Bike Repair 101: For Women - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Bike Repair 101: For Women

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Burlington, Vermont - May 25, 2009

In the basement of a building on Riverside Avenue in Burlington, a group of women gathers around a bike. Each takes a turn identifying a part of the bike with a pink tag. They are there for the first of a seven week series called Women with Wrenches.

"I wanted to offer a comfortable, non-intimidating, friendly place to learn about your bike and not feel stupid about it," says Emily Eschner, the class instructor.

The workshop is hosted by Bike Recycle Vermont and is meant to empower women by teaching them how to fix their own bicycle.

"I feel like I'm able to repair my own bike but I don't quite have the skills to do it," Hilary Martin says about why she is at the workshop. "I felt like if I had more information I would be more likely to do my own bike repairs."

There is also a somewhat selfish reason for the workshops - Bike Recycle Vermont relies on volunteers to fix donated bikes that it sells to low-income Vermonters. Eschner is the only woman on staff and hopes the workshops will help grow and diversify the volunteer base that is currently about 85 percent men.

"If you come on any given day down here in the afternoon, you'll find like 6 guys, and me," says Eschner.

The workshops start off with the basics. Class one focuses on the anatomy of a bike and the tools used to fix those parts. The following weeks they get more specific, focusing on things like gears, brakes, and wheels.

"It's nice to be with a group of women who are excited and energized about learning together," says Martin.

The workshops continue every Monday night for the next six weeks. Eschner prefers if you call in advance to let her know you are coming, but you are also free to pop-in with or without your own bike.

Bianca Slota - WCAX News

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