February 12, 2011

Regarding my little cycling career

By Elisa | 11 Comments »


Today someone said this sentence to me: “It seems like your little cycling career is ending anyway.” Hours (and an apology) later and it still smarts.

Do I ride less than I used to? Yep. Do I sometimes complain about riding up hills? Yep. Did I take 8 weeks off due to a broken foot? Yep. Am I riding less because it’s winter; choosing to walk or get rides when offered? Yep. No, I am not as gung-ho about proving myself, I got over that. Is my “little cycling career” over? NOT A CHANCE.

I don’t want to think that this has to do with  my being a woman, but I can’t help it. Today’s remark was not the first time I have heard this. People ask me all the time if I have given up and decided to get a car. Why is that even a question? As though getting a car is giving up on riding my bike. News flash: plenty of people ride bikes AND have cars. News flash #2: my job, which is why I gave up my car, is still the same. No raise = no car anytime soon.

My love for riding is not a passing fancy. Even if I do buy a car or ride less, that means nothing about my passion for riding. If a man takes some time off from riding, is he asked if his “little cycling career” is over? Does anyone consider his decision to ride a “little cycling career”? I am recovering from an injury and trying to get back into it. It is harder than I thought, which is upsetting, but I am working on it. Shit, I just had the flu for a week! I rode my bike to and from an ass kicking ballet class last night in 27 degrees.

To be clear, I am not lambasting this person. It simply brought out some anger about being treated as a joke. As a woman working in the non-profit world, I get that enough. As a 31 year old single woman, I get that enough. The last thing I need is it coming from the cycling world.

Tomorrow night I will ride my bike in a prom dress and have a great time doing it. Anyone who has a problem with that can suck it.

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  1. On February 12th, 2011 Lara said:

    Oh dear, that was a (unintentional, I’m sure) condescending turn of phrase. Plenty of people, even those who hope to make cycling a career (i.e. race pro) take time off to heal an injury or ride far less in the off season. Good for you for keeping it on the fun side!

  2. On February 12th, 2011 Katie said:

    Elisa, I’m so sympathetic to this. And yes, intentional or no, a reference to your “little cycling career” is sexist– no getting around that, really.

    As an activist for cycling with your family, and cycling while pregnant, I’ve been feeling like a bit of a sham lately– I’m pregnant again, and feeling crappy, and the weather’s been bad, and I’ve been through three different bugs in the past two months, and, and…

    So I haven’t been riding as much. We’ve been walking a lot, and staying closer to home, and days and days go by where my ass doesn’t hit the saddle. And I miss riding, but not enough to compromise my health when recovering from a bug, or expend precious energy when there’s too little to go around between chasing one baby & growing another one.

    And when it comes down to it, that’s not the point. What we are advocating for is *real choice* in how we get around– on any given day, we should be able to *safely and easily* hop on a bike, or a bus, or into a car, or walk, and get where we need to be. So that on days where we want to and our bodies allow, we can ride to our heart’s content. And when body or soul aren’t willing, there should be other easy and safe choices.

    For what it’s worth, I think you rock, whether you ride 30 miles a day or 30 miles a month. :)

  3. On February 12th, 2011 Hayley said:

    I applaud!!!

  4. On February 12th, 2011 Barry Heaven said:

    There are those who have an ingrained belief that car driving is mature and cycling is something you should leave behind in childhood. The use of the unnecessary ‘little’ is indicative of this and serves to make you feel small and childish. Quite honestly I wouldn’t blame you if you had slapped his face for that!

    I’m sure if you asked said person if his little car driving is going to be over soon, he would think you are being smug.

  5. On February 12th, 2011 oldfool said:

    Obviously that person does not understand that riding a bicycle is an extension of walking. Walking is not a career. I wonder if that person would call riding a motor scooter in good weather only “a little career”. In America if you ride a bicycle regularly in your daily life you are considered eccentric. I have three cars but I mostly ride a bike. When I need a car I drive one yet I’m known as the old dude that rides a bike everywhere.

  6. On February 12th, 2011 Kara said:

    What an odd thing for a person to say. But I think you summed it up perfect. You have nothing to prove to anyone. No matter what you do. You know yourself and your passion for cycling and that is all that matters.

    I still have people, good friends even, that make comment on my having two bicycles. They don’t get it and they won’t. But I do.

    Cute pink dress, btw!

  7. On February 12th, 2011 Cyclin' Missy said:

    You rock, Elisa! You don’t have to prove anything. Just do what you love in the way that keeps you loving it.

  8. On February 12th, 2011 Bill Ruhsam said:

    Rock on!

  9. On February 13th, 2011 jj said:

    “You rock, Elisa! You don’t have to prove anything. Just do what you love in the way that keeps you loving it.”

    what she said!

  10. On February 14th, 2011 Mom of three said:

    I wish I had your guts..go for it, you inspire!!!!

  11. On February 20th, 2011 Jack in Portland said:

    Re the ‘little bicycling career’ comment, I’d be surprised if the person making the comment is physically able to keep up with you on your commute. The real demon, though, is within us. When I’m riding up the only really steep hill on the way home on my commute, my Demon is heckling me, sneaking around the edges, trying to worm its way in, telling me, ‘You’re too tired, get off and walk it the rest of the way; no way you can do this’, then I crest the hill anyway. I’ve learned to recognized the “It’s Impossible” demon, and once you know it, when it appears, you can brush it away. You’d have laughed off the comment if you weren’t feeling a bit guilty at not driving yourself to keep riding. Break those chains – free yourself from the oppression of self-doubt. You Can do it, it’s just that because you choose not to on one day or another, you don’t. That doesn’t mean any attempt to invalidate you has merit, whether from someone else, or from within you. Ride On!

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