Yeah, I Bike Like a Girl

Occasionally I’ll head out to Oceanside on Thursday morning to ride north through Camp Pendleton with the ‘Lane 3’ group. My understanding is that it’s called Lane 3 for a swimming pool lane. Not being a swimmer, I looked up the definition of lane 3 for you all. According to Urban Dictionary, lane 3 is: the lane on a swim team in which the talented but lazy swimmers go. not quite hard core enough for lane 1 or hard working enough for lane 2, but better than lanes 4-6. Jeff Gross who puts on this weekly ride is a swim coach, triathlete and an all around nice guy. There are some top age group triathletes who come to this thursday ride too, top as in competing in Nationals and Worlds. I don’t get to ride with ‘Lane 3’ often, but I always enjoy riding with this bunch when I do.

Each week Jeff sends out an informative email announcing the weekly ride and includes some interesting articles, great puns, and some real-estate tips. So here is something Jeff wrote in his weekly email that I thought would be great for all of us to read and be encouraged by.

Yeah, I Bike Like a Girl
by Jeff Gross

Biking with men often puts my stomach in knots. Do I need to blow through a stop sign like everyone else to keep up? Will this pace leader ever give up the throne or will he keep slowing us down until he gets dusted? Why is this ride always a race with no break? This fast pace seems dangerous for a multi-use family bike path. Why does the group get so belligerent toward drivers? Why do I feel like everyone has something to prove?

I prefer to bike with women because it makes me feel motivated to cooperate, rather than to dominate. Women are more likely than men to obey traffic rules, and when they do violate them in front of me, they are more likely to apologize if I reprimand them. Men are more likely to get stridently defensive, which makes it uncomfortable for me to speak up. There are exceptions: When I reprimanded one woman in my group for splitting lanes between cars to thread her way to the front at a stoplight, she yelled “I will do whatever the f*** I want!” I know I am speaking in generalities.

Dominance is an innate feeling that happens when men compete, such as sprinting for the top of a hill, pulling a peleton, or descending at speed. Dominance is a visceral feeling of superiority and submission. For me, it takes the joy out of cycling, and I hate it. I like to compete, but I prefer to feel an introspective drive to push my limits. It helps to have someone else near me to gauge my effort, but I do not like being pushed into a dilemma of dominance Vs failure.

In contrast, when I compete with a woman, I feel a sense of cooperation of effort. We are both trying to do our best, and regardless of who is first, I feel a sense of joint accomplishment when we finish a strong effort. Maybe I am being sexist. Sometimes I get this same feeling of cooperation with men, but only if there is some sort of communication after a challenging effort. I interpret silence in others as a feeling of win or lose: either gloating or lamenting. So, talk to your companion when you finish a sprint, and give them an “atta-boy!” I like to get out of my athletic comfort zone, but not out of my comrade comfort zone.

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