The spokes have spoken: Jax-born Women’s Ride doesn’t discriminate

Spinnaker

Departing from Starlite Café in Five Points, about 30 cyclists overtook the streets Aug. 30 for the ninth Women’s Ride. The perfect foil to a biker gang, those riding on Sunday greeted passers-by with smiles, waves and invitations to ‘jump in’ with the rest of the pack.

The Women’s Ride is a monthly cycling event in Riverside; in nine months, attendance has gone from eight to around 35, though about a third of the riders on Sunday were men.

“Originally it was just women only, but we all have guy friends that are still really awesome,” said Cherri Czajkowski, 22, the event’s creator and organizer. “We just didn’t want it to be a competitive, jockish kinda ride. We wanted it to be a nice steady pace so people who are new to biking and maybe feel intimidated by that would feel more welcomed.”

Pinpoints of light streamed through the canopies of Riverside’s old oak trees and the honks of passing cars — friendly or otherwise — punctuated an overwhelming chorus of songbirds and laughing riders on a sunny afternoon

Attendees’ rides ran the gamut, with most piloting street bikes or mountain bikes and a few riding fixed gears, beach cruisers and BMXs. Regardless of bike-type or riding skill, the pack generally kept pretty intimate. Leaders made frequent stops to let stragglers catch up and often rode back to help pick up the rear.

“The Woman’s Ride was really fun. Everyone was super inviting and I had a blast. I can’t wait to go again next month,” senior English major Sarah Deierlein said.

A few cyclists had some mechanical issues, and more than a few members of the pack were ready to help. One person lost a bolt from his bike, so a handful of patient peddlers remained back to help the road-weary rider.

The rides often have loose themes. One ride ended in a water fight and another found the riders swimming at the end, Czajkowski said. Aug. 30’s theme was sombreros and the ride culminated in a stop at the Mexican restaurant La Nopalera on Hendricks Avenue before returning to Five Points.

The ride was conceptualized as a fun and accessible way to spread awareness for the hobby of bicycling. Czajkowski said she hopes the event will get more people — especially women — cycling and working on their bikes. Her goal is to open a bicycle not-for-profit with the aim of teaching the community how to work on bikes.

Czajkowski is also trying to organize a ‘ride to school’ program but said a lack of support from public schools has slowed the effort.

The 10th Women’s Ride will be Sept. 26 and Sept. 27: Saturday, Sept. 26, there will be bike polo, an alley cat race and live music; Sunday, Sept. 27, will be the ride, kickball and a picnic. The rides are held the last Sunday of every month at 2 p.m. and typically use The Starlite Café as a meeting place.

If you’ve got a burning yearning between your legs that only a bike seat can satiate, get yourself in gear and check out the Women’s Ride MySpace at http://myspace.com/troop_904, for more information on how to get started.