Heidi Saul: An Advocate for Diversity in Cycling

"Ms. Bling" celebrates cycling in Alabama

Diversity in cycling is a long overdue and very welcomed trend.  The face of cycling is changing, for the better. In Birmingham, Alabama, that face is Heidi Saul.  Active in multiple groups diversifying recreational cycling, Heidi is known for her cycling outfits, her passion for the bike, and her belief that cycling makes Birmingham (and everywhere else) a better place.

How Heidi came to cycling

Heidi grew up in New Orleans and lived for several years in Houston when she worked in Human Resources at BP.  She made her way to Birmingham just a couple of years ago and has found that the Birmingham cycling scene was more vibrant and inclusive than she would have imagined.  Heidi now is a big part of that scene.

Heidi tells an interesting story of how she “got into cycling.”  Of course, like most of us, she grew up riding – first a tricycle and then the ubiquitous banana seat bike.  But, also like most of us, once she left childhood, she left cycling behind.  That was until 2004, when a male admirer purchased Heidi a bicycle for their first date.  As Heidi puts it – “the bike lasted; the boyfriend did not.”

Diversity in Cycling Bike Law

2004 also was the year that Heidi’s mother received a cancer diagnosis; having a bicycle allowed Heidi to spend many hours pedaling, lost in her thoughts and dealing with her anger and frustrations as she worked to help her mother during those difficult times.  Heidi’s mother managed to recover after the 2004 diagnosis but did succumb to cancer in 2011.

Diversity in Cycling: Black Girls Do Bike

After being introduced again to cycling in 2004, Heidi quickly took up the sport.  Among other things, she became active in riding and she rode in a number of MS 150s.  In Houston, Heidi rode with, and then became the organizer and leader of the Houston chapter of Black Girls Do Bike.  This organization is present in over 80 cities and seeks to encourage participation of women of color in cycling.  Here in Birmingham, the group puts on a short 10 mile ride every Saturday morning leaving Railroad Park at 7:30 am.  This ride is geared toward folks just beginning to become active in cycling.  The group also puts on other longer and more difficult rides throughout the metro area in conjunction with other groups (like Redemptive and Major Taylor).  Black Girls Do Bike holds an annual convention and Heidi has attended in Jamaica, Chicago and California.  While the majority of members are women of color, the group is welcome and inclusive, accepting members of all races and sex. No other group has impacted diversity in cycling as effectively and with more elan than Black Girls Do Bike.  

Diversity in Cycling: Major Taylor Association

Heidi also has become an active member of the Major Taylor cycling group.  As many cyclists know, at one time, cycling was as popular in the United States as football is now. And, the fastest and best cyclist in the country (and the world) was an African-American man, Major Taylor. Now, there are many Major Taylor cycling groups around the nation in honor of this great American cyclist who, outside the cycling world, now is virtually unknown.  The Birmingham group puts on weekly rides – usually between 30-45 miles – and, sometimes in conjunction with other groups.  For example, coming up on Saturday, September 19, 2020, the Birmingham Major Taylor group is hosting a ride with the Montgomery Cycling Club.  Like Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylor accepts all people regardless of skin color or sex.

One unique and cool aspect of being in Major Taylor is that the different Major Taylor groups “swap” jerseys and kits.  So, one year Heidi may be wearing the Birmingham, Alabama Major Taylor kit, and the next year, she might be wearing the one from Brooklyn, New York. Diversity in cycling, diversity in cycling kits!

Diversity in Cycling Major Taylor

Heidi is looking forward to and excited about a number of things going on in the Birmingham cycling community. First, Black Girls Do Bike has started a racing team which is training out at Thompson High School.  Heidi, who had been active in crit racing in Houston, is looking forward to getting back into racing and she is especially excited to be doing so for the Black Girls Do Bike team.

Heidi also speaks very highly of how accepting the Birmingham cycling community has been to her.  She recognizes that women and people of color have been underrepresented in the cycling community for a long time.  Nonetheless, she said that she found that Birmingham cyclists – many of which were white males (MAMILs – Middle-Aged Men In Lycra) were very accepting and welcoming of her without being patronizing and without mansplaining.  She found this to be a pleasant surprise.

Diversity in Cycling Alabama

Heidi is happy to see more bicycle riders and, particularly, more female riders and riders of color in the community.  She has noticed a strong uptick in the diversity of bicycle riders just in the past couple of years that she has been in Birmingham.  Covid 19 may have served to increase cyclist participation across the board and this may be one small silver lining from the pandemic. 

Finally, Heidi admits that she is “all about the kits.”  She laughs and says that she sometimes is referred to as “Ms. Bling.”  But, she says that loving the kits and being stylish is an added bonus that she really enjoys. 

If you ride frequently in Birmingham, I suspect that you’ll meet Heidi out there soon.  


Family bicycle charity
Bike Law Aug 17, 2021

GUEST POST BY BIKE LAW AMBASSADOR KURT AREHART The bike charity Raleigh Community Kickstand, or just Kickstand for short, is a four year-old project organized under Oaks & Spokes, a 501(c)(3) engaged in fostering cycling in Raleigh. Kickstand channels donated bicycles to low-income and homeless members of our community whose lives can be improved with […]

Read More
Contributory negligence Bike crash
Ann Groninger May 08, 2021

If you’ve met me, you’ve heard talk about contributory negligence many times, including here and here and here. My vocation and my passion as a bike crash attorney is representing injured bicyclists and families of bicyclists who have been killed by careless drivers. Contributory negligence severely impairs the right of these individuals and bicyclists to […]

Read More
Asian-American Triathlete
Rachael Maney May 04, 2021

Bike Month 2021 is setting the bar pretty high. Two days ago, Sika Henry became the first Black woman to earn her pro card in the sport of triathlon. And today, Bike Law and I are honored and excited to announce our sponsorship of the only Asian-American racing on the professional triathlon circuit, Clarice Chastang […]

Read More
Cycliq video close call
Rachael Maney Apr 22, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2021 Jon Korin, President Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (‘BikeAAA’) 443-685-4103, [email protected]   Rachael Maney, National Director Bike Law 410-382-7803, [email protected]   DRIVER CONVICTED ON CYCLIQ VIDEO EVIDENCE Christopher Lee Bradshaw of Lothian, MD was convicted of violating Maryland’s 3-foot bicycle passing law and negligent driving on […]

Read More
cycling friendship
Ann Groninger Apr 21, 2021

Cycling friendships are wonderful benefit to our sport and community.  A major part of our work as bicycle “accident” lawyers means putting a value on losses that our clients suffer as a result of injures from crashes. When it comes to past and future medical expenses, lost income and other financial losses, the job is […]

Read More
Contributory Negligence
Ann Groninger Apr 08, 2021

There is finally a positive development in the fight against Contributory Negligence in North Carolina. Last week a bill called the “Victims’ Fair Treatment Act” was filed in the North Carolina Senate. If passed, the bill would finally bring North Carolina into line with all but 3 other states by eradicating this deeply unfair law. […]

Read More
Bike Shop with wheels
Danny Feldman Apr 04, 2021

Birmingham is blessed to have a number of great bike shops.  Two of these shops, although very different, are the focus here.  Future blog posts from Bike Law Alabama will focus on some of the other great shops in Birmingham and throughout Alabama. A NON-PROFIT BIKE SHOP: REDEMPTIVE CYCLES Why choose Redemptive as your Bike […]

Read More
Dooring of bicyclist
Charlie Thomas Mar 24, 2021

Buena Batiste did not plan to be “doored.” She was knocked off her bike by a car door and then yelled at by the woman who opened it. Fortunately, we were able to take Buena’s dooring case to trial and win. And in doing so, we set a new precedent for bicyclists who suffer a […]

Read More
Bike Hand Signals
Peter Wilborn Mar 12, 2021

Before you get a driver’s license, you typically have to take a test that demonstrates your understanding of the rules of the road. This includes the importance of signaling your intentions when you are turning or changing lanes. Across the United States, bicyclists are required to use signals to let others know what they plan […]

Read More
Load More