Quick Brown Foxes | Maxine Aguilar
Words by Maxine Aguilar
A little about myself-- My name is Maxine. I graduate from high school next week*. I’m a bike mechanic at Johnny Sprockets on the north side of Chicago. I really like bikes. I’m a prospective computer science major (and possibly electrical engineering). Outside of biking, I’ve channeled most of my competitive energy on the policy debate team at my high school for the past 3 years. I have a passion for serving my community and I’m a co-organizer for the femme led collective Youth for Black Lives. I gave a TEDx talk last week* about education inequity in the Chicago Public School system. I enjoy painting mostly with oil paint but I recently started experimenting with watercolors as well.
Blackstone Bicycle Works connected me to mechanics in addition to the greater bike community of Chicago. Last season I joined my fellow mechanics and decided to try racing cyclocross. With some support from my team-mates and cyclocross racers, I understood the basics when it came to racing. My first few races were very difficult. It was challenging to push myself beyond my mentally preconceived capacity. Though I was racing against women much more experienced than me, the challenge wasn’t beating my competitors the challenge was beating my self-doubt. The cyclocross race became a powerful force for my physical and emotional growth.
I’m most excited about learning in an environment of all girls. Last season I raced amongst my team of mostly boys and I occasionally raced in the men’s category. These experiences shaped my perception of women in cycling. Though both men and women are competitive, when I raced in the women's’ category I noticed a much stronger sense of community. The women in the Chicago cyclocross community helped me the most in learning the sport.
Unlike my first racing season, this fall I will begin my freshman year at Wellesley College in Wellesley Massachusetts. Without the same support from my team and coaches, I’m afraid all of the growth I garnered last fall will be lost. I want to attend this CX quest to enhance my capabilities before beginning this season. At my college, there is no existing cycling team. With my newfound skills and knowledge from the quest, I will be more equipped to start and lead a cycling team of my own. I’m afraid that my newness to the sport will disadvantage me at the quest. However, I also believe this disadvantage will motivate me to really accelerate my learning.
Ellen Noble is hosting her cyclocross quest on August 17-22 . This year, she was able to distribute a handful of scholarships to girls who needed them. She reached out to me in an effort to increase diversity at her camp and we agreed that Ellen would offer a scholarship to a girl of my choosing if I could get them to the camp. I asked around for recommendations for a worthy recipient and decided on Maxine Aguilar out of the Blackstone Bike Works program in Chicago. I am thrilled to be able to pay it forward and help provide resources for opportunities just as generous folks have done for me. It takes a village.
Shoutout to Ellen for creating this space for Maxine, and be sure to wish Maxine luck as she embarks on this exciting endeavor!
*Maxine submitted this write up June 8, 2018