I don’t approve of sexism. I don’t want to be sexist. I try to not be sexist. Really, I do. But I sometimes fail. And I fail to not be sexist (take a moment to untangle that linguistic snarl if you would) more often when I am on my bike than anywhere else.
I have examples.
When racing, if a guy passes me I will only pursue if I think there’s a reasonable chance I can hang on. If a woman passes me, on the other hand, I will pursue no matter what.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s so I can club her and drag her back to my cave. Or to demonstrate my great skill at beating my chest and throwing leaves in the air.
I just don’t want to be passed by a girl, that’s all. I’m sure I’m the only guy like this.
When riding with women, I generally don’t treat them any differently from men. They’re just part of the ride. However, I do seem to be more easily affected by trash talk.
Last Summer, for example, a group of us were riding the Nebo Loop. We were on the 20+ mile climb, and Sam, Rick Sunderlage (not his real name), and Dug had dropped me. "Fine," I thought to myself, "I’ll see if I can hang with Lisa and her friend."
So I did, and I could. I was riding at what felt like the perfect pace to me. And since it had been a while since I had ridden with Lisa — a good friend and neighbor for more than a decade — that was a bonus.
And then Lisa’s friend — sorry, can’t remember her name right now — said, "I can’t believe you have to ride with the girls."
Yep, just like that.
I couldn’t think of anything to say. The only possible redeeming response I could conceive of at the moment was to stand up and ride away, as fast as my legs would take me.
So I spent the rest of the ride in no-man’s (and no-woman’s, too) land, unable to catch the lead group, and unwilling to drift back.
You have no idea how difficult it is for me to be such a dork.
I recently got a chance to make a sexist fool of myself at Interbike, too. No, not in that picture with the booth babes. That wasn’t a sexist picture; that was a silly picture. If seven-foot-tall men in bear costumes had wandered by at Interbike, I would have gotten my picture with them, too, and for the same reasons.
Here’s where I’m being sexist:
What? You don’t think I’m being sexist here? You think I’m just riding a trainer? Well, that means you need to see me from a different angle:
You see how I’m being sexist here? Still no? OK, here’s a closeup of the same picture, this time of the screen (click the image for a larger view, if you need to):
You see, I’m trying out RacerMate’s VeloTron DynaFit Pro trainer, which puts you on a simulated course, then shows all kinds of interesting stats.
And there, on the screen in front of me, is…a woman.
So, even though I am in street clothes, even though people are staring at me in disbelief, and — above all — even though the woman is just videotaped, I am racing my heart out.
After a minute or so of this pursuit — during which the videotaped woman stubbornly stayed in front of me — I gaspingly asked the guy at the booth, "What does it take for me to pass this woman?"
"You can’t," he said. "It’s a videotape. When you go faster, so does she. You’ll pass her at the same point on the climb no matter what speed you’re going."
Oh. Yes, well. I suppose makes sense. In which case, I realized, I no longer cared about passing the woman.
In other words, it didn’t matter to me whether the woman was real or not…just whether I had a chance at demonstrating my manliness to her.
I slowed down and climbed off, realizing three very important things:
- I am part neanderthal. A bigger part than I would like to admit (even though I just did).
- A simulation-style trainer like this would be more fun if you could race actual people instead of a video where you pass people at certain points regardless of their speed (It looks like Tacx does this with the Fortius Multiplayer. Gee, I wonder if they’d like to loan me one?).
- I was sweating profusely. Actually, Kenny was the one who noticed this first. "Man, you are soaking through your shirt," he observed. "You’d better go towel off."
More important than any of that, though, is that I now have photographic evidence that when I feel like it, I can ride at a sustained 454 watts.
At least, I can when in the defense of my male chauvinist pig-dom. Which I’m sure is unique in the universe of male cyclists.
My question is: do women do the same thing? That is, do women (real ones, not the ones in virtual reality simulations) attack when guys go by?
I kind of suspect not. But I kind of hope so, because that would make me feel 30% less stupid about myself. Which would be nice.