An overwhelming sense of freedom and joy washes over me this warm September evening as I coast through downtown Los Angeles on my rusty old cruiser. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I last got on this thing, but I know it’s been almost a decade since I lived in a city where cycling served as my main mode of transportation. I had forgotten how exhilarating and self-empowering biking can be. It’s cheap and easy—no parking or traffic woes and no waiting on anyone or anything. I miss it. But in a city better known for it’s labyrinth of freeways than it’s less-than-optimal bicycle lanes, I rarely think to dust off my bike for transportation or pleasure anymore.
I whiz past the mish mash of downtown architecture surrounded by an ever-increasing hustle and bustle, then bump across Alameda sans kidney belt and over the First Street Bridge, past the concrete LA River that hosted the drag race in Grease. I break to a screeching halt at La Concha, the official hub for Ovarian Psycos, a women of color bicycle group based in East LA. This unassuming, autonomous community space greets you with an ornate red door and window bars, which hold a make-shift shrine to local women who have fallen to domestic violence. Women in helmets mingle out front and inside, awaiting the Ova’s monthly full moon ride. Having just started my own monthly, I was really feeling the lunar pull on this super blood moon night.
Ovarian Psycos have combined biking with social justice causes since 2010. Protective of the safe space they’ve created, the core members operate as a collective and tend toward self-representation through social media. The pre-ride meet-up, which often includes teach-ins and speeches about self-care, provides riders with emotional support and a chance to catch up with each other. Occasionally footnoting their posts with “no gentrifiers,” the Ovas cautiously welcome reporter Karina Cabreja and I into their headquarters again before they set out on their November Luna Ride. The lukewarm yet cordial reception soon melts into laughs and camaraderie as the stark room fills with eager riders and their bikes. Their belief in each other and what they’re doing runs deep. When Cabreja reluctantly admits she doesn’t know how to ride a bike, they all jump up to teach her. The air lifts and we realize that the Ovarian Psycos are tough because they have to be, but they are also full of fun and sass. You can dance at their revolution, and you want to be part of it.
Audio by Karina Cabreja and Allison Wolfe
Text and photos by Allison Wolfe