What a vibrant, diverse, and versatile bike community there is for women in Portland! Saturday’s first ever Cyclofemme mini-summit at the Portland Art Museum connected women in all facets of the bike community while celebrating the past, present, and future of women and biking in the city. Hosted by representatives from three of Portland’s more prominent bike groups, Women on Wheels, Women on Bikes, and Cyclofemme, the event featured speakers, demo’s, a film clip, fashion show, bike fit workshop, and lots of other attractions right in the middle of the 3 month Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design exhibit at the museum.
While the lineup of speakers was certainly impressive (Elly Blue!! Sweet Pea bike builder Natalie Ramsland!! and Community Cycling Center’s Interim Director Anne Lee!! just to name a few) what really got me excited was the diversity and support in the women’s bike community. Racers, clothing designers, nonprofit leaders, nonprofit starters, bike designers, film producers, authors, publishers, radio show hosts, women of color inspiring other POC to get on bikes, athletes, moms, and many other women who are making things happen, starting things up, and moving things forward came together to learn about and support each other’s efforts. Every woman has a different take, adds something to the mix, brings something to the foreground, has a different backstory. What brings women into biking and makes them fall in love with bikes is so unique and varied. It’s certainly something we explore within the gurlBIKE Project (and is the focus of our photography book) but to see it expressed so clearly from each of the 16 speakers at the summit makes me want to double up my efforts to make this a more visible aspect of the bike community at large.
The way women find and fall into biking is a special journey. The way they fall in love with a bike (or bikes) is another story altogether. The way they come into the bike community, start up an initiative, or head up an organization is yet another narrative. These stories need to be told, photographed, filmed, zine’d, and given the visual space and airtime they deserve.
The other thing that really stands out is the level of support for women from women (and from the bike community in general). I’m extra appreciative of the big hug vibe here. Yes, Portland has its arms wide open. But to be in a crowded room full of other women who are getting behind each other’s bike passions is the energy bar I’ve been looking for. It’s feeding me on so many levels. This kind of community is the kind that breathes things to life and makes them flourish.
We plan to keep the momentum going with another event later this month featuring some fun reflective wearables like the pieces we saw during the fashion show portion of the summit. Details coming soon.