In honor of International Woman's Day, we want to celebrate two incredible women behind the nationwide and local Trips for Kids movement: Marilyn Price and Paula Fricke.
Before we talk about the importance of representation and recognition for women in the cycling world, let's rewind back to 1988, in Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California. It was there that Marilyn Price took 5 under-resourced teenagers from a historically marginalized community in San Rafael and introduced them to the joys of riding a bike. The small group rode in the sunshine, soaking up miles of shoreline, experiencing community and the bliss that comes with riding a bike. Marilyn could have stopped there, with a beautiful one-off riding experience for her local youth...and yet she didn't. Instead, Marilyn continued organizing and leading rides, kick-starting the national non-profit organization, Trips for Kids, which has served more than 230,000 youth through free bike education, experiences, and opportunities nationwide.
Pictured: Marilyn Price, Founder of Trips for Kids, riding with local youth and volunteers in Marin County, California.
So how does an organization established on the west coast end up with a chapter on the southern east coast? Cue the founder of Trips for Kids Charlotte, Paula Fricke. In 2000, Paula established the Charlotte chapter of Trips for Kids. Every Saturday morning for almost 20 years, Paula, along with a handful of committed volunteers, would rally up Charlotte youth to hit local mountain bike trails (Colonel Francis Beatty Park in Matthews, NC was often the trail system of choice!). She personified commitment, passion, and service to give of herself and her time, in an effort to serve the Charlotte community and introduce the next generation to the joy and independence that comes with riding a bike.
Pictured: Paula Fricke, TFKC Founder, with past Ride Program + Earn-a-Bike Participants (now current Ride Coordinators) Jordan and Martin, during a Ride Program greenway ride on Little Sugar Creek Greenway.
Paula worked with community members equally as passionate about bike riding to help establish the Charlotte Re-Cyclery: a circular economy, community bike shop program of Trips for Kids Charlotte, with all proceeds directly funding all of our community and youth bike programs. What started as consistent, organized ride experiences evolved into the well-known and widely loved non-profit organization that Trips for Kids Charlotte is today, with the Youth Ride, Earn-a-Bike, and Charlotte Re-Cyclery programs at our core.
At Trips for Kids Charlotte, we recognize the importance and need for women representation on bikes (and for more diversified representation in general)! That's why we've expanded the range of folks we aim to serve, broadening the definition of "under-represented communities" to include women, in addition to members of the LGBTQ+ community. It's how we honor our roots, and how we choose to be the change we wish to see in the world.
We believe the bicycle is a tool. For emotional and cognitive growth, overall well-being, and social change. We believe in the power of the bicycle to serve as a vehicle of connection: to community, to nature, to the city around us, and to self. EVERYONE deserves to experience the joys and empowerment that comes along with pedal powered movement and DIY bike maintenance, and we've made it part of our mission to create intentional spaces where under-represented and historically marginalized communities can feel comfortable, safe, heard, and seen to explore all things bikes.
Pictured: Volunteers learning how to break down a bicycle to the bare frame during our monthly Bike Break Down event at the Charlotte Innovation Barn.
How have we done this? Change starts internally, and education on inclusion, culture, and holding safe space has been a priority the past two years at Trips for Kids Charlotte. We hold staff trainings and conversational workshops monthly, giving our team the space to unpack biases, engage in forward thinking, and brainstorm ways to truly be an inclusive space for ALL. Our board consists of members of varying races and genders, as does our staff crew.
In November of 2022, we modified past WTF (Women/Trans/Fem) workshop nights to launch our Gears for Queers program. This bi-weekly workshop and open-wrench night is designed to be an affinity space, where we invite community members after-hours into the Charlotte Re-Cyclery, and provide hands-on bike education, community, and connection. Led by trans, non-binary, and BIPOC members of our team, Gears for Queers is a special group space for anyone who identifies as a woman, is non-binary or trans, or is part of the LGBTQ+ community. These open-shop nights serve as a safe space for inclusion, bike exploration, and to highlight woman and LGBTQ + representation within the cycling community.
Pictured: Gears for Queers participants
Without Marilyn Price and Paula Fricke, Trips for Kids, and Trips for Kids Charlotte would not exist. We owe our ENTIRE community impact to these women. As we honor International Woman's Day, let's not forget to uplift and honor the courageous women who have paved the way for community, change, and inclusion within the cycling industry.