Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! board member Bertie Ford about how Yay Bikes! is helping her advance the many cycling communities she leads and enjoys.
FILLING A HOLE: "I was devastated when a knee injury forced me to give up running. Luckily biking was there to save me!"
Bertie Ford, an oncology nurse, has always been a cyclist, riding around her college campus, carting her son around by bike and enjoying Bike the Cbus and other trail rides. But bicycling has increasingly become a passion of hers over the past 10 years, especially since she injured her knee training for and running a marathon in 2014. When Bertie learned about the organization Black Girls Do Bike, she was quick to launch a Columbus chapter, which now boasts 266 members. She's found in bicycling an
endless source of fitness, fun and camaraderie—as well as an outlet for her natural leadership skills.
ENCOUNTERING A KINDRED SPIRIT: "Catherine is my idol. People from every cycling group in Columbus know and respect her leadership."
When Bertie met Yay Bikes! Executive Director Catherine Girves in 2015, she instantly felt bonded to her. A "Force of Nature" herself, Bertie knew a powerful woman when she met one. Over the next two years they got to know one another—Catherine joining Black Girls Do Bike rides, Bertie enjoying Year of Yay! rides, the two traveling together to the Five Boro Bike Tour in NYC—and found they shared a passion for bicycling, a worldview and even the unique experience of mixed race families. Bertie admired Catherine's tenacity, her energy, "everything about her, really!", and loved that she sees the big picture, to the benefit of the cycling community as a whole. So when Catherine invited her to consider Yay Bikes! board leadership, Bertie was all in.
CONNECTING THE COMMUNITY: "I view myself as a vessel to be filled up with the wishes of my communities, so that I can help communicate them to higher levels."
Bertie is the type always compelled to go above and beyond herself for the sake of her communities. She considers herself vessel of communication and advocacy for the groups to which she belongs—Yay Bikes!, Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylor, Steady Pedaling and CycleNuts.—and an ambassador for African American cyclists, who many people in Ohio are not accustomed to seeing. She's proud of the African American bicycle community in Columbus, which has grown exponentially in the past couple of years and would be, she says, more in line with what you'd expect from a place like Detroit or Atlanta.
RAMPING UP YET AGAIN: "Joining the board of Yay Bikes! is a way for me to expand my ability to increase the number and safety of cyclists out there."
With a goal to increase the number and safety of cyclists in Central Ohio, and a leadership itch needing scratched, Bertie joined the Yay Bikes! board in August 2017. Among other things, she views board service as an opportunity to better promote and advocate for her Black Girls Do Bike chapter, and hopes to mentor new leaders within the group to expand the number of rides they offer even when she's not available to coordinate them.
Yay Bikes! is grateful to Bertie for her enthusiasm, spunk, organizational knowledge and leadership. We especially appreciate her role as a Connector who brings people together for bike rides—and ultimately helps them accomplish so much more.
Helmets off to you, friend!
To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!