Women & Bicycles Tip: Know The Power of Shifting

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. Click here to learn more and get involved. Shifting gears; important for greater comfort, power, and in general for being a more confident bicyclist. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we’re consulting Bicycling magazine to get you shifting like a pro. Want some in-person assistance? Check out a WABA City Cycling class, or ride with us this Sunday!
Photo courtesy of Microvector and Bicycling Magazine

Photo courtesy of Microvector and Bicycling

Here’s what Neil Bezdek wrote for Bicycling:

1. The Gears Most bikes have two or three chainrings in the front and anywhere from 7 to 11 gears, or cogs, in the back. Moving the chain from the smallest rear cog to the largest eases your pedaling effort incrementally. Moving it between the chainrings in the front results in a more noticeable change—pedaling feels easier in a smaller chainring and harder in a bigger one. 2. Shifter Savvy The left-hand shifter changes the front gears; the one on the right controls gears in back. If you get flustered on the fly, remember: RIGHT = REAR. 3. It’s Okay To… • Use only the rear cogs and the small or middle front chainring when you’re just getting comfortable on a bike. • look down to see what gear you’re in. • shift whenever a more experienced rider does. 4. When to Shift The reason bikes have gears is so you can pedal (relatively) comfortably no matter what the terrain. Shift to an easier gear on climbs or when you’re riding into the wind. Use a harder gear on flats or if the wind is blowing from behind. When in doubt, shift before the terrain changes. When you shift, ease up on the pedals, especially on hills; if you’re pushing hard, the chain may skip or fall off. 5. Avoid Cross-Chaining  That means the chain is at an extreme slant, either in the big ring up front and the biggest cog in back, or the small ring up front and the small cog in back. This not only stresses the hardware, but it also limits your options if you need to shift again. 6. Cheat Sheet For: Uphills and headwinds Use: Small or middle front chainring + bigger rear cogs For: Downhills Use: Large front chainring + a range of rear cogs For: Flat terrain Use: Small or middle front chainring + ­smaller rear cogs
We searched the internet high and low for an effective video tutorial on shifting gears, and we came across Ken here from Landry’s Bicycles:

Women & Bicycles Tip: DIY Bra Boombox

This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes.  Click here to learn more and get involved. Bicyclists in the big city don’t have a lot of control over our sound environment. We can’t escape the roaring dump trucks, rattling jackhammers, and the constant white noise of muffled and not-so-muffled engines. If you miss the  luxury of listening to music through your car stereo or headphones, I’ve got a suggestion—no, not headphones. That’s dangerous and against the law in Virginia and Maryland, and highly discouraged in D.C. I’m talking about your very own bra boombox (for those who are inclined toward lingerie), or the more generic pocket boombox. Four easy steps to building your DIY bra boombox* 1) Select your tunes on your smartphone 2) Turn up volume 3) Insert smartphone into bra or pocket, speaker-side positioned at 12 o’clock** 4) Get your bike dance on *Smartphone or battery-operated sound-playing device required **Concerned about perspiration? Place your phone in a small unsealed ziplock bag. Image courtesy of V and the Bats

Women & Bicycles Tip: Downpour Preparedness

This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. With the help of Roll Models, the program’s volunteer mentors, we’re providing a space to learn about and experience the joys of bicycling through workshops, bike rides, meetups, and our online forum. Click here to learn more and get involved. Some people say that when it comes to bicycling, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” Well, those people are pompous show-offs, and get a kick out of suffering and looking cool (and yes, sometimes I’m one of these people). We can all agree certain weather situations dictate our decision to commute by bike. Thundersnow? Freak winter hurricanes? Golf-ball sized hail? No thanks! I’ll sacrifice my bicycling freedoms and take the dry, air-conditioned (albeit hardly freeing) Metro. Sometimes it’s just too hot or too cold, too wet or too snowy, you’re too lazy or not too sober, or you just aren’t up for riding—and those are great days to stay off the bike. That said, I’m a big fan of rain riding and of being prepared for rain riding especially because there’s a good chance you’ll eventually participate in this precipitous pastime whether you like it or not. When you’re prepared to be out in the rain your experience can be refreshing, relaxing, and downright adventurous. So here are some tips for torrential downpour preparedness: Rain gal GEAR Fenders: These plastic shields frame your front and rear wheels and single-handedly prevent many wet hineys and soaked shoes. Tangentially, always keep your tires pumped up, especially during rainy days. Second change of clothes and toiletries: At minimum, pack a second change of clothes, including underwear, bra, socks, and shoes. And pack anything you may need to freshen up your hair and make-up once you arrive. I pack wet wipes with me wherever I go just in case I need to wipe down before meetings. Rain jacket or poncho: You can pick up a cheap poncho to store in your bike bag, or invest in a lightweight rain jacket (this option avoids heat-trapping plastics). The more breathable, the better because you can pretty easily get more wet by sweating than by the rain; pit-zips are a plus. Specifically designed rain ponchos, often called rain capes, provide better opportunities for airflow, but are still compact. I like the Iva Jean Cycling Rain Cape. Rain pants are a major plus, especially because these can be used in cold, snowy conditions as well. If you aren’t up for buying a new pair of rain pants, and it’s warm out, try out athletic shorts that you can change out of once you get to your destination. Cycling cap: If you want to keep your hair dry, try out a cycling cap under your helmet or a cover over your helmet. Glasses: Clear-lens glasses shield your eyes from heavy rain and help with visibility. Breathable shoes or shoe covers: You can purchase some cheap booties that cover just about any kind of shoe, and still give you the grip and range of motion you need. I myself wear Chacos, an athletic sandal. They excel at keeping my feet happy in the rain because they were originally designed to be worn in rivers. Bag: Consider investing in a waterproof bike bag or pannier to keep your everyday essentials dry and cared for. I have officially converted to panniers, the bags that attach to your bike rack. It was a significant financial investment for me, but has had a major payoff in my bike satisfaction. My back is much happier without the weight of  backpack or the heat and sweat from a backpack.   Bicycling in the rainVISIBILITY Brightly colored clothing: This is where the bright neon colors and reflective accessories in your closet can come in handy. A lightweight reflective vest is a low-cost accessory that’s easy to carry with you at all times. Lights: Front and rear lights are required in D.C. even in sunny weather, but in the rain it’s even more important to have your bike lit up as much as possible. Lane placement: Most of your visibility power is in your position on the road and how you communicate with other road users. Do what you can to make yourself the most visible and most predictable with your fellow road users. Unfortunately our standard M.O. is to assume that we’re invisible to everyone. If there are no bike lanes present, position yourself in the middle of the lane. If there are bike lanes present, ride to the far left-hand side of the bike lane to avoid the door zone. If you’re on a trail, always yield to walkers and joggers. When communicating passing and turning to drivers, other bicyclists, and pedestrians do your best to use hand signals make eye contact, and use verbal cues if necessary. This is all basic bike know-how, but having it under your belt can make your rain-riding experience even better. TECHNIQUE Be cautious: if you haven’t already, over time you will figure out your rain riding style. It may mean you need to ride a little slower to feel more alert and in control. This is a personal aspect that takes some time and practice. Avoid slippery surfaces and puddles: Do your best to avoid street car tracks, gutters, grates, white street markings, piles of leaves, and anything that becomes slippery when wet. You do not have to worry about bike lanes that are painted green: The green paint is not the same as slick thermoplastic white street markings and has instead a granular texture to help prevent slipping. Lightly use your brakes: Also called “feathering your brakes” which means, avoid quickly pulling your brake levers too hard. Instead lightly use both front and rear brakes equally with consistent pressure as needed. Follow your Gene Kelley intuitions: You will probably find yourself singing more in the rain, and you may hear the occasional, “WEEeeeeeEEE!” and some “WoooIiiPEEE!'”s  Because as usual, your bike ride should be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.  

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Women & Bicycles Bike Tip: Find a Seat That Fits

crochet-bike-seat This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Bi-Weekly Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. With the help of Roll Models, the program’s volunteer mentors, we’re providing a space to learn about and experience the joys of bicycling through workshops, bike rides, meetups, and our online forum. Click here to learn more and get involved. Our behinds are like snowflakes. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Seats that may feel great to some might not work for you. Take the time to think about your bike seat. Does your seat welcome you back to your bike after a long day? It should. Your comfort and your bike seat are not mutually exclusive concepts. 1. Tinker with the position of your seat: The way you sit on your seat drastically changes the way your seat feels. So before buying a new seat, spend a few hours messing around with the way yours is positioned. Bike seats can generally make three adjustments. First, you can adjust your seat post up and down to change your seat height. It’s important to make sure you have the right seat height. When you’re too high off the ground you could be shifting your weight too much with each pedal stroke. Your second adjustment is froward and backward  (towards the handlebars or away from the handlebars). The distance between your seat and your handlebars greatly affects where you’re putting your weight on your seat. The third adjustment is the seat’s angle, whether the front of the seat is tilted upward or downward. The angle also determines where you’re resting your weight. (Check out this little spandex-friendly video tutorial to see these adjustments in action). 2. Give it time: Even when you’ve found a good design and a good fit and have tinkered around with its position, your body is going to need some time to adjust. Your body still needs time to grow “seat muscles.”  As local bike enthusiast Anna Doorenbos claims, it generally takes six to 10 rides before you develop these muscles and it’s OK if you’re left a little sore. Per Anna, “A sore but is fine, sores on your butt are not!” 3. Look for a women’s-specific seat: Bicycling should never be a pain in the butt! If you’ve given your seat time ample time, have patiently ridden your 6 to 10 painful bike rides and if you have the funds, we suggest investing in a new seat.  It’s important to know most bike seats are designed for men, and some bike seats falsely claim to be designed for women. Those seats poke out and up where women need them to poke in and down. These design issues can cause all sorts of problems from pain to chafing to infections.  For a good example of well-designed seat, check out the Serfas Women’s RX saddle (~$50). 4. Don’t immediately look for a seat with more padding: More padding does not necessarily mean more comfort. A good seat will support your bone structure resting on the seat (the public rami and ischial tuberosities), rather than allowing the soft flesh and muscles to collapse onto the seat. There’s a good chance you’d benefit from a cutout in the middle of the seat to relieve pressure and increase airflow. Above all, you want to protect your perineum, the area between the sit bones that contains a plethora of arteries and nerves. 5. Try out a variety of seats: Most people go through a few seats before they find one that works best (or at least one that works better). Some bike shops will allow you to test out different options before buying, so ask if you can! When you’re testing out the seat make sure you’re wearing clothes you’d normally bike in and ride a distance similar to your normal riding routine. If the seat doesn’t work out you can do your best to return it, or put it on Craigslist. Want to know more? Read this Lovely Bicycle entry about your anatomy and your bike seat and this Total Women’s Cycling article on tinkering with your seat angle for beginners. Have a saddle you love and want to share? Post your suggestions to our Women & Bicycles Facebook forum.

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Read: Marya McQuirter on Black Women Biking—In 1928

Marya McQuirter is based in D.C. and is a League Certified Instructor who has taught a number of WABA’s safe cycling classes. On the League of American Bicyclists’ blog, she recently detailed some of her research on a group of five black women that, in 1928, biked from New York City to D.C.
When asked what motivated them to embark on the group ride, they responded that they were motivated by “the love of the great-out-of-doors” that each of them cherished.  Interestingly, they also challenged other young women, 21 years old and older, to replicate their trip in less time. What are we to make of this challenge, the professed love for “outdoor” culture and the trip, in general? And what was happening in 1928 that provides a context for the ride?
Read the rest of McQuirter’s post here. Image via the League of American Bicyclists

Read: Marya McQuirter on Black Women Biking—In 1928

Marya McQuirter is based in D.C. and is a League Certified Instructor who has taught a number of WABA’s safe cycling classes. On the League of American Bicyclists’ blog, she recently detailed some of her research on a group of five black women that, in 1928, biked from New York City to D.C.
When asked what motivated them to embark on the group ride, they responded that they were motivated by “the love of the great-out-of-doors” that each of them cherished.  Interestingly, they also challenged other young women, 21 years old and older, to replicate their trip in less time. What are we to make of this challenge, the professed love for “outdoor” culture and the trip, in general? And what was happening in 1928 that provides a context for the ride?
Read the rest of McQuirter’s post here. Image via the League of American Bicyclists

Women & Bicycles Fully Funded, Thanks to League of American Bicyclists’ Women Bike

lab_weblogo2006 The face of bicycling is changing in cities across the country, and nowhere is that more evident than in the nation’s capital. Since 2004, Washington, D.C., has seen a 175 percent increase in cycling and a 300 percent increase in its bike lane network. Despite these incredible gains, the number of women on bikes has remained steady at 23 percent. With a $15,000 grant from the League of American Bicyclists, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is launching an initiative that will further elevate the D.C. region as a national leader in encouraging more women to ride. WABA’S Women & Bicycles program will kick off on Sun., March 3, with a launch party from 8 to 11:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets (1025 5th St. NW). Featured speakers will include Nelle Pierson, WABA’s outreach coordinator, and Elly Blue, founder of Taking the Lane Media and author of Everyday Bicycling, an accessible, easy-to-read guide to cycling for transportation. WABA’s program is the result of several years of discussion and feedback, which concluded that a strong community is essential to getting more women on bikes. Women & Bicycles is encouragement-based: 10 Roll Models will be identified, then asked to tap into their personal networks to loop in women who might be hesitant to ride a bike for transportation. A series of small social gatherings hosted by Roll Models and practical-skill workshops and group rides run by WABA will engage Women & Bicycles participants and provide them with all the resources they’ll need to bike confidently in the D.C. area. WABA is in the process of selecting Roll Models, and the program will be underway by late March. “Generally speaking, women admit to being more intimidated by the perceived risk of bicycling, maintaining appearances, and the responsibilities of being a primary caretaker in the household,” says Pierson. “So we’re going to tackle these issues together at meetups, workshops, and group rides, and we’re going to have a lot of fun in the process.” Supporting such innovative efforts is a key aspect of the League’s new Women Bike initiative, the first national advocacy campaign aimed at engaging, empowering, and elevating women in all aspects of the bicycle movement. “One of our primary goals is to seed, support, and spread new campaigns and ideas that are getting more women on bikes,” say Carolyn Szczepanski, the League’s director of communications and Women Bike. “WABA has been at the forefront of women’s outreach for years and we’re excited to partner with them on a pilot project that could be a model for communities nationwide.” e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIOn the heels of WABA’s launch party, the League will bring together hundreds of leaders from across the country at the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum. On March 4 at the Renaissance Washington (999 9th St. NW), more than 25 diverse female leaders from bike advocacy, industry, policy and racing will present at the all-day forum. Keynote speakers will include Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and industry trailblazer Georgena Terry. Registration for the public is $85 and media is invited to attend. Learn more about the Women’s Forum here. Learn more and get involved with WABA’s Women & Bicycles campaign here. In addition to this fantastic news, we’d like to thank our members and friends who have so generously given to Women & Bicycles. Were it not for you, we wouldn’t have met and exceeded last December’s match grant or continued to receive donations well into the new year. Your support continues to be critical in raising funds and raising awareness for WABA’s work, and we can’t wait to show you the progress of the Women & Bicycles program.  

Women & Bicycles Bulletin #1

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It feels like we’ve been talking about our Women & Bicycles program forever. We’re preparing to finally, finally launch it officially in March—and we’ve got a lot to do before then. We sent out the first Women & Bicycles Bulletin to those who signed up for our email list today, and we’re reposting the information here. If you’d like to receive these updates (they’re bi-weekly notices about what’s going on in the program) in your inbox, sign up here if you haven’t already. Otherwise, read on!

A brief review of the Women & Bicycles philosophy: This program is designed to create opportunities for helpful exchanges between two different groups, women who already bicycle and women who are interested in bicycling. To do this, we’re sponsoring a season of workshops, rides, and meetups, all of which will encourage skillsharing. This type of community-based guidance has worked for ages, but it’s a new approach to getting more people on bicycles; WABA’s program is the first of its kind in the country.

Here’s some news and ways you can get involved:

Become a Roll Model We are looking for 10 women to serve as the program’s bicycling mentors, known as Roll Models. For more information on the role of Roll Models, expectations, time commitments, and the many benefits of getting involved, click here to visit our Roll Model Application. Take a look, pass it along, and apply! (Please submit by Friday, Feb. 22nd.) W&B Logo _ Cruiser Our Logo We released our logo a few weeks ago. Some people love it, some don’t heart the hearts, and some have questioned the utility of the logo-bike’s wheels. We appreciate the feedback! Women & Bicycles is intended to initiate a regional discussion about perceptions of gender and bicycling. We’re keeping the logo: It originated from a doodle that program coordinator Nelle has drawn on notebooks, dry-erase boards, and thank-you notes since she started biking. Interact With Us We’ve set up a Facebook page that we hope will become a consistent resource for all women who bike. It will serve as a place to ask questions, post ideas, upcoming events, new discoveries, and share general bicycling cheer. Click here to join. It’s a private group, but we encourage you to invite your friends. And we’re on Instagram! Check us out, follow our account (“womenandbicycles”), and tag your women-and-bikey photos with #womenbikeDC. Your photos will be posted directly to our website to show the program in action. Women & Bicycles Launch Party, Presented by the League of American Bicyclists We’re throwing a party with Women Bike, the League of American Bicyclists’ National women’s outreach program. It’s also the kick-off to the second annual National Women’s Cycling Forum, part of the National Bike Summit. Join us for drinks, hear updates on the program, learn about what the League’s doing, and interact with women from all across the U.S. who bike for transportation. Click here to learn more and register for the Launch Party. Register for the National Women’s Bicycling Forum The day after the launch party is the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, the opening event of the National Bike Summit. The Forum hosts groups and individuals who work throughout the country to get more women on bikes. Check out the program and you’ll notice there are many D.C.-area bike advocacy stars in the line-up. Click here to learn more and register for the Women’s Bicycling forum. We hope to see you online and in real life soon!

Women & Bicycles Bulletin #1

_DSC0730

It feels like we’ve been talking about our Women & Bicycles program forever. We’re preparing to finally, finally launch it officially in March—and we’ve got a lot to do before then. We sent out the first Women & Bicycles Bulletin to those who signed up for our email list today, and we’re reposting the information here. If you’d like to receive these updates (they’re bi-weekly notices about what’s going on in the program) in your inbox, sign up here if you haven’t already. Otherwise, read on!

A brief review of the Women & Bicycles philosophy: This program is designed to create opportunities for helpful exchanges between two different groups, women who already bicycle and women who are interested in bicycling. To do this, we’re sponsoring a season of workshops, rides, and meetups, all of which will encourage skillsharing. This type of community-based guidance has worked for ages, but it’s a new approach to getting more people on bicycles; WABA’s program is the first of its kind in the country.

Here’s some news and ways you can get involved:

Become a Roll Model We are looking for 10 women to serve as the program’s bicycling mentors, known as Roll Models. For more information on the role of Roll Models, expectations, time commitments, and the many benefits of getting involved, click here to visit our Roll Model Application. Take a look, pass it along, and apply! (Please submit by Friday, Feb. 22nd.) W&B Logo _ Cruiser Our Logo We released our logo a few weeks ago. Some people love it, some don’t heart the hearts, and some have questioned the utility of the logo-bike’s wheels. We appreciate the feedback! Women & Bicycles is intended to initiate a regional discussion about perceptions of gender and bicycling. We’re keeping the logo: It originated from a doodle that program coordinator Nelle has drawn on notebooks, dry-erase boards, and thank-you notes since she started biking. Interact With Us We’ve set up a Facebook page that we hope will become a consistent resource for all women who bike. It will serve as a place to ask questions, post ideas, upcoming events, new discoveries, and share general bicycling cheer. Click here to join. It’s a private group, but we encourage you to invite your friends. And we’re on Instagram! Check us out, follow our account (“womenandbicycles”), and tag your women-and-bikey photos with #womenbikeDC. Your photos will be posted directly to our website to show the program in action. Women & Bicycles Launch Party, Presented by the League of American Bicyclists We’re throwing a party with Women Bike, the League of American Bicyclists’ National women’s outreach program. It’s also the kick-off to the second annual National Women’s Cycling Forum, part of the National Bike Summit. Join us for drinks, hear updates on the program, learn about what the League’s doing, and interact with women from all across the U.S. who bike for transportation. Click here to learn more and register for the Launch Party. Register for the National Women’s Bicycling Forum The day after the launch party is the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, the opening event of the National Bike Summit. The Forum hosts groups and individuals who work throughout the country to get more women on bikes. Check out the program and you’ll notice there are many D.C.-area bike advocacy stars in the line-up. Click here to learn more and register for the Women’s Bicycling forum. We hope to see you online and in real life soon!

Grand Unveiling of Our Women & Bicycles Logo(s)

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The Women & Bicycles program will officially launch at the beginning of March. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our website to sign up for the Women & Bicycles email list–that way, you’ll receive bi-weekly updates on the program’s status and launch. We have lots of news on the way, so look out for our launch festivities, information on becoming a Roll Model or participant in the program, and how to get your very own Women & Bicycles T-shirt!