The early birds entered through the red door of Williamsburg’s Lutheran Church of St. John the Evangelist at 5:45pm. They descended a flight of stairs to a basement with tile floors, chairs stacked against the wall, the lingering smell of incense.
And a bike workshop.
“Take a sticker, and write your name and pronouns,” said Denise Shu Mei to newcomers.
One woman carefully printed “Erika” and “she/her” before sticking it to her shirt front.
This was the third and final class of Mechanical Gardens‘ inaugural W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive. The hands-on classes were open to women, trans persons, and non-binary individuals.
The waitlist for the series, which stands for Women/Trans/Femme, was long and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Instructor Sera Stavroula said it will not be the last.
“People were excited that it wasn’t a 101 thing,” said Stavroula, 29. “There are classes like that: “Women’s Intro to Bikes,” “Women’s Intro to Riding,” “Women’s Intro to Flat Fix.” She said she wanted to offer something more challenging.
Each night Stavroula focused on a different system, how it functioned, potential issues that might arise, warning signs, ways to fix the problem, and how much the repair should cost at a bike shop. She said students got their hands dirty and sized chains, recabled shifters, and changed tires and brake pads. They learn to diagnose and fix problems, and if they need to take their bike into the shop, this class should demystify the process.
Stavroula, who has worked with bikes for six years, was the first female mechanic at a pro-shop in Richmond, VA. Today she works as the Bike to School coordinator and a mechanic at Recycle-a-Bicycle in Dumbo.
“You go into a bike shop and it’s a lot of guys,” said Stavroula. “It’s hard to access that space if you don’t have experience.” (more…)
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