In the 1890’s, bicycling for women meant using a tricycle of sorts, maintaining a dignified look with long dresses, and not getting flushed in the face from the activity! Well, Kittie Knox, along with a few other women, made quite a ruckus. Kittie was born to a free black father and a white mother in Boston, 1874. So, a woman of mixed race had some especially tough challenges. Society believed women should be in the home, in this case, being a seamstress. Kittie shunned the tricycle for the men’s two wheeled bike as well as designing and wearing her own version of pantaloons instead of skirts. In 1894, the National League of American Wheelmen banned members of color. Only whites apply. Well, Kittie showed up at an annual meeting in Asbury Park, NJ in 1895, demonstrating bicycle skills such as fancy turns, in front of the hotel. She did not leave when white males in the league protested. According to the Boston Globe, she completed many century rides, even competing with men, and doing it well. She even won a cycling fashion/costume show. Unfortunately, Kittie died at a young age, 26, from kidney disease.
Bicycling for many brings the gift of freedom, of solace, and for some rebellion. In an auto centric world, the bicycle often represents the challenger. Simply put, let bicycling be a source of busting loose. Kittie Knox made waves in her generation, yet, she serves as an inspiration to us all to do something that might go against the current a bit. One way to get more creative in your life is to switch up your routines and patterns. Take a day and ride part or all of the way to an event, work, or anywhere. Look for something that can help you break loose! Here are a few suggestions:
Go for a ride, and get lost!
Put some tassels on your drop bar ends. (Other adornments and bling allowed!)
Everyday for a week, practice a new skill on your bike- balance on one wheel, do a quick turn,
Sing karaoke on your ride, with friends!
Offer to fix a friend or neighbor’s bike.
Find a new spot to take a photo, put your bike in the photo.
Call in sick and pedal to every ice cream or bakery in town!
Figure out how many parts of your bike you can use to open a beer bottle.
Ride in a pair of cut off shorts!
Go ahead and consider something that is a bust loose move for you!