‘Look out!’ yelled the male bike rider as he zoomed past some pedestrians on the track. He was sitting on my tail for a little while as we approached the walkers; they had no clue as to what was happening as they stepped out their evening exercise with ears blocked by headphones. But they sure did hear his aggro yell, and I guess were a little aggro themselves at the attitude.
To tell you the truth, I was a little aggro too! Why is it that this guy decided to scream “Look out!” in the tone he used (which I can assure you was not a passive request). Why was there a need to use such an accusatory tone with the innocent walkers, as if they had no right to be on the track…surely a tingle of the bell and a call of ‘Passing” would have sufficed.
To top the experience off, next day I encountered Mr Charming on the bike path. I was riding with a group of women on the track and we had stopped momentarily so some could depart the group. We were off to the side of the path and there was tons of room for any other cyclist to pass. But for some reason our group of women upset Mr Charming, who rode past, rolled his eyes and yelled ‘TRACK!’ and then said under his breath ‘Stupid f..king women’ as he rode off. Sorry Mr Charming, you are mistaken, we aren’t stupid, we actually know it’s a TRACK!
Ok, I know…he was actually angry at us because he was insinuating we had blocked the track. We hadn’t. He was just being a ‘Mr-I-know-much-more-about-riding-than you-do’ dickhead and we had just as much right to be on the bike path as he did. Why is it that some guys do this?
It just makes me so angry that riders like this put a really intimidating angle on what cycling is really about. The truth is, since I’ve been involved in cycling at a more serious level, I have met some of the nicest and funniest people I could imagine. Working in a creative world in my former career as an art director certainly meant I had access to all kinds of interesting and quirky people, but bike people are different. They are mostly incredibly funny because they never take themselves too seriously, and they just love life…it’s true that cycling does great things for your mental health, evidently!
So why is that some guys and even some women riders behave in this aggressive fashion? It’s really disappointing that a few bad apples will ruin it for everyone. It really bothers me that one of the big inhibitors for women riding is that they find some elements of cycling ‘intimidating.’ Mr Charming in about 3 seconds just said to all of us ‘you are not welcome here’ and ‘you do not know what you’re doing so therefore you’re no good at it’. What kind of message does that send to women who may be just getting back into cycling?
A ride like Ride With Me on September 15th at Docklands is about making sure that all women feel welcome to be on their bikes. No matter what kind of rider: MTB, road, vintage cruiser, hybrid, tag-along with the kids, newbies and old clunkers. The main thing is that all women can feel a sense of togetherness and that we support each other. No barriers between what teams, or clubs, or even what businesses we may all be from.
The point is, she has crossed many barriers, real or perceived to be there…I only wish Mr Charming could see that.