Their Own Voices: Women's History Month Featured Riders
We're featuring Women cyclists all month long for Women's History Month. Check out their stories, tips, and reasons to ride
What is your favorite thing about riding?
Claudine Alizee: My favorite thing about riding is to escape the world and to find my peace with myself. To feel free and strong
Katharine Lange: I love being in touch with the seasons - feeling the crisp of fall, hearing the birds in the spring. There's even joy in winter biking (if you have the right gloves)!
Gabriela Baquerizo: My favorite thing about riding is the freedom and the escape I feel from the daily grind of life. I ride to think, to forget and sometimes- I just ride. Every time I get on my bike all my problems go away. Riding helps me free my mind, my body and my soul plus, it makes me feel powerful and unstoppable. How else should you feel when you could go anywhere by just using the power of your own body and mind?! That alone is powerful!
Carolyn Galeas: The freedom and peace it brings me.
Laura Gray: Riding with friends and showing people how to explore the world by bike. And riding with my dog in his backpack with me.
How did you start riding? What were the barriers to taking that first ride?
Claudine Alizee: I started by commuting to and from work. There were no barriers- it just started by me wanting to see if I could commute around the city.
Katharine Lange: A friend was big into riding and coached me through how to stop at traffic lights, how to take up space on the road, and finding the most bike-friendly routes.
Gabriela Baquerizo: Growing up and even when I got to college, I always had a bike. Unfortunately with all of life’s journey’s, it is so easy to forget about the simple act of riding and the joy it could bring. About three years ago, I bought my first bike with the intention of using it as a commuter bike. I would go to work, come home and put the bike away.
Never once did I think that that specific “commuter bike” would lead to riding with a community of women because I didn't consider that there could be more people like me on the road.
At first, it was intimidating because I didn’t see people like me [plus-size woman] on the road, I always felt there were eyes on me and then to add city riding-isn’t easy. But there is something about being on two wheels that gives you the freedom and confidence you didn’t think you needed.
Carolyn Galeas: I started riding about 15 years ago. Riding was a sort of escape for me. As a busy working Mom, I didn’t get a lot of “me time”, so anytime I did get I would use to jump on my bike. I would cycle from East Boston all the way Saugus Breakheart Reservation and just enjoy nature. One major obstacle then was the lack proper of bike paths which meant cycling on busy roads which were not marked for cyclist.
Laura Gray: My sister pulled me into long-distance riding with her. It was great to have that guide. From there I started commuting and attending commuter events. The community helped bring me in.
What does Women's History Month mean to you? What are you doing to celebrate this year?
Claudine Alizee: Watch films about famous women, and just stay educated
Katharine Lange: Recognizing all the barriers those who have come before me have overcome. I'll celebrate by recognizing all the good that the women in my life are currently doing, especially my colleagues leading in the non-profit world.
Gabriela Baquerizo: To me, Women History Month means taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate how incredible women really are. Women are too often told how we aren’t strong enough to do things since this is a male-dominated world. But the reality is that women are amazingly strong.
To celebrate this month, I would not necessarily be looking into dates and facts about specific women but to recognize who these women were in our history that brought many innovations and ideas that inspired our life. To acknowledge the obstacles they had to overcome and celebrate them. We cannot forget how the opportunities we have today are only because of the women that came up before us.
Carolyn Galeas: I consider myself to be a champion of women, a true woman’s woman! I believe we are truly divine and somewhat magical in our capabilities and strength. I have raised two daughter’s and take every opportunity I can to empower and encourage them and other women around me, so for me women’s history month is a collaborative celebration 🎉
Laura Gray: I am always looking for ways to support and uplift women, especially in cycling. I'm glad there is a focused month to turn people's attention to, but honestly this is a year round thing for me. Any time I can ride bikes with other women I'm winning.
What advice would you give to women who don't ride a bike now but want to?
Claudine Alizee: Don’t be afraid to try something new. Sometimes all you can control is how well you let go of control. Anybody is capable of riding a bike and it’s never a race.
Katharine Lange: Wait for a nice clear day, and go for it! You absolutely do not need special clothes or shoes, or special training! All bodies belong on bikes.
Gabriela Baquerizo: My advice to women who don’t ride or are afraid of riding is just simply this, be a part of a community or bike network that you could feel safe in and teach you how to properly ride a bike and Women on Wheels (W.O.W.) provided me with just that. W.O.W. cultivated a space for me where I feel safe being a woman who just enjoys riding her bike. I love seeing women enjoy themselves when they join our bike rides and to see how they gain confidence within our community. The beautiful thing about it, is that we never leave anyone behind because we believe biking should be for everyone.
Carolyn Galeas: Saddle up, just do it and go at your own pace. So often we get caught up on the idea of what a “cyclist” should be, but at the end of the day, the moment you get on that saddle, you become a cyclist by definition, regardless of ability level. Enjoy cycling for the freedom and joy it brings, and go as far with it as you please.
Laura Gray: You don't have to ride alone. Find a group (like Women on Wheels) or find a friend who will bring you into the fold. I try to do this with friends all the time and use the Blue Bikes to share riding with my friends who don't have a bike! I have a whole section in my podcast, Randonnista (Randonnista.com/podcast), where I take friends who don't ride (and this has been exclusively women so far) for a bike ride somewhere safe and fun around Boston/Cambridge/Somerville and we talk through the experience.