This is less pictorial post than a story about a recent incident, happening to me.
So… As a disclaimer about my mental state of being, first I would like to say, I never really think about age. My age, other peoples age. For me, it isn’t a factor. And on the other side, I tend not to dwell on weight. I’ve always been at the tall side of a woman’s height range. That being said, I never was a person who cared what the number was, generally mentally judging that I can not button this…meant that I needed to stop piling up the plate.
I had times in life that handed me weight issues….which I think were handled pretty well.
All this said, I don’t feel unfit aka I road ride a bike on challenging hills in a plus 20 mi range with an 18 mph average. I by no means consider myself elite. I consider my fitness a high average. Its all in how you look at it.
Ok, the story begins….
I had been in and out of a local bike shop for a year. Not any kind of feeling one way or another. Its all guys, usually. Not tremendously interested in assistance, but given todays less than stellar attitude of service/sales nothing to complain about. I’d say they were an average. In school terms, a solid C.
So as I progressed along the biking trail, Mark started wanted to do mountain biking over road. The joys of possible mutilation by auto sometimes overweigh the joys of riding On a road. Nuff said. So we took ourselves off on a few rides on mtn bike courses. Mark knows nothing. I know nothing.
Now, I have been getting emails suggesting we come on out on some ‘local’ rides. Some of these being a half hour one way from home to beginning of ride, done in the dark. A challenge to the senses— eh? We decide we want to do this, so I dial up my handydandy local bike shop. Same shop as above, this is mtn bike rides, not roads. Andddddddd….. Here is what I am told….
“Beginner rides for women will start end of March.”
(I am speechless with shock. Yes, friends That CaN happen).
The whole ride states on the website it is a beginner ride, friendly to all, ect. Ect…. So I ask about the other rides. Again to be told NO women ride these rides.
That wives occasionally ride on the first mentioned ride but that wouldn’t be until after March. Whatttttt??? I could go then.
Ok. Not much I can say. It is what it is. So I sit and think… My mother calls this Stewing. Cooking this conversation in my mind…. I go back online. Re-read my email, look back over their web pages to see if in my naive blondeness I have overlooked, misread, or generally have been Dense on this.
The answer is no, I have not. When in fact, in conversation I bring up Superman (aka spouse, Mark)…. He is indeed welcome on any and all rides. Apparently in my head, this computes to Appendages needed for Riding.
Soooo…I’m still bothered by this the next day. Stew is fully cooked by this point. So I write to the person who does the email…I get it two to three times a week….and I say, “Remove me from these emails as I no longer want ride invites if I am not being allowed to ride as a woman until March”.
This set of a hailstorm of email and insults from 4 men and three messages to my VM from said bike shop. One person tells me indeed women GO on these rides. But that I need to be a Young (????) Fit (???) Woman and able to ride with children to be allowed to go…..as children ride VERY fast and I might not be able to keep up.
That sent the stew to Boil…..I don’t have redhead genetics for Nothing… ( thanks Grandma for those in-your-face-take-care-of-it genes. They have come in handy in situations of duress.
So, all I wanted was off the mailer. I kinda felt like it getting my nose rubbed in it getting invites to ride with a Group who wouldn’t have a woman. Only to find out that no not women in general. Old, unfit women are not welcome. However young hotties are always welcome.
Can you sayyyyyy….Old Boys Network….. Discrimination… ???
So having been fired up quite properly I might add. I sent in another reply. This one saying, I do believe you should rewrite your emails and your web pages. Due to the fact that they read anyone is welcome. Which is not true. Rewording them to get the ‘kind’ of rider you seek. Fit young riders, not any rider welcome.
I got a response from someone else….. That asked me, Do I Hate bicycle shops in general? Do I have issues with men? And they were sensing hostility. Well, club that caveman overthehead….He sensed hostility. He said to me, he could take a 70 year old woman down those trails…what was ‘my’ problem with their rides?
So….. Back to the ride…. My issue was…I am not allowed ON a ride until March, Cavemen of the Bike shop.
I say, I wasn’t asking to be babysat, nor did I want to ride with 6 year olds. I wanted to ride in a group….. At night for both the safety factor, and the experience. I have openly accepted that I do not Fit their ride criteria. I am not male, I am not a young fit woman (their exact words…got email with it inIt several times), I am not a child.
The persons who indeed were confrontational in the situation were the Bikeshop Caveboys. One of them even challenging me to ride that would ‘burn’ me.
I wanted only to find a friendly support group to ride with (this was not), in fact just talking with the bunch was a horrific experience. Not for the faint of heart or the mentally unbalanced.
I was not looking for the ‘burn’. I was looking for a way to ride in a group, gain some experience on trails with ?professionals? Who have experience I lack.
What I got was insults,harassment, embarrassment, frustration, a day wasted on idiots with appendages, a rote apology due to it being a business…. Please ignore what was said to you. You can ride with us AND so can SuperMark. SuperMark being the draw here. I am not so blonde as to believe these Cave dwellers changed their thought processes due to me.
I’d like to say, I believe them. But I believe that they do not want women riders along. Particularly women who are past 25. Mayyyybe 30.
So, I learned yesterday age SuX. Women who are old are considered old AND unfit…. Based on age, not on performance.
I learned sexist Cavemen hang out locally and that even if they say you are welcome….They will resent you coming along. I learned that while interested in me as a potential $$$$sale, I am acceptable. But as a women, even riding everyday is not enough,unless I guess you are young enough to makeout in the woods with. Perhaps a ride in mountains, Honey? I’m indeed Not a candidate for that.
Hence, I will continue long solo bike journeys/training….until an old fat ladies speed group forms in my area for mountain bikettes/ biketters, and gain what knowledge I can via the trail of Oops and Experience.
No one said the Trail was easy.
Written by: Oneoldfat Lady riding fat tire bikes