How Bicycle Advocacy is Helping Me Face My Fear & Be More Flexible About Feminism

I've been doing some emotional housekeeping as the season transitions, trying to clear space within my self for fresh thinking and inspiration as take on the privilege of working with Susi Wunsch of and Elly Blue of on the "Media & Marketing" committee of the Women Bike initiative, and we celebrate a year of Women on Bikes SoCal.

I had an "aha" moment today while reading at lunch and reading the deliciously gorgeous Martha Stewart Living's November issue and an article "Founding Gardner" and Peter Hatch, who has been painstakingly returning the garden at Jefferson's Monticello to something Jefferson himself would recognize. Of course I've known since grade school that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, was one of the great progressive thinkers of his age (perhaps any age) and that he owned slaves - guiltilly, but still did. He was a study in paradox. Aren't most of us?

But rather than seeing Jefferson as a hypocrit as I so often have (and accepting as I do that I too can be a hypocrit as I point the finger at him) I "got" his heroism for his progressive views in a new way. I moved from the intellectual knowing to the emotional knowing. Of course I knew the Founding Fathers faced death for their ideals and standing up to the British crown, had we not won the war, most likely a very horrible death. I knew they were brave beyond me and my own little patch of bravery, but this time I also got that he did the best he could. He was the best man he knew how to be. That it was completely okay that he was this paradox, that he didn't add abolitionist to his many accomplishments.

And that I was okay being a paradox too.

So when I got home today I updated my bio to include that I deal with migraines and fatigue, and that I gave up my car five years ago due to health and financial reasons. I have been very open about this in blog posts and when I speak to friends and acquaintances, and different groups about Women on Bikes SoCal and what we do and why. I want other women to know that I walk the walk besides talking the talking, that I might just know exactly what they might be going through right now and that's why I see the bike as a tool for optimism  and empowerment. I know what it's like to lose almost everything, including ones health. But I hadn't felt comfortable including these very personal struggles on pieces of correspondence that are, well, possibly so linked to whether I come across as a professional capable executive and a leader.

I am both - and I deal with migraines and fatigue. Like many I've figured out how to arrange my life so that my health challenges don't infringe on my work. I have specifically continued to work as an independent contractor to have a flexible work schedule, and yet I still fear that I will be judged for my condition.

The truth is that most of us have some kind of condition that hinders us and keeps us from being our very best selves as often as we'd like to be. We almost all have fear of some sort that wrecks havoc in some way or another at some time or another. We might be work aholics and ignore our health to our detriment (guilty), we might date (and or marry) totally inappropriate people, we might be lazy about details and or getting the training we need to have the skills for today's opportunity economy,

This week we had the first conference call for the advisory board for the new Women Bike project of the League of American Bicyclists.

This week while buying Oprah Magazine the young clerk said to me, "My wife is very inspired by her."

We had a fascinatingly ironic scenario that has unfolded around our 9/13 Cycle Chic event - in essence a clash of the feminisms.

I thought the hook up culture from the female perspective was more about feinging the attitude of non attachment rather than young women really having better things to do than have serious boyfriends.

I had to stop and ask myself why a bike in a fashion magazine layout works better for me than say an ad for a ride, or a bicycle sporting event. It's simply really, chances are I can't participate in either. I don't have the strength or endurance. I can, however, ride my bike to meetings and to run errands.

New York Times article on types of female bicyclists, and recent article about bike share.

Elle profile on the owner of Nasty Girls.

If we leave bicycle advocacy to the purists we won't come close to encouraging the numbers we want.

Fast food is easy, junk food is easy, buying clothes and technology is easy. Driving a car is easy. Choosing a bike must become easy.

I met a young neighbor last night walking home from dinner. Apparently he had noticed that I'm out walking and riding my bike quite a bit and asked where the walk was to this time. He told me he originally started riding his bike because the parking scenario in our neighborhood is so tough - in fact I've met another man who was inspired to create his own bike line from the very same reason.