Thursday, June 28, 2018

Women, Bikes, and Wine

I love cycling and I love female empowerment. Marry the two and you have a super excited Alex. 

I got the idea for a women's workshop when I helped with another maintenance workshop with my male boss. I noticed that some of the women in the room were quiet and I sensed that they were agreeing to knowing more than they really did. It made me want to offer a workshop for just women, in a safe setting, taught by a fellow woman who could present the information in a non-intimidating way. 

What resulted was my Ladies Only Bike Maintenance and Safety Workshop. When I made the flier and posted it on our P&T Fitness Facebook page it got a ton of response. In the three weeks it was posted, it got shared 45-50 times and was seen by 4,500 to 5,000 people. I had 19 people sign-up to come to it. The women of Jackson had spoken; they wanted to know more about bikes. Being the only female working in a bike shop in the whole town it was great to know that there were other women out there at least interested in getting more comfortable with the mechanics of their bike and how everything works. 

Now, this started from a feminist point-of-view. I wanted women who usually say, "when I need my seat raised I ask my husband", to be able to raise that seat themselves. I don't have a husband, so I do things myself. I wanted to empower women to be able to do things on their own too. 

When the time came to have the workshop I set up the refreshments and snacks; a cheese and cracker tray, lemonaid, water, and of course WINE! Hey gotta give the ladies what they like, right? I gave each person a booklet of safety information as well as a diagram of the components of a bike. I started out by sharing by background, my street cred to be talking about this subject, my potential shortfalls/limitations, and how I wanted to help empower them to understand bikes better. 

I went through cleaning of your bike, components and how they work, how to ride safely including accessories needed, and finished with the crown jewel, changing a bike tire. I ran low on time, so my bike changing demo was rushed. I wanted it to be a bit more interactive rather they lecture-y, but my 90 minutes flew by. 

It flew by, because in between topics the women were able to talk about their own biking experience and learn from one another, in addition to me. I liked this the most. The atmosphere seemed to be a round table of women talking to women and the company was great. I could really sense the appreciation that we were all women, together and safe, and we could say what we wanted without sounding dumb. I told many embarrassing stories about how I did something wrong with a bike, and learned, and didn't want the others to make the same mistakes. I had hoped to sound relate-able  and hoped maybe I'd mentioned some silly thoughts that had crossed their minds too. 

The ladies were very thankful and smiley when they said goodbye. It filled me with joy to have my goal met; empower more women to understand something that they thought maybe was beyond them. Giving them the attitude that they can try something that they couldn't before. Before, some of them were just riding their bikes, now they understand what is actually going on with their components. I am fairly sure I was speaking to a mixed audience when it came to levels of knowledge, but they all agreed to come to a "beginner" class. I could sense that even the women who already knew the information I was presenting enjoyed having that knowledge reinforced and just enjoyed talking about bikes period. 

Maybe it's the love of women, or maybe it's the leftover WINE that I'm celebrating with, but I'm on Cloud Nine tonight. I got to educate, I got to empower, and I got help people be more active, not sure what more I needed to make me happy.