I remember the press release that CycloFemme founder Sarai Snyder sent out six years ago to launch a new, global cycling event to bring women together in celebration of community, empowerment and camaraderie.
Sarai, who at the time published the blog Girl Bike Love (now Brazenly), encouraged women to organize rides in their communities on Mother’s Day and to share their stories to inspire more women to embrace cycling. The vision was boldly embodied by a bewinged logo signifying freedom, created by CycloFemme co-founders Language Dept.
Caption, above: This crew! During CycloFemme 2017 on Long Island, we braced for a storm, but, amazingly, the rains subsided for the length of our ride and we earned our post-ride donuts.
CycloFemme, which gained an immediate foothold in 2012, is beautiful in its simplicity, its grassroots approach and its ability to unite participants worldwide through social media. Thousands of self-led community rides and countless miles later, CycloFemme continues to thrive and evolve as it enters its second consecutive year of community partnership with World Bicycle Relief, a global not-for profit that designs and distributes high-quality bicycles to students, health care workers and entrepreneurs in developing countries. The alliance between the organization and CycloFemme focuses on providing girls in rural, sub-Saharan Africa with bicycles to close barriers of distance that can limit their attendance at school.
All this is to say that I have loved CycloFemme from the start. What I find personally resonant is the through-story. When we honor the past, celebrate the present and empower the future of women through CycloFemme, we’re acknowledging something specific: That the bicycle has been a tool for women’s empowerment practically since its invention. In the late nineteenth century, bicycles gave women, for the first time, the ability to travel independently and to shed a dress code that kept them confined to corsets and heavy skirts. Those who embraced “the wheel” stood up and took risks on behalf of giving women a voice, among them early feminist leaders like Frances Willard and Susan B. Anthony.
Reasons to Ride CycloFemme
1. If there was ever a time for women to rally under the banner of empowerment, it’s now.
2. Come as you are. There’s no set format. Self-organized events range from casual outings to trail riding to pace lining.
3. Everyone is welcome!
4. It’s global. Organize a ride in any country, any time zone and share via social media. Registering is easy.
5. The rides are free. Optional donations to World Bicycle Relief help turn pedal power into empowerment for girl students in rural Africa, one Buffalo Bicycle at a time.
6. CycloFemme builds community around women’s cycling in your city. Join with friends, meet new ones.
7. The tattoos.
8. It’s a joy!
And if all that seems a little “that was then,” consider how many women still face conditions that isolate them, limit their freedoms and curtail their opportunities. All of us who love to ride experience the sense of independence and self-sufficiency that moving outdoors under our own power gives us. It paves new paths, opens possibilities.
The CycloFemme through-story comes full circle in the partnership with World Bicycle Relief by creating life-changing possibilities. Through this fundraising option, for every $147 raised through CycloFemme, World Bicycle Relief delivers a durable, high-quality Buffalo Bicycle into the hands of a girl student to give her options: to conquer barriers of distance and personal safety, to help complete her education, to help empower her in her own family and community.
It adds up! Last year, 270 CycloFemme rides across the U.S. and in other parts of the world raised more than $30,000 to distribute 215 Buffalo bikes to girls in Kenya. This year’s funds will benefit the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Programs (BEEP) in rural Zambia. Sixty bikes have already been raised, and each one will make a difference.
Today, participants in CycloFemme continue to channel and amplify a vibrant legacy of collective strength in community and the power of positive social change through the simple act of riding a bicycle.
Whether you’ve applied a CycloFemme tattoo and ridden six times before or are participating or leading for the first time, it’s always a ride to remember.
Learn more and register here. #cyclofemme