Cyclists around the world are invited to create rides, or take part in local races and events, heeding Cyclofemme's call and challenge: "Come Ride With Us".
Women, children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends join together to celebrate the bike and the possibilities it brings. In the short month and a half since Cyclofemme officially launched, over 100 rides in 10 countries have already been registered. Ride locations are posted on CycloFem.me and cyclists of all levels and backgrounds are encouraged to register their own ride to celebrate however they see fit: a ride to the park with family, a dirt ride on local trails, a race, or an epic adventure.
CycloFemme created temporary tattoos to be worn as a visual representation of support on May 13. The tattoo depicts a woman as the bike itself, embodying the vehicle that has been touted as key to the women's rights movement. Says Boulder resident, and Cyclofemme creator, Sarai Snyder:
I wanted an image that truly represented the power of a woman on a bicycle. Women have had very strong ties with the bike since its inception. For women in the 1890s the bicycle was a form of independence, which helped lead to the emancipation of women and the opportunity to wear pants. Today, women's cycling is gaining momentum worldwide, with more emphasis on women's racing and encouragement to get more women and youth riding bikes.
Its not just for the women though, men are an integral part of Cyclofemme as well! Keep an eye on the Tour of California -- several pro riders will be sporting the tattoos in support of women's cycling!
One of the earliest references to a two-wheeled vehicle is an image in a stained glass window dated back to 1642 at St. Giles Church in England. It was a German that built the earliest version of the modern bicycle in 1817. Versions of the modern bike erupted across Europe and the U.S., but it wasn't until 1878, when Albert Pope created Columbia Bicycles, that a movement was launched in the United States.
Women embraced the bike almost immediately and turned society's norm upside down.
"The Bicycle is the devil's advance agent, morally and physically in thousands of instances," stated Charlotte Smith, 1896. "Many a girl has come to her ruin through a spin on a country road." Many more like Smith, worried that the bicycle might permanently change the women's role in society by fostering independence. Luckily for us, they were right. Susan B. Anthony said it best and most eloquently in 1895, "Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel." Amen, ladies.
Women's right's crusader, Elizabeth Cady Stanton praised the bicycle's effects on women in 1895 when she wrote, "The bicycle will inspire women with more courage, self-respect and self-reliance and make the next generation more vigorous of mind and of body; for feeble mothers do not produce great statesmen, scientists, and scholars."
Over a century later, bicycling women ARE those great statesmen, scientists, and scholars.
In the developing world, it is still an important vehicle for social change and justice. The bike provides cheap transportation for children to access schools and medical clinics in remote regions, they serve as rural ambulances, and provide safe vehicles to women. Never has a such a simple social issue solution also embodied such freedom and joy. There are only a few countries in the world that do not allow their women to ride bikes; Afghanistan and North Korea outright ban women cycling, while others like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may technically allow it, but few local women would risk the backlash and dishonor it would bring. The cultures fearing the independence and supposed impropriety it develops, much like Charlotte Smith once protested in 1986.
So THIS Mother's Day -- celebrate women's right to ride! Grab your friends, create an event, join a local race, or simply just ride the streets or cruise dirt with your loved ones. Register your ride, wear the tattoo, and join the global celebration! Embrace the freedom that only a bicycle can embody -- the wind in your hair, the miles flowing by under your tires, and the smile on your face.
Follow Shannon Galpin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sgalpin