On a chilly Sunday morning, a group of Wheelwomen gathered for pancakes, mimosas and coffee in Chicago’s Wicker park. One by one the ladies rolled up on their bikes, leaned them against a tree and dug in.
Many of these women orbit around the community of lady cyclists that support BFF Bikes, the newly opened women-centric bike shop in the Bucktown Neighborhood. We were lucky enough to have Vanessa Buccella, one of the co-owners of BFF join us for the party.
It was really exciting to see how much variety this small group represented. These ladies were commuters, racers, gear makers, shop owners and long haulers and they ranged from active Switchboard users, to “lurkers,” to never having heard of the platform before.
Just like on Switchboard, these differences added to a conversation about the thing they all love, bikes. Over the course of the morning, we covered it all. We traded stories from the trenches and how to dress oneself for winter commuting. For my benefit (having come from the Pacific Northwest) we talked a lot about hills and flatlands and how far you have to tour before you escape the cornfields. Other topics included bicycle etiquette, city planning and the pros and cons (and pros) of Divy bikes, Chicago’s bike sharing system.
Most of the women who were on Switchboard already have been quietly watching the awesome things that happen there. However, they all walked away excited to post themselves. While BFF isn’t an exclusively female shop, Vanessa liked the idea of posting her job opportunities on Switchboard because it’s exactly the audience she’s looking for. Awesome women who love to cycle. As for veteran Switchboarders, we were excited to meet Maria Boustead who designs beautiful and functional bags at her company, Po campo. Maria helped fund a successful Kickstarter campaign on Switchboard for a Bike Share bag in May and is currently doing research into the best design for a bike-friendly diaper bag.
Our Chicago Switchboard Hearts party was a huge success. Everyone walked away with pockets full of stickers and swag, bellies full of pancakes, and an excitement to spread the word. That’s it for Wheelwomen parties for this tour - but if you’d like to host your own Wheelwomen meetup, I’d love to chat! Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.