Riding With Men Doesn’t Have To Suck

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There are times when even riding a bike doesn’t sound like fun. However rare, it does happen. This week it happened to me. I’ve been grumpy. So grumpy in fact that the thought of hanging out with myself was not on my A, B, or even… lets take it down to the F list.

I made several attempts to pull out of it. I reached out to friends, pedaled my bike up scenic dirt roads, hit the gym, ate good food and consulted with my local bar tender. It is very unusual for me to stay down for more than a day or two, and even more unusual for me to talk about it. But like bubblegum to gym shoes on a hot day, this funk was here to stay and I was anxious to make it go away.

Needless to say, the grump factor leading up to yesterday’s ride was unusually high. We were joined by our friends from Rapha and the Mobile Cycle Club, along with Mosaic Cycles. As plans came together, I felt the unease of bringing unseasoned women to a ride with seasoned men. I prefaced everything with “well, if the group falls apart, the guys should go on”.

The unfortunate truth is that I have been on those rides. I’ve been on the rides that are called “no drop” and found myself half dead, pedaling alone, lost on a country road.

As a matter of fact, when I started riding road bikes, my old partner use to say “if I pedal with you, you will never get faster”. Most days I would bury myself just trying to keep him in sight. While I did eventually “get faster”, this was not the prelude to a welcomed invitation for the next ride and certainly not the only way to improve my skills. The truth of the matter is, if I wasn’t already a committed lifer, riding a bike may have escaped my “to do” list and found itself on my “to done” list.

Feeling the need to be a protector of the women’s ride, the safe place to spin and learn, combined with my afore mentioned grumpy mood, I sent the half serious text “you just want to crush me in to the ground, don’t you?”

“I’ve never crushed anyone in to the ground before. Sounds painful” came the response from the ever gentlemanly Jeremy Dunn.

I felt bad. I had just fallen in to the age old trap of believing that all men who ride bikes are faster than me, stronger than me, and out to prove it to me, even my friend Jeremy, whom I had never ridden with.

It stands to reason that sometimes when you are so intent on change that you forget to notice the things that have changed or maybe some things that don’t need to change at all.

We have always been careful at Girl Bike Love to discourage the notion that women can’t or shouldn’t ride with men. Our mission is to empower and educate women to ride in any way that encourages them to keep pedaling. We want to create that safe place, and sometimes this means sans men.

Yesterday, riding in a tight group, with women and men, with friends and fresh handshakes, seasoned and unseasoned cyclists, I was empowered and educated. The last of the grump factor was finally eliminated and I was reminded that sometimes, its just about riding bikes.

We have been wanting to find a good way to talk about all the good guys who are a part of our lives, the guys we ride bikes with, the guys who are so supportive and the guys who are spreading the girl bike love without even knowing it. I thought we would start today.

Thank you to our friends at Rapha, Jeremy Dunn, Ben Lieberson, and Ryan Thomson for sharing the morning with us, making espresso, gently rolling up the canyon and smiling the whole way.  Thank you for bringing up the rear, and keeping the group together. Thank you for empowering unseasoned riders to descend steep, tight switchbacks for the first time.

Thank you Brian Dallas for coming all the way from Loveland to ride with us, for your wisdom and insite into women’s cycling,  for sharing a chat on the climb and your love of working with women in cycling.

Thank you Pete Webber for using your strong, World-Champion-striped-arm to gently encourage a rider back in to the pack, for knowing how much help is just the right amount of help, and for casually laying out the descent to first timers.

Thank you Mosaic Cycles‘ Aaron Barcheck for kicking it old school, for pulling the group up the road, for always being up for my crazy ideas, and just plain being awesome. Thank you Kevin Batchelor for keeping Aaron in line and always being so pleasant, cheerful, and supportive.

Thank you all for being ambassadors of the sport, regardless of gender and skill.  Thank you for a beautiful ride, the removal of one really bad mood, and the reminder that there are some things in this sport we call cycling that are perfect just the way they are.

 

By Sarai Snyder – Boulder, CO

 

  • Susanne Aldridge

    Wonderful post! I just started road cycling in October and on all group rides, I noticed the lack of women. I blamed the Michigan Fall/Winter because for the lack of women. I too had those moments trying to catch up with a guy mumbling “WTF have I ever done to you that you are now trying to kill me???” Well, needless to say, it did make me faster. Do I want to do this every ride? Certainly not…
    Anyway, it’s June now and I still find myself to be the only estrogen riding in pool of testosterone but I have found that many guys appreciate having a woman around. It can be a welcome excuse to taking it a little slower and not giving into the pressure of joining the usual Hammerfest that seems to be mandatory on most “guy only” rides.

  • http://www.geargals.com Jill, Head Geargal

    Interesting post. I usually ride (MTB) with men because I don’t know any women who ride at my “level,” if that’s a reasonable way to put it. There are undoubtedly many women in my community faster and stronger than me, but I don’t know them personally and don’t ride with them, ever, for whatever reason. There are also dudes that are a lot faster than me and if they don’t want to have to wait, they can ride with someone else, but in general I’m well matched with most of my dude partners. I’d like to ride with women more, but I do get sick of waiting and going slow. It can be a tough thing to find partners that are a good match, but I don’t find that riding with guys “sucks”. I tend to like it better and find it more fun.

    Then again, I dislike riding road with ANYONE, so I bet I wouldn’t much like a road “hammerfest”, that would indeed suck.

  • http://bizziwriter.com Carrie Schmeck

    I love this post. We have found that the guys in our group LOVE having us come out and they LOVE it when we post photos of just us girls out riding, too. When there are a few girls, there is at least one who will drop back and draft us or offer encouragement. They seem to like watching us improve and are excited to see us push ourselves toward bigger and more challenging goals.

  • Carl

    Sorry I’ve found your blog so late…. but better late than never…. Having been a ride leader for a local shop for a number of years, I recognize this as the perpetual problem of group rides. How do we get new riders involved… and keep them involved… especially women. A social ride should be just that, social. For all you GUYS out there that feel you have to hammer all of the time, go bury yourselves at the Bus Stop or Green Scene rides.