Creating Community Spaces in Biking for Women, Queer, and Gender Diverse People
Martha Gumprich and Cory Rae
May 26, 2022 • 4 Min Read
Mental health support looks different for everyone and MindMapBC aims to help folks find what is best for them. Support could include counselling, affirming health care, or social and community groups. MindMap aims to connect people with a wide range of relevant mental health services and community and social groups. We met with the founder of Chill Rides YVR to discuss social groups, community building, and the impact this can have on mental health.
How did Chill Rides YVR start?
Cycling is known to be a sport largely dominated by cis, straight white men. Bike shops, cycling groups, and self-repairs can be very intimidating for those who fall outside of this group. There is now a growing movement to make all things cycling more accessible for women, people of colour, and 2S/LGBTQ+ people. Chill Rides YVR is one of those groups doing the good work to make cycling more accessible for these groups. I am a non-binary rider and a member of Chill Rides and had the privilege of sitting down with Chill Ride’s founder, Cory Rae, to learn all about their group.
Cory went on some group bike rides in Vancouver and was disappointed in the lack of inclusion. They noticed that riders were all dressed in lycra, had expensive carbon fiber bikes and rode fast, leaving those who could not keep up, behind. Cory wanted a group where they could ride at their own pace and have a group to spend time with after rides. Inspired by an inclusive, competitive snowboarding group in Alberta, Cory created Chill Rides YVR. The following are their responses from our interview.
How many people can you expect at a Chill Rides ride?
On average, during the winter, you can expect around 15 riders to come out. During the summer months, this number is expected to grow as the people deterred by rain will be able to join again. During the summer there will be weekly rides you can attend! To see when the next ride is, follow Chill Rides YVR on Instagram to stay up to date on all things Chill Rides.
Why the focus on women, queer and non-binary people?
Cycling has historically been dominated by cisgender, straight men. Therefore, there are many spaces for these riders, but few spaces for anyone else. Chill Ride’s goal is to create a space for those who have been marginalized in the sport to come together, create a community, and ride together. If you are a trans man or a masculine non-binary person and want to attend, you are more than welcome! The point of the group is to create a safe space for those who have not always felt safe and accepted within the cis-het men’s community. Bike and mansplaining are strictly off-limits, but education and community learning are strongly encouraged.
How has Chill Rides impacted members and their mental health?
Getting outside and riding your bike releases endorphins, making you feel great. It is a great feeling to be surrounded by others who share the same interests and respect your values and identity. Having a supportive network of friends and those who identify like you helps you feel like you are not alone and are valued. Riders often meet outside of the group rides to bike and spend time together.
What other groups and initiatives can riders check out?
Chill Rides aims to make knowledge that is normally gate-kept, accessible for all. We do so by holding workshops that have included learning how to fix a flat tire and speak bicycle. If you increase your knowledge and connection to a community, your mental health will improve.
Some similar initiatives to explore include:
Having others in life who understand the strengths and struggles of being sexually and gender diverse is invaluable. However, such social support can be difficult to find which is why MindMap has many other social groups available:
About the Authors
Martha Gumprich (they/she) - Martha is a Master’s student at SFU working towards their MSc in Health Science with a research focus on the experiences and mental health of non-binary people in organized team sports in Canada and the US.
Cory Rae (they/them) - Cory is the Founder and Program Director of Chill Rides Vancouver. They currently work as a Bike Education Instructor for kids ages 11-15 in Metro Vancouver. They are also a Junior Bike Mechanic, Mountain Bike/Outdoor Education Instructor in Squamish, BC. Their passion for cycling started when they moved to Vancouver. They love facilitating, teaching and getting more people cycling!
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