'I feel free': Black Girl Joy Bike Ride promoting sisterhood, self-care and having fun

Spreading a sense of community and sisterhood and having fun at the same time is the goal of a new Philadelphia cycling group. Black Girl Joy Bike riders are gearing up for their first-ever community ride.

"When I’m on a bike, I feel really emboldened and free," Iresha Picot said. "I feel like, weightless. I feel like one with the wind. It brings me a lot of joy."

Picot wanted to spread that joy with others, so she began inviting a few friends out for a bike ride in her free time during the pandemic. The mental health professional then decided to launch a no-cost cycling group specifically for Black women.

"I think a lot of Black women are looking for sisterhood and community care. I think as we get older, it’s really hard to meet new people, to meet new friends, but I see a need for it," Picot explained.

The goal of Black Girl Joy Bike Ride is to get more Black women cycling, prioritizing self-care, enjoying time with one another and just having fun.

"Self-care, to me, just means self-preservation. It means putting yourself number one," Picot said. "And, I think for a lot of Black women, we put everybody else’s needs before ours. So, I’m hoping when Black women approach Black Girl Joy Bike Ride, they’re saying, ‘I’m here to choose myself,’" Picot remarked.

Picot has lived in West Philly 15 years, but her love for cycling began in Virginia, watching her mom, who never learned to drive, bike to work every day. "Her means of transportation was a bike and she would bike me to daycare. We were biking to the store. It was my first representation of a cyclist."

Thanks to money from Penn Medicine and CHOP, Picot is now able to rent Indego bikes and buy passes for up to 10 women through the fall season. She was awarded a grant as part of a larger program aimed at increasing nature activities and improve health in Black and brown communities.

The first Black Girl Joy Bike Ride begins Sunday, 10:30 a.m., at Belmont and Parkside.