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Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado’s New Kit

Feels a bit weird to be celebrating something as superficially frivolous as new cycling kit at the moment. But it’s not.

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado has been my favourite rider for what feels like years now, even though it’s probably only early-2018 I first saw her race, or maybe late-2017, and her winning the cyclocross World Championships at the start of February feels like years ago as well. I’ve been needing new kit for a while now (and a new bike, and an old bike rebuild), and been holding off ā€™cos kit is mad expensive and none of what I saw really grabbed me, both aesthetically as well as in terms of what it means.

I have no idea how she might see someone like me, what her position is on trans femmes and trans women competing in the women’s section. And I have no idea what her position is on Black Lives Matter, or even if she has the space and support to have an unambiguously public one. But I do know young Black and Brown girls and women see her lining up first row of the start line every week, see her race and win (back when those things actually happened) in the Rainbow jersey, and see themselves, see possibilities for themselves and people like them. That shit matters.

I was šŸ’Æ Shut Up And Take My Money! the instant I saw her kit and everyone I’ve shown it to is šŸ˜.

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More Space Less Tired

This is about the minimum space I need to not feel compressed right now.

And I wanted to write about dismantling ā€“ rather than diversity in ā€“ white cisgender masculine heteronormative space but I’m tired. When I ride I’m usually the only woman in a sea of dudes. I’m definitely the only trans feminine, queer, non-white person. And on the very rare occasion I’m in a woman-centric space, like the Rapha Women’s 100 last year, I’ll still be one of the only non-white (yeah I’m specifically using that term), and definitely the only trans feminine person. And in dude space or white cis women space I never feel safe or comfortable or able to relax and I’m tired. I can’t trust you all and I’m tired.

Recreational and athletic space is highly, highly normalised as white, cisā€“ and heterocentric and masculine, and that includes cis women doing the policing. I don’t want to have to engage with that as a precondition for physical recreation or as an athlete, and it feels like this is the bare minimum of space I ā€“ we need to have some room to breath. But I don’t want to talk about all that ā€™cos I’m tired of saying it in so many different ways for a lifetime and seeing my siblings say it and live it and lose their lives for it for way more than a lifetime.

So, for all you BIPOC trans femme riders, and those of you prepared to educate yourselves, Cyclista Zine has been making me feel good about myself lately.

And for the rest of you, educate yourselves and donate to Black and Indigenous trans funds and support organisations like:

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Tempelhofer Feld Rain-Assisted Physical Distancing

I didn’t mean to get soaked. 10/10 had a good time tho. Bike wasn’t so happy during but got a wash and clean out of it at the end.

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Kottbusser Damm Pandemic Bike Lane

Berlin getting in on the emergency bike lane trip. I had to go up to P’berg to pick up my laptop and found all of Kottbusser Damm on both sides hastily converted from double-parked cars to orange stripes of bike lane awaiting a quick once-over with the street sweeper. Dead cruisy to ride and realistically, like other cities in Europe using the pandemic as a chance to permanently improve things, this needs to stay. Personally, I’d have made it as wide as two lanes and consigned the centre one only to cars, ā€™cos we all know how much people love to double-park and as much as I love hoonage, private vehicle ownership has gotta go.

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Berliner Mauerweg: Teltow Kanal and Ehemalige AutobahnbrĆ¼cke Dreilinden

I’ve ridden over that bridge many times, the last in the damp grey drizzle on Tag der Deutschen Einheit when I totally over-extended myself (seems to be a theme?). This is the first time I’ve seen it from this direction, coming along the very sandy, loose, dusty and full of exposed roots single track from Schleuse Kleinmachnow. One of my favourite parts of the Mauerweg and in general to ride and eventually I’ll stitch together a whole ā€” multiple whole routes from those glorious cobbles up Rudower StraƟe all the way to those cobbles up WannseestraƟe. Simple pleasures involve getting thrashed on cobbles and slithering around on single track.

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Berliner Mauerweg: FriederikenhofstraƟe North to GroƟwohnsiedlung Waldsassener Strasse

It was way more bright yellow and intense blue. And that’s not a small house on the prairie, that’s a very large apartment block over the horizon.

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Berliner Mauerweg: Forest on Ziethener StraƟe near Mahlower Seegraben

Another Sunday another practicing of Physical Distancing.

After the last weeks’ fun, I wanted to find some lanes and tracks like the ones around GroƟ- and Kleinziethen and Friederikenhof. Failed spectacularly. Apparently GroƟbeeren is the drain I circulate around and end up in fun places like Neubeeren or on the drag through Ruhlsdorf to Teltow.

The first third was a joy, hitting cobbles at 30+km/h obviously, and there’s so many new cobbles to be found (Keplerstr and around thank you very much), and new lanes and single track and generally incredibly pretty and very empty of people, and for some reason the people around there are reliably friendly. The second third was mostly a mess riding on 70km/h roads through industrial parks and joyless towns like Teltow. But! I knew the canal was nearby and kept veering right into the forest when it finally appeared and I knew I was more or less back on track and found the most glorious, incredibly sandy single track running from Scheus Kleinmachnow all the way to the Ehemalige AutobahnbrĆ¼cke Dreilinden, putting me back for a moment on the Berliner Mauerweg. As one old German woman out for a stroll with her husband said, ā€œHa ha it’s like a sea! A sea of sand!ā€ as I skidded and slid in all directions on tires and tire pressure very much not for sand.

More cobbles and the truly brutal short climb up WannseestraƟe, then more (non-cobble) suffering up and down Nikolskoer Weg and Pfauenininselchausee the roads getting busier all the time with very distinctly not ‘social distancing’ and finally onto the most boring part of the ride, which road cyclists love, which proves they are a boring and unimaginative bunch, the blandness of KƶnigstraƟe followed by the monotonous straightness through GrĆ¼newald. There was an utter mob on Spanische Allee outside AVUS-Treff Spinner-BrĆ¼cke, hundreds of all-white bros in black leather on their garbage wagon Harleys doing the same white trash shit as their brethren in the US, strutting their ā€˜rightā€™ to gather and super-spread while the cops looked on doing nothing in the way they always do when it’s right wing white people they’re being ordered to police.

And the ride back into the city, hitting every red light because the lights are timed for cars moving at fifty and not bikes moving at any speed less. I over-extended myself a bit and defo was feeling it when I got home, even with all the liquid and rice cakes I took. And this might be my last long ride for a while because here comes Ramadan which, like always, I never know if I’ll do until it’s done.

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Berliner Mauerweg: Ziethener StraƟe near S-Bahn

Practicing Physical Distancing again, Part 2. On the sandy old road of Ziethener StraƟe that becomes a very sandy, frictionless slide of singletrack running parallel to the S-Bahn on the way back to my happy place, those 1200 metres of cobbles along Mozart and Petkusser StraƟen. I was having a very good time here, and my only other thought was, ā€œOne bidon of electrolyte and a banana is slightly on the thin side for three hours.ā€

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Berliner Mauerweg: Ziethener StraƟe near Mahlower Seegraben

Practicing Physical Distancing again by going for a ride south of the Berliner Mauerweg ā€™cos it was getting like an outdoor festival along that stretch. Like the virus takes Easter off ā€™cos, ā€œI respect Jesus when he’s harrowing Hell. Also, bunnies!ā€?

Plan for the day was around 60 kilometres of riding, following the Mauerweg all the way to the Canal in Lichterfelde and then reversing, mainly ā€™cos I like riding the roads and trails around GroƟziethen and want to explore them more, and ā€™cos the thought of hitting the MozartstraƟe cobbles twice. Twice! Today would have been Paris-Roubaix and on the Sunday in Hell we worship cobbles. Plan got bailed on at Marienfelder Allee. I’d already been thinking of finding an alternate route back with all the people, but crossing that highway, both sides of the street lined with people on bikes all jammed up together. 0/10 partaking in that wilful stupidity.

South then, which I kinda know, ā€™cos I rode through GroƟbeeren a couple of times before, and was all, ā€œI know here, I think I got lost here,ā€ and fanging eastwards at Frederikenhof (which is on the opposite side of the fields I photographed last week), and riding the prettiest old roads and trails, heading back to those cobbles. There’s another photo, saving that for the next post, just before I turned north on the so sandy it’s a beach without the ocean singletrack, going parallel to the S-Bahn. Much slippy slidey and nearly kissing the floor once. Very wrong tires and tire pressure for that kind of fun. Still fun.

Those cobbles again, hitting them at speed, in the big ring and in a slightly harder gear and just floating over them. Very vibrational floating, but ooh yeah does cobbles riding come alive when you’re going fast. And then on to Kleinziethen (near GroƟziethen, duh!), and finding the way back to Rudow I’d meant to ride out on. More pretty roads and turning onto Rudower StraƟe, hitting 3 kilometres of tiny cobbles. I could have ridden the asphalt bike path, or the asphalt bike strip on the shoulder. No, I couldn’t. Bit of a killer in the end, just on and on and getting drained and it was a warm sunny day also, not my ideal riding weather at all, and by the time I was hauling down Neukƶllner / Rudower Str. / Buschkrugallee / Karl-Marx-Str. I was feeling it. Not feeling it so much I couldn’t destroy a bro on a fancy gravel bike who tried to chick me at every set of lights from Rudow to Teltow Kanal. Every set of lights. And started shouting at me ā€™cos apparently chick going faster than bro make bro sadangry? And by ā€˜destroyā€™ I mean kept the same pace I’d been on the whole time. Okay, a tiiiny bit extra pace. I’m petty like that.

And photo. Physical Distancing. You may be able to see some people in the distance.

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Berliner Mauerweg: Fields West of Lichtenrade

Part three of practicing Physical Distancing by going for a ride along the Berliner Mauerweg.

This photo is never going to do justice to the insane yellow-green of the fields, or the empty flat expanse, and if you look really really really close, you’ll see a few people wandering out in it. This was just before I turned off the Mauerweg and took a guess at how to get back to Neukƶlln. Favourite way of riding, that. So long as the sun was more-or-less behind me, I was going home. My bike’s in truly terrible condition these days, two years now since the last rebuild and I’ve done something like 12,000 kilometres and some of the components have done way more than that. But it’s amazing how it just keeps going (until it doesn’t hahahaha not funny when I’m in the middle of nowhere).

Yes, this is work. I’m still a dancer, and doing ballet barre at home and all the yoga and core and other work is part of it, but doing this kind of physical labour is necessary for me. It feels like after more than twenty years of this, if I stop I’ll fall apart. And I’m very aware of the luxury I have (despite being poor and all the other caveats) to do this, now especially. Let’s talk about Gaza, or white French doctors proposing testing Coronavirus vaccines in Africa, and casually dehumanising a whole continent in the same sentence they do the same to sex workers. Or the massive increase in racism, Islamophobia and Asianphobia (dunno if that’s quite a word but it’s defo a thing), simultaneous with governments pushing through anti-transgender legislation and utterly destroying the arts.

I loved biking through and around GroƟziethen for the third time in as many weeks and loved seeing so many Muslimah women and families out there. I feel very much calmer getting into Brandenburg seeing them and knowing it’s not all Naziland like Zeuthen was when I last biked that scary town. And as I came back into Neukƶlln, I saw gangs of cops out, five or six of them at a time, all white, all in stab-proof vests and heavy gear, and all of them doing the intimidation act and harassing brown boys. Yeah, don’t think we haven’t seen that fuckery get dialled up in every country in the last few weeks. It was a good ride, but it’s never not political like this. Every time I go out, it’s political.