1×10: Monica Garrison, Founder/Director of Black Girls Do Bike

Welcome to 1×10, where we ask 1 inspiring human 10 questions about how they are using cycling as a force for good. Read on to meet Monica Garrison, Founder/Director of Black Girls Do Bike, a movement with the purpose of growing and supporting a community of women of color who share a passion for cycling. With 80+ chapters all over the United State and Antigua, they are looking to establish comfortable places where female cyclists can support, advise, organize meet-ups/rides. and promote skill-sharing. They describe it as a ‘pep rally for black girls on bikes’ and that “they rejoice when women choose cycling as a tool for alternative transportation, self-care, and ultimately empowerment.”

Yaaasss! is I all I can say to that. I love Monica’s vision and passion and am so honored that she took the time to do a 1×10 interview for the blog. Read on to be inspired and about how you can get involved!

1. How / why did you fall in love with cycling?

Cycling has been many things to me over the years. It has been a source of freedom, a  practical means of transportation, a gateway to mental health and wellness. I fell in love with cycling as a kid spending my summers exploring my neighborhood and using the bicycle to network with other kids. I enjoyed testing my physical limits. As an adult, I fell in love again with my bike as I began to see it as a means to heal from trauma and help relieve the stress of adulting in a hyperconnected world.

Black Girls Do Bike founder Monica Garrison on new Penn Avenue bike lanes in the center of Pittsburgh’s theater district. Photographer: Chancelor Humphrey of @keeppittsburghdope

“As an adult, I fell in love again with my bike as I began to see it as a means to heal from trauma and help relieve the stress of adulting in a hyperconnected world.”

2. Favorite bike?

I adore my Specialized Dolce. Our union was love at first sight. This bike fit and rode like it was made for me from our very first moments together. I also have a slight obsession with artisan bike companies that set out to make custom builds with the individual rider’s measurements and preferences for design and components in mind. Bread Winner Cycles is one such company that seems to offer this rider panacea in packages that are also clearly works of art. I’ve specifically been eyeing the “Continental” in their lineup.

Editorial comment: I’m sensing a pattern here…🤔

3. What’s the most memorable ride you’ve done, and what happened?

There is no denying the very positive and unforgettable experiences I’ve had with the ladies of BlackGirsDoBike.com during our national meet-ups but often times I am wrapped up in the logistics of the event and do not get to ride. Honestly, one of the best times I’ve had on a bike was with my local hometown chapter of BGDB. We organized a ride around the city and collaborated with local bike share purveyors, Healthy Ride PGH, to put together a slow-paced beginner friendly ride around the city. I was expecting a handful of ladies but close to 40 showed up! We rode into the evening on a cool summer day and ended at an ice cream shop for refreshments. It was an all-around good time and sparked interest in the BGDB movement locally.

“We organized a ride around the city and collaborated with local bike share purveyors, Healthy Ride PGH, to put together a slow-paced beginner friendly ride around the city.  I was expecting a handful of ladies but close to 40 showed up!”

4. Who do you admire in the cycling world?

I admire anyone who gets on a bike for the first time despite their apprehension or anyone who rides further than they thought they could. Those folks are my heroes. I am inspired by anyone who is focused on upending the status quo and moving the cycling community out of its comfort zone. My bike cap comes off for folks who love cycling so much that they encourage diversity and equality at every turn because they know it will push the sport and industry in a positive direction.  

Black Girls Do Bike: Pittsburgh during their Bike Share Party riding along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the North Shore. Photographer: Samone Riddle

“My bike cap comes off for folks who love cycling so much that they encourage diversity and equality at every turn because they know it will push the sport and industry in a positive direction.”

5. Top tip for a new rider, or a cyclist about to take on a new challenge?

Lifehack for new riders, get a proper seat and bike fit. You’ll enjoy the ride a lot more if it’s comfortable. Like with anything, remember evolution and growth happens during the journey, not at the destination.

TEAM Black Girls Do Bike’s group shot before taking off at NYCs 5 Boro Bike Tour May 2017 Photographer: Monica Garrison

“Like with anything, remember evolution and growth happens during the journey, not at the destination.”

6. Favorite trend or innovation in cycling?

I’m in the business of encouraging folks to ride more so I am always looking to highlight things that make cycling safer. Not sure if this counts but I believe that the Lumos Helmet has delivered on a promised to use technology to improve cyclists visibility. This helmet is the world’s first smart bicycle helmet that integrates led “front and rear lights, hard brake, and turn signals into a single cohesive whole”. They have continued to make what I feel are worthwhile product improvements. I was an early adopter of the technology the Lumos Helmet pioneered and I have not been disappointed. I am not sponsored by them in any way but I do own several of these helmets and make sure to give away a few of these each year to ladies who engage with the BGDB community.  

7. What are you doing to use cycling as a force for good?

I am always looking for ways to inspire more women to get on bikes but BGDB is not just about organizing women around a common passion. I’ve discovered that it is about giving an often overlooked population the tools needed to become bike advocacy leaders, to embark on a journey of self-care, to build community and pay it forward. We make it a goal to help break down barriers of entry into the larger cycling community. We are focused on breeding a safe, non-competitive space of refuge and duplicating this template all over the world. Along with the 100+ lady leaders in this movement hopefully, we are a force for good everywhere we go and in whatever space we find ourselves.

“I’ve discovered that it is about giving an often overlooked population the tools needed to become bike advocacy leaders, to embark on a journey of self-care, to build community and pay it forward.”

8. Thinking about the work you’re doing, what do you see as the potential change for people or the planet? If you are successful, what impact will you have?

Ultimately, we hope that our presence contributes to a healthier population of women, and specifically minority women now and in the future. A true shift in behavior towards activities like cycling can mitigate the preventable diseases that disproportionately strike our community. My utopia of a future has more women of color riding bikes to work and for recreation. I hope to see more moms modeling bike riding to their children. And ultimately more women seeking positions on bike advisory boards and employment in the cycling industry which would result in far-reaching impact.

Black Girls Do Bike photoshoot at Kindred Cycles in Pittsburgh, PA. The ladies are wearing our original BGDB Sport Jersey design. Photographer: Monica Garrison

“A true shift in behavior towards activities like cycling can mitigate the preventable diseases that disproportionately strike our community.”

9. What’s your biggest challenge/obstacle to success?

My biggest challenge to success is finding a way to navigate the gap between the things I would like BGDB to tackle and the resources and time I have to make it all happen.   

10. How can people help? Where can they learn more about your work?

The best way to help is to spread the word about BGDB and what we are doing. Direct folks to blackgirlsdobike.com for more information. And if we have a riding group in your area, reach out to our leadership to offer support in the form of education, expertise, sponsorships or connections. We welcome the support. E-mail: blackgirlsdobike@gmail.com

Monica Garrison is the Founder & Director of, Black Girls Do Bike, a national movement that champions efforts to introduce the joy of cycling to all women, but especially women and girls of color. Find your local chapter, check them out on Instagram, join their Strava Club, buy some sweet BGDBgear, and check out all the other ways to get involved or support Black Girls Do Bike!

Edited by John Kim. When he’s not out for a ride, John uses his expertise in Corporate Social Responsibility to help companies do well by doing good. Find him at virtcyc@gmail.com or VirtCyc on twitter or instagram.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you 1×10 for a fantastic interview. Thank you Monica for your continued inspiration of cycling and sharing it with black women around the country. Great job Monica.

    Like

    1. John Kim says:

      Thank you! So glad you like it! And Monica is an absolute gem!

      Like

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