This post originally appeared on Grease Rag.
Going to your first group ride can be intimidating. Getting in the saddle with a bunch of strangers takes trust, courage, and sometimes a friend to tag along. Whether you’re new to cycling or you usually hit the road alone, here’s a few reasons to give a FTW (Femme, Transgender, Women)* group ride a try.
1. It’s a fun space. I haven’t ever been on a FTW ride that wasn’t chocked-full of toothy grins. From trying out polo at a FTW alley cat to literally howling at the moon at a Full Moon Ride, a FTW-only ride offers an opportunity for people to be silly with each other without having to worry about the cis male gaze (find one account of the male gaze & cis gaze here).
2. It’s a safer space. Riding in a FTW group doesn’t always mean there won’t be egos, microaggressions, judgment, or assumptions. But, it does mean that everyone involved sees value in having a separate space for FTW riders. A FTW ride recognizes there is something about cis male-centered cycling spaces that doesn’t work for everyone. Many rides even start by setting an intentional tone and laying down some ground rules. While a separate space isn’t everything, it can be a great jumping off point for larger conversations.
3. You will be setting an example. Visibility means something. It can be hard to break into a new activity or community when you don’t see yourself in it. Don’t think for a second the person coming out of the global market and the youngster on training wheels don’t notice when you have fun riding with your friends.
4. You will meet some truly rad people. I used to be the kind of person who hung out with mostly cis guys and had a few close FTW friends. In the past few years I’ve met dozens of jaw-dropping-ly incredible FTWs and re-learned what it means to be in supportive, empowering, non-competitive friendships. I owe nearly all of my current relationships, and all of my new-found babe love, to the Twin Cities cycling community.
5. It feels awesome. There’s nothing quite like riding in a group of FTWs. I first got into cycling largely through a cis man. It took me a while to see the community of people who ride bikes as my own space. Years later, it still feels novel every time I ride down the greenway in a group of four or more FTWs without a cis man in tow. But it feels awesome. Like euphoric awesome. I recommend it. Highly.
Finding a Ride in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Interested in finding a FTW ride in the Twin Cities? Lucky for you, it’s only May and we have months and months of excellent riding weather ahead of us.
Minneapolis Bike Month FTW Rider Day - Join Our Streets Minneapolis this Sunday, May 13th for a FTW ride meeting up and One on One Bicycle Studio. Afterward we'll have refreshments at the shop and a presentation on bike commuting geared toward those who are new to commuting on two wheels. There will even be a few prizes for folks who are new to riding, or those who bring a friend who is new!
Midwest Dirt Legion - Founded to build a better mountain bike community for women, transgender, femme, and non-binary folks, Midwest Dirt Legion hosts inclusive and accessible programming and meetups for those hoping to hone their dirt skills. While their spring skills series is full, stay tuned to their Facebook page for meet-ups, ride opportunities, or to get on the wait list.
St. Paul Women on Bikes – Check out these advocates on wheels for rides, happy hours, and a chance to get involved in making St. Paul a more bike friendly city. Head on over to their group Facebook page for a glimpse at what’s next.
Weekly Wednesday Women/Trans/Femme MTB Ride hosted by The Hub Bike Co-op - Join The Hub Bike Co-op on Wednesdays in the summer for a beginner-friendly mountain bike ride. No bike? No problem! Demo one for free from The Hub's fleet. Stay tuned to their Facebook group for the latest.
Nothing up your alley? Reach out to your friends, put your feelers out, and start your own ride if you want! Every FTW ride was started by a person, just like you.
Know of a group ride you would like to share? Let us know in the comments!
*What does FTW mean? FTW means "femme, transgender, women" and refers to anyone who does not benefit from cis male privilege. FTW includes but is not limited to trans men, trans women, cis women, agender, gender queer, gender fluid, gender nonconforming and two spirit people.