Talking to Women

Dear Uncle Dave:

I am a woman rider in my forties. I have been mountain biking now for over 3 years and really enjoy my new found freedom that my biking has brought me. I currently ride a 2012 commencal Meta AM with 160 of travel front and rear. I love my bike, it looks after me. I am having a mid life crisis but am really enjoying it. My super cool bike looks after my butt and keeps me safe when I’m hurtling down steep tracks and it eats rocks and roots for breakfast. I love it.

I would just like to point out and also ask why MEN think that my little bike is way too much bike for me and that I shouldn’t be riding such a long travel bike. I have been told this on many occasions to my face. Maybe my bike is too much bike for me, but really who cares. It just makes me mad that some people are so quick to judge. I wouldn’t dream of commenting on their riding position or choice of bike. Why can’t I ride a long travel bike?

As long as we are having fun and respecting the Mountain Bikers Code and our tracks, who gives a Monkeys on what we are riding?

Sincerely,

A confused New Zealander


Dear Conzo:

This doozy of a question paralyzed not only Uncle Dave, but the entirety of his social circle, for one whole week. Yes, for the period of one week, countless arguments were held, in person and in writing, and perpetuated like a bad rash. Nobody could agree on the correct response or the right tactic. Shit, nobody could even agree on what the question was. It was horrible. But we regrouped and we came up with a strategy. Since we’re not even sure what the question is, we’re going to look at some options. Because the answer here is entirely dependent on the question, and the question is dependent on the motivation of the individuals who are approaching you.

Option 1 – These guys are questioning you on your bike because they’re typical know-it-all cyclists.

For some reason, cycling attracts a lot of blowhards who enjoy pointing out the faults in others. We’ve dealt with this before. No matter who you are or what you’re doing, somebody is standing on the side of a trail somewhere, waiting to tell you that you’re doing things wrong. Or that you’ve bought the wrong part. Or whatever.

Proposed Tactic – If you’re encountering a known blowhard, the only solution is to fight fire with fire. When you sense a blowhard in your proximity, jump immediately to the offense. Get off your bike and circle slowly around them with a concerned look on your face. Give their tires a squeeze. Maybe even nudge them aside and grab their bike for yourself. Compress the suspension a few times. Let your brow grow ever more furrowed. Finally, shake your head and say something like “Minion, eh? (insert the name of whatever tire they happen to be running on the rear of their bike)  On these trails?”  Guarantee that guy never says anything to you again. And shows up at the next ride with a fresh tire on the back of his bike.

 

Option 2 – These guys are questioning you because they’re socially awkward and this is what they figure is the best way to approach the opposite sex.

This was a common thought. “Maybe these guys don’t know how to talk to women and are just trying to get a date?”  This is conceivable. I certainly have said some pretty stupid things in my life in the name of starting a conversation with the opposite sex.

Proposed Tactic – I cannot answer this one for you. I certainly would think twice about dating some jackass who wants to talk about how much travel is necessary on a mountain bicycle. But maybe they’re really hot and you can look beyond those sorts of things for a few weeks? That’s entirely up to you.

 

Option 3 – These guys are questioning you because they’re actually concerned about your choice of bike.

I actually asked Conzo about this one directly. Is her bike unusual for her parts? Is she riding a bike with an unsuitable amount of travel for her surroundings? She assures me that this is not the case and that the bike she is riding is similar in design to what the men in her area are riding. But still…there’s a chance they might be on to something. I mean, if you’re driving down the highway and you’re up to your fourth person honking and waving with a look of horror on their face, you should think about pulling over and seeing what is going on.

Proposed Tactic – Ask for more detail on why they are holding this opinion. Perhaps ask them for some qualifications to justify holding it. Are they certified coaches? Trained bike fitters? Short travel aficionados that have seen the light and are hoping that you’ll join their cause? Questions can only help.

 

Option 4 – These guys are questioning you because they’re a bunch of sexist dickheads.

Unfortunately, this is what most people thought was actually going on, including me. Most likely, these guys are sexist assholes laying out a healthy dose of petty undermining. But even those that agreed on that struggled to come up with any sort of consensus as to what could be done about it. Tell them to mind their own business? Then you’re perceived as a “nasty woman”.* Learn about your bike so that you can hold your own in the conversation? Does everybody have to know every little thing about their bicycle in order to ride it, now? Craft a witty retort to throw in their stupid face so that they skulk home in shame to masturbate in the shower? That’s not really taking the high road, is it?** So what do you do? What can you possibly do as a woman presented with subtle sexist digs when you’re just trying to enjoy yourself on your mountain bike?

Proposed Tactic – Honestly? I have no idea. Nobody else had a foolproof strategy either. If it were me, I’d probably just sigh heavily, roll my eyes way, way back, and then ride off. Perhaps this is the coward’s way out, but a ten-minute argument probably isn’t going to do anything to change this guy’s mind about anything.

So. That’s the advice (or lack of) for women that encounter this sort of thing on the trail. But what about the men? Because, you know, it sounds like we might have a part to play in all of this, somehow, if we look really, really hard. In speaking with women, it sounds like the interaction described in the question is a common experience, so maybe we can change the way we do things when we’re out on the trail? Just a bit? Maybe?

Uncle Dave’s Guide to On-Trail Social Interactions with Women: For Men

Tip 1 – If a woman doesn’t ask for your opinion on something, consider not giving it. In fact, if anybody doesn’t ask for your opinion on something, consider not giving it.

Tip 2 – It’s never a bad thing to stop and offer help to somebody that looks like they can use some assistance. If they say no, move along.

Tip 3 – It’s perfectly acceptable to attempt to strike up a conversation with women when you encounter them on the trail. Consider topics such as:

  • The weather
  • Whether or not the day is nice
  • If they know of any good trails to ride that are nearby

Avoid topics such as:

  • How good/not good they look
  • What you feel is inappropriate about their bike/clothing/lifestyle
  • How amazing Donald Trump is

Tip 4 – If a woman doesn’t seem like she’s all that interested in talking to you, think about ending your attempts at conversation.

Tip 5 – Consider that what a woman finds to be unsafe or threatening might be different than what you do.

Tip 6 – Eyes up.

Tip 7  – If a woman rolls her eyes, sighs, and then rides away from you, you may have to re-visit the tip list.

That’s not so hard, is it?

Sorry,

Uncle Dave

*Which…you know…isn’t a bad thing.

**See above.


Uncle Dave’s Music Club

Silly me. I used what I should have used for this week, last week. Lucky for me, I’ve got binders full of music made by women that I love to listen to.

I will admit that Screaming Females is a band that I don’t know a lot about. This video I am about to share was my first exposure to them. But it’s just so perfect and makes me so happy, I hope you will go away right now and watch it. There’s something about this version of Shake it Off (brought to you by the Onion AV Club) that is close to perfect. Take bubbly pop, add some oomph, and you get magical things.



Conzo – you win a one-year membership to Ryan Leech Connection (value $19 USD/month).  It’s possible that after three long years of riding you are already a rear wheel wonder woman (and if so we hate you) but if not, nothing shuts down a blowhard like pedalling off with on one wheel. Congrats!

Ryan’s courses will make you a better rider – or you’ll get your money back. Ryan will even answer your questions personally. How sweet is that? Send us an email to collect your prize.

If you’d like to snag a juicy prize for yourself, fire a question to Uncle Dave.

Ryan-Manual-1600-nsmb
About Ryan Leech Connection Membership

An all-access pass to Ryan’s curriculum based learning courses which cover a variety of skills such as manuals, bunny hops, balance, wheelies and more. His tutorials aren’t just about entertainment, they’re designed to be engaged with step by step. Ryan is ready to answer any questions, like your own personal coach. He champions an integrated approach to skill development in this membership site by including access to a range of custom-tailored physical fitness and mental fitness practices for mountain bikers.


We’re all know-it-all mountain bikers aren’t we?

Trending on NSMB

Comments

littleblue-new-zealand
0

Thank you all so much for your amazing advice. Loving it, made my day, grinning from ear to ear. Since writing to Uncle Dave, I would like to tell you all that I am now the very proud owner of a Commencal Meta V4 pictured below. The bike is Awesome!!! More responsive, lively, seems to do awesome things before I ask it……? I'm riding more stepper, technical trails, jumping and manuallying. My confidence has improved so much. Loving it.

Also I built this bike up myself with the help of a very knowledgeable MTBer. I am now looking at some 36″ Fox or Pike forks to make my bike even more awesome than awesome. Thanks again to everyone and NSMB for the wonderful prize, it's perfect.

And yes the bike does live in my house. 😀

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dj
0

i like mtn bike girls…

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extraspecialandbitter
0

…that's nice. (see above)

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0

I'm just really pumped on that Taylor Swift cover. That was freaking awesome!
On the topic at hand… maybe I operate differently, but I don't care if someone questions my choice of bike/attire/trail/whistling habits. I run what I run for a reason and if people want to discuss it that's fine with me. On the flip side, if for whatever reason I don't feel like engaging a man/woman/gnome about such topic I simply flip my switches into party mode and drop in. Like most things in life, this doesn't have to be complicated.

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Dirk
0

One size never fits all. I do like the idea of actions speaking louder than words. But I felt that might suggest that if you're not rad enough to drop dudes on the trail, you deserve these types of interactions.

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0

I'm not rad enough to drop most people, to be completely honest. But I am rad enough to know when I don't need to engage in a conversation that isn't going to serve me. I'm not out there to race or to prove my worth on the trails. I'm out to ride and enjoy what the community has created. If someone is going to thwart that (inadvertently or not) I will pedal away, whether that's dropping in, climbing up, or whatever.

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Dirk
0

You're probably radder than you think.

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reformed-roadie
0

Not bad, but needs more cow bell…and bass.

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extraspecialandbitter
0

Tip 8 - Try being positive and say things like "Nicely done" "Good line" "Sweet Bike"

I'm also a big fan of the instagram hashtag #ridelikeagirl

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tashi
0

"Bless your heart" works well around here as well - it takes most folks outside of the south a little while to figure out that they've been told off.

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dj
0

how about 'good girl!'! sometimes i like to pull that one out.

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extraspecialandbitter
0

No.

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slimshady76
0

AMEN! Back in the day, my wife used to borrow my all-black IH Maverick MKIII for a spin, only to be questioned about her choice of a bike. Adding a N/W single ring and burly tires seemed to spark the worst sexism among the myriad of lycra-clad, weight-weenie-with-a-substantial-beer-belly know It all guys she ran into in our local trail system. "Is that YOUR BIKE?" was usually their entry line. At first she came back home feeling horribly disqualified, but once we had a talk in a similar tone to the one Dirk proposes, she would answer something like "Yeah, what about It?" or "What, wishing It was yours don't you?". Or if she was in a particular bad mood that day, something like "Yup. BTW, running a rigid fork in these trails? Oh boy, I feel sorry for you!".

We eventually got her her own bike, she grew up her skills and fitness level, and she kept the murdered out, stealth motto* (great minds think alike I guess). Her best answer to a disqualifying comment would be to clip in, trigger a few cogs down, and smoke them away.

You can't argue with an asshole, so why bother?

*Why does almost ALL the woman bike gear seem to be rainbow-pooped by My Little Pony? Many girls I know would like their bikes and gear either in black/grey or at least in the same color pallette as the male ones. "Fuck pink!" as my wife says.

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extraspecialandbitter
0

What's wrong with pink? I like pink. We need more pink mens stuff. Like the Bubble Gum coloured Nomad and the old Surley Straggler (sort of purple, but it was called "glitter dreams", how can you resist).

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slimshady76
0

That's the point: as a male, you can get pretty much every color you like, but as a female, your palette is much more limited. Most women stuff is oversaturated with pink or purple.

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extraspecialandbitter
0

I know. I get that if that's your only choice it'd be frustrating. Colour choices shouldn't be limited by gender and should instead by decided on by personal taste regardless of gender.

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dorse
0

Black Black Black. Velominati Rule#8

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extraspecialandbitter
0

…black. like my soul 😀
Despite the fact that that is only referring to cockpit components and you skip the other options, Frank also frequently mentions how your #1 should have white bar tape. And road biking is a sport steeped in tradition, where as mountain biking is this fun pass time that is primarily type 1 fun and I feel like bright colours go with type 1 fun. So don't take it so seriously.

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dorse
0

Loved your reply. I'm ok with colour
Have to draw the line at white bar tape though. I spend too much time on my hands and knees to keep the tape white.
Wait a minute how many sports is mountain biking.

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poo-stance
0

My road bike came with a white saddle and white bar tape. 🙁 Only thing I don't like about it.

Ed.
Men's mtn biking NEEDS MOAR Seafoam Green! I'd consider a Juliana frame for the green and pastel purple.

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wacek-keepshack
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I'd also consider another option here and that's that you are all sexists. The man saying that "this bike is too much for you" may be just a typical specimen of a progressive trail rider. A person who's dreams have been shattered after Enduro became popular. The riding genre he loved more than anything because before 2012 nobody could really judge him when he said he rides Enduro - XCers couldn't laugh at him for being weak and Downhillers couldn't mock him for being slow on descents. He was out of bounds… But then someone came started pedalling 2ply tyres for 10 000 vertical feet a day and still bomb down a DH World Cup worthy track faster than the man in question ever managed on asphalt… he became insignificant. So he became one of these people, who decided that 160mm bike is too big. I've been one. I know. Lack of sex is terrible. Such individual sets off to buy a 100-120mm bike in order to get more feedback and pedalling efficiency. Then the first thing he does, he buys a 160mm fork and 2.5″ 1ply tyres with DH tread pattern. He is out of categorization again. No one can judge him. His bike is 90% as his previous one but not quite… his buying choices has changed him to a bad ass enduring 40mm of less travel in the rear. That is the essence: More gnar, less travel. Ride your way.

Hormonal imbalance and low self esteem brought him here. To the trail head. To evangelize. Men and women. A hero. You on the other hand are all intelligence priviledged insensitive sexists…

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