Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pour Les Filles!

Bicycles, as contraptions, are liberating. As transportation, they free folks from the binds of bus or subway schedules, oft obviate automotive obligations, and exempt those from the worthlessness of walking. Bicycles, as sporting good devices for cycling, may also be such. Riding alone may be from necessity or prerogative, and can be every bit as cardiovascularly challenging as riding with others. Sometimes, a long solitary ride can be relaxing, and possibly even therapeutic. Most times however, riding alone is horribly boring, dangerous, and regarded as to be avoided at all costs.

This is where the need for riding partners comes in. Fortunately for me, I work at a shop which has employed many like-minded and enthusiastic cyclists. Unfortunately for them however, I am much slower, less fit, and smell worse than them; which is another reason I end up riding in the back a lot. Also lending to why I'm a bit slower is the fact that I happen to be female. There are many incredibly strong and fast women out there, I am simply not one of them (yet).

It is difficult to convince non-cyclists to invest mountains of money into a play toy that forces them to both wear Lycra and exercise, as they could take up modest-appareled sports like jogging or play toys like Wii Fit for much less money and commitment. Typically one avoids the process of conversion altogether and instead seeks to find like-minded and/or similarly fit cyclists with which to ride.

A major exception to the conversion rule is in the case of romantic partners. As cycling tends to be an obsessive and hugely time-consuming endeavor, riding together can serve as a way of spending time with the loved one (the bike) and the boy/girlfriend at the same time. Cycling is hopelessly male dominated, and having the sport introduced with patience and understanding by a loved one can foster a real passion and devotion. Unfortunately many male cyclists are competitive, infantile jerks who think nothing of becoming frustrated at or completely dropping their novice girlfriends on rides, which only further intimidates and alienates them from the sport.

Thankfully I do not speak from experience, as I have the good fortune of not being romantically attached to a turd. Yet many other female potential cyclists are not afforded this luxury, and hence are put off and delay serious riding or training. Usually I employ a system of apathy in regards to the goings-on of others, but this directly affects me because finding like-minded women to ride with on a continual basis has proven difficult. So along with prodding, pressuring, and demanding that all my male cyclist friends immediately purchase bikes and equipment for their partners so that I can have more women to ride with, I have decided to take the "Field of Dreams" approach in creating my very own women-only road ride.

The powers that be at Bicycle Therapy in Philadelphia have agreed to let me start up a women's ride from their shop every Saturday morning. It starts this Saturday, and will be every Saturday from now on, weather permitting. I have pre-ridden it multiple times, mapped the route, and spread the word. I have built it. I just hope they come.

Happy riding.