cycling · fitness

Two great things go great together: feminist philosophy and bikes

Since Wednesday night, I’ve been in Corvallis, OR at a feminist philosophy conference called FEMMSS– Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics, and Science Studies.  The theme this year is Navigating Habitats: feminist explorations of disability, climates, ecosystems, and technologies.  It ends Saturday (for me– I’m taking a dreaded redeye home to Boston, wearing my new travel compression socks!)

The main conference events– talks and panels and workshops and keynote– have been throughly engrossing, informative, provocative and fun. But wait, there’s more.  The conference organizers included some late afternoon activities to help us unwind, relax, and shift gears (in my case, literally). In addition to late afternoon yoga on the grass (which I engaged in on Friday), there was a basics of bike repair workshop. Run by me.

End-of-conference-day bike repair workshop.  Okay, cool, but isn’t that a bit random?

Not entirely.

This idea popped up when a friend posted on Facebook that she had dropped her bike chain and needed help to replace it.  A bunch of people posted, some offering to go to her house to fix it for her.  I posted to say that if I lived in her town (we live in different countries), I’d show her how to replace the chain (which is done in a jiffy). We chatted a bit, and it turned out she was not coming to the FEMMSS conference.

Then it occurred to me:  maybe there are other feminist philosophers in need of some bike maintenance tips, which are hard to explain over the internet but easy-peasy in person. Thus was born the idea of the conference bike repair workshop.

Attending were a small but enthusiastic group of four (and then two hardcore folks).  We went over how and how often to put air in tires (how often? optimally before every ride, but at least once a week).  Then I demonstrated how to change a tire. It requires tire levers (I carry three with me just in case the tire is tough to remove from the rim), a pump (I had a floor pump with me, but a small one will do, or you can use CO2), and some oomph and determination. I’m not linking to any particular youtube video here, as I haven’t screened them, but check them out.  And then find a friend or local bike shop person to show you.  In my view, in person is the best way.

For me, the movements involved in changing a tire are always the same.  When I talked to the local bike shop– Peak Sports in Corvallis— the folks I talked to all agreed that the process is kind of ritualistic.  But of course it’s easily teachable, and practice makes it a routine thing to do.

I want to take a moment here to express my gratitude to Peak Sports for lending me a road bike, floor pump and tire levers FOR FREE to do this workshop.  All just because I called them and asked about borrowing these things.  I didn’t even have to leave a credit card– just ID info.  I love this so much– their friendly, open, happy-to-help attitude.  Thanks Russ and Greg and the others I talked to!

After the demo, feminist philosopher Stephanie offered to try it herself. With a little bit of direction, she got it done.  Of course.

Then feminist philosopher Cate wanted to know about buying a road bike. We talked about price, sizing, saddles (pro tip: throw away the saddle it comes with and buy your own after trying a bunch of them) and fitting (my advice: get a fitting– you’ll be very happy you did).

Here are some pics, mainly of me gesturing about chains, and then trying not mess up the (inexplicably) white saddle with my bike-grease-covered hands.  I wore all black that day with the bike repair workshop in mind.

It was so much fun to share two of my favorite things– feminist philosophy and bikes– with other like-minded folks. Thanks so much to the organizers of the FEMMSS conference (especially you, Shari!).  Next conference:  organized bike ride! You heard it here first…




2 thoughts on “Two great things go great together: feminist philosophy and bikes

  1. Love this idea. Let me know when we’re organizing conference bike rides. I’m in.

    1. Maybe for the CPA next year? I want to come, and a group ride would be fun.

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