Cycle Houston

Pedal Power

Tara Escudero takes bicycle care to the streets.

By Nick Esquer August 3, 2015

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Houston doesn't have the easiest streets to cycle on. Navigating the city’s cavernous potholes and never-ending construction is hard on both bikers and bikes. But if you're handy with a wrench, everything's a lot easier, which is why cyclist-mechanic Tara Escudero is hosting a women-only workshop Sunday, August 9, at Urban Bicycle Gallery.

Wrench Like A Girl is a one-hour workshop on bike care, followed by a group ride. The Long Island–bred cyclist-mechanic, who even sports a bike tattoo, moved to Houston in 2011 with her husband and has since mastered the city's treacherous roads by traveling more than 10,000 miles on her bike, her sole means of transportation.

“People hear the term, ‘like a girl’ as an insult," she tells us at Urban Bicycle Gallery, appearing right at home surrounded by bikes, the smell of grease and two of the softest, handsomest dogs ever. "We’re told constantly that we can’t or shouldn’t do things. Women aren’t taught to read a map or to use a wrench. Why not? It’s very practical.”

Escudero, whose dad is a cycling enthusiast, grew up with bicycle parts lying around the house. She studied literature in college and landed an office job in downtown Houston before deciding to follow her passion by crowd-funding her way through mechanic school earlier.

“The bike industry is old, so you may have a bike from 1972 come in, then you might see a bike that has electronic shifting, like bikes from this year," she says. "There are so many different skills to learn.”

Escudero's workshop will cover the ABCs of bike repair—air, brakes and chains. "Having workshops only for women is so important to share those skills and empower each other,” she says. “In the cycling industry, more women are getting on bikes. You better know how to change a flat.” Especially here in Houston. “There are so many improvements to be made to the quality of the streets. The priority we have is for making things accessible for bikes. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Wrench Like A Girl. Sunday, Aug 9 at 4:30. Free. Urban Bicycle Gallery, 4814 Nett St. 713-863-0991.