Canadian re-Mountie

Canadian re-Mountie

Guest Article: Joy Ride

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I hesitate to file this in the Guest Article category. It would be better filed under fellow un-rewarded pirate cycling-site writer, if we had such a file. @winnipegcyclechick does all of her site’s writing, her graphics are usually hers and much too funny. Frankly, she makes me sick. And, AND, she can make the jokes we can’t make lest we be accused of being misogynist juveniles. Yes, only part of that hurts; being juvenile has worked so well for us. Her website deserves frequent visitations. We are fans. 

Your in Cycling, Gianni

Must ride like eagle, feeling like Superman, one day per week on bike, or training program is shit.

- Advice given to Greg LeMond from his junior coach, Eddie Borysewicz (From The Rules)

My first introduction to cycling culture was in the early 1980s – a simple and carefree time when boner jokes were de rigeur and life experiences were measured in bases. Back then, life was all about hanging out with your friends away from the prying eyes of your parents. It was an era in which social interaction required leaving your house and your bike was your ticket to freedom.

On warm summer nights I would wolf down dinner, jump on my 500 pound ten-speed, and tear down to the creek near my house to hang out with the BMX kids – who were not necessarily as cool as the jock kids, but were still mostly cooler than me. We were dangerous middle-class suburban kids who smoked, gave each other hickies, and listened to AC/DC. We were, according to our admittedly limited frame of reference, Super Fucking Rad. The boys would spend all evening practicing their tricks and jumps in a natural dip by the creek bank, while we girls sat watching, smoking menthol cigarettes and drinking cherry Slurpees laced with ill-begotten vodka stolen from the velvet-lined bars of our parents’ basements. They would practice the same move over and over, until they had either mastered it or deemed it impossible, then move onto something incrementally harder. If they impressed us, we would show our appreciation the way only teenage girls can, and appear only moderately less disinterested. If they crashed, we were merciless.

Getting Rad

Totally engrossed in the manly pursuit of trying to outdo each other, the boys paid us girls little attention. Sometimes they would line us up like cordwood at the edge of the dip so they could jump over us with their bikes. In spite of the inherent danger and occasional mishap, we happily obliged. This was as close to flirting they came with us. If a boy was particularly enamoured with one of the girls, he might be so bold as to throw her, kicking and shrieking, into the creek. This was a guaranteed trip to second base.

I don’t know why, but it never occurred to any of the girls to ride – not even the butch and sporty ones. Maybe it was because we didn’t have the right bikes, or our maybe our jeans were just too tight. Maybe it was because we were too shy and didn’t want to look stupid in front of the boys – who were, of course, just stupid boys and probably wouldn’t have cared anyway. In any case, looking back now I know that was a real shame.

Years later, when I discovered and fell in love with road cycling, it bore little resemblance to those halcyon days of summer radness. Bases have been replaced by watts, scientific elixirs of carbohydrates and electrolytes have taken the place of those elicit vodka-laced Slurpees, and whatever privacy and freedom we had has been snatched by the ever-watchful eye of Strava. What remains is the bike, and the occasional need to vomit.

A couple of years ago when I took up cyclocross, I was introduced to a group of boys – sorry, men – who eventually, (and reluctantly for some) broke down the walls of their somewhat exclusive Tuesday Night Ride, and invited me along. For this I was flattered, if a little intimidated. I’d heard tales of these notorious rides. Once, a curious would-be member showed up in full kit for what he figured was going to be a hard-core training ride, only to be treated to a short, slow ride to a local burger joint followed by a beeline to the beloved Klubhaus for pints. Needless to say, this was a test. Needless to say, he did not return.

Burger Stop, VJ's Drive in

To be invited here is uncommon. To be invited here, and be a woman, almost unheard of. This can mostly be traced back to the group’s origins as a men’s hockey team, who’s late Tuesday night games were followed by pints at the local watering hole. The quintessential Boys’ Night Out. The hockey games have been replaced by bike rides, but are still followed by the immoderate consumption of beer.

And so I abandoned my smokes and my Slurpee and became one of the boys. It was here that I discovered the true radness of riding bike that I had only experienced from the sidelines as a snotty teenage girl. On Tuesday Night Ride, computers are unnecessary and lycra the object of ridicule. Pull out a gel and you better be prepared to wash it down with a shot of Jägermeister. We ride rain, snow, or shine – late at night, without plan or purpose, where paths and sidewalks end, and in places I would normally never dream of riding. We do catwalks and track stands, skids and plenty of trespassing. And yes, the occasional trip to the hospital for some stitches and a tetanus shot.

Graham

These rides can be brutally hard, since the group is made up primarily of the cyclocross A Race crowd, who take enormous pleasure in trying to rip each other’s legs off, both on and off the race course. And yes, many of them rode BMX when they were kids.

Sometimes we have a plan. It rarely seems good until several days after the fact. We’ve done jittery espresso bar alley cats, tours of downtown parkades during the dead of winter, and scoured a local neighbourhood until all hours looking for the legendary house with a wolf mural painted on the side (no, we weren’t high). We often have off-the-grid cyclocross races where specified laps might involve a gluttonous visit to an Indian buffet, or watching The Big Lebowski (we may have been a little high). All of this either preceding, following, or right in the middle of a lung busting, leg destroying bike race. Sometimes, it’s the hardest ride I do all week, but it’s always the most fun. On Wednesday mornings my legs hurt from the bike, my head from the beer, and my face from the laughs.

Although I am often the only woman, I have discovered the TNR is less about gender than a likemindedness far less tangible than boobies and balls. Sure we like to ride hard, but we also don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. As we like to say, “We are exactly what we are.”

Eddie B. was wrong about a lot of things, but riding like Superman one day a week wasn’t one of them. My bike handling has improved, as has my overall speed and confidence on the bike. And I can tell one hell of a boner joke.

Superman photo by Mark N. Reimer / BMX photo via Cameron Muilenburg

// General // Guest Article // Nostalgia // Riding Ugly

  1. Good one Andrea!

  2. Nice!  I’m guessing you hail from Winnipeg, but this is like some of the cycling communities I hung with in Chicago…  Miss them.

  3. Andrea, Thanks for sparking a multitude of memories from my time as one of the stupid boys.  “. . .those halcyon days of summer radness.”  Exactly.  Although I’m pretty sure you were/are much cooler than me.

    The BMX photo sums up just about every summer day of mine from 1979-1982.  In central Maryland, we had numerous natural ravines in densely wooded areas to perfect all manner of BMX and adolescent stupidity.  The fact that none of us ever even thought about wearing a helmet may explain my easy transition into being one of the stupid men.

    And thanks for the reminder to not take oneself too seriously.  There are far too many things compelling us to do just that.

  4. Fantastic piece! Expect proposals of marriage forthwith from Velominati. You have obviously found the right place to hang out here.

  5. Totally Rad.

  6. @wiscot

    Fantastic piece! Expect proposals of marriage forthwith from Velominati. You have obviously found the right place to hang out here.

    I thought that before you even said it…

    Andrea: Marry me?

  7. Great article. Nothing better than finding a group of like minded people to go pedalling with. Today’a ride really made me appreciate my usual group. And I am definitely going to channel  Superman more often.

  8. that’s so fucking rad!

     

    i ride with a group like that, being the only non male human, and it’s cool. sometimes i ponder on the reasons why I’m the only female, and whether i should be laughing at their dumb jokes.  but mostly i don’t,  i just enjoy riding with my mates.

  9. Oh my days. It seems the 80’s “BMX Boys having fun, popping air and doing stunts” was just as alive both sides of the atlantic. We used to go to “The Pond”, an old dried out water hole on our estate, where I often would hit the gravel from my Raleigh Burner (gold, with black Mags, natch) with as much grace as bird shit hitting a helmet. The local lasses would laugh, the local lads would shout “ouch” in appreciation and everyone would relax during the long summer holidays. Very happy memories, and your great article brought them all flooding back. Nice job.

  10. This is a great article, and so is your blog.

    More please!

  11. Thanks all. Cool to hear that the BMX experience was universal.

    @wiscot Of course I’ll marry you.

  12. Excellent article!

    Your blog looks a treat as well, keep it up!

    I hail from North Western Ontario and spent the winters of 1987 and 88 attending U of M.  Skin tight jeans and waiting for my bus on South Pembina – I can still feel that pain.  You’re tougher than this lot if your riding in Winnipeg winters!

  13. @Cycle Chick

    Thanks all. Cool to hear that the BMX experience was universal.

    @wiscot Of course I’ll marry you.

    Sounds like Brett and I may have to duel at dawn with frame fitting pumps for your fair hand. Or even perform a range of tasks a la Hercules to the same end: Fixing a flat in sub-zero temps, winning a maiilot jaune, relaying a kilometer of cobbles, making a perfect post-ride cappuchino, cleaning every bike in your stable to spotless, pristine condition, wrapping new handlebar tape perfectly . . . what say you Brett?

  14. Great piece. I was waiting for the boner joke though!

  15. @wiscot

    @Cycle Chick

    Thanks all. Cool to hear that the BMX experience was universal.

    @wiscot Of course I’ll marry you.

    Sounds like Brett and I may have to duel at dawn with frame fitting pumps for your fair hand. Or even perform a range of tasks a la Hercules to the same end: Fixing a flat in sub-zero temps, winning a maiilot jaune, relaying a kilometer of cobbles, making a perfect post-ride cappuchino, cleaning every bike in your stable to spotless, pristine condition, wrapping new handlebar tape perfectly . . . what say you Brett?

    Technically, you didn’t even ask! You said to expect proposals, but didn’t put yours forward.

    And, I live in New Zealand. Cycling heaven.

    I win.

  16. I’ve been looking at these photos in the media library for a few weeks and could not wait to figure out what the twat in the white jump suit fucking up their CX remount was all about. I figured it was for one of @brett’s articles, so I think that swings the marriage proposal into his favor.

  17. @frank I should explain the photo. It’s my fried David, who’s mount, and riding in general can only be described as sublime. The photo was taken at a Halloween ‘cross race, where David impressed everyone with his ‘Superman’ -whereby one rides prone with belly on saddle. One of these days I might have the guts (or enough vodka) to give it a try.

  18. Thats a great article…I too was waiting for the boner joke at the end, but remember being one of those kids on the bmx….unfortunately too often ending in mishap !

    Cheers

  19. @il ciclista medio

    Great piece. I was waiting for the boner joke though!

    That lead photo is the boner joke.

    Possible punchlines include:

  20. Catching up after a return from hols….I just wanted to say this article is awesome!  Such evocative writing, it was 5 minutes of real pleasure to read.  Chapeau!

  21. @Deakus

    Catching up after a return from hols….I just wanted to say this article is awesome! Such evocative writing, it was 5 minutes of real pleasure to read. Chapeau!

    There’s lots more pleasurable reading on her blog but, be warned: I think she’s already married!

  22. A man with an incredibly small penis takes his new girlfriend to bed for the first time, and because he is not proud of his incredibly small penis, he insists they turn off the lights. Once it’s dark he makes his move and puts his erection in her hand, and she says “No thanks, I don’t smoke.”

  23. Those night rides are the memorable ones. My small group of 3-4 in upstate NY would head out at dusk and go where the wind blew us. In the fall after the leaves were down, no lights on moon lit roads. Winter, mountain bikes and full moons, memorable for the temps and awesomeness.

    I love slow days in Canada! Red-Green, do your curtsy, and cross kit full boiler suit and wool ski socks as shoe covers! Not to mention good laughs at the expense of overinflated male egos! Thanks CC, keep the good stuff coming.

  24. @brett

    @wiscot

    @Cycle Chick

    Thanks all. Cool to hear that the BMX experience was universal.

    @wiscot Of course I’ll marry you.

    Sounds like Brett and I may have to duel at dawn with frame fitting pumps for your fair hand. Or even perform a range of tasks a la Hercules to the same end: Fixing a flat in sub-zero temps, winning a maiilot jaune, relaying a kilometer of cobbles, making a perfect post-ride cappuchino, cleaning every bike in your stable to spotless, pristine condition, wrapping new handlebar tape perfectly . . . what say you Brett?

    Technically, you didn’t even ask! You said to expect proposals, but didn’t put yours forward.

    And, I live in New Zealand. Cycling heaven.

    I win.

    I dunno about that. Yes, I technically didn’t ask, but I live in WI which s a damn sight closer to Winnipeg than NZ and the cycling around here ain’t too shabby either! Score draw I think!

  25. @wiscot

    @brett

    @wiscot

    @Cycle Chick

    Thanks all. Cool to hear that the BMX experience was universal.

    @wiscot Of course I’ll marry you.

    Sounds like Brett and I may have to duel at dawn with frame fitting pumps for your fair hand. Or even perform a range of tasks a la Hercules to the same end: Fixing a flat in sub-zero temps, winning a maiilot jaune, relaying a kilometer of cobbles, making a perfect post-ride cappuchino, cleaning every bike in your stable to spotless, pristine condition, wrapping new handlebar tape perfectly . . . what say you Brett?

    Technically, you didn’t even ask! You said to expect proposals, but didn’t put yours forward.

    And, I live in New Zealand. Cycling heaven.

    I win.

    I dunno about that. Yes, I technically didn’t ask, but I live in WI which s a damn sight closer to Winnipeg than NZ and the cycling around here ain’t too shabby either! Score draw I think!

    Maybe we could all move to Utah…

  26. @Rob

    @Cycle Chick

    Since we are not making a living racing, these group rides which don’t fall under the serious definition of training rides are about as much fun as one can have as a cyclist. And if they improve one’s fitness, bike handling and ability to ride and laugh, perfection.

    There was a dedicated winter night mountain bike group back where I used to live, a group I never joined. I crashed enough in the daytime, without the ice. I am big pussy. 

  27. From @Rob on a slightly related note. This was a race Rob actually did, wearing wool shorts and a hairnet, but in the 1980’s. These guys mean business. Tour of the Gaspé in Eastern Canada. Hardman Tour, staying in people’s houses, eating what was at the table, Canadian hospitality.

    And I doubt @Rob heard this groovy soundtrack whist racing.

    60 Cycles by Jean-Claude Labrecque, National Film Board of Canada

  28. Spot on post !

    Those were the days !

    Sounds like the world is not such a big place after all.

  29. @Cycle Chick

    @frank I should explain the photo. It’s my fried David, who’s mount, and riding in general can only be described as sublime. The photo was taken at a Halloween ‘cross race, where David impressed everyone with his ‘Superman’ -whereby one rides prone with belly on saddle. One of these days I might have the guts (or enough vodka) to give it a try.

    Ah, the Superman. Beautiful. Cooler than Fab’s’s’s’s.

    In all honesty, this is the first and only time I’ve ever started wondering how to make a trip up to Winnipeg. That ride sounds more than perfect.

  30. @Gianni

    @Rob

    @Cycle Chick

    Since we are not making a living racing, these group rides which don’t fall under the serious definition of training rides are about as much fun as one can have as a cyclist. And if they improve one’s fitness, bike handling and ability to ride and laugh, perfection.

    There was a dedicated winter night mountain bike group back where I used to live, a group I never joined. I crashed enough in the daytime, without the ice. I am big pussy.

    I have to say, I really never just get on the bike and go whereever. I will do that one day a week, from now on. Alone, or with others – its gonna happen sonny jim!

  31. @Gianni Mon Dieu! Fantastique!

  32. @brett @wiscot Utah it is – I’m not sure it’s exactly mid-distance between Winnipeg, Wisconsin and New Zealand, but hopefully one of those states with somewhat liberal views when it comes to marriage.

  33. @frank Of course you would be most welcome. We might even bring you up to the treehouse overlooking the bison herd for a beer. It is an experience every Winnipeg cyclist should have at least once.

  34. The joy of just riding. Too many people take riding far too seriously. Unless you do it for a living it should be fun first and hard work second. Just don’t do what I did and take your friend on his skinny tyre road bike out and forget it can’t go places your CX bike can…

    It’s also the joy a CX bike brings. You don’t have to think about what you are doing or where you are going. Unless you intentionally abuse it you will brake before it does.

  35. @frank

    @Gianni

    @Rob

    @Cycle Chick

    Since we are not making a living racing, these group rides which don’t fall under the serious definition of training rides are about as much fun as one can have as a cyclist. And if they improve one’s fitness, bike handling and ability to ride and laugh, perfection.

    There was a dedicated winter night mountain bike group back where I used to live, a group I never joined. I crashed enough in the daytime, without the ice. I am big pussy.

    I have to say, I really never just get on the bike and go whereever. I will do that one day a week, from now on. Alone, or with others – its gonna happen sonny jim!

    WTF meaning “wherever the fuck” is a good place to go on a bike. Ended up riding way down a gravel road to cross a pebble bed creek and then way up the other side. Coming off the gravel, made the mistake of unweighting the rear wheel and spun out at the edge of the pavement. I went down as gravity demands on such occasions. Still the road was incredible and despite snapping the top of my lever body off, it was a good experience. The bonus was being able to align the lever pieces back up and knock the pin back in with a rock. The lever made the return. I will come back to this road however the hell we got there — I don’t know.

  36. Love these articles reflecting on the riding we did as kids. I grew up in a family that enjoyed bikes as recreational tools but ideas of competing on a bike or racing one never entered our collective conscious. Bikes were an almost daily part of growing up. I never got into the BMX scene (parents wouldn’t even let me have a bike with pegs) but I rode the heck out of all the cheap huffy brand bikes I ever had.

  37. @Gianni

    From @Rob on a slightly related note. This was a race Rob actually did, wearing wool shorts and a hairnet, but in the 1980″²s. These guys mean business. Tour of the Gaspé in Eastern Canada. Hardman Tour, staying in people’s houses, eating what was at the table, Canadian hospitality.

    And I doubt @Rob heard this groovy soundtrack whist racing.

    60 Cycles by Jean-Claude Labrecque, National Film Board of Canada

    Great film.  Thanks for sharing.

  38. @Gianni Fuck. That . Was. Cool.

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