A Conversation About Gender Roles and Cycling

Lately, Steve and I have been riding with him on the mountain bike and me on my road bike. This evens out the playing field some, since riding a mountain bike on the road is slower, which is probably good for the health of our relationship. But it also makes us look pretty recreational, since he’s sort of dicking around on the mountain bike instead of all being decked out in his fancy gear like usual.

This past weekend, we were riding and a guy with a backpack and a bell sprinted to pass us, after we passed him at a light, and then slowed down right ahead of us. Steve and I basically had this conversation then:

Steve: That was weird.
Me: That doesn’t happen to you? Happens to me all the time.
Steve: No. I usually get respect.
Me: Yeah, well, middle-aged weekend warriors always feel the need to sprint past me. The problem is it’s just enough work to beat them that it’s sort of hard. On the other hand, though, cars don’t harass me as much since I look little and female.
Steve: It’s a trade-off.

The Making of Champions

The pennant.
The pennant.

Yesterday, my high school boys won the conference championship race. It was very exciting and I yelled a bunch at them during the race, things like “you need to pass him” and “come up, close that gap” — all very original and brilliant coaching. (I also am hoping none of their parents get mad that there’s a picture of them on the internet here, since there are also pictures of them on the local newspaper’s website.)

The day before the race the newspaper wrote a preview of it. In it they said the boys’ title was locked up, guaranteed, no surprises, it was going to be won by a school that wasn’t us. Which was weird, because the rest of us thought it was up in the air between three teams. I’m pretty sure that article did nothing except motivate our boys to show everyone.

But, it made me think about how we respond to obstacles and expectations. Why do we decide sometimes to say ‘screw you, I’ll show you’ and sometimes ‘oh well, I guess I’m not that good?’ Why do some people fall apart under expectations and some people rise to them?

As soon as I figure this out, I’ll let you know.