Shut up about biking in heels

Dear femme-friendly bike enthusiasts who want to see more women on bikes,PIC-0182


If we’re going to talk about women on bikes – women who ride, women who want to ride, what they like, what holds them back – can we stop talking about biking in heels and get real about practical, enjoyable biking? Any woman who enjoys biking in heels is a slave to fashion – WHICH IS FINE, OK – but that has almost nothing to do with riding bikes except that there is some weird obsession with asserting fashion over real enjoyment, not to mention practicality. No woman can tell you heels are comfortable. One might say that she enjoys wearing them, and that’s valid, but heels are not comfortable.

PIC-0181Enough about the heels, though, really. I’m filing my grievance with all these discussions, articles and workshops on biking in heels. Why don’t you talk about fixing a fucking flat if you want to enable and empower a person? What, women don’t care about fixing things? What, it’s OK, they’ll just get someone else to do it? What about when that woman isn’t with or near someone who can help them if one of her bike’s tires goes flat? What then? Will she be stuck high-heeling down the sidewalk with her unfixable flat? 

Of all the precious attention afforded women on bikes, how high on the priority scale is biking in heels to actually improving riding for women?? Stop it already and please talk about stuff like becoming self-sufficient, valuable resources for women like ladies nights at co-ops and women’s riding groups and helpful tips like carrying useful and portable layers, things that make rides easier or more enjoyable (saddle adjustments, anyone), developing environmental awareness, carrying things by bike, finding confidence in traffic, handling intimidation from drivers, experiencing sexual harassment on the street, pairing public transportation with biking, nutritional needs for women who ride. Even dressing for work and riding would be a relevant discussion, but you still won’t hear me saying I ride to the office in heels.

1795639_10152935906227281_2011289981_nThat said, I look forward to constructive conversations that help women bike more and enjoy biking more, and hopefully the #Womentalkbikes conversation on Bike Talk/KPFK next week will focus on more constructive issues.       Heels be damned.

Kristas Fixie

p.s. Riding in heels is actually easier than walking in them. So there. 


Hardcourt’s not just for white dudes

Hardcourt Bike Polo is among those young sports not bound to old rules.
The standards for equality are higher in hardcourt because the sport does not have antiquated traditions within the sport to cling to.

When polo was played by both men and women in the grass games of the 20th century, the standards met the times: Men and women played separate games, with variant rules. Reborn at the cusp of the 21st century, many of the social agreements about gender had changed. Women made waves successively from running and tennis to basketball and later on in baseball, football and hockey.  

Unlike the decidedly masculine sports of the old world, bikes themselves arrived in a new era and any protests about women riding bikes were quickly pedaled past by flush females sporting fresh bloomers. Bloomers! A century and some change goes by before the blessed bike polo revival, and here’s where the two worlds intersect.

The co-ed nature of bike polo really is one of its most beautiful aspects, in terms of what humanity can look like. You have so much fun, push yourself so hard; you get so excited– and the rigid gender dynamics we typically adhere to begin to fold.

But in the spirit of sportsing in America, bike polo is a white dude’s jam (aka We love you, but you’re still a minority). Don’t get me wrong, though—it’s not an intentional exclusion of blacks, browns, and women—bike polo doesn’t care what you look like or what bits you have (are you using that new Fixcraft mounting system though?). The reality is that bike polo doesn’t exist in a race and gender-free universe, so we’re working from the inside out, evolving the poloverse with everyone in mind.

It’s an exciting process, and it’s tricky too. When we say “Hey, I want to show you what bike polo is” most people hear “Look, more sportsing!” which ultimately translates to “Look at these sweaty dudes be manly.”  

There’s been a flurry of voices stirred up about who gets represented and how since the release of the white dudes on bikes NAH promo video. Quick on its heels was the uproar in response to GQ’s profile of the Beaver Boys, and the crumb of misogynistic representation within it that even hinted that bike polo was coed at all. The GQ feature is really just the last in a long string of biased coverage that omits or distorts the coed nature of the sport.

In honor of all the current controversy, I wanted to establish a primer of relevant materials on the intersections of bike polo and equity in sports and discrimination and gender expectations and all that, which I hope to add to as more people contribute to the conversation. My intention has always been to show others what is being accomplished in bike polo, and first to five is the least of it.

Is this list missing something? Tell me!

Tips on Ridesharing: Get Where You Wanna Go!

I’ve had some amazing rideshare adventures. My favorite rideshare was a 13-hour trip straight from New York to Chicago. I had to hunt for this one, but when I finally locked it in I stayed up all night to be ready for the dude’s a.m. arrival. Then he…didn’t show….so I called him….and he didn’t answer. I waited in the lobby of my friend’s Manhattan apartment, anxious and hopeful. Finally I went back upstairs, assuming my travel plans had been foiled. I wore this face —> : /

Disheartened and delirious from being up all night I slumped over on the futon I’d been crashing on, hair over my eyes and hands hung over the side. Womp. Then my cell phone rings. It’s Matt, my rideshare driver. He overslept, and slept through my half-a-dozen calls. He’s on his way! We spent the entire trip playing songs for each other, sharing junk food and taking pictures of an insane lightning storm we barreled through crossing Ohio. Thirteen hours has never gone by so fast.

Ridesharing, in case you aren’t familiar, is essentially a vaccinated version of hitchhiking. It’s a safer, more predictable approach to catching a ride with a stranger from point A to point B. While not free, it is cheaper than nearly all other forms of transportation–you may be able to find a less expensive bus ride, but it will also take you much longer. I have taken several rideshares through various parts of the country and every one has been a good experience-–a chance to meet someone new, exchange ideas, and make the trip less solitary and more enriching. No waiting in lines, no ticket purchases, no tagging of luggage, no security checks. In terms of time effectiveness, ride shares are second only to airplanes, and a lot more comfortable. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the road to a smooth rideshare.

1. Be specific about your needs. Are you traveling with a pet or carrying a bike? Do you hate rap music or need to be able to smoke in the car? You don’t have to sacrifice your needs to get a ride, but you do need to communicate them with any potential rideshare partner.

2. Talk to the other party on the phone. Typically you will initiate communication by email, unless you or the other person requests a phone call in your rideshare listing. It’s OK to establish contact via the Internet, but you should always speak to the person to get an idea of who they are and what their plan is. It can be Ask yourself: Do they sound sincere? Do they sound sane?

“It’s so much easier for a person to fabricate or manipulate perception through Internet than through the phone,” said musician and rideshare provider John Caruso.

3. Be flexible. Leave room around the time you want to arrive for any possible delays. You are traveling in a personal-use vehicle, so you should be able to adapt to all kinds of variables. Often a driver will have an ideal departure time, but things happen. One time my driver was on the way to pick me up and had to turn around to pick his sick daughter up from school because her mother was unreachable. We left two hours later than planned, but this was an unforeseeable. Another time my driver overslept by an hour–but at least he was rested when we got on the road! This also means you are allowed some flexibility as well, and don’t need to endure the stress of missing that 5 a.m. train that is really going to pull out of the station at 4:59 while you’re running down the platform.

4.  Agree on a payment amount before you meet up. Discuss what you are willing to pay for the trip and what the driver expects you to contribute. Research the distance and make sure you think it is a fair amount you are willing to pay. Do not agree to an amount that you can’t afford or don’t want to pay; do not expect to barter with your driver. Have cash on hand so that you can pay the driver when you arrive at your destination and do not need to go searching for a bank and delay the driver from their final destination.

5. Be open-minded and friendly. Be willing to engage in conversation and share ideas along the way; don’t treat your driver as a chauffeur or shuttle service. This is a great opportunity to meet people that you may otherwise never get to meet. Discuss topics such as politics and religion with great caution if at all; start the conversation with something more innocuous. Find out if the person is familiar with the place you are going and ask them for recommendations about things to do or places to go there.

6. Trust your instincts. If you are in doubt for any reason, whether it is about the person’s driving skills or intentions, or if something just doesn’t seem right,  turn down the ride. Put your safety ahead of your travel plans.

“I arranged a ride out of Austin with this one guy who never showed up. I should have known, he sounded iffy when we talked on the phone, ” reports Donnie Pepper, who has traveled more than 7,000 miles through rideshares.

7. Know where you are going. Give the driver a specific address or cross streets to deliver you to; this will save time for them and prevent you from ending up in an inconvenient location. If you don’t have a specific address to go to then choose a busy part of town where you can get some food and find a place to stay. Also, in the event that your driver strays from the route you can re-route him (this will help in case they get lost, or try to take you somewhere else–in which case you should ask to get out of the car and find a new ride.)

Enamel Stays Hard.

New toothbrush
Itchy scabs
Purple corduroy pants
Scrub, scratch and stretch

Enamel stays hard
Scabs turn into scars
These pants won’t last the year
But I’ll still be here

Hard and scarred and weathered
Those fears that run under the surface
They’re getting tarred and feathered
You are not alone
We’re all in this together.