SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Sylvie Foncek is on a mission to make biking and fixing bikes less intimidating and more inclusive.
"The speed that you move on a bike allows you to see a lot more than you would in an automobile," Foncek told ABC 10News when asked about the many things she loves about biking. "And you get this little positive boost by being out moving and being active."
Along with being an avid bike rider, Foncek has made a career out of bicycling, as she is the programs director for the San Diego Bike Coalition.
"I put on events, I put on classes. I communicate with a lot of city organization, businesses and individuals," said Foncek.
While encouraging everyone to ride, Foncek also has a personal goal of getting more women -- especially those in the LGBTQ community -- to become bicycle empowered.
"Because you don't see a lot of people who look like us in bike shops, especially not as mechanics," she explained. "And I think what's so intimidating about getting into biking sometimes, when you don't feel like it's a community you belong in, and just feel kind of represented in.”
Foncek found her own welcome to the world of bike repair in a student-run workshop at Pitzer College, just east of Los Angeles. Since then, she's worked extensively on bikes, including five years as an e-bike mechanic at a shop in New Zealand.
Still, she understands how women can be profiled when heading into a bike shop.
"What I noticed initially, is I would walk into a bike shop, I had a lot of people who just made an assumption about my skills, people would kind of talk down to me," said Foncek.
Foncek was inspired to create Vie Cycle, an ongoing series of bike maintenance and repair workshops geared toward women.
"I think that's one of the ways to make biking way more accessible to people, is by seeing more people that folks identify with," Foncek said.
She added, "Within my own classes, I tend to teach group classes just to women in the LGBTQI community just because that's how it's easy to make a safe space, it feels noncompetitive."
The workshops start with the basics, like fixing a flat tire, changing out brake pads, and adjusting or replacing a chain.
In online testimonials, participants talk about feeling comfortable to make mistakes and ask silly questions. There's also a sense of friendship, which Foncek said is big part of the entire biking community.
"We tend to be like-minded people. Sustainability means a lot to us. Health means a lot to us. Connecting on a local basis means a lot to us. So, it's so many pieces,” she said.
For more on Vie Cycle workshops, visit VieCycle.com.