Have you raced in Babes In Bikeland before? If so, how many times? If not, do you plan to race this year? Why does Babes In Bikeland excite you?
I first participated in Babes in Bikeland in 2011! I’ve tried to participate in it every year since then, with the exception of 2013, when I believe I missed it due to travel. I definitely plan to race it this year!
Babes is my favorite cycling event that happens locally due to how unique it is. It was my first alleycat, and I remember that I felt comfortable racing it in when I was 19 alone because it felt so incredibly welcoming. There’s something uniquely empowering about so many W/T/F’s gathered in one space, excited to ride, and taking over the streets for one day – every year I’ve done it, everyone seems to support each other – whether racing, riding, or volunteering – and is excited that you’re there. I love it. It’s a giant W/T/F bike party.
Describe your bike (or favorite bike)! What makes it special to you?
I’m lucky enough to have many bikes, but my absolute favorite is my Croll. I was gifted the frame when I was younger, and finally got around to building it up as a flat bar 1×10 road bike a few months ago. It’s incredibly special because I built it up myself – I chose the build, what components I was going to use – every detail. I built it up to be exactly what I wanted out of a bike. It’s my baby. I named it Bruce!
What was the BEST day of biking you’ve ever had?
That’s tough. I think it was the day my friend and old teammate Tiana rode our track bikes from Denver to Boulder to race the velodrome. Riding that kind of elevation on fixed gears was insane – and then we raced. And rode back. I remember there were a few times we told the group that was riding with us to leave us behind (others had been smart enough to ride their road bikes there and rent track bikes, but we were stubborn about riding our Koochella All City Thunderdomes). But when we got back to Denver, I remember how proud of us I was and so glad that I had done it. It was definitely the most challenging day of riding I’ve ever done but I was so proud! We took like a three hour nap afterward and smashed like two burgers.
What does your typical commute look like? Do you consider yourself an avid biker? A novice? What about biking in Minneapolis is special to you?
I grew up in Saint Paul and moved to Minneapolis when I was 17 – for me there was never anywhere I couldn’t go within the cities that wasn’t accessible by bike. When I was 16, I started volunteering at the Grease Pit Bike Shop and built my first bike – I’ve been ruling these streets confidently since then. Back then, it was my ticket to freedom. It hasn’t stopped being the most liberating thing I do. I’ve followed my passion for it and have started racing at the NSC Velodrome, last year with Team Koochella and this year for Club Kidz Racing, where I push myself to ride my bike in new and exciting ways. Minneapolis is so special because of the many communities that promote and support cycling within it. I have made so many connections and friends through cycling that I likely wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s incredible.
How does biking intersect with the rest of your identity or person? This could be age, ability, race, gender, sexuality, life passions, etc. Basically, how does biking contribute to you being you?
Almost every facet of my life revolves around biking – I work as a bike courier for two of my jobs, and I sell and build bikes for my other. My bikes are my work horses, my tickets to fun, and my vessels for racing. I fell in love with them when they were the only way I could get from A to B, and they have truly shaped my life and the way I approach it since then. Whenever I travel I bring a bike with me – in 2015 I brought a bike to Seattle, to Denver, and to Bogota, Colombia and I plan to travel to Oakland, NYC and Puerto Rico with them this year! Riding around a city, seeing the neighborhoods and its people from bike level is the best way to see a city, in my opinion. Half the reason I work at a shop is because I want to help people find the bike that they will love as much as I love mine. Without bikes, I wouldn’t be who I am today. End of story.
Anna Bongiovanni is a local cartoonist and avid Babes supporter who, based on written interviews and thanks to the generous sponsorship of Perennial Cycles, has created a collection of fabulous portraits of local Babe powerhouses in the Minneapolis area. We will be featuring one or two new portraits per week until race day, so keep coming back to see which local Babe will be featured next. To learn more about Anna and their creative ventures, visit their website and say hi!