Stylish cycling

I recently competed in the Wellington chapter of Frocks on Bikes “Cycle Chic in the Street” competition.

Believe it or not, I won 3rd place is the “Super Chic” category.

Here is a dark fuzzy photo of me looking super chic with the other contestants.

And another one of me posing with my bike and my prize (a bunch of fabulous Antipodes products!)

While I was there I got to speaking with a lovely lady who designs and makes bicycle clothing and accessories for ladies.  It’s called “Cyclette” and her stuff is so fucking rad!

It’s described as “Sexy girls’ cycle wear for on and off your bike. All designs feature high visibility reflective details. Mobile phone pockets that work as you roll. Practical styles to allow you ultimate mobility.”

She was wearing this totally awesome cape:

I WANT ONE!

There are also bodysuits (‽) and tons of other awesome stuff.

She is now living in Wellington and trying to get her business going here.  I had a chance to examine the lovely cape the designer was wearing, and it was so well made and neatly finished I felt like the laziest seamstress in the world.

I also love this handlebar bag:

So, check out her website and all her awesome cycling accessories and buy some.

Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade

I just wanted to share this awesome article I came across thanks to Venusradiockut.wordpress.com

The Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade Make a Space for Women on the Eastside

by Kris Fortin from LA Streets Blog

The Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade is a all-women bicycle group based out of the Eastside. Xela de la X of the Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade throws up the Ova’s sign with the rest of the group in the background. Photo by Rafael Cardenas via EastsiderWriter.com

(We’re working on a photo essay tomorrow following up on today’s story.  So, come back Monday. D)

Two months ago, when 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman was murdered in Lincoln Heights, the all-women bike group Ovarian-Pscyos Bicycle Brigade scrapped their previously planned ride to ride instead through the neighborhood to protest the killing.

“Whose Streets,” one woman called out.

“Our Streets” the more than 30 women riding answered.

While many recent bike groups are either bicycling for recreation, bringing awareness to bicyclists on the road, or use the bicycle for social justice movement events, the Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade is a community inspired women’s movement that does all of the above and then some.

In Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle count. While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle groups in Los Angeles has grown from just a couple a few years ago, to at least four.

The currently all-Latina collective with roots from various parts of the Eastside pride themselves with their exclusivity to women, with sticker slogans like “Ovaries so big, we don’t need no fucking balls.” Their monthly all-women Luna Rides, which takes its name from the moons connection with a woman’s menstrual cycle, bring up to 30 women riders each ride. For their two-year anniversary in July, the Ovarian-Psycos are also planning the first female version of the monthly Critical Mass, which will be called Clitoral Mass.

For many of the women it’s their first time being involved in an all-female collective. The oldest members are 33 and the youngest is 20. Some are artists that ride bikes, and some are pure bicyclists. Yet the Ovarian-Psycos has become a type of sisterhood that, for many, they have never had before.

“Being around women, learning that we can interact in a way that was not hostile or competitive; it’s been a very new experience,” said Magally “Maga” Miranda.

Though the group has found stability recently, the group’s continued existence was never a sure bet. On the very first Luna Ride in July 2010, Xela, the de facto leader of the group at the time, hit a pothole on the road and fell face forward off her bike, hospitalizing her for one week.  Andrea Ramirez, or “La Blackbird,” recalls that many bike riders didn’t come back after the first ride because they were scared.

Though one half left, and another came back for the second Luna Ride, Xela said, the group stagnated for the first year, never topping more than 20 riders.

“I was worried always that it’s going to die someday,” Xela said.

The Ovas wait at Olvera Street to start their Take Back the Night Ride, where they rode to protest the murder of a 22-year-old woman from Lincoln Heights. Photo by GLoTography

Yet, right before the Ovarians one-year anniversary, Xela started to recruit core members to better organize the group.  After the one-year anniversary at Solidarty ink, and with a fairly consistent 12 core members, the group finally started to take off. Like before, each ride had a theme. Specific workshops involved speakers, and teachers on a range of social issues, and bicycle issues. Some workshops talked about women’s health, while other covered self-defense. Yet, the groups were getting bigger, and the core members were helping spread the word.

Many of the women say they feel they are not taken seriously in the biking community because their rides aren’t as long as traditional rides, there are usually many first-time riders, and the ride will stop and wait for one person. But, these limitations, Ova member Natalie Fraire said, can be a positive.

“We are encouraging a lot more riders and that’s more important,” said Fraire.

Riding as a women group has also made the riders more aware of the difficulties of riding in the city as a woman. Individually, or in small groups, Ova Elvira “Ashes” Arvizo has been catcalled by men on the street, and during one Luna Ride, the group noticed a male motorist was trailing the group. The women stopped and started to yell at the motorist, which caused him to flee.

Creating Sisterhood

As the group has grown, the women have needed to get closer. Many of their biweekly meetings resemble the chaos of a family dinner. At a recent meeting, Maryann “La Fingers” Aguirre would belch across the room, giving many of the girls a laugh, and Fraire ran to the oven to find she burned the artichoke dish brought. If the meeting ever got out of order, a clit checker (meeting organizer) would bellow out a warning to get the meeting back on track.

Each Ova have brought various skills in community organizing, photography, graphic design and bike mechanics which they also share with the rest of the group. Gloria “GLoTography” Vasquez takes most of the photos that are on the groups websites, but she has also taken the time to teach Ovas like Fraire how to use a camera. The group has also helped Vasquez to break her shyness and talk more with women on rides.

“Now run into women across streets and able to converse with them than just pass them by,” said Vasquez.

Each season there are rotating leaders of the group called a left and right ovary, and many of the women are expected to step up to take care of a portion of their work.

Many of the women have never ridden with an all female bike crew, and let alone worked with an all-women group. Yet, the same reason Xela started the group is the same reason the women joined: they couldn’t connect with the rides already in LA.

Andrea “La Blackbird” Ramirez said she could never get comfortable riding with the Midnight Ridazz because men always outnumbered women. Aside from men outnumbering women during Critical Mass, Arvizo said will leave riders behind, and that can deter a young woman-rider to join a ride.

The Ovas end one of their bi-weekly meetings. Photo by Kris Fortin

The Ovas offer a space for women, Xela said. And the rides though recreational, can become extremely personal, with some events bringing women to tears. During a stop on their ride that was themed on domestic violence, many women came forward about their experiences.

The personal nature of the rides, and the already numerous LA bike rides is the reason Xela said, why it’s exclusive to women.

“It’s just a time for women. If they are trying to open up, won’t be comfortable opening up if there are men around,” said Aguirre.

Xela, whose been a part of women collectives that have never lasted, said she knew the Ovarian-Pscyos was a different type of all woman collective at the one-year anniversary. Jocelyn “Joss the boss” Hernandez brought a cake she made and designed to the group at the end of an interview at the Boyle Heights online radio station Centro de Comunicación Comunitaria. The cake had a symbol of a car with a slash over it.

“You do that for your sister, your best friend, and she did this for the Ovas. “That’s nice”

For more information on the Ovarians, send an email to ovarian.psycos@gmail.com or go to their website at ovarianpsycos.com.

And check out this sweet illustration they have created:

How awesome would it be to have a clitoral mass ride in Wellington!?

Wellington Critical Mass, Halloween, and Facebook.

As I mentioned previously, I hate Facebook but I love bicycles and Halloween.

So I was excited when I saw this flyer:

wellington critical mass october 2011

Previously, when I tried to find any information online about Critical Mass in Wellington…. I thought there wasn’t one.  First, try googling “Wellington Critical Mass”.  The best result is the NZ Critical Mass website, which seems to be based in Auckland and doesn’t give many details about Wellington’s event.  You could show up and be the only person there.  In addition, the “Cycling in Wellington” site barely makes a mention of Critical Mass, and nothing about this week’s ride as of today, Wednesday 26 October.  It’s not listed on the events calendar nor are any details given.  So, if you’re just a lonely girl with no cyclist friends but you want to participate in bicycle activism what are you to do?  Well, if you are lucky enough, you’ll come across a flyer in an op shop in Newtown, and know about the event even if the details on the international network are scarce.

However, upon closer inspection, the flyer directs me to… my favourite website in the world, Facebook! So, again, the insular nature of Facebook comes back to haunt me.  I can’t find details for Wellington’s Critical Mass because I stubbornly refuse to join Facebook.  Why is it so hard to post information about the event that is freely available without having to register for a website who’s privacy policy is unsettling to some people?  I said previously that if I could only find out about an event via Facebook, I probably wouldn’t want to participate in that event.  I’m not really a hypocrite or making an exception for this event, as I did get an actual print flyer with the details on it.  At least that is what I am telling myself.

Here are some pictures from the last Halloween Critical Mass ride I went on, I’ll try to get better ones this year.

That’s Sonya’s “Reyna Rosa” cape fluttering in the wind.

cycling is sexy

Of course, you probably already know this.  I regularly bike around town in skirts and heels, my vintage riding hat protecting my head from traumatic injury.  I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those high visibility fluorescent yellow monstrosities that cyclists in New Zealand tend to live in, or the head-to-toe lyrcra get up.  Come on, is it really necessary?  Especially those people in $500 worth of specialized gear, to go to or from the office.

Seriously, it’s not the Tour De France.  You’re on a bicycle.  We know you’re a cyclist.

I favour my mustard  yellow Cambridge Satchel for visibility, and a red rear-end flasher for my own safety, which is of course important, but you don’t have to look like a fool riding around town to be safe.

Cyclists are sexy, as this model from Frock’s On Bikes Wheel Stylish fashion show proved yesterday:

In addition being sexy while cycling in a cute frock, I also got to hang out with Wellington’s newly elected green party mayor – Celia Wade-Brown.  Photographic proof coming soon!