New Girl rolls up beside me on the Wheatgrass Ride. “Can I ask you something?” She’s fallen headfirst into the Kool-Aid vat lately, and when she’s not racking up new QOM’s on Strava she’s hanging at all the apres-ride coffee klatsches.
“So I’ve got a wheel on the Parkway, and it’s leading up to the sprint, and some guy grabs my arm and pushes me off the wheel. What am I supposed to do? I almost crashed. It really scared me.”
“Well, New Girl, that’s a very good question. Since you’re new to the group and people aren’t so familiar with you yet, you need to approach this kind of thing delicately. With a lot of diplomacy and humility. Who was it?”
“I’m not sure. Some guy I’ve never seen before. I was trying to stay upright.”
“Well, the next time it happens, make a note of who it was, and then ride up to him after the sprint and introduce yourself. Meekness is key. ‘I’m New Girl, and I’m new at riding, and this group ride is new for me, and I kind of want to apologize for bothering you…’ That kind of thing.”
She listened intently, but plainly didn’t like all the subservience. “Then, when you’ve got his attention, you want to politely–and I can’t stress how important this is–point out that he bumped you hard while you were on a wheel and that it frightened you, and was perhaps a bit unsafe.”
“Yeah. Then say to him in your sweetest voice, ‘Listen, you cocksucker, if you ever fucking touch me again I’m going to rip your tiny little balls off by the roots and stuff them down your fucking throat.’ Then elbow him in the ribs, or head-butt him, or chop the shit out of his wheel to show him you mean business. If he crashes out and splits his skull on the pavement, spit into the bleeding cranium for emphasis.”
New Girl’s eyes got kind of wide, because she saw I meant it. “I can’t do any of that stuff.”
“Fine. Come tell me, or Iron Mike, or Davy Dawg, or Fireman, or Junkyard, or any of your buddies. We’ll not only tell the jackanape, we’ll bust his fucking chops.”
No one cares about your minuscule muscle
Women who ride in the pack, especially on the Donut or Pier Ride, have it doubly tough. First they have to do the actual ride. On fast days, it can be a challenge just to hang on no matter who you are, let alone stay among the first five or ten wheels where it’s safest. Even slow days have several “points of interest” where there’s an attack, or a sprint, or an extended hard surge.
And let’s not bullshit each other. It’s physically hard to compete with the fastest people on these rides.
Nor should we bullshit ourselves about something else: the women who show up and hang are a thousand times tougher than 99% of the guys. The women who are in the mix at the end are tougher than all the guys combined. Moreover, many of the South Bay local biker chicks are marathoners, ex-pros, full time professional trainers, former Olympians, and general badass athletes who are already better than a huge chunk of the guys.
In addition to competing with the men, though, the women who do the group rides in the South Bay have to contend with something much harder than the physical demands of the ride, which are strenuous enough. They have to contend with the dreaded T.P.S., otherwise known in the medical literature as Tiny Pecker Syndrome.
I can lose to anyone except a woman
Every woman has experienced it. She’s pounding along, minding her own business, moving up in the pack or passing people on the climb, when she moves ahead of Lucious Lardbottom, he of the exquisitely tiny pecker complex. He’s flailing, he’s at the end of his rope, and in his case the fat lady not only sang but has gone home and taken a leisurely hot bath. He’s flat fucking done.
But lo! The minute that fit biker chick comes cruising by, he gets a new lease on life, inspired as if by God himself. Why? BECAUSE NO CHICK IS GONNA PASS HIM ON HIS BIKE!!!
He jerks up on the pedals, swerves dangerously, and mashes down with a ferocity that surprises the chick, who was minding her own business and just riding her stupid bike. Lardbottom glares, he pants, he lunges, he beats his meaty ass up and down on the saddle as if engaged in a new yoga butt-tenderizing posture. Spittle comes out in a thick spray, and his breathing evokes the death shudder of a beached ocean mammal. The chick is taken aback, but keeps coming, and he becomes a hazard to himself, to her, and to everyone else on the road. The future of the universe depends on not getting passed by the chick, and he’ll do anything to prevent the inevitable.
He’ll bump her. He’ll swerve across her wheel. He’ll reach out and push her off the wheel if she’s lining up for the sprint. And he’ll do this and a thousand other chickenshit maneuvers when, if the passer was a man, he would simply continue his implosion and nod as he mutely acknowledged the superiority of the other guy.
Eventually, though, Lardbottom blows again and fades away. If it’s this pronounced on the training rides, the women who race with the men at Eldo or in the CBR crits have it even worse. The many men afflicted with TPS are galled that a woman would dare show up and try to beat them on race day, despite the fact that they do exactly that.
Try to show a little respect
Women who do the group rides don’t deserve to be cut any slack, or to be given a helping hand, or to be coddled like lumps of sugar when the hammer comes down. That’s not what they’re in it for. But they do deserve the same respect and fair treatment accorded to the guy whose jock you’re so desperately trying to sniff. If you find yourself locked in mortal combat trying to beat one of the women on the ride, kudos to them for stretching your neck, and props to you if you’re riding safe and fair.
A couple of months ago I had my ass handed to me on a plate by a well known ex-pro on the Pier Ride. She had my wheel and I tried to ride her off it, not because she’s a woman, but because I was intent on winning the sprint against all comers, her included. Her bike handling skills are about a thousand times better than mine, she’s ten times tougher and a whole lot savvier. When I blew, she sailed by as if I were standing still. It never would have occurred to me to change my line, or bump her as she passed, or do anything other than recognize that I’d been whipped by my betters.
And while I don’t like getting the snot beaten out of me, I’d never think about begrudging the person who did it fair and square through superior riding, whether a guy or a chick or a 15 year-old kid, which is a good thing because I’ve been stomped by them all.