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How can we make “being a cyclist” more inclusive?

Bicycling in the United States is at a turning point, say community bicycling advocates Suepinda Keith, Jonathan Maus, and Doug Gordon.  In March, the League of American Bicyclists hosted its largest annual event, the National Bike Summit, in Washington, D.C..  One of the main themes at the summit was how to make cycling more accessible, and ultimately draw participants from groups who do not normally consider themselves to be cyclists. Since cycling is traditionally known for catering to a niche market, one way advocates hope to make it more inclusive is by shifting to a more utilitarian approach to cycling.

The week before the National Bike Summit, the third annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum was also held in D.C..   The Women’s Forum drew over 450 attendees, compared to 700 at the National Summit, and drew attention to the need to unify the sport’s participants.  “Now people are starting to say, why is there a separate Women’s summit?” said Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland, “It felt like a different kind of summit, and I think the National Bike Summit could use some of that energy.”

The Women’s Forum, and women cyclists in general, have been instrumental in changing the approach to cycling from recreational to utilitarian.  This is especially noticeable in the focus on family biking at the Women’s Forum, according to Suepinda Keith of Triangle Bikeworks.  “I really never identified as a woman bicyclist before I had a kid,” Keith said.  She noted how having a child changed everything from her commuting habits to the cargo she carried while biking, while the recreational aspects of biking became less important.  “I’d do it if I had time, and not a two-year-old,” she said.

This is a feeling that many women bicyclists share.  In the past three months, I have spoken with several women who came into Varsity Bike and Transit looking for a new bike, and they have each said something along the lines of, ‘I haven’t biked in so long, but now that I have a toddler I want to again.’  Whether they are looking for a bike for  themselves or one that will have space to carry their children, too, having a family significantly changed their biking habits, and the Women’s Forum argues that family biking deserves the same attention from bike advocates and city planners as those who view cycling as a sport.

The League of American Bicyclists has also come to realize over the past several years that there are many people who bike frequently, yet do not identify as ‘cyclists.’  As a bike store that services a large number of college students, Varsity Bike sees a lot of this.  When I ask ‘what kind of riding do you plan on doing?’ to someone who is looking to buy a new bike, the most common answer is commuting from home to school and work.  Unfortunately, many of these people who bike on almost a daily basis, but do not participate in recreational races or tours, do not see themselves as cyclists (myself included).

“We need to simplify our message,” says Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke.  One way in which the league is attempting to do just that is by rebranding themselves.  A name change has been suggested, which would change the League of American Bicyclists to the League of American Bicycling.  Even slight wording changes such as that could make the sport identify with many more participants.

Varsity Bike is lucky to be located in such a bike-friendly city as Minneapolis, but even here we can see the struggle for bicycling to become more inclusive.  Family bikers and commuter bikers are a large portion of who we service in the shop, and the National Bike Summit and Women’s Forum helped to remind bike advocates around the country that these groups cannot be left out of bicycling discussions.

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Our Annual Sticker Contest is Here!

homepage stickergraphic 031 Our Annual Sticker Contest is Here!

You’ve all been waiting, and the day has arrived – we’re launching this year’s sticker contest starting today – Monday, August 18.

There will be an unveiling party at Varsity Bike & Transit on September 25th, 2014 from 6 pm – 8 pm to announce the winners. Come check out this year’s sticker designs, enjoy free food and beverages, and enter a drawing to win bike prizes donated by companies such as Surly, Bern, Banjo Brothers, Fuji.

Grand Prize: SE Draft Lite Bike ($350)
2nd/3rd $50 gift card to Varsity Bikes

What you need to know:

Deadline for submissions: Monday, September 22, 2014
Our unveiling party: Thursday, September 25, 2014

Varsity Tee Our Annual Sticker Contest is Here!

Requirements:
-Choose from a 2.5” x 1.5” rectangle shape or a 2.5” in diameter circle shape.

-Designs must include the text “Varsity Bike & Transit”. You may download our logo in vector form at http://varsitybike.com/logos/ or you may create your own.

-Your sticker design must fall into one of these three categories:

“Pedal Less Oil”: Pedal Less Oil is our statement about trying to make the world a better place by riding our bikes. Stickers in this category should incorporate the slogan “Pedal Less Oil”
or
“It’s Easy Being Green”: Riding your bike is a fun, easy and inexpensive way to green your life. Stickers in this category should incorporate the slogan “It’s Easy Being Green”

And that’s it! Freestyle Design: Get creative and send your designs to contact@varsitybike.com" target="_blank">contact@varsitybike.com. We can’t wait to see what you come up with this year!

 Our Annual Sticker Contest is Here!

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SPRING?

After this year spring is never going to feel so good. 25 Degrees seems like 50. Riding on streets with a little bit of ice is so easy after riding on ice, snow and whatever else was glued to the pavement. If you have your bike stuck in a snow bank now is the time to get it out before it goes through a number of thaw and freeze cycles to make sure everything on the bike is a rusty mess.

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Bike Events with Kat: Pictures from Powderhorn 24!

 

What a beautiful and fun event for the Minneapolis bike community.  Mad props to the organizers, volunteers, Powderhorn community, riders and supporters.  Here are a few of my pictures from the event.  HUGE congratulations to Loretta Treviño who took the OVERALL first place in the solo category, competing one extra lap than the first place male, Alex Oenes.

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Loretta Treviño, top solo rider over all (!!!), with Mary and Lee, 2nd and 3rd place female riders.

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Loretta Treviño, finishing her final lap, to win the overall first place for solo riders. She rode 320 miles in 24 hours… AMAZING!

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The top three male solo riders celebrating their hard work.

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Top three women’s teams!

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My best friend Nathan came out from Madison!

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Nathan coming in on his final lap.

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Callie, BK, Emily, and Perfecto. Just a few of the wonderful people in attendance.

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Alex Oenes finishing up his final lap to win the men’s solo category.

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Until next year everybody!

 

 

 

 

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Bike Events with Kat: Powderhorn 24!!!

Powderhorn 24

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Powderhorn 24, 2012

Last year a group of 5 girls and myself joined to become team Menstrual Cycles in the Powder horn24 – a 24 hour bike race.  What followed was a remarkable experience of community, friendship, and love of biking.  It’s difficult for me to describe the greatness of this event because I truly believe it is best witnessed or participated in directly.

The event is organized around the Powerhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis and starts on the Midtown Greenway near the Midtown Bike Center.  The bike center is the best viewing spot if you’d just like to watch the racers do their thing.  Racers have the choice of joining a team of up to six members and you can break down the 24 hours of racing in whatever fashion you choose.  If you are up for a particularly difficult challenge you can opt to do the entire race as a solo rider, taking on the entire 24 hours on your own.Sounds hard core, right?  It is… and AWESOME.

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Team Menstrual Cycles ties for first place! (2012)

The reason I find this race to be a diamond among gems of Minneapolis bike races is that it really is an event for everyone.  Most of the women on our team had never raced before, all of us rode single speed bicycles, and one team member did the entire race in flip flops and a bikini top.  We made our “jerseys” with some with old shirts and sharpies.  There was no judgement and we felt fully comfortable racing against much more experienced racers.  By the end we were ecstatic about our performance in the challenge as we came in 2nd place in time and tied for 1st in completed laps. I finished the race full of sweat, dirt, glitter, and filled with absolute happiness.  It is not a race to be missed.  Starts tonight Friday August 9th at 7pm, ends tomorrow (Saturday) 7pm. Some of the folks form Varsity will be down their with the Babboe cargo bike.  Come on down and cheer people on!

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Powderhorn 24, 2012

For more information check the pages below!

http://powderhorn24.com/

https://www.facebook.com/events/389686117802873/406943209410497/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

 

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Bike Events with Kat: Tour de Fat!

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The Pope and I wear the same hat!

This was my first experience at New Belgium’s Tour de Fat.  And it was AWESOME.  I can easily say that this was one of the most fun bike events I’ve ever been to in Minneapolis.  There was a bike parade with lots of fabulous costumes, wonderful beer (of course), live music, DELICIOUS food, and more crazy bikes than you could count.  People were all dressed up in costumes and everyone was in good spirits. Not to mention awesome comedy from Scot Nery and The Honeymoon Cabaret, and great story telling from The Moth.  I think I’ll let my pictures take it from here….

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Ran into the owners of Quality Bike Products!

 

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The most fishtacular bike of the day.

 

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These folks taught us about safety and provided some good laughs.

 

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Back to the recumbent future!

 

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Tandem bike with a baby in tow.

 

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The Honeymoon Cabaret performers were hilariously awkward.

 

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I have no explanation for this.

 

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All kinds of crazy bike contraptions for you to ride!

 

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So much fun for all ages.

 

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Bike races to determine the SLOWEST rider!

 

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Awesome costumes everywhere! The DUDE!

 

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We are big fans of the Bakfiets Cargo bike.

 

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“This squirrel is on fire!”

 

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Captain America!

 

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SHOES!

 

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The Moth Storytellers!

 

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I even made some friends!

Well cheers to good beers and bikes and fun.  It will not be my last Tour de Fat! Check out their website here! http://www.newbelgium.com/events/tour-de-fat.aspx 

Also, big shout outs to Burrito Loco for hooking up the shop with free beer tokens!

 

 

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Bike Events with Kat – July 17th and 18th

There is nothing in the world quite like the feeling one gets during midsummer in Minneapolis.  The heat slows the world down a little. Cyclists are out in full force.  Bicycle beach trips are inevitable.  Patio stops are probable.

This week two annual midsummer events will remind us of the many reasons we love cycling in this city.

First is the 2nd annual Cobble Bobble Criterium organized by Varsity’s own Chris Graham.  It starts at Father Hennepin park on Wednesday July 17th at 8pm. It takes you through the bumpy cobblestone of St. Anthony Main.  You can expect fast biking, getting rad, and at least a few flat tires.  If racing is not your thing feel free to come down anyway.  It’s guaranteed to be an entertaining event.

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The very next day don’t miss the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Third Thursday Bike Night.  This is an awesome bike event for all types of bicycle riders.  They will be Summit beer, valet bike parking, live entertainment, bike bingo to win a Surly Cross Check, and you get to ride your bike directly through the doors of the MIA out to the courtyard where the event is hosted.   Not to mention booths exhibiting local bike companies and accessories.  It takes place on July 18th from 6-9pm.  It is a great way to spend a midsummer evening in Minneapolis.  See you there! IMG 1745 300x300 Bike Events with Kat   July 17th and 18th

Cobble Bobble Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/652179378130346/?fref=ts

Third Thursday Bike Night Facebook event page:   https://www.facebook.com/events/604513196246260/?fref=ts

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Bike Events with Kat – Freedom From Pants Ride VII

underwear 225x300 Bike Events with Kat   Freedom From Pants Ride VII

 

If you have never stripped down to your underpants and rode a bike you have been missing out on one of the most liberating experiences in the free world.  No worries, though.  The seventh annual Freedom From Pants Ride is coming up this Thursday for Independence Day.  Don’t miss out! It’s a casual ride to some of Minneapolis’ best spots including lakes and parks.  Hundreds of people attend and in my experience, everyone is respectful.  So bare a little skin, have a little fun and enjoy this fourth of July in your underpants!

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Bike Events with Kat: San Diego!

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been cheating on my first love, Minneapolis.  I recently spent a week in San Diego vacationing, biking, and unfortunately driving – a lot.  I thought I’d take a minute to adress some of the pros and cons of biking in a new and less bike-friend city.

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Being from Minneapolis I often find myself in between taking our awesome bike infrastructure for granted and snobbishly judging other cities by their lack of awesome bike infrastructure.  I tried very hard to keep an open mind while still remembering that San Diego is not a city that is known as a “biking city” like our own. This was my second trip to San Diego in three months.  This time around I knew a little more about what I wanted to do and I was positive that renting a bike would be part my time there.  I only had five days and also needed to rent a car as a I had some obligations that required it.  I rented my bike from a shop downtown, The Bike Revolution, because it was close to the airport.  The guys at the shop were great, but no women worked there as far as I saw.  They were perfectly nice and we had some lovely banter about Minneapolis having no hills and San Diego having no winter.  We rented Jamis road bikes which worked just fine, but the seat post was too short for me with my long legs and I never quite had a comfortable ride.  Nonetheless, if you’re going to be in downtown San Diego it’s a great place to rent bikes and definitely the most affordable I found.

IMG 3897 225x300 Bike Events with Kat: San Diego!  In terms of biking the city, it definitely will never compare to my true love, Minneapolis.  Our system of trails, bike lanes, and bike highways is unlike any other city I’ve visited and I definitely could feel the lack in San Diego.  Not to mention the flatness and compactness that we so often take for granted. There are a good amount of bike lanes but they can sometimes be fragmented.  There are paved paths along the waterfront in the city but if it’s a weekend day or afternoon they are filled with pedestrians and beach cruisers, which were not ideal conditions for the type of riding I wanted to do.  Along popular beaches up the coast I often found the same conditions on all the paved paths and boardwalks, especially since it was the very beginning of summer and students were out in full force at all times of the day.  What I did fall in love with was biking up highway 101 along the coast of Carlsbad, Oceanside, and Encinitas.  The highway has great bike lanes and the views are absolutely unbelievable.  I also noticed great bike lanes throughout Carlsbad.

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I love San Diego for many reasons and some of my best friends in the world live there, but in terms of biking, I would need to do more exploring before determining how I’d feel about biking there on a regular basis.  As I was staying near Vista – about 40 miles away from downtown San Diego – I did WAY more driving than I had anticipated (I put 700 miles on the rental car!).  I realistically only used the bike maybe 2 or 3 days out of the five I was there.  I’m sure like any city that as I got used to the ins and outs of traffic and bicycling in San Diego, things would feel much more comfortable.  I would also have to train to build up some some hill legs in order to keep up in California.

I believe that biking is essential to getting to learn any new city.  This time around I learned some lessons and I learned not to take my own city’s beautiful regional trails for granted. Most importantly I realized that I would have been far happier and more comfortable with my own Bridgestone RB-1.  Next time, that’s the bike I’ll choose to take me up and down the hills of the California coast.


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