Month: September 2013

The only noncompetitive, all-girls bicycling club in Kansas City: THE VELO VIXENS

A laid back all-girls bicycling club, known as The Velo Vixens [of] KC.

A laid back all-girls bicycling club, known as The Velo Vixens [of] KC.

 “All ages, all skill levels, ALL GIRLS:  Empowering. Liberating. Social. Fun!” These are a few of the words the Velo Vixens of Kansas City had hand written on their sign displayed the 7th of this month at the first annual Main Street Day (a celebration of urban mobility). The Velo Vixens parked themselves on Main Street that day for several hours under the blazing sun, just trying to get the good news out about their new laid back bicycling club for women. The group was recently established on Facebook in late May and the founders confess, “It was a joke at first. We were tired of riding our bikes with our boyfriends!” But now they proudly admit the Velo Vixens KC are no longer a joke. There are already over 130 Vixens, and they’ve held nearly 25 group rides since they were established on May 28th this spring.

The rides are not strictly formalized or competitive, making this the only noncompetitive all-girls bicycling club in Kansas City. “We’re a no-pressure group, which means you don’t have to be an expert rider to join us,” sincerely expresses one founder of the Vixens, Arminda Apgar. The Vixens enjoy easy-going rides to scenic attractions, fountains, parks, and even Trader Joe’s (for fuel in the form of Clif Bars). And don’t worry, they’re in no hurry.

One 40 year old women states that, “riding with the Vixens has changed [her] life dramatically.” Her name is Sarah and she is a light-hearted, fun-spirited woman that has been without kidneys for nearly half of her life. She is treated with dialysis regularly. But since she started riding with the Vixens, her blood pressure has improved and her heart problems have significantly diminished. “I have even started doing rides in the evenings after my dialysis treatments.” Sarah is grateful for the one and only policy the Vixens have, and that is the “No Vixen Left Behind” policy.  “They have never once dropped me on a ride.”  Sarah mentioned that someone (and sometimes everyone) will patiently take a breather with her when she needs it, instead of leaving her behind. Sarah frequents the weekly Newbie Ride, a ride specifically “designed to boost your confidence, teach you routes through the area, and get you moving if you aren’t an experienced cyclist”.  Sarah adds,  “The Vixens have provided me with the support, friendship, and encouragement I needed to have a healthy, fun-filled life again!”

This is Sarah, seizing the day on wheels with other Vixens!

This is Sarah, seizing the day on wheels with other Vixens!

But really, the Vixens feel that they are barely getting started! In August they formulated a powerhouse committee composed of women passionate about getting other women on wheels. They meet a few times a month to discuss all the possibilities. At their first committee meeting, they established permanent weekly rides for differing skill levels. Creator Arminda Apgar says she wants the rides to be accessible to all women in all areas of Kansas City. Therefore, it is encouraged for any Vixen to schedule a group ride anytime, anywhere! They primarily use Facebook to communicate with one another about rides. So it isn’t uncommon for a Vixen to post, “I want to ride! Anyone want to join?”

Also at their first meeting, The Vixen committee acknowledged that there is some degree of social anxiety within most all of us. Because they want every woman to be comfortable and confident on their rides, they occasionally host “Meet’n’Greets” to break the ice. These are something like potluck picnics intended just to get women together  to mingle, without the pressure of a bike ride. Instead, they grill, get to know each other, and get motivated for the next group ride. Founder Arminda says that there is a very warm and welcoming social aspect amongst the ladies in her club. “That’s hard to find.” Arminda adds.

If you’re interested in miles of noncompetitive fun with a gang of new girl friends on wheels, you should join the Vixens. Stay tuned to their Facebook page (Velo Vixens KC) for updates on their next ride and Meet’n’Greet! If you don’t have a Facebook, but would like to receive updates on their rides and events, e-mail them at velovixenskc@gmail.com. There are no membership fees or other requirements to join the Velo Vixens of Kansas City, other than ya know…being a chick…

You’ll be glad you came.
Let the good times ROLL!

-Tika-

September's Meet'n'Greet!

September’s Meet’n’Greet!

September's Meet'n'Greet!

September’s Meet’n’Greet!

What a delicious Meet'n'Greet the Vixens organized this September!

What a delicious Meet’n’Greet the Vixens organized this September!

The Velo Vixens bike to Trader Joe's, stopping briefly for food and fuel (AKA snacks!).

The Velo Vixens bike to Trader Joe’s, stopping briefly for food and fuel (AKA snacks!).

Join the Crowd! A social bike ride with the Midnight Cyclers!

I had my first social bike ride this past Friday. Well, to be more specific, it was my first social bike ride in like…5 years.

The group was called KC Midnight Cycling, and it was a special first annual Glow bike ride. People were encouraged to deck out their bike with glow decorations and bright lights.

The group meets every Friday night at 11 PM and the size is relatively small, according to a regular who participates. But the  glow ride brought out at least 35 people, maybe 40?

Our first half of the ride was a little fast and lots of people got separated from one another. So we stopped at Penn Valley Park to regroup. It was my first time ever going to Penn Valley Park. I know right? And I call myself a Kansas Citian!

Midnight Cyclers regroup at Penn Valley Park as part of the first annual glow ride.

Midnight Cyclers regroup at Penn Valley Park as part of the first annual glow ride.

I met some new people, and befriended a fellow bike rider who had a distaste for authority and nicknamed the folks that tried to direct the ride “Scout leaders.”. It was not meant to be a compliment!

I’m proud for putting myself out there and attending a social ride where I didn’t know very many people! Now that I’ve tried it, i expect to engage more often. And one cool thing about these events is that when the ride starts, its easy to blend into the crowd… making it easier for introverts like me to feel connected without having to extend ourselves.

Thanks Midnight Cyclers. I hope to meet up again for future night time riding.

Selfie before i journeyed to sunfresh for the midnight cycle.

When I was on my way to meetup with other cyclist for the First annual glow ride.  thanks for organizing the event and making it happen!

Live Hard! Bike Hard! Be Safe

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A memorial to my former roommate Ron Wright

Lately I’ve been thinking about serious things like, life, death, fatalities, and accidents. My roommate and pal, Ron Wright, was in a fatal car accident due to not wearing his seatbelt. It is my first time loosing someone familiar in my life. Along with the grieving process, this brings up a lot of thoughts.

I have been thinking about the dangers involved with biking to and from work, especially my midnight bike ride on Monday nights. Is biking something that puts my life in danger? Should I be more cautious?

Wearing a helmet is like wearing a seatbelt; they can prevent deaths from happening.

I took a bike class recently, and heard the instructor’s story about being hit by a car and getting a concussion. She was wearing a helmet. You may have already made the connection that without her helmet she would have been worse off… possibly dead.

Does this recent encounter with death make me question my decision to bike? Not really.

For one thing, there seems to be fewer fatalities involving bike commuters than car drivers.

Additionally, life is too short to put dreams on hold in favor of safety and caution… of a potential bike accident that may or may not ever happen. Heck, I could get hit by a car while walking across the street.

But Ron’s death reminds me that there are some things worth being safe about. We can take small safety precautions to help protect us from unfortunate accidents. I want all of my friends to get reflectors or bike lights installed before they go night riding. I want them to borrow a helmet if they can’t afford to purchase one right now. I need them to consider the risks they are taking when driving without a seatbelt.

Ron’s death makes me want to live harder. He taught me that life is too short to put dreams on hold.I’m lucky to have met someone who inspired me to live life now, instead of delaying dreams until retirement or until all ducks are lined up in a row. Some risk taking is necessary to get from one point to the next.   But sometimes a small safety precaution such a helmet can make all the difference in time. Unfortunately, we don’t get an advance notice of when that time is.

Life is short. Live Hard. Bike Hard. Follow Dreams. and be safe.

**

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Ron Wright, 1961-2013

This post is dedicated to my former roommate Ron Wright, who enjoyed biking and walking to and from work, believed in making life changes to follow dreams, and who actively supported me and other housemates as great roommate and loyal friend. We miss you and we love you!

Biking > Exercise

Biking is better than exercise. 
Oh, pardon me? Biking IS exercise, you say? 
Well I didn’t notice because I was having so much fun.

You’ll never catch me saying that I’m going to ride my bike for “exercise”. Oh no. That sounds like work. Instead, I say things like, “It’s Taco Tuesday so I’m going to ride my bike to the Boulevard for the el pastor taco special. And then I’ll have to stop at Sunfresh on the way home because I’m out of toilet paper.” After a couple tacos and my trip to the store, I’ve rode 5 miles. 5 easy-going-no-big-deal miles. Meanwhile I enjoyed the smell of grass and the wind in my [helmet] hair. I had the sun on my skin, while my ears strained to hear the birds singing over growling lawn mowers. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So I suggest getting started like this. Keeping it simple. Just ride to work or to the store. Maybe to a friend’s, or brunch, or to school. Incorporating cycling into daily errands and activities is one of the easiest ways to juggle life’s obligations, chew gum, AND exercise simultaneously. It’s what I like to call “sneaky exercise”. Besides, who really has time for the gym everyday? ….Bueller?

After several years of riding, I finally sold the car I didn’t want to drive or pay for and centralized all of my needs into 2 miles. My apartment, school, grocery store, job, and tacos are all within two measly miles. Doing this made my decision to be car free easier. And it IS easy– too easy. Consider your daily destinations. How far away do you live from work? School? The store? Your favorite restaurant?

Saddle up! Or perhaps….just walk? Because nothing is as far as it seems.

And yes. I get off the 2 mile "island" often enough. That's what planes, cabs, and car rentals are for! This is me in the Netherlands using their incredibly extensive bike path.

Of course I get off my 2 mile “island” in Kansas City often enough (that’s what planes, trains, cabs, and car rentals are for).  This is me in the Netherlands riding on one of their incredibly extensive bike paths.