Most of the time I don’t even think about it, being the only female on a club group ride. For me it’s normal, it’s how it has been from the start, either being the only one or one of a handful. There was 4 of us in the first White Rock race that I competed in; 2 were National team and 1 was Provincial, and me a newbie. The training rides with the teams were just me and the lads, road trips same and even the races were mixed with Jrs and Masters or Cat 4 men etc. Even at the time I didn’t think too much of it except to complain once in a while about not having the races. For the most part I was there, showing up and sometimes other riders were rude, or looked through me like I was invisible, and definitely didn’t want to finish behind me! but for the most part I was treated as a rider; you get dropped, you work harder and that I expected to have to do.
I was barely into the sport, having come from running where female participation was picking up, when I went to Ottawa for a conference on ‘how to get more women riding and racing bikes’, a theme that continues to this day. And that is finally happening slowly. Yet I’m still the one of only a few who come out, and over the years it seems to be a matter of females feeling intimidated and having a preference to hang out with other females to ride with; being social rather than joining what is considered a ‘hammerfest’. It’s really only a point of view though, I don’t want to call it an excuse except that sometimes it is. An excuse not to put oneself out there, and we females don’t have exclusivity on that front at all, it’s just easier to blame the other folk around. There’s also nothing wrong with being social on rides, especially club rides, that’s all guys do when they ride together 😉 and there’s nothing wrong with going out with a few girlfriends either. All it takes for anyone is just to show up and be prepared. That means having some fitness, having some bike skills, having a love of the sport and where it can take you. Like today, finding a new bakery that has excellent pain au chocolat! When we were training, we would never stop on a ride until it was on the way home and a coffee and muffin were required to fuel that last hour of the ride, the training part was done. That’s a different kind of ride altogether.
What I’m getting at here in a very roundabout way is that I’m treated as a rider, one of the group, when I go out on a club ride. I don’t expect anything different than anyone else and as an adult I can make my choices about how far I want to ride. What I’m saying then is that you, we, I just have to show up, join, learn and communicate with other people in our sport to enjoy it along with them. When you do that, you’ll find a fabulous and diverse group of human beings on bikes!
What’s strong with me, day 22