Super stoked to present part two of Ashley Magnus’ “Oregon Brokeback”, and some more reflections on life since she’s been back to Boston, and back to working. We’re stoked to know you Ashley!!
Coming from a long line of carpenters, gardeners, and welders, finding happiness after a day of working with my hands is no surprise to me. I didn’t immediately love bikes though, what started as a way to get to school slightly faster than the bus over many years became the passion that it is today. After riding thousands of miles, I wanted to take an active role in also fixing bikes but I didn’t know where to begin. I was caught in a catch-22; to work in a shop I needed experience but to gain that experience I needed first to work in a shop. I had a lucky break when my friends’ shop was looking to hire a woman who fit with the dynamics of the team and they were willing to train. Bingo.
Admitting I was hired because I am a woman is hard for me to wrap my thoughts around because it also means admitting that I am part of a disadvantaged or discriminated group that needs bolstering in order to achieve success. This is not how I personally identify myself or any of the other strong women I have ridden or worked with. In recent weeks there were two gigantic promotional disasters in the cycling industry (Interbike and Chrome Industries) that serve as an alienating reminder that women are indeed discriminated against and our dignity is regularly attacked by tasteless, sexist marketing.
When we aren’t busy being objectified in advertisement, we experience similar issues on the streets and mountains; from unequal prize money at races to being cat-called by male riders, to the smaller slights of floral paint schemes on frames and the useless, tiny pockets of most jerseys (am I supposed to be biking around with a purse?). We are tired of this, and any man with a vision of equality can stand with us and say that something has to change.
This is when I can justify my company’s hiring decision, they wanted their customers to be represented in their mechanics and not leave a large group of people in the margins. The bike gods may have helped me out by giving me the opportunity with no experience but it has been my hard work ever since that took me from taking out the trash to becoming a certified technician within my first year. There are still a few things I can take out to the trash though, like my Chrome backpack for example, which I threw away last week.