Saturday, September 13th, marked the day of the 8th annual Babes in Bikeland event, bringing over 400 women / transgender / femme bike riders together to roam the streets of Minneapolis.
Take care to note that this was a 20+ mile bike race, the distance depending on the efficiency of your mapped route. With both a manifest of destinations and a time limit provided, how you finished (or mapped your route) was up to you! This is no small feat for even those familiar with the territory of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. So, you may ask, what made so many individuals want to participate in this annual race? What makes this race so special?
The answer to that definitely presented itself before the day of the race.
All of us Denver She Devils landed in Minneapolis within days prior to the race, and quickly began exploring the city on our bikes. Two of our team mates, Kathleen and Danielle, are originally from Minneapolis, making it easy for all us to enjoy some of the great digs Minneapolis had to offer. Anyone had a Juicy Lucy at 5-8 Club or been to the Bad Waitress?
With all of the connections that the She Devils had made the prior year (Kathleen actually being one of them!), we had plenty of people to connect with and tons more yet to meet!
The Babes of Babes in Bikeland had coordinated a “Wanderabout” for the night prior to the race; this was a way for all participants to join together and jump on a bike, ride around the city, and make new friends. The night ride was incredible, bringing us on the Greenway path and to the beautiful Minnehaha Falls. Beer and pizza, of course, were both consumed in generous amounts thereafter.
It was amazing to come together with so many women, transgender, and femme (abbreviated WTF) individuals who all shared the same love of bike riding. Babes in Bikeland strives to create a Safe Space where individuals feel free expressing themselves sans judgment and criticism.
Gender pronouns were identified early on, and asking thereafter was described as an unnecessary question, setting the tone for acceptance for all. Although that may sound a little harsh how I’ve portrayed, it wasn’t, and I want to make that very clear – the Safe Space that Babes had instilled in this event came very natural to those we came into contact with. I thought about this – who wouldn’t want to be included in an environment were expectations were clearly outlined on how NOT to be an asshole? Expectations of friendliness, love, and acceptance were a great reminder to all of what it felt like to be apart of, and how to ensure, a Safe Space. It was not only a relief, but a great feeling to see so many great interactions and new friendships blossom out of a single, weekend event.
The day of the race brought the She Devils and other participants to 11 checkpoints all over the St. Paul and Minneapolis area. Urban and rural areas were both dominated in order to get from check point to checkpoint efficiently. The She Devils divided into two groups – one to mash the race, and one to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Both groups, including all 7 She Devils present, finished and placed nicely overall within the race. Two of our She Devils, Ashley and Stefanie, were recognized for the times and received deliciously, locally- crafted, custom Wastebaskets from Trash Messenger Bags of Minneapolis.
Check out more pictures from the ride – perfect weather, awesome friends, awesome city. Minneapolis and Babes of Bikeland 8 really treated us well!
During the Alley Cat race, part of each checkpoint was performing a task, like learning about pressure points (pictured directly below) or playing ladder ball!
The weekend was filled with a ton of new friendships, newfound confidences, and renewed riding spirits. It might sound cheesy, but that’s ultimately what happens when you participate in a biking weekend as epic as Babes in Bikeland. Make sure to check out their website and look into planning for next year.
If you’re woman, transgender, or femme and wish to have a supportive group to ride your bike with, please please PLEASE do not hesitate to get in touch with the Denver She Devils. We ride every Thursday (granted it’s not the snowpocalypse outside); check out the Denver She Devils Facebook page for more details about other events, rides, and races. Can’t wait to meet you!