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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Bonding while Biking; Black Girls Do Bike Indy rides out

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Meeting up at Cleo’s Bodega on Dr. M.L.K Jr. Street was intentional for the group of women sporting bright colorful cycling tops that read “Black Girls Do Bike.”

Supporting Black business, they along with other women there in cycling clothing enjoy a morning drink while they meet and greet with each other.

Equally colorful bikes aligned the side of the building that belonged to the group.

“I love to ride, but I usually ride with my husband and family. I heard about Black Girls Do Bike when someone asked if we were a part of the organization already since I was out biking. So, I looked them up and was excited to join their rides,” said Tanya Davis.

Davis was meeting everybody in the group for the first time.

They were set to take off that morning and ride along the bike trails of White River Green Bay.

This is their first ride for the year.

10-year-old Joy Wesley mounts her bike ahead of riders

Black Girls Do Bike is a national organization with Black Girls Do Bike Indy (BGDBI) being one of its chapters. Founded by Chyri McLain-Jackson in 2014, the goal of it is to help people feel more confident about getting on bikes, and ensure that they ride effectively, safely, and legally.

“It was important to foster a community of women of color who share a common goal and love of cycling. I encourage bike advocacy, education, safety, and volunteerism in the community,” said McLain-Jackson.

One reason she started the Indianapolis chapter was because in previous years she participated in endurance sporting events with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but during her training she didn’t see anyone who looked like her.

The group is inclusive to all races and genders with the focus being on Black women. It’s about bonding and sisterhood.

With issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity disparities in health that affect them at higher rates, encouraging healthy habits like cycling is more than just not deciding to bike.

“I have locs,” said Cheria Caldwell, one of the ride leaders for BGDBI, “Usually if my hair is in a style, I take it down so that I put my helmet on and go out riding.”

While Caldwell laid out the rules for the group ride inside the shop, she emphasized the importance of wearing a helmet.

One woman didn’t bring one for the exact reason of not messing up her hair.
Caldwell said above all else health and safety are the most important. She buys the largest size helmet which is an XL to give more room for her hairstyles.

A lot of women in the organization will wear scarfs or bandanas to protect their hair underneath a helmet.

“But it can be a challenge. I remember one time I had my hair in a really nice bun and I was like dang, I really don’t want to take my hair down, but I want to go on a bike ride,” said Caldwell.

She took it down.

These are the type of barriers that can deter minorities from participating in cycling, but BGDBI’s mission is to create an open and safe space for new riders.

This means teaching proper technique and bike care along with safety.

“This wind is disrespectful,” said one rider once they mounted outside.

Knowing some of the first-time challenges that come with not being supported by cycling groups, BGDBI prides themselves on how they nurture connections by offering an enjoyable experience.

Even with biking barriers, the organization meets people where they are.
“Please, don’t be afraid to let us know how you’re feeling,” said Caldwell to the group, “We understand how it can be if you don’t understand something or if you feel like to you need to slow down.”

Leaders are always in the front and the back of the line of riders so that no one ever gets left behind.

Black Girls Do Bike Indy ride seasonally throughout the year starting in April and can go as late as October depending on the weather.

They have rides throughout the week scheduled four times a month on different sides of town.

Contact senior staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON

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