In light of the recent woman-bashing that the Republican party has wrought upon our brains through its war on Planned Parenthood and reproductive healthcare, and in celebration of the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective’s 10-year anniversary this month, I decided to revisit the bi-monthly Ladies Shop Night hosted by the Collective for quite some years now and reclaim my feminine power among other bicycle-loving ladies. Most of the avid cyclists in town have heartfelt ties with the non-profit organization, and though my bicycle-mechanic skills begin and end with tire levers and a 15mm wrench, the Bike Collective is partially responsible for the onset of all my two-wheeled enthusiasm. It’s there that I assembled (with the help of then-volunteer Davey Davis) my trusty green Mercier and rode it out the doors like a carefully planned child bursting from its appropriately-aged mother’s womb—thanks to the safe-sex education she received in high school.
The thing is, bike shops intimidate me. I don’t think it’s so much that I walk into a shop and there’s a whole bunch of dudes who know way more about bikes than I ever will throwing around bike mechanic gibberish—I’ve got mad respect for people who can do things I can’t (yet) do. I guess I just feel a little sheepish walking in there and asking them to switch out my pedals when I purchased a fixed gear primarily for its low maintenance.
This is why the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective is one of the greatest places in all of Salt Lake, almost better than pizza night at Sage’s (#fbg4lyfe). You pay $5/hour for them to help you fix your own bike, or drop in during their volunteer hours to earn $5/hour credit on parts and time. It’s a win-win, ’cause a tune-up at a shop is about $50 and you ain’t larnin’ nothin’. Not that I’ll never go to a bike shop again—mad props to Salt Lake Bicycle Co. and Saturday Cycles for supporting all my random bike events.
Ladies’ Night at the Collective used to be a pretty big part of my month, even bigger than getting my period (believe it or not, Rush Limbaugh)! I’d ride my bike down there with my sister Carla, we’d hit up Vertical and chomp down a chik’n sandwich, then head in and either work on our own bikes with the help of ladies like “Punk Rock Lindsey” and Meara McClenahan, or provide others with our limited mechanical skillz as we learned more … and I was learning shit-loads! Before I got a job as a copy editor for SLUG, which required me to sacrifice the Collective for a red pen and a furrowed brow on Wednesday nights, I knew how to true a wheel, cut down handlebars, dis- and re-assemble crank sets and perform basic maintenance like changing a flat and lubing a chain, among other things. It’s also where I began recruiting for
Now, it goes without saying that I could’ve learned all of those things with a bunch of guys around––it just would have taken a lot longer due to all of the stick-peeing I’d have to wait around for. In fact, Jace Burbidge, the current Night Shop Manager at the Collective, is the reason why Ladies’ Night is still around. He didn’t want to see it die after the gals who were running it decided to move on, so he stepped up and spearheaded its revival, taking on the role of manager and promoter. Jace was my go-to for the many mechanical questions I had on my visit as my Salty Spokes cohort, Kenna O., and I took on a couple of flat tires. My inclination toward a “women-only” event like this lies in a deep-rooted societal flaw. There’s just no getting around the fact that we still have a very outdated perception of “man,” and that generally results in a bunch of guys who want to lube your chain while you watch their impeccable technique rather than show you how to take care of things yourself. Yeah, yeah, I heard it, too. I get it, I like to be needed, but I’m not going to rely on a pair of testosterone-pumped testicles to stick around long enough to fix my main means of transportation whenever it breaks down. Plus, I won’t lie, it was always a little difficult to focus on mechanics when Davey’s irresistible, boyish grin was flashing my way. I’m much more likely to learn when I’m surrounded by the nurturing familiarity of a pair of boobies.
Talking with Burbidge, it looks like the Collective’s ultimate goal with Ladies’ Night is to have it completely run by women, which I think would be pretty awesome. Maybe that awesomeness is you? Only one way to find out: Come to Ladies’ Night at the Collective every first and third Wednesday of the month from 5-9 p.m. I promise it’ll be worth it just to see your boyfriend’s face when you tell him you can fix your own damn flat.