Yesterday, my friend Judith Elliot forwarded a link to a post by Marijn Vries, a Dutch professional cyclist, about doping (or lack thereof) in the female peleton. The posting title is “I Cycle, Therefore I Lie“.
One of the points of the posting was the lack of respect Marijn has experienced regarding women’s racing and strong female cyclists, from Euro men and journalists. I felt a need to respond to her from the perspective of a male cyclist in the US, so I dropped a little message in the contact form on her blog.
Basically, I told her that I’ve had my ass handed to me by many strong female cyclists, and I think it’s great. Also, probably all of the guys I ride with love having strong female cyclists with us, and if they know how to race, so much the better.
I didn’t describe my reasoning to her, but this is it:
- Diversity is great. I don’t want to ride with a bunch of guys who are just like me. That will get boring right away.
- A strong woman is another person to take a pull at the front so I can rest more.
- Face it, I’m a lecherous old man. It’s pretty sweet being in a peleton with well-conditioned women in form-fitting kits.
I also told Marijn a story about getting shelled repeatedly by Lauren Tamayo (pro cyclist, former US national champion, world record holder) when taking her for a training ride in Palos Verdes several years ago. Nothing demands respect in the cycling world like somebody leaving dust on your shades.
Surprise! Marijn emailed back to me just a couple hours later. She replied that what I said is in fact what she has experienced among guys from the US, including pro cyclists. 180 degrees apart from most Euro pros. She also referred me to a posting about getting “chicked“, that is, a strong female rider coming around a group of guys and riding them off her wheel. Hee hee, it was a wonderful post! Marijn gave the example of her teammate, Emma Pooley of Great Britain, and how she casually destroys guys on climbs. Here she is, putting the hurt on the boys going up the Col de Saisies earlier this year:
Reminds me of what Dara Rogers did to me day after day in the French Pyrenees back in 2003. I didn’t mind too much – see reasoning point #3. Here she is at the Col du Tourmalet, well rested after waiting for me to get my skinny corpus up the pitch: