Road Worn

Normally I’d but happy to be worn out by the road….if we were talking about road riding.  But alas, this is not the case.

I’ve had one day on the bike this week.  The least since May.  I was on the road all week for work.  I snuck a 2.5 mile treadmill run in at 7AM one morning, but that’s about it.  Conference sitting, conference food, it was the polar opposite in terms of activity and diet for me.

My view all week. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

To top it off, my flight (only a 50 minute flight from Washington, DC to Hartford) was turned around shortly after takeoff due to a problem with cabin pressure.  We were stuck in DC for a few hours before someone finally made the decision to get us a new plane.  It took me 8 hours to get home for a 1 hour flight.  I arrived home much later than expected and my plans for an afternoon spin were doomed.

I really wanted to get that spin in too–because I’m entered in another cyclocross race tomorrow.  Maybe the lack of exercise this week will be good–maybe it’s just a good recovery and I’ll have all kinds of energy in my legs.  But I don’t have any illusions about tomorrow.

This will be my 3rd race and it’s considerably smaller than Providence.  Last time there were almost 100 women in the field.  Tomorrow there is only 10.  It’s an open field which means I’ll be groups with Cat 1, 2 3, and 4 women.  I did some checking–a few are Cat 1 or 2 racers.  I don’t expect to be last but I won’t finish in the top 50%.

As I do these races, this mass grouping has to be one of the aspects I find interesting (not good, not bad–just an observation here).  Cycling has long since been yet another sport dominated by men.  So when they race, they compete against similarly ranked racers, because there are enough men filling these categories.  With these smaller venues, there just isn’t enough women to sustain breakout categories.  There is a larger race this weekend in New Gloucester, Maine.  Downeast CX is a two-day event that many racers are attending.  So this race I’m doing is appealing because it’s a smaller one, and closer than Maine.  But knowing that I’ll be lapped by a Cat 1 or 2 racer halfway through the race really changes the way I approach the whole event.  Meaning–I can’t take it too seriously.  This is a good thing ultimately since my nature leans toward the competitive (even if my legs aren’t as fast as I’d like them to be).  Also–I am dog ass tired from this week of travel.  It will be really interesting to see how I do tomorrow considering the lack of training and poor diet and lousy sleep all week.  I don’t have high expectations, other than to gain a bit more experience, finish upright, and hopefully have a good time.

I’ll give a report either tomorrow night or possibly Monday on Sloper Cross.  For the rest of the right I have to check out some video of the course.  At least my brain will be ready, even if my body won’t be.



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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

19 responses to “Road Worn”

  1. bgddyjim says :

    Cycling is not “dominated by men”. Men find fewer excuses to get out and race than women do, therefore there are more of them at races.

  2. bgddyjim says :

    Somehow that point made more sense in my head that what ended up being typed. Men find fewer excuses to NOT race. Doh!

    • BlueRoses says :


      Cycling is dominated by men. Sponsors make constant excuses about why they won’t fund a women’s team. Bikes come in normal vs women’s sizes/geometries, with women’s being a “special” option. Podiums are decorated with pretty model types to dress the arms of the winners. Sorry, but check your male privilege at the door, buddy. Women don’t have “excuses’ – women have a steeper hill to climb to get to a level playing field. This is true in quite a lot of sports.

      • bgddyjim says :

        While you may have some semblance of a point at the elite professional level, below that men’s teams don’t supply funding – other than the obligitory team uniform – for their cyclists. Most every cyclist below the elite pro level funds his (or her) own cycling, including equipment and entrance fees. I follow three blogs from budding cyclists – one Cat 2, and two collegiate cyclists, and they buy all of their own equipment and pay their own entrance fees. I don’t have any male privilege… I have a bike, and I ride it. That’s where the privilege ends. This is more a “which comes first, the chicken or the egg”, discussion… Women, especially at Karen’s level, don’t show up to race for one reason or another, but the men do – that’s why her breakout category has to ride with the pros. It has nothing to do with funding because the men at the lower tiers aren’t funded either. The races are held sure enough, but the popularity is sparce at best. The question, then, is why don’t the women show up to race, not why is the sport dominated by men.

    • funkbunny77 says :

      We’ve chatted about this before. I definitely disagree with you.

      It’s fair to say cycling is dominated by men when the ratio of men to women cyclists is 2:1. In the professional cycling world. women are making huge strides in parity but it’s not there yet. Women’s teams are generally defunded before a men’s team is scrapped – nor not even offered in the first place. Women’s fields are usually mashed together because of fewer entrants. None of this is speculation … it’s just the state of cycling today. Ask any female pro-cyclist (I personally am excited to possibly meet Bibcycling Magazine’s FitChick at the bike expo next weekend).

      Women DO have more obstacles to getting on the bike and it’s definitely a gender divide. Guys tend to just go; women tend to consider the time away from family and other obligations and try to juggle the best way to manage her time. Guys in general just don’t do that – and are not wired to do that.

      You are an active guy and hit the road for long hours regularly. You get up early to squeeze as much in before the rest of the family needs you. It’s part of your schedule. How would you manage this if you wife insisted on the same amount of ride time? That’s a lot of time away from the kids, the pets, the house, and everything that a happy, healthy household requires. It’s not an excuse – it’s life.

      You are entitled to your opinion; this is mine as a female cyclist who doesn’t get out as much as I want.

      • bgddyjim says :

        My wife doesn’t insist on the same amount of ride time – I encourage it. In fact, now that the kids are in school, she’s got 6-8 hours a day to get out and ride to her heart’s content while I’m working away to pay the bills. Beyond that, if there’s enough time in the day for my 45 minutes, there’s enough time in the day for hers too (maybe I’m a rare guy, but I doubt it). I do consider my time away from the family – that’s why I get up early (?). Even considering all of that – which has absoutely nothing to do with why semi-pro women don’t show up for races as much as semi-pro men do (neither of which are “funded”) – my wife has far fewer obstacles in her way as far as either running or riding than I do… Now races happen to occur on Saturdays and Sundays – Saturday is my day up until noon-ish – so if she wanted to race, well we’d have some negotiating to do, but we’d figure something out (every other week or something). The main point is that the sport is dominated by men because they show up, not some mysterious cabal (or men’s club) that is holding them back. My issue is with the use of the word “Dominate”. Men don’t dominate the sport – we don’t have a commanding influence or exercise control over whether or not women participate. The races are there for women to participate in, they just don’t show up like men do and that has nothing to do with money or men, not at the level that Karen is writing about in this post. This was not the case in the past, but who would want to live in that?

      • funkbunny77 says :

        Kudos to you both for being able to support the family on one income and allow your wife to stay home with the kids. I suspect she doesn’t actually have 6-8 hours to ride her bike every day because I know it takes a lot to run a household even if you aren’t the working spouse. That it’s those things that keep women from riding more in general.

        I propose it’s the second part – the negotiation of time spent in pursuit of individual activities – that inhibits more women from participating in races. Sure, there are other things like feelings of inadequacy, possibly not feeling the same “drive” to go as fast as possible, or just not knowing racing is an option.

        Everyone out there has other obligations they chose to put off in order to race – both men and women. But I would wager more women are balancing not only their own appointments but also the kids’/pets/family appointments than men.

        Yes, men are not necessarily actively keeping women from racing. It’s everything that being a woman entails (generally) that keeps more of us from racing. These aren’t excuses – they are reality. I agree with you that anyone can make excuses not to do something, but choosing family over individual pursuits at least some of the time isn’t an excuse. It’s an investment in the future (children, relationships, community, financial).

      • bgddyjim says :

        Allow me to humorously rephrase – my wife has a 6-8 hour window in which to engage in a pedaled activity. Is that better? Men cannot do anything with or change “all that it entails to be a woman” so to say men “dominate” the sport is unfair – we simply participate in it in larger numbers… And that’s exactly what Karen said in the post – I was simply trying to point out that she chose the wrong word – dominate isn’t the right word.

  3. Karen says :

    Ok, time for me to weigh in. I would have yesterday but was racing and then sick so I was in no shape to.

    Jim, I was taken aback by your asssertion that women “make excuses” to not race. It sounded like you were asserting that women do not take the sport seriously, do not commit to it, do not care enough about it. It was a diminishing remark, and I was offended.

    Now, I have read your blog and you have read mine and personally you have been supportive of my racing and bike activities, which I appreciate. If read some nice encouraging things you’ve said about your wife getting into cycling. I don’t think you meant to piss women off in general by saying that, but it was so widely dismissive to our gender, it was hard not to take it that way.

    Cycling is dominated by men in this country, and I’m not burining my bra while I say that. It’s widley recognized as a fact and there are volumes of articles published asking the question “why?” That question is being asked a lot these days and it’s a hot topic. From a business standpoint, bike companies want to know why because women control 80% of household spending, and they want to grow their sales, which have been flat or with minute growth for decades. The reasons cited range from vanity (women don’t feel comfortable about how they look in lycra, they don’t want to mess their hair or have their makeup run) to economic (statistically women don’t make as much as men, etc) to simple choices as we choose to have families and care for them–they take center stage. Cycling is a cumulative activity. It takes time–and a lot of women don’t have it between working full time and raising families. You need a super supportive spouse for any racing to happen, let alone a stray bike ride now and then.

    I do see it happening though–at the race I was in yesterday, I saw male & female racers that were clearly couples. Some had their kids along. Kids were racing in the jr races. It’s possible. But not the norm.

    And for the record, I have been “given a hard time” by men in this sport and others. It’s out there, it exists. But more recently, what I see is men wanting women in the sport. They offer encouragement, they are friendly, and do it in a way that does not make us feel like it’s just to increase their chances of getting laid–which is refreshing.

    I work full time and have a 7 year old son and I am a single mother. I take care of an entire house and propoerty, yard, etc by myself. My family lives 100 miles from here. If I want to ride my bike, I sometimes have to hire a babysitter.

    But saying that we just “make excuses” ? I reject that entirely.

    • bgddyjim says :

      I just took issue with your use of the word “dominate”. To say we men dominate the sport means that we men do something to control you from having enough women at an event to race against women of your own talent level – I’m talking about the actual definition of the word “dominate”. We don’t keep women from showing up, we support it – that’s how it’s possible for me to have written all of what I’ve written. I was off the cuff and quick in my reply – I should have taken better care to explain myself so you could understand where I was coming from, and for that I apologize deeply. As you already know from my comments, I am deeply supportive of your racing – and I also wish more women would show up to the smaller races so you could compete on a level playing field of your peers – but as I a man, I can’t do much to influence that. Lest I push my wife to race and be labeled a mysogynist, obsessed with her outward physical appearance. 😉

    • bgddyjim says :

      P.S. See Pam’s reply below – misogynist, I am, for encouraging my wife to take the time away from me to ride her bike. When you absolutely cannot win, the deck’s stacked.

  4. Pam says :

    I am not a cyclist, but I am a woman. I am disgusted by the implication that “women” make excuses. From reading the posts here, I can take 3 things away from “Jim”… 1) He loves to ride and will “make” time to do so. That is great and I am glad that he has a pastime that he truly loves. 2) Jim’s wife does not love to ride. The fact that he “encourages her to go” and she doesn’t tells me that. 3) Jim’s wife is not “women”. That is one woman who doesn’t use her free time cycling for whatever reason she has. He can call it “excuses”. But it is ONE person, not a whole gender.

    The whole thing is absurd. If my husband were to think less of me for NOT choosing to engage in a pastime he loves, we would have a terrible marriage.

    Kudos to Karen for doing what she loves and living a life outside it. We all make choices that work for us. It is individual and not tied to our gender, race, religion or marital status.

    Live the life YOU want…. let others do the same free of your judgement…

    • bgddyjim says :

      You jumped into the middle of a conversation that you know little about. Your second two assumptions are examples of why “we don’t assume”. My wife does like riding and while my wife may not be all women, the only thing between Karen’s race being filled to capacity requiring separate races for all categories is women… My initial comment to Karen was a little too quick – I expected that she would understand my meaning because we’ve corresponded regularly on our blogs for the past several months – she on mine, and me on hers. After reading her comment I can see that she didn’t get my meaning and made attempts to rectify the situation I created.

      • Pam says :

        In a blog, how can anyone know the whole situation, and I did not “jump” into the middle of a conversation. I posted an opinion as did BlueRoses and Funkbunny. Just that. My humble opinion of Karen’s “Road Worn” topic. I only know what was written, that is true. I agree that tone and intention can be very hard to discern in writing vs. speaking. But it was stated repeatedly, by you, that your wife chooses not to ride. (I am glad to hear that she loves it, I have many friends who do.)

        “In fact, now that the kids are in school, she’s got 6-8 hours a day to get out and ride to her heart’s content while I’m working away to pay the bills”

        “if there’s enough time in the day for my 45 minutes, there’s enough time in the day for hers too”

        “so if she wanted to race, well we’d have some negotiating to do,”

        I deeply reject any mass stereotypical comments about what men and women can and cannot do or who has more excuses as a gender. Again, I promote ANYONE to do what they love without judgement from anyone.

        I hope that the relationship that you and Karen have continues to be supportive and encouraging and you both continue with your passion in cycling.

      • bgddyjim says :

        I’m sure Karen and I will continue to be supportive of each other, as I will with my wife, we just had to make our way through the lingity (language) first. I never made a mass stereotype of women – I gave a reason that they don’t show up to races – there’s a difference between riding and racing by the way. My wife rides – she does not race. I ride, I do not race. Women have many reasons that they don’t ride, and I certainly wouldn’t be an authority on any of them – but men influencing the sport so women won’t show up is not one of them. To suggest so would be to put a mass stereotype on men, no?

  5. Michele says :

    If I understand this correctly, I think what we actually have issue with here is the definition of the word “dominate”. Did Karen mean that men “dominate” as in “rule or control” or “dominate” as in “hold a predominant position (advantage in numbers)”. I think Jim initially understood it to be the first definition and understandably responded the way he did, I don’t think he meant to alienate women cyclists or stay at home moms. I personally consider myself to be a bike rider, not a cyclist, as I don’t ride long distances or enter races.

  6. Karen says :

    I think the word dominate is quite perfect. The many definitions you pointed out are correct, but one was ommited:
    “to be predominant in” But let’s let all of this go, shall we? I think the point belabored.

  7. Karen says :

    Michelle, agreed–this was a miscommunication at an epic level. Jim has been supportive in the past, and expect he will be in the future 🙂 This is definitely a sensitive subject and I was clearly not alone in my initial reaction to it (although I didn’t comment until today). We love bikes, that should be enough for all of us.

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