It’s a Guy Thing

I’m going to attempt to get through this blog post without disrespecting both sexes, but not sure if it’ll work. Here goes…

Near the beginning of the ‘race’ on Sunday, while John and I were still riding together, he said to me, ‘Anne just passed us on the left’. We were really flying and I was shocked. How could she have gained so much speed over the winter? Was my conditioning that bad? Worse still, I spent the entire 4+ hours thinking she was ahead of me, becoming less and less sure that I’d catch her on each of the climbs (her relative ‘weakness’…she’s very fast on the flats). But no, I finished the event, saw John waiting for me at the line, and asked him where Anne was. His response – ‘What?’. It appears that John had said something completely different to me all those anxious hours ago and Anne was still out on the road. A manly ‘whew’ floated across my brow.

But it made me think about men and women and sport a bit. It wasn’t the first time, either. I’ve been beaten down by women my whole life and there always seems to be one or two in the ‘races’ we do who are stronger and faster than me. Note: I’m alright with this. However, when I’m riding with a woman, like up the last part of the Col de la Bonette in Haute Route last year, I’m astonished that I can’t beat them. Okay, going up is one thing (they could be really light), but I’m a pretty good descender and in the Granite Mont Lozère 2 or 3 years ago a girl flew away from me off the top of the highest mountain in the Cévennes, never to be seen again. Note: I’m alright with this, even if it sounds like I’m not.

But I know guys who aren’t. I remember a buddy of mine who had just re-taken up triathlon after a long absence and who was routinely trounced by ‘that blonde.’ He had a hard time accepting this and made it his mission to set things ‘right’ in the world. In Haute Route last year there were many of us (men) dumbfounded at how strong the leading woman was, especially because she ‘didn’t look like a climber’. She must have been extremely strong and fearless. I don’t know what was going on inside the minds of the guys who finished behind her each stage, but I heard a comment or two that could have been taken as envious and condescending in equal measure. It hurts the ego.

Anne was interviewed after the ‘race’ (if you read French it’s here) and said herself that French guys are ‘gentlemen’ on the road, but they don’t like to be passed by a woman on a climb. She’s going to do the Corsica Cent Cols Challenge (10 days with something like 30,000 meters of climbing) in May, so I’d better prepare myself mentally when we ride together in June…

Men, comment on this article at your own risk.

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21 thoughts on “It’s a Guy Thing

  1. The day that she passes me going up or down a hill is the day I give up riding! In fact, if I ever catch her passing me on a descent, I will personally take a saw to her bike frame once I catch her at the bottom (I descend like a fool.)

    p.s. Commence all comments you like, she’s my wife and I’m the one who will have to answer to her 😉

  2. It’s ingrained in us from birth . . . “You throw like a girl!” or “You hit like a girl!” or “You shoot like a girl!”
    It personally doesn’t bother me because I know there are women out there who are way better than I, but there is a reason why the professional men and women don’t race together. 🙂

  3. So men comment here at their own risk … but at whose risk do I comment? 🙂 OK, that’s the nerdy word loving part of me we have talked about! Though I am not faster (call it my age, not my gender, ha ha) than almost anyone on a bike in a race, grand fondo or club ride, you’re right it is very clear when I am faster (which does sometimes happen) than guys they are at least uncomfortable. Didn’t I put that nicely, quietly and oh-so femininely:-)

    Some absolutely delightful, very fun riders I met climbing Tourmalet in 2012 told me later (yep, in a bar/restaurant after dinner) in town that the sight of me behind them and almost catching them all the way up that climb kept them looking over their shoulder, motivated and moving. They weren’t going to let that happen! So I guess it’s good for something. I would have loved to have had a chance to party with those riders and their wives/partners, not a one of whom was on a bike. They all seemed like such fun.

    Umm, my memory is that the Haute Route leading woman athlete was an Olympic rider (or on the squad who missed becase of an injury.) Am I confusing athletes ?

    • Yes, motivation is one of the positive outcomes of ‘fast women’ 😉

      You’re thinking of 2012’s Haute Route. Emma Pooley (Olympic medalist and World Champion) couldn’t make it in 2013. Last year’s winner wasn’t the same caliber, but she was still very fast.

  4. I believe women are superior to men in every way…Once men understand that, we can spend more time with our toys 🙂
    After all, who is the best cyclist on the planet? Marianne Vos of course
    Actually, if Cancellara was a women, the world would be perfect.

  5. Frankly, I’d like to see more women out cycling and in clubs. If they are cycling, I think they are more often involved with triathlons (I could be wrong on that point). In our club I’ve only seen 3 or 4 women come out sporadically. Two of them former pros who did the women’s version of the Tour de France. Humbling to say the least. At HR last year there were, I think, 19 women. All finished ahead of me. To be out cycling and accomplish something like the HR is monumental wether male or female. Only problem with a faster women is that they are often smaller and makes drafting harder. 😊

    • I probably see women 3 or 4 times a year on the roads down here. It’s really not a thing to do for French women, it seems, which is a shame. Maybe the average family here can only afford one carbon bike per household.

  6. Every time this topic comes up I think back on my ride up the Galibier a few years ago. The only person that passed me that day was a 20-something young girl. I justified my defeat to a female by saying to myself that I was nearly 40 years older then her, rode Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour the day before, and she was racing for some Euro Pro team (the universe was still aligned and I could still sleep at night). It has nothing to do with being male or female, but in high quality cycling events; if I’m a little ahead or a little behind the fastest women (like Haute Route), than I know I’m maintaining my performance as I age. The truth is, I like to focus on the top women because they’re easier to spot in the peloton and nicer to look at than Gerry’s behind (how’s that for sexist).

  7. Once my boss,was,in front of me in a climb. Male. I never again saw a heart rate again like I had that day to beat him. Guys…

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