Black women love cycling too, and one national organization is striving to reinforce the sentiment.
Founded by diehard cyclist Monica Garrison in 2013, the Black Girls Do Bike organization is a bustling community dedicated to uniting women of color who love cycling from all walks of life. The group, which initially started in Pittsburgh, has since expanded to include more than 100 chapters across the U.S. and has connected over 180 women with its thriving network of passionate cyclists. Garrison and other BGDB group leaders organize a number of activities for members including group rides, skill-sharing, and bike advocacy programs.
For Chyri McLain-Jackson, the founder of BGDB’s Indianapolis chapter, it was a chance to promote a space for Black women in her community to participate in “fitness, freedom, and fun.” Her passion for the sport sparked after training for her first triathlon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“As I was biking, I realized that no one really looked like me in those groups I was going out biking with; there were not very many women, there were not many women of color,” McLain-Jackson, who launched the Indianapolis chapter in 2014, told the IndyStar.
Women of all ages come out to ride amongst their BGDB counterparts and while the group is inclusive of all races and genders, Garrison hopes to shine a special light on Black women and women of color.
“To be black is a daily decision to assimilate, become more palatable, and dampen perceived threats, versus displaying the beauty and individuality of their personality. We carry these burdens into every experience. Cycling is no different,” the founder wrote in an op-ed piece for Bicycling.
“I think it is important to acknowledge that people of color can excel at any sport. They don’t lack ability,” Garrison continued.
“When you look at the professional and even amateur levels of any sport and you see few faces of color then you have to ask yourself what is lacking. Is it resources or opportunity or something else? I’m confident we can root the causes and make cycling more welcoming to all.”
Health is also an important factor championed in the BGDB ethos. Black women are at a higher risk of developing health conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Sadly, due to the pandemic, these health disparities have skyrocketed and are now impacting younger age groups of color. Researchers have found that adults and teens as young as 18, face an increased risk of diabetes diagnosis after contracting COVID-19. Black patients are more likely to be hospitalized for the condition than other ethnic groups. Luckily, individuals can prevent further complications from the condition by making lifestyle changes with proper diet and exercise.