Guest Article: Where the Hell are all the Velominata Hiding?

Tim and Mel looking Pro

It is October, the last VSP of the season is up, there is still some race in China no one cares about. The road racing season is over. It is time for a little Velominati reflection. We tried to put in as many women’s races into the VSP as we could. They get little press, finding a start list is tough, picking the top five even tougher. But the women are out there on the same courses as the men. They are riding shorter courses for a lot less money and publicity. Locally I see some serious women out riding and racing but not enough.  @mel sent this in a while ago but now is a good time to address it. She is a force of reason. Also this week we added an excellent link to our Keepers Sites, Winnipeg Cycle Chick and this chick is as messed up as the rest of us. Women with tan lines are the best.

VLVV, Gianni

I don’t see much in the way of Velominata-written content here on the site. And God knows it’s sometimes tough to tell a chick from a dude based on nicknames so maybe I’ve missed the chick-lit. In fact, I bet there’s a whole gaggle of broads out there that would fall off their pastel pink and blue girlie bikes if they knew what tomfoolery went on within the confines of this site (case in point, the June 3, 2012 article featuring the finer points of blowing snot rockets and horking lung butter). So here I am, wanting to say something earth shattering about broads and bikes but really, all I can come up with is: where the hell are all the Velominata?

It seems somewhat absurd that I’m writing an article ranting about the lack of Velominata to an audience that likely already includes a group of them. Sure, there’s loads of kick ass chicks out there that can lay down a strip of V on the pro race circuit but I’m not necessarily talking about those women (although secretly I wish I was one of them). I’m talking about the female equivalent to all the dudes out there that regularly read this site and who live and ride by The Rules. Yes, yes, I know that some of you do race. Whatever. But many of you don’t race and are still pretty damn bad ass in my book. Why can’t I find similarly bad-ass women to ride with?

I’m not saying I’m the fastest chick out there. And I’m definitely far from being the slowest. I love my beautiful, sexy bike. I love the history and culture of cycling. I love the nuances and etiquette of the peloton. I love that I understand and follow The Rules. So what the hell is up with the majority of women out there just not getting it? Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to prove to me that you’re an awesome hill climber or flat land specialist or that your 5 or 10-minute power output is similar to that of the Brothers Grimpeur. To be honest, I appreciate the quiet modesty of someone who is a damn fine cyclist looking for ways to get better and to share the love of the sport. I’m the first to admit that I’m no powerhouse. At 5 foot 6 and 145 pounds I weigh what a lot of the male pros weigh. Seems like a total rip off that my power to weight ratio sucks in comparison, but I got over that years ago. I still try to ride with the guys but I know that I’m always going to have to work relatively harder to keep up. Thus my desire to find a group of women that are willing to ride and carry on like all the fun-loving Velominati out there.

I’ve taken heat over the past few years for being a bit of a loud mouth and maybe even a bit of a bitch. In reality, all I’m trying to do is advocate that women get out there and freaking ride. I want women to love their bikes like I love mine. I want them to get excited over the fact that riding isn’t always fun and it isn’t always pretty but that it is always awesome. I want them to understand that not every ride is going to be a great ride but that even a bad ride is better than no ride. I want them to know that getting dropped isn’t the end of the world. I also want them to know that if you can’t ride like a bad ass, then do like me and at least look PRO.

Four years ago, in an attempt to find other like minded women, I formed a bike shop-affiliated women’s road group. Over the years, the membership grew to about 100 members. Pretty freaking impressive, right? But as with any club, there was a small group of members that rode regularly, a group of members that did nothing but complain and a group of members that made cameo appearances a la the Muppet Show on their once a month rides. After four years I couldn’t take it anymore and I walked away; which is a shame considering my goal all along was to get women to love cycling.

Seriously though, when did women become such…pussies?

I blame society to a large degree. No need for me to get into a sociological discussion on the environment in which we grow up in and how little girls are taught to be delicate and little boys are taught to be tough. I guess a lot of the anti-V female attitude starts pretty early on in life. Kind of easy to understand why a 50-year-old woman just getting into cycling opts for flat pedals and handlebar mirrors. Careful, you might fall off your freaking bike and break a freaking bone.

I also blame bike manufacturers and bike shops. There’s nothing remotely cool about pastel blue flowers on a triple-chain ringed road bike with crap components and a kickstand. Nor is there anything pro about a mint green sleeveless cycling jersey with no rear pockets and grinning kitty cats emblazoned on the chest, a flowery pink-visored helmet or the world’s biggest European Posterior (Wo)man Satchel. You won’t need to eat a fucking sandwich on the ride so no need to carry all the fixings along with you under the saddle. Is it possible that bike and cycling-specific clothing manufacturers are furthering the pussification of women?

Women need to understand that if they love their bike, they’ll likely love the sport. I admit, I’m a bit of a spoiled ponce and have always ridden pretty decent bikes. I have a number of bikes in my stable but by far, my favourite is my 2012 Specialized S-Works Venge. Like any good Velominata, I’ve made sure that the stem is slammed and that my saddle and bars are level. I like to think I look some kind of bad ass mofo when trying for the casually deliberate look at a stoplight or in front of the local café. If I can’t be the fastest, I can at least look damn good. Juxtapose that with a woman who has a 25 pound bike that rides like a school bus, bars that rest under her boobs and a saddle the size of a sofa. Sure it was a smokin’ deal at $850 but seriously, does she love riding it? Does she even enjoy riding it?

Some of you Velominati are to blame too. I’ll likely get shit on for saying this, but isn’t it often the spouse or boyfriend that buys their wife or girlfriend their first bike? How come I see dudes out there on hot looking, hugely expensive Italian bikes with all the bells and whistles laying down the V on all the other dudes in their club and then up rides wifey on some cheap-ass piece of shit? Try riding her crap bike and then you’ll get an idea about why she doesn’t want to ride any further than 30kms or along any routes that requires she turn left, turn right, ascend or descend anything steeper than her driveway.

As women, we do have to take a large part of the blame ourselves. Over the past 4 years, I led an average of 3 to 4 club rides a week. I have some great friends that I ride regularly with that I met through the club but there are also a handful of women out there that just plain don’t like me. Okay, so I can be a judgmental cynic at times, but I also like to think I’m a pretty likeable sort. It was the fact that I always attempted to keep the group in check that some of the women didn’t like. The rides were always too fast, too slow, too long, too short, too hilly, too flat. There was the social aspect: for example, Broad A wouldn’t ride next to Broad B so instead of closing up a gap in the paceline she would sit one bike-length away and sulk about not wanting to ride anywhere near “that damn bitch” (my words, not hers). There was also the emotional aspect: if someone showed up that couldn’t keep up it was like god damn high school all over again. I made it clear that the club did not have a no-drop policy and that while it was great to come out and work to keep up, you may sometimes have to ride home alone or with a friend. Dear god it was like I was a tube-top wearing pole-dancer in the Middle East. I’m pretty sure I felt stones being thrown at me on any ride after I made that announcement. For a lot of women, fitness and skill level on the bike are tied up in emotions. Come out once and get dropped and they never come back again. Compare that to my husband who once rode for six solid weeks with a group of guys that didn’t talk to him and dropped him on every ride. When I’d ask how his ride went he’d say “no one talked to me and I got dropped but I’ll go out with them again tomorrow”. Eventually they talked to him and he can now lay the hurt on any of those hairy-legged bastards, but still, he didn’t have a freaking mental breakdown.

And so, where do we go from here?

First I think that women need to Harden The Fuck Up and just say no to all the marketing, the bullshit, the crap bikes and the pissy attitude. Get outside and freaking ride.

Bike shop owners and manufacturers aren’t going to change anytime soon but if women stop buying their crap maybe they’ll stop selling and manufacturing it.

All you Velominati reading this need to help your wife or girlfriend understand just how awesome cycling can be. And yes, that may mean buying them a better-ass bike.

Finally, to all the Velominata out there: next time your friend shows up wearing a pink-visored helmet, mountain bike shoes, a cycling skirt and a sleeveless jersey: roll your eyes and snicker a bit and then take her out for an epic ride. If she sees you looking and acting all pro then maybe, just maybe, she’ll lose the visor and the damn skirt and lay the V on someone else once in a while.

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84 Replies to “Guest Article: Where the Hell are all the Velominata Hiding?”

  1. All you Velominati reading this need to help your wife or girlfriend understand just how awesome cycling can be. And yes, that may mean buying them a better-ass bike


    Guilty as charged, tho she knows how awesome it is, due to me constantly banging on about it.

  2. Awesome–and timely! @frank was at McMaster University talking about LVV, and the conversation turned to women and cycling. The evening cafe event went really well with a very strong showing of top notch Velominata in the room (including a former two-time Olympian).

  3. God DAMN that’s a long article!  I need to go cancel some patients so I can read it all!

  4. Fuck!  Nice read!  But, in my defense, I bought my wonderful VMH a beauty of a CX bike last year.  A brand new Salsa Chili Con Crosso with a nice Groupo-san b/c she wanted “fat tires” but also wanted to ride on the road but refused “skinny tires”.  She road it twice, and will not ride it again.  Said it does not make her feel safe enough.  The first ride was in a church parking lot and the second on a deserted road.  Well, at least she tried and my son should fit it next year.  She still wants a (and I quote from your excellent article, not my or my VMH’s words) boob-holding-handlebar-height” fat seated bike.  Oh well, at least it’s a bike!

  5. @Steampunk

    Awesome-and timely! @frank was at McMaster University talking about LVV, and the conversation turned to women and cycling. The evening cafe event went really well with a very strong showing of top notch Velominata in the room (including a former two-time Olympian).

    Steamy!  When is your lecture Cogal write up going to be posted?  Dying to hear how it all went!

  6. Great article, and it’s refreshing to hear a female voice on here.

    My wife and her friends are all well on their way to VMH status. From time to time we even sort out mixed rides as well. It’s makes a nice change to leave the testoserone behind…..

  7. I’ve often wondered about the Keepers’ VMHs and why we’ve not seen input from them on this site. It would be great to hear their sides of the story!

  8. Nice read!  I’ve all but given up on my wife, but seeing as I now have a two-month old daughter I’m quite excited at the prospect of molding here into the type of woman Mel appears to be.  Chapeau!

  9. Excellent. You  tell it like it is. I do organized rides regularly and there are few women doing the longer distances. Some do the full load though and they ride the good stuff. Good luck gaining some converts to the cause.

  10. I think men and women set up different mental expectations for group riding.  My wife and are both bike nuts (we met on a bike ride over a decade ago) and she holds her own on the A ride and all around is an experienced and sharp rider.  Even with all her experience and validation for finishing group rides in the lead pack after most people have been shelled she still has concern about unfamiliar group rides if she will hang and what if she gets dropped.

    On the other hand, I hold a contradictory notion in my head that I both expect to lay down the law in a group ride and get my ass handed to me.  Both may likely happen and it is okay.  With practice my hammer to nail ratio improves.

    I just think men are more conditioned to think in terms of getting back on the horse after you fall and women are conditioned to worry about the fall.  There are exceptions of course.  It also explains why more men probably get kicked in the head by horses, but I digress.

  11. WTF! I come from sunny California where I road/raced and just plain had fun riding epic rides with lots of REAL WOMEN CYCLISTS. There will be bitches in every race/team etc just as there is in every aspect of life.

    yes, I did have a (magenta orbea orca – mans frame) and yes I did win some races on it. and I wore a pink ribbon tied into my hair.

    However I left that life behind and moved to the real world of cycling: Belgium and there are even less women who REALLY RIDE. With the exception of the pro women and juniors there are far and few between!

    However I did find my posse of crazed “older gals” who can/will put in 160km in rain and wind etc. HTFU is my life but dammit I love the feeling of passing some guy on a climb wearing a skirt…..

  12. There is only one person in my house who has stood on the podium’s top step (a business park crit but so be it) and it is not me. It is my wife.  Because even at 7+ months pregnant, she still kicked my ass on a regular basis.  Even if the bike here isn’t Rules compliant, I think she gets a waiver.

    Don’t mess with the ladies.  Mine rides me into the gutter on a 48c frame.

  13. My VMH loves the first bike I bought her – a mid-80s touring Takara. She loves it so much in fact that she won’t let me buy her a better-as bike. I’ve tried, she won’t go for it. I’ve even offered to set up one of my nice Italian steel bikes for her. Nope.

    She is riding more and more and more. I don’t ever see her truly becoming a Velominata, but I’m thrilled that she rides around town, rides to the market, meets the gals out for ladies night all by bicycle. Plus, she looks darn good doing it!

  14. Good friggin’ call. However I bought my missus two sweet bikes (MTB and road) and she barely rides them. It’s a massive effort to encourage her out on a ride, but if the sun’s shining and I promise not to go too fast she’s up for it. I’m hoping our new tandem might make the difference.

  15. I have tried getting my other half into cycling, offered to buy her a good road bike but she just wasn’t interested. All she wants is a sit-up and beg bike with fat ass saddle, and I am not spending my money on one of those! Have even rented her a good bike to ride for the weekend, but was the same as another mentioned above and didn’t like the skinny tyres.

    She’s normally pretty good when it comes to not being a girly girl but it seems that the bike is one step too far, which is a shame as I would love to get her into it!

  16. Awesome read. This article inspired me to finally register after lurking for a a bit. I have two daughters with V potential. They need a model like Mel. My wife is a lost cause: she will only ride her heavy Dutch town bike in perfect conditions sans perspiration.

  17. I broadly agree with the thrust of this, but surely there’s nothing wrong with having the “sit up and beg” type bike as part of the quiver- they’re a hell of a lot more practical for going to local shops, into town for the evening etc. There’s a whole other cycle culture there, strong in much of northern Europe and in pockets in the UK at least- but the two need not be exclusive of one another and should not sneer at each other either.

  18. Awesome article Mel.  I like your style.  I ride with two women on a regular basis.  One “gets it” and I love riding with her.  The other is a total whack job that has an overnight bag hanging from her seat and she wears a fur vest and hasn’t got a clue when it come to tactics but the wench rides away from me in the big ring on the climbs so all I can do is flip her a bunch crap for being a psychotic noob and hurt her on the flat.  She’s a good sport about it all though so what can I say.  One hint for you though, Mel – unless you can find some Prowomenata out there to ride with keep riding with the men.  It’ll just make you that much faster.

  19. Sorry guys about my lack of reply. I was actually a bit scared to check the article for fear that there would be deluge of nasty ass comments. But you guys (and Farzani who I think is a chick but hey, I wouldn’t put it past some guys to put a pink ribbon in their hair) pretty much hit the nail on the head in terms of the sentiment I’m trying to portray re women and road cycling. Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely some kick ass women out there but they’re in the minority, at least around my parts (Toronto/Oakville, Ontario, Canada). I’ve found a small group of like-minded women to ride with over the years but even their interest wanes as soon as it gets a wee bit chilly or you need a headlight to light your way. Good on all you that admit to getting your ass kicked on occasion by a broad or fessing up to buying your wife a crappy bike. Or maybe even an awesome bike with the hopes that she’ll love it more than she loves you. Makes me love this site even more. Thanks Frank and Gianni for publishing my article – hopefully I haven’t scared away any of your female readers.

  20. Awesome rant and thanks for submitting, Mel.  I’d love to get my wife a bike but she isn’t comfortable on the road with the cars.  Lord knows her dad tried!  Maybe once the kids get a bit older I can get her interested in something for light off-piste duties.

  21. I’m blessed with a woman who doesn’t much care what other women do or think. She just does her thing: historically, windsurfing, mtb’ing, rockclimbing, earning a PhD in a strongly male-dominated field, and now riding a road bike and paying a nontrivial degree of attention to the Rules. She rides mtb’s with the guys and doesn’t mind if she falls and doesn’t sulk if she gets dropped and doesn’t freak out when somebody face plants into boulders and starts bleeding out.

    On the road, we ride together and are hoping to find road riding partners locally; it’s tougher living in the boonies, and the more passionate folks seem to prefer mtb, but we’re beating the bushes for local velomipersons of whatever gender to enjoy the road with.  If we were still living in Portland, or were in Seattle, we’d be out on group rides regularly, and there would be female riders ripping our legs off.

    (One thing I loved about rockclimbing: lots and lots of beastly strong women on the crags and in the gym.)

  22. @Steampunk Yeah, I totally missed the fact that Frank was speaking…or ranting…or whatever it was he was doing at McMaster – which is a stones throw from where I live. Nuts. Admittedly there are a fair number of hardcore VMHs out that way – they obviously had their shit together and made it out yesterday. Me, not so much. I had a week long stint of missing out on a) Big George; b) Cipo and his hair; and c) Frank. Sigh…less ranting about visors on helmets and more reading of the V site I suppose.

  23. @Nate

    Awesome rant and thanks for submitting, Mel.  I’d love to get my wife a bike but she isn’t comfortable on the road with the cars.  Lord knows her dad tried!  Maybe once the kids get a bit older I can get her interested in something for light off-piste duties.

    Yeah that’s my issue as well. My girlfriend’s dad has been a full-time bike commuter for years and years (perhaps going on 10 years now, maybe more), and of course I cycle a lot, but I cannot convince her of the fun of cycling.

    I’m not super bummed, as I sort of like cycling to be “my” thing, but at the same time on a nice evening it would be great to leave to car at home and roll to the bar/theater/wherever together on bikes.

  24. Great article. Sucks that you have those issues wherever it is you live. I guess I must have tunnel vision to some extent because there are a shit load of ladies here in PDX that; look pro, act pro, and can tear the legs off most of the dudes around here. My buddies wife is 50 and is leading the current ‘cross series, will race and do well at both masters nat’s and worlds.

    Due to a chronic injury my VMH can’t ride. But she does understand racing/ riding and I appreciate that. In my defense (as a “dude”), in the past, I have bought and built awesome road bikes for former girlfriends. Ones that last I knew, they still own and ride.

    Move to the NW and you’ll find like minded, non pussy, chicks to ride and/or race with.

    Rock on!

  25. @Buck Rogers

    Fuck!  Nice read!  But, in my defense, I bought my wonderful VMH a beauty of a CX bike last year.  A brand new Salsa Chili Con Crosso with a nice Groupo-san b/c she wanted “fat tires” but also wanted to ride on the road but refused “skinny tires”.  She road it twice, and will not ride it again.  Said it does not make her feel safe enough.  The first ride was in a church parking lot and the second on a deserted road.  Well, at least she tried and my son should fit it next year.  She still wants a (and I quote from your excellent article, not my or my VMH‘s words) boob-holding-handlebar-height” fat seated bike.  Oh well, at least it’s a bike!

    Thanks Buck! Yes, a little long – didn’t realize until it was actually published on the site. But you fellows like bathroom reading material so I made the article a suitable length. LOL. I’m always surprised when women say they “didn’t feel safe” on their bike and never get on it again. Boob holder type bikes definitely have a place in the collection. I think. Maybe she can go ride to the beer store and make use of the front basket while you’re out for your weekend ride?

  26. @Mel

    No worries, but get yourself down to Dundas for a ride soon! Someone asked about the next Ontario Cogal during the evening event at Café Domestique; we’ll need to move on that soon. A big part of the goal will be to ensure that it sets a high bar for velominata participation for subsequent cogals to try to meet. We did a Rule #9 ride with @frank on Wednesday morning””four men, two women. We took some of my favourite roads, but couldn’t see more than 100m ahead of us. I tried a track stand at >17%; it didn’t work. Better sunshine yesterday for a ride with @frank, @roger, & @Mikel_Pearce.

  27. @936adl

    I’ve often wondered about the Keepers’ VMHs and why we’ve not seen input from them on this site. It would be great to hear their sides of the story!

    Well, you guys can be a bit on the…intense side. Not that that’s bad – just intimidating for the average VMH out there. I think anyway. I suspect the regular VMH readers would be fine and used to it, but as I said in my article, not so many women out there interested in reading or writing about the finer points of snot blowing or horking luggies.

     

  28. @Steampunk  I’m riding to Dundas tomorrow – told Frank that if he was still there and that if he was passed out on the floor I would be careful not to step on him on my way to the patio. I talked to Frank and Gianni early in the summer about planning a women’s Cogal out of the Domestique but I was lazy and never persued it. I can definitely get a good group of VMHs together if you want to plan something soon. Doesn’t have to be women only but would be great to include a decent sized group along with the guys. Grab my email from Frank and send something to me directly if you want to plan something. Yes, Wednesday was indeed foggy – tomorrow is looking good for a ride though!

  29. I somehow stumbled into this 1984 Dura Ace Group-san equipped Gios Torino (think Roger de Vlaeminck) for $175 at the local bike shop in my small Iowa college town. I had been looking for a bike for my girlfriend and it was a steal, for the components alone. Turns out it actually was kind of a steal because it had been mistakenly traded into the bike shop and was another student’s special bike that had been moved out of storage. We sorted it out and I got my money back but I never think I’ll find a bike like that again. We eventually replaced it with an ’83 Schwinn touring bike but it was actually stolen and so she never got to really get into cycling.

  30. @Mel

    Let’s talk. I likely won’t be down at the café tomorrow, but it would be good to set something up. I have two or three students working on the rest of the McMaster Rolling Seminar: Le Vie Vélo, and they’re intent on putting together a couple of session in the winter on women and cycling. Feel free to find me through my contact info under my profile/bio.

  31. @Mel

    @936adl

    I’ve often wondered about the Keepers’ VMHs and why we’ve not seen input from them on this site. It would be great to hear their sides of the story!

    Well, you guys can be a bit on the…intense side. Not that that’s bad – just intimidating for the average VMH out there. I think anyway. I suspect the regular VMH readers would be fine and used to it, but as I said in my article, not so many women out there interested in reading or writing about the finer points of snot blowing or horking luggies.

    Oh, I beg to differ! Two of my female riding mates blow snot rockets with the best of them! Probably better…

  32. @Mel hi Mel yes I am a female :) and sorry to sound so tough but I’ve learned that we are not taken seriously by men and yes, many women are so so scared to push their limits! I ride my bike because of the overall freedom, peace and joy I get from it. The places I’ve seen and the sweat and toil it took to get there only make it more wonderful. I do know many other like minded women, (some pro and masters racers) as well as completely recreational strong women athletes.

    We have a long way to go to try to change the stereotypes out there and all we can do it keep pedaling forward! My Belgian posse on the top of the Mur van Huy!

  33. I know that down here women are well represented. We encourage women on our rides, most of whom can kick our asses, but most choose to ride with the women’s only groups and events organized by my awesome friends at Revolve Cycling among others. They have organized the NZ Women’s Cycling Festival coming up and women’s only Super D’s, (V’s actually) and 6 hour races. There is also Frocks on Bikes which encourages ‘normal’ women to get out and ride in ‘normal’ clothes, and attracts huge numbers to their organized rides.

    In mountain biking circles, there is a huge rep too… Spoke Magazine’s former editor was a woman, and now we have at least four regular women writers, and a hell of a lot of female content, photos etc. Way more than any other cycling publication anywhere in the world, I’d say. A look through our mag will usually bring comments on the amount of ladies inside!

    In NZ, sisters are doin it for themselves!

  34. As a female reader of this site, your article has certainly not “scared me away”.  I couldn’t agree with you more Mel and as a fellow judgemental cynic, I think more women need to learn to “hurt” themselves on the bike.  Under my strict “no pink” instructions, my husband bought my first road bike, taught me how to unclip, obey the rules of cycling, hurt myself on climbs and snot rocket with the best of them!  I can’t help but roll my eyes when women claim they can’t pump up their own tyre, change their own flat, ride in the dark or go up any form of incline because “hills hurt”.  Whilst I embrace any increase in female participation in cycling, I also think that women need to take themselves out of their comfort zones and suffer a bit.  Having only been cycling for 3 years, some of my best memories are from situations that may have been scary at first but challenged me and made me realise that I can mix it up with the guys.  Women need to take a bit of responsibility for themselves, stop playing the weak female card, HTFU and maybe then they will love cycling as much as you and I clearly do.

  35. Fucking awesome, @mel. And yes, you look very pro on your Venge. =)

    As I read your article, I couldn’t stop thinking of a friend of mine who just bought herself a new bike. I gave her input (she did ask) to her FB post about what to buy (“Go to your LBS. If you have a budget, pick a budget bike…”) and what not to buy (“… but stay the hell away from the Wal*Mart special, for the love of God!!!”).

    She bought that $88 wal*mart special anyway.

    She seems to like it, but she’s no velominata. It’s a beach cruiser, and it suits her… even though I really wished she’d spent a few dollars extra and procured it from an LBS.

    Thanks again for the excellent post!

  36. Great post.  Purely out of self-interest I would love to see more women out there.

    First ride for me with a new group of men is always the same.  I’m the FNG and they’re going to figure out what I can do in the first half hour. I just hate it….if they drop me I’m the goat and if I drop them I’m the showoff. Seriously?  Bunch of middle aged men can’t keep their testosterone in check for a couple of hours?   Never mind having to shoot the gear shit…..

    First new group ride with only one woman along, and she can be and sometimes is a local pro doing a recovery ride…whole different experience.  Eventually we’ll be cruising along at or above my limits, but we get there in a much friendlier fashion. And, if I spend twenty minutes in the drops with my fat ass pulling the line along, I don’t suddenly get dropped like a bad habit at the first hill.

    Never mind that any woman I’ve ever seen with any riding experience at all on any rig at all has her core still, her feet loose, her knees in and looks like a damn cyclist….

  37. This old broad live down the road from me – If you look at her results closely you’ll see she is the 2011 U.S. CX National Champion in her age group and the 2012 U.S. MTB. N.C.  Her husband regularly hands me my ass.

     

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    01/15/2012 – 2012 UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championship | Cyclo-cross | | | 50-54

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    01/05/2012 – 2012 USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross Nationals | Cyclo-cross | | | 50-54

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    11/19/2011 – SICX Series State Championships and Toys for Tots | Cyclo-cross | | |

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  38. Ontario Cogal?? Holy Shit! This is major.  Don’t tease.  Please forward the deets

  39. @Oli

    Terrifying!

    Mel, come the revolution I’m on your side. It is enlightening about the social side of things that I’m completely oblivious to – the rolling high school social hierarchy that you describe, and the implications of getting the social mix right (or wrong…)

    We have great articles submitted by Meg Fisher and also, really nicely contributed to by her Mum, as well as Farzani, and I hope they continue to offer insights into great riders with awesome stories to tell (awesome in the traditional sense, Farzani, inspiring awe) and while we can light up a 20 page argument on rim tape like nobodies business, that type of conversation isn’t always the best introduction to the sport.

  40. @Mel

    @Buck Rogers

    Fuck!  Nice read!  But, in my defense, I bought my wonderful VMH a beauty of a CX bike last year.  A brand new Salsa Chili Con Crosso with a nice Groupo-san b/c she wanted “fat tires” but also wanted to ride on the road but refused “skinny tires”.  She road it twice, and will not ride it again.  Said it does not make her feel safe enough.  The first ride was in a church parking lot and the second on a deserted road.  Well, at least she tried and my son should fit it next year.  She still wants a (and I quote from your excellent article, not my or my VMH‘s words) boob-holding-handlebar-height” fat seated bike.  Oh well, at least it’s a bike!

    Thanks Buck! Yes, a little long – didn’t realize until it was actually published on the site. But you fellows like bathroom reading material so I made the article a suitable length. LOL. I’m always surprised when women say they “didn’t feel safe” on their bike and never get on it again. Boob holder type bikes definitely have a place in the collection. I think. Maybe she can go ride to the beer store and make use of the front basket while you’re out for your weekend ride?

    I like the way you think!!!

  41. Great article. Can feel the seething, um, peeved-off attitude in your writing.

    I do agree with what you’re saying. Women specific geometry all but comes with pink fairy graphics.

    For what it’s worth, here in Singapore I see women out a hell of a lot, and they’re pushing it in groups with guys. Not even slightly an usual sight. Lots riding with the Aussie/Kiwi club, ANZA.

  42. I think you’ve pretty much nailed it.

    Though I would add that getting all upset about being dropped and not having a nice old chat on a ride is not exclusive to women. It’s a common complaint from guys who think that cycling clubs are all snobby and exclusive because they aren’t like a book group on wheels.

    The difference, as your husband showed, is that men are more likely to respond in a competitive way. Of course some women do, like yourself and I’ve met a few others as well, but there will be one of them for every ten men unfortunately.

    Is it instinctive maternal/social nature, social conditioning, physical, all of the above… who knows.

    Interesting as Blah noted that Abu Dhabi/Dubai is much the same. I wouldn’t say there were a lot of women – numerically they’re probably 10%, but there are some hard-core riders, some main bunch cruisers and social pootlers, much the same as the guys. Maybe something about being in an expat environment changes things ?

  43. What I like (as a woman) is riding with the boys and racing with the girls.  Only because I can’t beat blokes in sprints all that often. And there’s other women in my club like that too.

    I’ve taken a leadership role in my club as a ride leader and now president.  We still have mostly a male membership but do everything we can to get more women.  I don’t care if they come on our casual ride, down to learn track riding or what they ride and wear.  What I do hope is that we can encourage those who want to race and ride hard and encourage them.

    If that means making the peloton more accommodating and making it clear what rides are no-drop and which aren’t, well that works for women and a surprising number of men as well.  Not everyone is a road warrior or wants to be a road warrior.

    But, yes, those shops and manufacturers who want to sell pink bikes – *sigh”.  I’m not buying them.  Or pink anything for that matter.

  44. Great article, Mel!  A few years ago my boyfriend bought me a bike to get me back into cycling after being out of it for many years.  It was a Specialized “comfort bike”.  Good for riding the Erie Canal trail and not much else.  After he walked out I sold it and went looking for a road bike.  The first LBS tried to sell me a powder blue Trek.  Puke.  Might as well put a fucking basket on the front and streamers on the handlebars.  Second shop was the same way.  I ended up buying a men’s bike.  Why don’t these manufacturers understand that all women don’t want pink and lavender and Hello Fucking Kitty shit on their bikes??

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