Let’s Ride! CycloFemme Partners with World Bicycle Relief

CycloFemme partners with World Bicycle Relief
This year, CycloFemme partners with World Bicycle Relief for the first time, empowering ride participants to help girls in Kenya gain the education that can lead to a brighter future.

CycloFemme, the annual global ride, is so compelling in its simplicity: Women everywhere are invited to lead rides on Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate empowerment, community and joy around cycling. In this, its sixth year, CycloFemme partners with World Bicycle Relief, adding an exciting new call to action.

As a CycloFemme enthusiast from Day 1, I love the idea of two socially conscious efforts joined under a shared banner of empowering women and girls. Funds raised through CycloFemme on World Bicycle Relief’s behalf will deliver bicycles to girl students in Kenya, where distance, not to mention cultural burdens, often serve as barriers to getting an education. Thanks to a one-for-one match from an anonymous donor, every contribution through CycloFemme will be matched 1 for 1.

CLICK HERE to organize a ride or find one in your area.

CLICK HERE to start a fundraising page or donate.

Rapha CycloFemme Ride

Everyone Is Welcome

In planning a CycloFemme ride with the Sag Harbor Cycling Company, I’ve been reflecting on my own experiences over the years with both organizations and on why the connections have been meaningful and lasting.

The first ride I participated in was an inaugural CycloFemme event in New York City in 2012. We met at a cafe on Lafayette Street in Soho, where our group of 10 revved up with coffee and CycloFemme temporary tattoos. Then we pedaled across town and up the Hudson River Greenway, which was in full bloom on a sunny spring day. We crossed town again on the Upper West Side into Central Park, where we rode loops in the leafy shade. For me, there is always power in women’s group rides, partly because they defy expectations — by making us visible. I always think of bystanders with the hope that others will be inspired to join in by seeing the social side of women’s cycling.

We concluded our ride with brunch at a breezy outdoor cafe on the river. Most of us on the ride that day hadn’t previously met; it was a love of cycling that brought us together, that sparked our imaginations and our conversations along the route. And it was so much fun! Cyclofemme’s welcoming spirit attracts a diversity of people with a come as you are message. While there’s always wonderful support from the women’s road cycling community, CycloFemme also invites the more casual city ride, the trail ride, whatever moves someone to organize an allied event. That, for me, is one of the enduring strength of this women’s cycling movement, which was created by Sarai Snyder of Colorado and Tanya Quick of New York City.

CLICK HERE to organize a ride or find one in your area.

Bicycles Transform Lives

Not long after that first CycloFemme ride, I heard a talk in New York City by World Bicycle Relief co-founder F.K. Day. The non-profit provides sturdy, purpose-built bicycles to people in need in sub-Sahara Africa. Buffalo bikes, as they are called there, provide reliable transportation in rural areas where travel distances can be vast and rugged and sometimes, especially for women, threatening in their desolation. The bicycles — of which the organization distributed more than 48,000 to mobilize more than 240,000 people last year alone — literally transform lives by helping entrepreneurs build their businesses, health care workers reach more patients and young people complete their educations.

Kenya + World Bicycle Relief

Cyclofemme + WBR
126,104: The number of students mobilized with Buffalo bikes (2009 – 2016)

That latter purpose — specifically helping girls get to school — is what moved me to donate to World Bicycle Relief. Day’s description of how distance, domestic responsibilities and cultural expectations can cause girls to fall behind boys in school or to drop out altogether was heart-breaking. But the stories he shared of resilience and perseverance among recipients of Buffalo bikes reflect vividly the power of bicycles and their effectiveness in helping people to realize their dreams.

Since then I have been inspired by beautiful photographs and remarkable stories shared by Leah Missbach Day, co-founder with F.K. of World Bicycle Relief. A recent example, which I promise will make the annoyances in your day seem like the most trivial things in the world, is the story of Stella, a young woman in Kenya who fought almost incalculable odds to stay in school, support her child as a single mother and become an entrepreneur in her community.

We Ride Together

So in riding together this year, we have a new opportunity, in a very tangible sense, to empower other women. Participation in fundraising is entirely optional. CycloFemme rides are free and open to all, regardless of gender (hello Manbassadors!), age, ethnicity or bicycle preference. But I hope you’ll consider joining me in adding a World Bicycle Relief appeal to a ride that you are leading, or making a contribution of any size. As of this writing, I’m excited that our ride group has raised funds for 13 Buffalo bikes (26 with the match) and counting!

CLICK HERE to start a fundraising page or donate.

“Any change begins with visibility,” Tanya Quick, the Cyclofemme co-founder, wrote last year. “Real change gets sustained with community, with people coming together to push that reality beyond the individual.

“By showing the world we ride together, we put women, in all their diversity, in front of the world.”

Perhaps now more than ever that hopeful message resonates and continues to inspire me.

Photos: Top, World Bicycle Relief; CycloFemme balloons, Jordan Gunderson; cyclist in Kenya, Leah Missbach Day

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