U.S. African American cyclists to converge in Twin Cities

Black Girls Do Bike brings together women with a love for cycling

The National Brotherhood of Cyclists’ (NBC) Equity in Motion event (July 15 -19), which is not for brothers only. Sisters, too, are invited to get their two-wheel thing on.

Dacia Durham
Dacia Durham

The founders of Black Girls Do Bike Twin Cities — Pamela Moore, Tammy McLemore and Darcia Durham — will be on hand, having a pedaling good time along with lots of other similarly inclined ladies.

It’s all part of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota experience that brings good, clean, family-friendly fun — not to mention good eats, fresh air and exercise — for some 500 enthusiasts descending on the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (consult the NBC website for specific locales of events).

Durham, Moore and McLemore will lead the summit’s session on women and girls enjoying bicycling.

“I am empowered by the freedom and independence I experience while riding,” says Moore. “I enjoy being part of something bigger than myself and belonging to a community of smart, strong and independent women.”

McLemore states, “Cycling has contributed to me leading a positive life by participating in an activity that I am passionate about, as well as being an activity that allows me to manage my health and give my life overall balance. Black Girls Do Bike-Twin Cities [allows] me to be in a group that provides support, guidance and fellowship with other Black women.”

It’s that kind of supportive, empowering activity there simply isn’t enough of these days. African American cyclists established the NBC in 2008, as an association of affiliate clubs promoting the presence of diverse aficionados in the popular sport. Accordingly, upwards of 40 cycling clubs have come into being. Some for youth and some, like Black Girls Do Bike, for women.

Durham reflects, “I biked in college primarily for transportation since I didn’t have a car. Fast forward 13 years later, I signed up to bike the 500-mile, six-day AIDS Ride from Minneapolis to Chicago in memory of a friend who had passed away from the disease. I had long stopped biking and had never physically done anything remotely like it before.

“I’ve been biking ever since and have added advocacy to my bike résumé by serving on a number of boards and committees for biking in a volunteer capacity,” Durham continued. “I want to have a part in ensuring that all communities, especially my own community in North Minneapolis, have both the opportunity and bike infrastructure to support community participation in cycling.”

She goes on to note, “While Black Girls Do Bike Minneapolis is a relatively new organization, a number of us have known each other from the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, of which I’m a founding member. Our friendship has moved beyond biking and we often socialize outside of bike events. I grew up watching both of my parents live active lifestyles, so that just followed me into my adult life.

“While biking contributes to my general physical health, I am constantly reminded that it also provides an outlet for my mental-emotional state, such as biking home after a stressful day at work. I also feel good that biking allows me to be environmentally friendly by not having to drive when I can easily bike somewhere.”

There is, of course, also the practicality of taking care of one’s equipment. “I own a road bike,” she says, “and a hybrid-cross bike. While I leave the major repair work to a bike mechanic, I do check my bike before each ride to ensure that it’s functioning properly, which takes five-10 minutes. I can change a flat tire if necessary, which I’ve had to do on a few occasions while out on the road. I recently completed and passed the LCI, League Cycling Instructor, and hope to empower women in learning basic bike maintenance.”

The summit, on top of providing a forum and focus for African American females to enjoy a love of bicycles, has a full slates of events for enthusiasts in general and takes care to involve the community. In fact, activities culminate with the Major Taylor Cycling Club of Minnesota’s Urban Bicycle Festival, held in conjunction with the time-honored Rondo Community Festival celebrating the historic St. Paul neighborhood.

Over the full five-day card, among the many attractions will be addresses by legendary activist Angela Davis and Minnesota luminary Justice Alan Page.

Dacia Durham concludes her observations saying, “I was on the planning committee for the first NBC Conference that was hosted in St. Paul in 2010 and enjoyed meeting other Black cyclists from around the country. I can remember back in 2000, while biking from San Francisco to Los Angeles, wishing with some of the other Black cyclists who I met on that ride that eventually we would have an African American cycling conference. It’s so gratifying to see that it came to fruition.”

 

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.