For Boulder resident Sarai Snyder, the bicycle is more than a mode of transportation. As the leader behind CycloFemme—an annual worldwide Mother’s Day ride that inspires women to take life by the handlebars to improve their health and quality of life—Snyder views two-wheelers as vehicles for positive change. And now she’s honing her focus: In March, Snyder launched her latest venture, Cycle and Sip, a regular group ride she hopes will connect female thought leaders across the Front Range and around the world.
How successful was last year’s CycloFemme ride?
It was our biggest ever—229 rides in 31 countries—with more than 10,000 participants. They covered the entire spectrum, from six men and women in South Sudan taking turns riding two bikes around a Médecins Sans Frontières camp to a 150-person road ride in Eugene, Oregon.
How do bikes empower women?
The bike empowers anyone who chooses to ride it by creating independence, as well as by opening up access to things like economic development, health care, and education. For American women, the bike was particularly powerful at the turn of the 19th century when women first began riding; it became a symbol of the suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony said the bike has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.
To what do you attribute CycloFemme’s popularity?
One of the reasons CycloFemme has been so successful is that we didn’t put a lot of rules on it. All over the world, it’s about celebrating with your friends on a bike. There are no recommendations for distance, whether it should be road or mountain biking, or how the ride should be executed. It’s more about the passion, the feeling, the emotion—about just getting on your bike and riding.
Explain how a bike ride can create social change.
In South Sudan, the village women had never been on bikes. It was fun for the local women, but they also learned a new skill—one that could have implications for life improvement in the form of better access to services, mobility, and connectivity.
Tell us about your new project, Cycle and Sip.
The idea is to meet on a regular basis, probably monthly, in a central location. I anticipate that the ride will become a forum for women who believe in healthier communities, and that joining these women together on a regular basis will be a catalyst to creating safer streets for cyclists, better advocacy for cycling in schools, and getting more people, including kids, out riding to combat the obesity issue in this country.