“Our partnership was formed with a shared belief that bicycles provide independence, self-empowerment and joy,” said Katie Bolling, Fund Development Director for World Bicycle Relief. “Together, World Bicycle Relief and CycloFemme are amplifying the voices of women and empowering women to change the world. We are thrilled that our shared efforts will provide over 200 bicycles directly to girl students in Kenya and we look forward to building on this incredible impact.”
To celebrate the sixth annual Mother’s Day ride, CycloFemme challenged its community to tap into its socially-driven, grass-roots origins to help create change for girls in Kenya. Historically, the bicycle has been a positive empowerment tool. In an effort to multiply this impact, riders were encouraged to add a fundraising component to support World Bicycle Relief, a global non-profit that designs and distributes high-quality bicycles to students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs in developing countries.
“CycloFemme began as a celebration, and has become a movement. This year, the community that formed through giving – energy, time, passion – has transformed into a community that also gives independence to others,” shared CycloFemme co-founders, Sarai Snyder and Tanya Quick. “Bicycles change lives. By using this opportunity to empower the girl, we also ignite ourselves.”
In Kenya and other developing countries, many factors contribute to girls dropping out of school in much higher numbers than boys: obligatory household chores, distance to school, sexual assault and child marriage. These barriers stand between young girls and bright futures. A high-quality bicycle can remove these barriers, keep girls in school and keep them safe as they travel to school. World Bicycle Relief is committed to breaking down these barriers for girls, helping them achieve their educational goals and become change-makers within their communities and around the world.
To see photos from CycloFemme rides around the world, follow the #CycloFemme hashtag on Instagram.
CycloFemme is a grassroots organization of women on bikes, created in 2012 by Sarai Snyder of Girl Bike Love, and Tanya Quick and Jenn Cash of Language Dept. The socially-driven, volunteer-based community works to empower women and girls through cycling in order to create social change.
CycloFemme hosts an annual ride, which takes place on Mother’s Day weekend. Rides take place all over the world and anyone can lead one—just create a ride event, sign up and register your ride online.
This year, CycloFemme is partnering with World Bicycle Relief with their driving theme “Empower the Girl. Ignite the Woman.” CycloFemme riders are encouraged to fundraise for the organization, though it’s not a requirement to participate. All funds raised by CycloFemme riders will be matched 1-to-1 for a donation to World Bicycle Relief that will be used specifically to provide bicycles to schoolgirls.
Founded in 2005, World Bicycle Relief mobilizes people through the power of bicycles. World Bicycle Relief accomplishes its mission by distributing specially designed, high-quality bicycles through philanthropic and social enterprise programs. These purpose-designed bicycles are built to withstand the challenging terrain and conditions in rural, developing areas. Entrepreneurs use the bicycles to increase productivity and profits. Students attend class more regularly and improve their academic performances. And health care workers visit more patients in less time, providing better, more consistent care.
World Bicycle Relief also promotes local economies and long-term sustainability by assembling bicycles locally and training field mechanics to service the bicycles. To date, World Bicycle Relief has delivered over 350,000 bicycles and trained over 1,200 field mechanics in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.
“Partnering with World Bicycle relief is the next step in growing CycloFemme. Those who choose to participate in the fundraising component will see tangible results from their efforts,” said Sarai Snyder, Co-Founder of CycloFemme. “In addition to riding together in solidarity, by empowering a girl with the opportunity that a bicycle brings, we ignite in ourselves and one another a special shared feeling. That feeling of riding a bike for the first time, pedaling toward something, with power and strength that suddenly becomes limitless.”
World Bicycle Relief and CycloFemme share the belief that bicycles provide independence, self-empowerment, and joy. They also believe that bicycling creates community and momentum—two forces that lead to positive personal and social change. Historically, the bicycle has been a large scale empowerment tool all over the world.
CycloFemme riders will experience how good shared momentum feels as rides and celebrations occur worldwide May 13-14. All are encouraged to participate, either planning and leading a ride or join in. CycloFemme is open to all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability, or bicycle preference.Tweet Print
Photos courtesy of Sarai Snyder and CycloFemme
On May 10th, 2015, individuals from more than nineteen countries will gather in their respective locations to lead over 250 different bike rides. CycloFemme, now in it’s fourth year, is an annual event that takes place on Mother’s Day to celebrate female cyclists of all ages and skill levels. The event is a creative collaboration between entrepreneur Sarai Snyder, founder of Girl Bike Love, and the Language Dept. Button Up & Bike had the pleasure of speaking with Sarai about this international celebration of women on two wheels.
What is your personal history with bicycles?
I grew up in the country so riding bikes as a kid meant plowing through the neighbor’s farm and bombing steep hillsides. When I started mountain biking, almost 20 years ago, riding on dirt was completely natural as was riding with the guys. When I started working at my favorite bike shop, that’s when cycling really took a hold of my life. In the blink of an eye I was embedded in the culture. I started experimenting with all types of bike riding and got involved in the community, putting on races and events. At that time Cincinnati was the largest city in the US without a non-profit bicycle advocacy organization. We knew that needed to change, I co-founded Queen City Bike with a dear friend and it is still alive and well. When I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I really turned my attention to women’s cycling.
What inspired you to build the women’s cycling site Girl Bike Love?
In my time at the shop and working in advocacy, I saw how my presence in the community, and extending a simple invitation to ride, dramatically affected the number of women riding bikes. I wanted to extend that same invitation to women all over the world, to provide a community for women to learn and come together around bicycles on their own terms.
What did you feel was missing for women in the cycling world that is fulfilled by Girl Bike Love?
Community. The focus of Girl Bike Love is women and bicycles, not how far, how fast, or what type of bike you ride. We have an inclusive message that is somewhat unique in that respect. We believe everyone has a story to tell and we want to share it.
Girl Bike Love has teamed up with the Language Department to create an international cycling “holiday” called CycloFemme. Why do you feel it’s important to celebrate women who ride?
For a long time I felt the message around women’s cycling was negative. It was always – ‘Why don’t women ride? or Why don’t we have more gear, bikes, races, prize money?’ While these are important questions, they create a stop, almost an excuse. The conversation needs to be broader. We need a foundation for why we want to overcome these challenges or people lose steam and direction. Women’s cycling needed a story, a history, a culture, I thought a celebration would be a good place to start. CycloFemme was created to Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, Empower the Future of Women’s Cycling.
The CycloFemme Pledge is a widespread movement, uniting individuals throughout the world by signing and sharing the following vow on social media: “I _________ swear to invest my energy, strength, and passion to inspire one more woman to ride a bike.” Can you tell me how “The Pledge” began? Do you think the physicality and public nature of signing the pledge helps to turn an individual’s words into action?
I do, I hope so anyway. But more importantly it draws attention to the fact that we can all make a difference. If each of us invited one more rider to join us, we would instantly double our numbers. 1+1 = A Revolution.
CycloFemme is run entirely by volunteers. What motivates you to move forward with this event, year after year?
It’s the emails, the stories, the photographs from all over the world. CycloFemme has become a spirit of women’s cycling that transcends age, race, ability, and bicycle preference. We have participation from women from beginner to professional all over the world.
One year, two women learned to ride a bike in an MSF Camp (Doctor’s Without Borders) in South Sudan in celebration of CycloFemme. We got to see video from that day. The smiles on their faces were overwhelming. It made every moment worthwhile. I’m lucky enough to hear stories just as moving as this one all year long because of CycloFemme. This is a much greater reward than I ever imagined, I believe we are the rich ones.
What do you hope that individuals ride away with after the annual CycloFemme events?
A new friend, a story, a smile, a feeling that we are a part of one big tribe. It’s about beginnings, pushing the pedal one foot at a time knowing that women all over the world are doing the same thing at the same time. Imagine if we could measure the power output of women on that one day. The bicycle represents freedom, independence, and empowerment. One little taste of riding a bike can have a major impact. Strong communities are built around strong women. I believe we are creating and encouraging change makers.
Seeing someone on a bike for the first time is exciting! Would you mind sharing a story about an individual you’ve inspired to ride?
I remember one woman who came in to the shop many years ago. She was looking for a bike to ride around town on occasion. But the more we talked, the more excited she became. She was in her late 40s and new to cycling. She bought a hybrid and started riding. Within months she was really pushing the distance and riding everywhere. We continued to support her growth, helping her with gear, skills, and eventually a road bike. Less than a year after her first visit to the shop she called me on the phone. “I just rode my first century” she said “and I wanted you to be the first person I told. I had no idea I could ever do this. Thank you for believing in me and helping me get there.”
From there she started getting involved in local advocacy and organized a kids bike rodeo at the library. She truly became a cyclist for life.
What measures do you feel the cycling industry could take to better incorporate women in cycling?
The industry would do well to stop treating women as a consumer, as a segment of the market but as a cyclist, a bike rider, a person with real goals and challenges. We don’t need more gear, we need better experiences and support. We need to have an equal place in cycling. Whether that is walking in to a bike shop, out on a group ride, or reading about cycling online or in magazines. We need to be treated as part of the whole, as the norm, not the exception. Women need to be represented in media and marketing, in all styles of riding, and on all levels of participation. We need to see our likeness represented to know we belong too. You have to see it before you can believe that you can be it.
CycloFemme is a Global Women’s Cycling Day created TO HONOR THE PAST and the emancipation of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, for the freedom to choose and the chance to wear pants. TO CELEBRATE THE PRESENT and the riders who keep it rolling, bringing women’s racing to the forefront, pushing the limits, breaking down barriers and sharing the love of the bike with everyone along the way. TO EMPOWER THE FUTURE of women in cycling and the opportunity for positive social change.
What does the bicycle do for you?
Read more Button Up & Bike stories about women’s cycling.
Riding with the kids at our 2013 CycloFemme ride.
No matter what type of bike you ride, or how often or far you ride, CycloFemme is a day for all women cyclists. It is also a day for anyone who supports women on bikes to join the rides as well. The goal is to create a unified voice for women’s cycling by building a tribe of riders who recognize the need to empower one another and build a supportive community.Tweet Print