Pedal to the Mettle

Meet Ali Dwyer. Through We Are All Mechanics, she is empowering women, one bike rider at a time.

Meet Ali Dwyer. Through We Are All Mechanics, she is empowering women, one bike rider at a time.

We are all mechanics—really? How so?

We all have the capacity to learn technical skills even if we were not socialized to believe it is true. So often when it comes to mechanical or technical skills, we think, “I don’t think like that,” or simply, “I can’t do this.” But what is often TRUE is that we have not had the opportunities to practice these skills in a supportive environment, nor had them adequately broken down, step by step, so that we could find success.

Do you see the mission of We Are All Mechanics (WAAM) as a form of activism?

Unequivocally, yes! As a way to travel under one’s own power, the bicycle has long been a symbol of freedom and empowerment, especially for women. Within our class series, our goal is to provide women with the opportunity to learn and practice “unsocialized” skills. What we find is that, after taking our class, participants feel empowered on many fronts—more confidence with bike work, but also other mechanical skills (and might then tackle more complex home projects or car repair). As well, it carries over to participants riding their bicycles more often and for more reasons, including commuting. Commuting or running errands by bike is one of the single most important things we can do to support the health of our environment and to create thriving communities.

How did you get started?

The day I turned eight, I took a corner too fast on my new banana-seat bike. Tears, gravel in my knee, the pain that often accompanies new-found freedom … I knew I had found love! I began bicycling fairly steadily from there. Fast forward to my early twenties when I began extensive road-bike training. I was still taking corners fast and loving the freedom of it! I raced for three years before moving onto other pursuits, including WAAM, a team effort of India Viola and myself. Founded in 2003, WAAM has been steadily building steam and building community. I am truly thankful that we continue to fill up our monthly classes with awesome women and that we have fun hosting a variety of other community-wide events each year.

What tangible/intangible benefits do participants take away from the classes?

Empowerment, self-efficacy. Repeatedly, women come to our class saying, “I want to do this myself.” How can I stand in the way of that?!

How else are you contributing to the strength and well being of our community?

I offer classes and private lessons in Eischens Yoga (also known as High Energy Yoga). I am also an experienced personal trainer, working with clients at the Monkey Bar Gym in Madison. I work with each individual to help find balance in body and mind—to reach your full potential in sport or in life. I work with cyclists and runners and other athletes. I also work with people for whom movement is uncomfortable or foreign due to setbacks related to pain or injury.

Where can we find you to learn more?

Besides our regular class series for women, we offer workshops in the community for all genders. At weareallmechanics.com, you can add your name to our email list and we will update you about upcoming classes, events, and workshops. To learn more about the physical training and yoga that I offer, email me at alidwyer@gmail.com.