Ride Like A Girl Cycling

Learn ~ Laugh ~ Love it!


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This is What Girlfriends Do.

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Julia (left) atop Council Crest last summer, celebrating her victorious climb (buoyed and encouraged by two RLAG cyclists)

You may think it’s a no-brainer; helping a friend to adjust her helmet or add an accessory to her bike; or hanging back to ride with her when she’s struggling to keep pace with the rest of the group. Unfortunately, we don’t always find this girlfriend spirit in a cycling group. Sometimes Strava goals, destination timetables and competitive spirits win over lending a helping hand. But last Friday I witnessed the blessing and beauty of a bicyclist stepping up to befriend a newcomer.

Gathering pre-ride in a local coffee shop, a group of Ride Like a Girl women were welcoming first-timers and reconnecting with old friends. It was in those first moments I witnessed one of our women offer to help another she had just met. I inwardly smiled and watched, thinking, “This is a Ride Like a Girl  moment.”

Jamie was trying to attach a new mirror to her helmet. With instructions in one hand and supplies in the other, she was organizing her thoughts to tackle the task when the cyclist sitting beside her spoke up, “Do you want to see how I mounted my mirror? I have the same one.” Julia left the coffee chatter to retrieve her helmet from the car and returned to coach her peer on how to quickly mount the device. In minutes, the task was done and conversation continued seamlessly.

Fast-forward eight miles into our ride and another rider was struggling to keep pace with the group. Julia (our ‘helmet helper’) elected to ride alongside her, later explaining, “My jacket is brighter than hers, and I wanted to make sure she was visible to vehicles when she fell behind the group.”

The struggling cyclist had become overheated and felt nauseous as she slowly rolled up to the group, dismounted her bike and planted herself on the pavement. Julia was the first to say, “You all go ahead, and I’ll stay with her so she can have a break.” Knowing that the group would be circling back after two more miles, I thought it was the perfect option for our tired rider. But Julia’s offer meant she would personally miss a portion of the ride and the social time during our rest stop. I asked her, “Are you sure?” to which she replied, “This is what girlfriends do.”

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The Friday group benefited by being able to ride on to Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course

Speaking with Julia after the event, I learned her motivation was simply to pass it forward, citing how several other women have supported and encouraged her in moments of fatigue and discouragement.

Julia had just met the women she assisted that Friday. Her kindness served not only strangers but also the larger group, as they could continue their ride uninterrupted. No doubt, Julia made two new friends that day. And in a time when our world seems to be trending towards cold-heartedness, she countered the culture with class and kindness, giving life to one of our mantras, “Be a girlfriend.”

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http://www.Meetup.com/RLAGcycling


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Enter: Ride Like A Girl

April 5th, 2013, Ride Like A Girl came on the scene in Portland, Oregon. Forty women showed up for our first “Just Coffee” session confirming our hunch that women want to bike. With a passion for helping women get started, we launched with a mission to help women discover the joy of biking; offering coaching, training and social biking opportunities. With the support and help from our friends at Northwest Butts on Bikes Meetup, our sponsor Western Bikeworks, and others, here we are five years later with 170 women, ever-expanding our cycling skills, discovering new horizons and continuing to reach out to newcomers. One way we are celebrating our birthday is with throwback photos to that first year. We hope you’ll follow along and celebrate with us.
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Bike Love Changes the World

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“True Love” is the first of five in a “Love” series sticker project. Inspired by the fun and naive essence of childhood, Tal (Berlin artist and creator of the series) says, “My bike was my favorite thing in the world!”

Travel is an amazing vehicle to discover new people, places and things, as evidenced today when I met “Tal” in Croatia and fell in love with this “True Love” sticker that she created.  Our bus-train commute from Zagreb to Split provided the opportunity to meet but when she shared her creation, I was instantly curious to know more. Tal (who wishes to be called only by her first name) is a Berlin artist, bike mechanic and community activist with a passion to “change the world!” With a heart for refugees (especially women), at-risk youth and other minorities, Tal generously shares her talents to the underserved in the local community; a unique combination of creativity, open and authentic communication, and heaps of artistic and applied mechanical skills (Tal built her bike from spare parts).

Tal identifies as Jewish and queer which fires a passion to help other minority individuals affirm who they are as a person rather than by the color of their skin, ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation. She teaches workshops on topics such as bike repair, up-cycling (repurposing used parts into usable and functional accessories), offering workshops in graffiti, street art, stop-motion animation and puppet theater. Her joy is palpable as she observes how the transfer of skills result in a sense of empowerment, increased confidence and greater self-reliance among her students.

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The bike that Tal built and rides today is the subject for the “True Love” sticker.

“I have the urge to do something to make a difference in the world … I am aware of how difficult it is to be a minority, how things need to change and what support other minorities may need.”  Tal explains that as she works with youngsters, shares her skills and develops a positive relationship with them, the chances are good they will be more inclined to respect and support other minorities they encounter in life.

One 9-year old Sinti Roma (aka, “gypsy”) boy accustomed to hiding his identity in his multinational but highly-biased Berlin neighborhood (for fear of being bullied), echoed the words he had heard Tal use to affirm her own identity. Tal witnessed the event when some children challenged the young boy’s ethnicity (which would inform their view of his social rank). “What are you? Are you Turkish? Arab? – What are you?” The young boy stood tall as he retorted with Tal’s words, “I am human.” The matter-of-fact manner of his response served to shift a paradigm of differences to one of unity and commonality. The conversation moved seamlessly and naturally onto the next, unrelated topic. As Tal’s story culminated with this timid-turned-brave boy redirecting peer bias, Tal expressed great joy and pride, “I smiled for a month!”

If you would like to view or purchase Tal’s artwork, you can find more information online at Cool Tool Facebook page.


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Linda’s Story Catches Media’s Attention

“Do I really inspire people?” Linda genuinely ponders how her seemingly simple story has captured the attention of the media when KATU, one of Portland’s local broadcasters, aired her story April 14th, “Everyday Heroes: Ride Like a Girl.”

No spoiler alert needed because you won’t find the details here; I’m including a link below so you can view and read for yourself. If as a result, you find yourself moved, tearing up or feeling motivated to overcome a personal challenge, perhaps you will share your thoughts and help Linda discover that simple (when combined with transparency) inspires!  Linda’s “Everyday Heroes …” story on KATU.

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