Like a Boss

parkinglikeaminibossbike

It’s almost Friday folks. Do some cool skids today. 

D2R2

photo 2

Warning on a downhill.

This last weekend I rode the D2R2 with my parents – a gravel ride out in Western Mass, infamous for being one of the hilliest rides in New England. Here are a few things I learned:

1. Biking up endless, gravel hills is WAY more fun than I thought it would be. Seriously. I had a blast. The route was beautiful, the people were great, and the beer was delicious.

2. Charles of ARTCRANK was right that gravel is way more tiring for your arms than you would think. I expected my legs to be exhausted, but at the end of the day my legs felt fine but my arms were wicked tired.

3. I’m stronger than I thought I was. I’ve been pretty nervous about this ride all summer, and so I’ve been putting in miles whenever I could and going out of my way to climb hills on normally flat routes – and the crazy thing is – I think it paid off. Right now my legs feel like they could eat hills for breakfast. I’m proud of myself for how I rode, and I feel good right now. Strange how training can do that…

4. If I thought I loved my Space Horse (my bike) before this ride, I love it even more now. I made a few adjustments in the last few weeks that made a huge difference, and I think I’m finally perfecting the fit. I put on a different crankset, and a third stem, and I think I’m dialing in the fit. Geez, I really love that bike.

5. My parents are cooler than me. But I already knew that.

photo 3

Friday Link Love

There were SO MANY good bike articles this week that it’s a bit hard to narrow it down to the most important, but I will try my best.

First up, I love everything about Jennifer Finney Boylan’s piece in the NY Times ‘My Life in Bicycles.’ The short reflection piece is about her lifelong relationship to biking, and includes this touching and eloquent commentary about aging and biking:

These are the gifts that I will most miss when, some day in the not-so-distant future, I have to give up biking alone. At 56, I’m really too old to be hopping over rocks and fallen trees, an hour or two from help, should anything terrible happen to me, which, odds are, it will. Recently, I encountered a bunch of young men who were climbing a mountain trail that I was riding down; one of them looked at me, mud-spattered, sweat-covered, and said, “Whoa! Hard-core!” It wasn’t clear whether he was saying this out of admiration, or concern.

It’s especially moving to me because I have two middle-aged parents who are hard-core (and badass) cyclists. To be honest, I think we take turns worrying about each others biking adventures. They worry about me playing polo, biking in dangerous conditions, and my general carelessness and nonchalant attitude about bruises and falls. I worry about the fact that my dad regularly rides 100+ miles with tons of climbing by himself on the backroads in Vermont, and when they go mountain biking out West I worry about the conditions and what would happen if they fell. We’re all human. We’re all vulnerable. Biking by oneself in the woods at any age is probably not the greatest idea, but, lets be real, it’s also the most fun.

Next up, Elly Blue was back at it stirring up controversy on the interwebz. First she wrote a great article on her own blog, ‘Upper Class Cycling and the Demise of Portland Bike Culture,’ and then clearly she was on a class-bent kick and wrote ‘How to Cycle While Rich,’ for a the (often) wealthy audience of Bicycle Magazine. Both articles are SO IMPORTANT to read! I love the thick irony of her second article:

Avoid coming into contact with the visibly poor when you ride. If you do encounter them, complain to the relevant authorities: your ride or organization’s leaders, elected officials, the police, and the editorial page of the newspaper are all available outlets.

As someone who identifies as a transportation equity activist, I think these types of articles are so important to read mostly to question you’re own practices. Yes, I’m a transportation equity activist, but I also like to participate in bike polo and bike races, and recently I’ve been thinking about buying an expensive mountain bike and taking up mountain biking again. I often times have a hard time balancing my personal desire to participate in some of the more class restrictive parts of biking (mountain biking is a great example), when I claim to be a equity activist. I try to personally navigate that by trying to figure out what it means to act in solidarity when riding in my community and to not prioritize the elitist parts of cycling over everyday cycling. It’s a road I’m sure I will continue to question. Thoughts on that are welcome.

Last up, the LA Streets Blog reported on two bike rides in LA last weekend – Clitoral Mass and a Unity Ride – in an article entitled ‘Reclaiming Public Space for Marginalized Communities: Bikes Don’t Fix Everything, But They Can Help.’

While bikes might not seem like the most effective way to tackle social justice, rides through Boyle Heights or South L.A. with these groups are never solely about riding bikes.

Amongst bike activist folks, there have been a lot of discussions in the last two weeks about how bike activism relates to whats going on in Ferguson, Missouri. I often have a knee jerk cringe reaction to those efforts because it can feel like trying to draw those connections somehow trivializes the murder of young people of color. I certainly don’t think that is the intention, nor am I sure that it’s really how I feel, but it can feel like to draw that connection takes something away from the fight against racism. But as I like to say when I describe my job to folks ‘it’s about bikes, but it’s not about bikes.’ For me, bike organizing is something I know how to do and is something I find empowering, but it’s about fighting for a lot about than bikes – it’s about fighting against racism and sexism, about fighting transphobia and corporate power – it’s about taking back our streets, our culture, our communities. The LA Streets Blog article is a cool look into two groups who are actively making those connections between biking and wider struggles.

Oh and Boston Magazine did a write up on Boston Bike Polo! : )

Weekend Adventures Around Boston

The leaves are beginning to fall on the Southwest Corridor (my main route to work), so I spent last weekend panicked that summer is ending. I had this  feeling of urgency that  I needed to ride my bike as much as possible and spend all day, everyday outside. This was amplified by my rising anxiety about the D2R2, and the sinking feeling that I’m not ready for 100K of gravel and 10,000+ ft of climbing. I think that I’ve finally convinced myself that I am prepared. We’ll see.

That being said, I spent as much of the weekend as possible out riding. I took full advantage of my 3-day Friday-Sunday weekend. I rode between drinking beers with friends, played bike polo three of the nights, biked to eat delicious meals, went on a brewery tour, attended a women’s bike festival, and raced an alleycat for the first time in two years. With the exception of a 12 mile race, I rode 110+ miles over four days without intentionally going out ‘riding’ once.

I tried to recreate most of the weekend on Google Maps.

It started Thursday after work – I rode from work to a beer on the Esplanade, attended a National Moment of Silence for Victims of Police Brutality, made a quick trip home and then decided to go to polo because… well because its polo.

Thursday

Thursday

And then Friday morning I kicked it off with some dim sum, then explored the Arboretum with someone new to town, played polo and had a beer to celebrate a friend’s birthday to round out the night.

Friday

Friday

Saturday I went to Boston Bikes’ Women’s Bike Festival (more on that later this week) in West Roxbury, fixed up my bike, and then some friends and I did our monthly 6-pack shuffle ride.

Saturday

Saturday

And lastly Sunday I unintentionally rode 20 miles, played 2-3 hours of polo, and then decided it would be a good idea to race what was supposedly a 6 mile sprint race, but was really a 12 mile alley-cat. Oops. I don’t really have any idea how I routed through some parts of Boston, but this map is my best estimation.

[Aside: I had a fun time racing and I'm glad I did, but I have to say that it was sort of disappointing to go to my first alleycat in 2 years, and out of a field of 50ish racers I was 1 of 2 women. Sorta feels like fixie bro culture hasn't changed much in the last 7 years. ]

Sunday

Sunday

In all, it was an excellent late summer weekend of drinking beers outside by bodies of water, playing polo until the lights went out, playing polo in the daylight, riding up  big hills carrying 25 pounds of smoothie ingredients, eating three different kinds of pork in one meal, eating burritos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (yes, that really did happen in one day), enjoying a leisurely brunch with friends, hanging out on a castle ledge looking out over downtown Boston, and remembering that feeling of sort of wanting to puke during an alleycat.

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