rides throughout the season.  It is starting to look like spring!

Women Bike Chicago supporters are legion!

Update on items in the drawing:

Three $25 gift certificates from On The Route
Complimentary registration for Active Transportation Alliance MB Financial Bike the Drive
A gift bag including a mug and coffee from Hardboiled Coffee Company in Beverly

Dvorak Park is an absolutely great space--inside and out!  Join us for interesting presentations, great women in attendance, and opportunities to test ride an incredible variety of bikes.  

Friends won't let friends miss this event! 

Prizes! and an overview of the day of dialogue and demonstrations

Here are some of the really generous folks and businesses that have donated to our free drawing:

A  Divvy annual membership!
Registration for two people for  REI Lincoln Park Outdoor School Classes
Bike shoes from Beverly Bike
A cycling cap from Kozy Prery
A $25 gift card from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
A gift bag (coffee and other goodies) from Hardboiled Coffee Company
A CTA umbrella, 5 pedometers and a water bottle from Active Transportation Alliance
Swag from BFF Bikes and On the Route Bicycles and Freeman Kevenides Law Firm
A bag for  your bike from Po Campo

Watch this space for announcements of more!

And here’s the schedule:

9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.             Registration    

9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.           Opening presentation by Angela Ford  

10:15 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.         Commuting by bike    OR     Cultural differences in biking

11:15 a.m. to 12:00 noon        What you need to know when you visit a bike shop
                                               How to plan a group ride or form a riding group

12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m            Recreational side of biking
                                               Comfort, style, and safety on the bike

1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.             Drawing

From 10:00 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m., three moms who ride with their children will be available in the child care area to answer your questions about how to have fun and ride safely with the kids.

All day, Divvy will have representatives and bikes outside.  You can get the answer to all questions Divvy, and also try one of the bikes for free! 

Plus there will be all kinds of bikes outside for test riding—hybrid bikes, road bikes, touring bikes, cargo bikes.

Think you might want to be part of an all-female bike mentoring program?  Look for the Women Bike Chicago volunteers with a name tag that says “ask me about the WBC mentoring program."

There is more!  Join us! 

Introducing Angela Ford!

We would like to virtually introduce our keynote speaker for our Day of Dialogue and  Demonstration: Ms. Angela Ford.

Angela Ford is the owner of TAG Properties, a Sustainable Real Estate consulting firm and founder of the nonprofit TAG Foundation focused on sustainable programing in the urban community. She, like so many of us, retired her bicycle at the age of 16 when she got her driver’s license. Her peer group associated bike riding with playful youth. She returned to bicycling as an adult 18 years later when her son needed to learn to ride immediately for a school trip. For the last eight years, Angela’s primary mode of transportation is her bicycle! She is committed to promoting bike riding for health and wellness. Her current project is the one-day event and donation of 500 bicycles to youth in Bronzeville in May 2014.

We are so excited for her to be an integral part of Women Bike Chicago’s Day of Dialogue and Demonstration because not only are her accomplishments inspiring and message true, but she is a wonderful lady.

Come meet Angela and hear what she has to say about women biking in the city, next month at our Second Annual Women Bike Chicago’s Women on Wheels: A Day of Dialogue and Demonstration, Saturday April 12, 9 AM to 2 PM in Dvorak Park in Pilsen. Check out our EventBrite page and register today.

Finalizing our schedule

This week we are finalizing the schedule for our second annual Day of Dialogue and Demonstrations. It’s safe to say we’re very excited and we think you should be, too!

Topics to be covered include commuting, bike maintenance, how to plan a ride, safety, comfort and style and more. If you attended the Day of Dialogue and Demonstration last year, you may notice some repeat sessions that we will be expanding upon this year, as well as the addition of some new topics. If you are planning to come for the first time, we look forward to meeting you. We are very excited about our all-day bike corral — come try out a dozen different types of bikes! 

This is also an excellent volunteer opportunity. We are looking for volunteers for the day of the event to help set up, manage the registration table, coordinate speakers, assist with the bike corral, clean up and more. Being a volunteer does not mean you won’t be able to participate in the discussions and demonstrations! In fact, as a volunteer, you will be an integral part of our day. Register to be a volunteer here or email us at womenbikechi@gmail.com with questions!

Dvorak Park, 1119 West Cullerton Ave.
Remember, Women on Wheels: A Day of Dialogue and Demonstration is Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 9 AM-2 PM in Dvorak Park in Pilsen. Please register here by paying what you can or choosing a free ticket. No one will be turned away, and free childcare is available! Hope to see you there!

Introducing Intern Lucy

Women Bike Chicago is pleased to welcome Lucy Freccia as our newest intern. 
Lucy lives in Rogers Park and graduated with a BA in Anthropology from Loyola University Chicago in spring 2013. A Columbus, Ohio native, she is a lifelong bike lover, most notably known around her hometown for her off-brand bright pink cruiser from high school. Since moving on to a more practical model, Lucy enjoys the ease and pleasure of a long bike commute as well as the geographical and community awareness it has brought her. Lucy feels closest to her city while bike riding, and hopes to advocate for women who feel the same way.

We also sadly must bid so-long to Intern Liz, who moved downstate to take a position with CNT Energy as a Field Organizer.  Congrats, Liz, and thanks for the work you did for us in your short time with WBC.

Also a huge Thank You! to Active Transportation Alliance for sponsoring the internship, and providing office space, e-mail and all that.

Update on Second Annual Day of Dialogue and Demonstration

Do you believe that it snowed again last night and this morning?

Despite the record breaking cold and snowfall this winter, we are excited about our upcoming event and wanted to share some of the details.

April 12, 2014
9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Dvorak Park
1119 W. Cullerton

One of our group is in charge of making sure it is a nice day!

We will have child care for those of you who need to or want to bring your children.  Other moms will be there to tell you how they cycle with children from infants to grammar school age and beyond.

Our kick-off speaker is a dynamic lady who started riding last year as a result of Go Bronzeville.  She will tell you how she did it!

Three women who own bike shops are going to tell you what you need to know to confidently go into a bike shop for repairs or to buy a bike.

One long-time bike commuter and one new bike commuter will show you how to go where you want to go without being intimidated.

Bike shops and bike owners will have bikes available for you to ride so you can see how different bikes feel. And there will be space in the park to ride without dealing with traffic.

Divvy will be there!  Have you wondered how the bikes are to ride?  Do you want to know how the system works?  Learn it all on April 12.

Register here!

Second Annual Day of Dialogue and Demonstration -- easy as riding a bike

As I write this, it is snowing once again and the forecast is for five to eight inches more of the stuff.  Sigh!

But--it will melt eventually, the sun will come out, the temperatures will rise, and it will be a gorgeous day to ride a bike.   Like this:

Looks like so much fun, doesn't it?

So, ladies, whether you are thinking that you want to ride a bike again after many years of not riding, or you ride a little but you want to ride more, ride for different reasons, ride with different people, come to the Day of Dialogue and Demonstration on April 12, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Dvorak Park in Chicago.

This day is by women, for women.   Women who commute to work , women who ride with their children, women who ride in their neighborhoods, women who ride on bike paths, women who own bike shops, women who race bikes, women who use their bikes to run errands, women of every shape and size--all will be there to help you become comfortable riding a bike for whatever reason you want to ride a bike.  Need to know how to dress to ride your bike to work without having to carry your wardrobe on the bike? We can help! Want to learn about riding on the street?  We can help!  Looking for safe routes? We can help! Looking for bike paths and trails? We can help!  Looking for another woman to ride with?  We can help!

There will be bikes there owned by women who ride them all of the time--hybrid bikes, bikes with skinny tires, bikes with those curved handlebars, bikes that let you sit up while you ride, step-through bikes, cargo bikes. The bikes will be there for you ride outside in the park.  Women bike shop owners will be there to tell you how to go to a bike shop and get the bike YOU want--not the bike the young salesperson thinks everyone should have.  You can get tips about how to get a bike that fits you whether you are looking for a new bike or a used bike.  You can get some basic information about simple things you can do to maintain your bike or even learn to change a flat tire.

Maybe best of all, spend the day with other women who ride.

Go to our registration page to sign up and for time and location details.  Women Bike Chicago is looking forward to meeting you.

Basic Bike Maintenance Workshop

I have a confession to make: for as much as I wax poetic about loving my bike, I don't know how to change a flat. This helps to explain my excitement about Women Bike Chicago's upcoming workshop on basic fix-it tricks.

Here's the scoop:
When: Sunday 2/16/2014 from 9:30-11:30 AM
Where: Rapid Transit, 1900 W. North Ave.
What: We'll cover topics like the ABC Quick Check, changing a tire, basic things to check for with wheels/spokes, and basic chain maintenance and adjustment.
Bring your bike if you have one- if not, come anyway!

Interested? Space is limited so RSVP at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/basic-bike-maintenance-tickets-10551460703

Women and "City Cycling"

How was resistance to women cycling expressed historically? What were the early politics of cycling as it related to emancipation?

How do women serve as an "indicator species" for overall biking conditions?

And while in many contexts there are fewer women than men cycling, this is not the case everywhere. What is happening in countries like the Netherlands where this trend is reversed and women outnumber men for trips on bikes?

For insight into these questions and more, check out: http://www.ecf.com/news/cyclingandwomen/. The article focuses on "City Cycling," which includes a chapter written specifically on women and cycling by Jan Garrard, Susan Handy, and Jennifer Dill.

Dykes Pedaling Bikes

Come join Dykes Pedaling Bikes for the 5th Annual Off-Season Social!
Here's the scoop:

When: Sunday, Feb 16, 2014, 2:00 PM until 5:00 PM
Where: Hamburger Mary's - Mary's Attic
5400 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL
Contact: Carrie Hirsch
Email culturperc@mac.com
This is a social event--no pedaling this time--and everyone is invited to come and hang out.  

For more information, and to RSVP (recommended but not required), visit
the Windy City Cycling Club site and calendar

Want to learn more about Dykes Pedaling Bikes? Check out John Greenfield's article on the group (and the broader LGBT bike group, the Windy City Cycling Club) here:

Windy City Cycling Club
Photo by John Greenfield, Grist.org

As Greenfield mentions, Dykes Pedaling Bikes welcomes all women, not just lesbians.


After coming together for the March 2013 Day of Dialogue and Demonstration, Women Bike Chicago sponsored a variety of smaller events to keep us connected and provide opportunities for women to test out, learn about, or get back on two wheels.

There was the Going South Bike Tour which culminated at the Pullman House for tours. Talks were held at Women and Children First on Bike Commuting and Bikes on Transit by Anne Alt, and on Crash Recovery by Susan Levin and Leah Jones.

When the snow began to thaw, the Cherry Blossom Ride led the group to Osaka Garden in Hyde Park. Summer kicked off with a Ride to Chinatown, followed by a Tour de Divvy which was an opportunity to learn about Chicago’s new bike share by testing it out with a Divvy ambassador (and free passes!). Finally, a group headed to Millennium Park, picnicking to the sounds of Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, the first all-female mariachi group in the U.S.

The Day of Dialogue and Demonstration will be back this spring; look out for details in the coming weeks. What other events would you like to see happen? Would you like to lead a workshop, ride, talk, or other event? 

Reflections on Winter Biking: My Maiden Voyage

I love my red Nishiki road bike. She was a gift from my Dad to my Mom three decades ago, and somewhere along the way she became mine. Together we’ve watched the sun rise at Montrose Harbor and the seasons change riding alongside Urbana cornfields. This fall she would faithfully wait for me to finish work each night, guiding me around pot holes and under bridges, home through humid August air and soggy October evenings.  
And then it got cold. It snowed.   I put my bike in the basement and resigned myself to taking the bus. I missed the consistency with which biking makes me feel better when I hop off then I did when I got on; I missed the feeling of being fully present, alone with my thoughts but also aware of my surroundings;  I missed sleeping better, eating better, moving better that  came with commuting on my bike.

Thankfully, collaborating with Women Bike Chicago and Active Trans means that I’m surrounded by folks who are doing what I had decided just wasn’t going to work. With this mental block out of the way, I needed to get a handle on how I was going to make this work.
First up: I did some research to prepare myself for my first foray into winter riding. Women Bike Chicago’s own Anne Alt has a helpful summary here:
Because, as Anne says, “Fenders are your friend,” my next stop was the bike shop to get front and back fenders put on (somehow, I didn’t find getting up-splash from the rain quite annoying enough to do this when I should have, long ago). With the exception of some socks to beat my fear of getting cold feet, I resisted the temptation to buy out the clothing section, in favor of sticking to my budget and trying to make what I already have work first.

I stuck mostly to larger streets to avoid some of the lingering ice & slush on smaller ones
In terms of keeping myself warm, my face and neck were my biggest lingering concerns. How do I keep my neck warm without investing in a balaclava from the bike shop (for now, anyway)? Here’s a cool photo shoot from Bike Winter, with some inspiration: http://bikewinter.org/photo_shoot_2011_Done.

This time I got away with pretty light clothing. Chicago has recovered from its cold spell and is back in the 30s. It was a good day to ease into winter riding- for now, I’m going to commit to riding when the weather is above 20 and there isn’t enough residual snow on the major roads to be an issue for me. The long term goal is to have temperature be a non-issue, and to better understand and equip my bike to get through winter elements.

My first winter ride was different than I had expected. Some drivers made an extra effort to give me a wide berth or let me merge. Others drove per usual. And one or two was particularly frustrated and frustrating. It helped that I allowed plenty of extra time so that my focus could remain on the ride itself. I wasn’t cold. I was a bit uneasy. I wasn’t sure how my Nishiki would react to the snow and slush. Overall, it did fine. Tomorrow, I’ll be better able to gage my beloved bike’s reactions to our new riding conditions, and the day after more still. Already, my body and my mind are thanking me.

Remembering Carmelita

Many of us were shocked and saddened to get the recent news that Carmelita Sams has died of cancer. She was a big part of the outdoor/demo portion of our Women Bike Chicago event last March, demonstrating basic bike repair skills and checking out bikes brought to the event.  Her positive energy and words of encouragement were priceless and magical. 

Carmelita checking a bike - photo by Jane Healy

Carmelita checking a bike - photo by Jane Healy

Susan Levin recalls "I did not know Carmelita well, and was not even sure whether she knew my name, but she always recognized me and gave me a huge smile and warm hug of welcome when we saw each other.  She was amazing.  I will always remember her as the confused-then-confident bike rider character in the Bike to Work Week video produced in 2013."

Carmelita has been a role model to many girls and women as a longtime staffer at West Town Bikes.  Her involvement in the girls' bike club and women & trans open shop nights set a positive example to inspire girls and women to ride and maintain their own bikes.

We will miss her smile, her encouraging words and her skill with bikes.  We hope that other women and girls will be motivated to follow in her footsteps.

    - Anne Alt

Welcome new WBC intern

Liz Corrado is excited to partner with Women Bike Chicago as the organization’s first intern.

Liz’s academic background in urban planning and active transportation has fused with an independent streak, a dislike of scheduled exercise, and a love of the outdoors to make cycling advocacy for women a perfect match.  She’s looking forward to getting to know more inspiring female bikers this spring, and hopes that you’ll reach out to her with your questions and ideas.  Her e-mail is liz.corrado@activetrans.org.