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Cycling Wed Apr 06 2011

Women & Trans Night at West Town Bikes

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Colleen Hughes attends to a wheel at a Women & Trans Night last year / Photo: Eleanor Blick

The window of perfect riding weather is fast approaching, so you'd better get ready to roll. Maybe your winter steed needs a good scrub or your bike has been in hibernation and is thirsty for lube. Whatever the damage, female instructors at Women & Trans Night, brought to you by West Town Bikes, can help you from start to finish or just provide the space and tools.

Every Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m., the shop at West Town Bikes/Ciclo Urbano (2459 W. Division, 773-772-6523) is open for women and transgendered cyclists to work on everything from flat tires to front derailleurs in a laid-back, female-forward environment.

The women's wrenching night has been around for a while, but Kim Werst, one of the lead volunteers, says it has been gaining momentum recently. They set a donations record a few weeks ago and more new faces are stopping by. Werst said there's usually a mix of about half veterans, half new participants.

"It seems every week there are at least one or two people who have never been here," she said via email.

West Town Bikes has offered Women & Trans Night since the summer of 2005, but has only been on a weekly schedule since last fall, making it the first spring/summer riding season when women can come to the shop every Wednesday.

The rotating team of volunteer instructors is comprised of mechanics, year-round bicycle commuters and local racers, all ready to teach you how to adjust brakes, change cables, true wheels. You name it, they know it.

Come with questions and be ready to get your hands dirty while you learn each step. For more detailed projects, it's best to get in touch with an instructor beforehand so they can make arrangements.

Womens & Trans Night is powered by donations. All donations fund West Town Bikes and support youth cycling programs. Attendees should use the side entrance at 1147 N. Campbell.

And if you're feeling left out, fellas, West Town Bikes also holds open shop every Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

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