Roll Model: Sam of Brown Girl in the Lane

As part of the new LGRAB, every Tuesday we will profile an inspiring everyday cyclist—a weekly series called “Roll Models.”

This week’s Roll Model is Sam (also known as Beany) from Brown Girl in the Lane. Dottie and I have had the pleasure of meeting Sam in persontwice!—during visits to San Diego. If you’re wondering if she’s as idiosyncratic and charmingly acerbic in person as she is on her blog, the answer is emphatically YES! Sam is the only person I know who has moved cross-country by bike, and she always emphasizes how empowering and enjoyable riding a bike can be. We’re honored to share more about her with you. (For those of you who don’t know her blog, Sam doesn’t post photos of herself—but all photos in this post were taken by her.)


A rare bird—female cyclist in San Diego

Describe your bicycling style in three words.
Comfortable, fun and quirky

How long have you been riding a bike?
Since I was 5. I’m 31 now. So about 26 years.

Describe where you live and cycle.
In neighborhoods with a lot of human activity (people walking, riding) and along the coast with the view of the ocean constantly at my side.

What inspires you to keep bicycling?
Every day I ride, I feel indescribably happy. The experiences I have on the saddle allow me to be truly in touch on a very visceral level with the city around me. It is a sort of attachment that I cannot shed. And one that I don’t want to.

In your experience, does the general bicycling world—shops, outreach, group rides, etc.—feel welcoming for you as a woman?
No. I found one bike shop that did, and then they up and moved to Portland (Velo Cult). Intentionally or unintentionally, I always feel stupid when I walk into bikes shops. And I don’t know a whole lot but the condescending attitude seriously ticks me off. So I revert back to how I’ve always done things: watching youtube videos and buying my supplies online.

A family ride

What is your take on the “gender gap” in cycling, including media attention on how to get more women to bicycle?
I believe that the infrastructure issue is huge as it has been highlighted often. But women are constantly put down by not just the media (who tend to take their cues from leaders in the movement), but by men in general and that can be very demoralizing. I experience that on a near daily basis and since I’m fairly thick skinned I don’t notice it unless I take the time to really analyze it. I guess I’m a bit dead on the inside to really take stock of it. I think bike blogs written by strong women (like yourself and Trish) really serve to inspire. You look normal, and many women can relate to you and your interests. Between where we are now, and before we turn the U.S. into The Netherlands or Denmark, we’ve got to support one another.  I think I should write about this in more detail. [ed: in between submitting this post and us posting it, she has! Check it out.]

Although you seem to enjoy life in San Diego, you often express frustration with its dominant car-culture and poor infrastructure. If you could magically change one thing to improve bicycling in your city, what would it be?
Have a car-free day once a month. Have people ride, walk or transit everywhere. My frustration stems from the lack of empathy from the drivers. If everyone knew how annoying it is to get buzzed or honked at, I think people would be more considerate. [ed: WORD.]

Standard Tap: one of Beany’s favorite watering holes

Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?
It is scary, intimidating and annoying. Especially at first. My motivation is financial—I hate spending money. But the after effects have been tremendous. Riding gives such a wonderful feeling of independence—you can go anywhere you want to, on your own power. That is such a powerful feeling. Being outside on a bike—I feel so powerful, so happy, so inspired (I get some of my best ideas when I’m out on long rides). I’m very shy, so I tend to do things alone. So if you’re like me, I’d urge you to just try it out. Give riding a shot in a safe, protective environment and see how you feel. Don’t do something you’re uncomfortable doing. If you have a friend or a partner you trust—try riding with them. Ride with someone who is patient with you and your limitations. Be stubborn, and keep trying. If you have concerns about your body or your lack of fitness, try a little bit at a time. Although I ride every day, my body is not a svelte, lean, muscular machine. Like many women, I have my own body image issues, but I ignore them because the joy I derive from riding trumps all the negative thoughts in my head.

Final words?
I dream of a day when the number of people riding are split 50/50 between men and women. I want to be lost in the crowd of women.



Thanks to Beany! Everyone should check out Brown Girl in the Lane for more San Diego cycling stories.

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17 thoughts on “Roll Model: Sam of Brown Girl in the Lane

  1. anniebikes says:

    I’m enjoying the role model series. Keep it up!

  2. Erin says:

    I really like this series as well, but I have to ask: she won’t post pictures of herself online, but is happy to post pictures of others? Did she get their permission?

    • Sam says:

      There are a few photos of me on my blog, but I didn’t choose to submit them as part of this series as I felt they detracted from the narrative

  3. I can’t get enough of Sam/Beanie; thank you for posting this interview! 

  4. jb says:

    I am also loving this series, thank you. I’m confused though, Standard Tap and that photo are in Philly. 

    • LGRAB says:

      Just reviewed the caption and realized I did not insert an erroneous location. Whew. But yes, Beany does have a favorite watering hole out of state. I will let her explain if she so desires.

    • LGRAB says:

      Sam is from Philly and moved to San Diego a few years ago.

    • Sam says:

       I don’t know why my cool avatar is not showing up in the comments.

      But yes, that is Standard Tap from Philly. I just sent in pictures of women on a bike that I’d taken. And I do love the Standard Tap and miss it very much and their cranky chef.

  5. jb says:

    I am also loving this series, thank you. I’m confused though, Standard Tap and that photo are in Philly. 

  6. LGRAB says:

    Thanks for giving us a local’s view of Sam’s accomplishments. Given her passion for people-powered transportation, it isn’t surprising to hear that she’s a mover and shaker on the local level as well!

  7. […] Go Ride a Bike profiles San Diego’s Brown Girl in the Lane. Is roadway bullying just a matter of boys will be boys? A San Francisco cyclist is acquitted of […]

  8. Julia Ringma says:

    Every little bit helps, in the role model and other departments. I also ride everywhere (I haven’t had a car since 2003). I just show up on my bike and sometimes, people take notice. Keep doing and the world changes bit by bit.

  9. I see plenty of women on bikes in Chicago, so I don’t believe that cycling is a male-dominated activity everywhere in the US.

  10. Chrissy says:

    I knew that picture of the Standard Tap looked familiar. It makes me miss home… I just moved to Vegas from the Philadelphia Area. It’s hard to bike out here, after being in Philly where people regularly take public transportation and sometimes ride bikes.

  11. Karen says:

    I return to Sam’s blog again and again because I appreciate her direct, no apologies style.  She refuses to just accept the status quo and has evolved into, from what I can see the next state over in Arizona, an effective advocate for alternative transportation.  Hope I get to meet her on our next trip to SoCal!

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