Sustainable Cycles Goes to Detroit. Bike!Bike! and Periods.

In October, Sustainable Cycles attended Bike!Bike! hosted by Back Alley Bikes in Detroit, MI. Their website says it best: “Bike!Bike! is an international annual gathering organized by and for community bike projects and collectives that use the bicycle as a vehicle to create positive social and community change solidarity” (  It consists of a rollicking four days of workshops, shared meals, music, dancing, and lots of biking!

The Hub is the retail branch of the DIY wrenching co-op Back Alley Bikes in Detroit. img_0092

The Hub is the retail branch of the DIY wrenching co-op Back Alley Bikes in Detroit.

Spokeswomen Rachel Horn and Heather Meehan attended the conference as part of their own co-op delegations. Rachel H. works at the Bikerowave in Los Angeles, and Heather is involved with Mechanical Gardens, a new co-op in New York City. The two of us collaborated in facilitating a workshop about Sustainable Cycles’ past, present, and future, and to brainstorm improvements.

It’s always fun when people attend our workshops unintentionally. Due to a change in venue, some people arrived expecting a workshop on bike tools. Whoops! When we explained the periods and biking theme, some initial confusion and discomfort transformed into very rewarding conversations during and after the workshop. Since Bike! Bike! Is a gathering of seasoned social activists and bike nerds, our session was primarily a brainstorm to improve our messaging for future workshops.

We had one (!) DivaCup to give away, so we invented a competition. At the start of the workshop, we handed everyone a piece of paper and asked them to draw a diagram of the female reproductive system on one side, and a bicycle on the other. They then had to label as many parts as possible. This exercise turned out to be quite challenging, even for us! It also highlighted a need that came up later on in our discussion: to educate people on the specifics of the female reproductive system. This is something we could consider incorporating into our SC workshops in a more comprehensive way, since many of us do not have a solid grasp on this most fundamental knowledge.

The person who labelled the most parts was male-bodied Shane from LA. Shane graciously passed along the DivaCup to female-bodied Hannah from Detroit, since she has more need of it than he does. Way to go Shane for paying attention in health class (that’s where he credits his knowledge of female anatomy), and for sending a message to the rest of us to step up our game!


Shane is knowledgeable in bicycles and the female reproductive system. Congrats! 


During the workshop, we received valuable feedback from our multi-gendered and international participants. They suggested organizations to connect with and creating self-care oriented all-women bike tours that incorporate holistic healing methods. They suggested more zine literature and continued support for menstruation-related story sharing. We are excited to connect with more amazing projects as we continue to ride bikes and facilitate period spaces.

We are grateful to the safe space that Bike!Bike! Provides. In conversations throughout the conference, Heather spoke to a number of people, mainly male-identified, about menstrual cups and the mission of Sustainable Cycles. They had a healthy curiosity not only about menstrual cups but also the impact that they have on women’s lives and overcoming taboos surrounding menstruation. Having these sorts of mildly awkward but immensely illuminating conversations goes a long way towards undoing taboos.  


Jack, the urban farmer and bicycle dad. We made produce deliveries with him to some Detroit restaurants. He’s got 3 children in that front cargo set-up!

2017 will be exciting! We are planning to ride to The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference at Kennesaw State University, just outside of Atlanta, GA. We will leave Austin, TX in late May and arrive in Kennesaw in time for the conference start on June 22. We will stop in Jackson, MS and Birmingham, AL. We are also planning an east coast route leaving from NYC. Let us know if you want to ride with us for all or part of the trip!



The bike pile. When all your friends ride bikes and decide to stop for a snack.