I’d like to talk about three little words (well, technically 4 words if you drop the apostrophe): “Wow! You’re strong!” I get this quite often from my male counterparts in my sport and it’s always the less fit, hairy legged ones that look like they spend maybe 3 days a year on a bike. And it always seems to come when I’m out just spinning for fun. I know it seems benign and I know I should take it as a compliment. However, I can't. I used to answer it with, “Really? Why do you say that?” And the answer I got - “Well, you kept up with us really good” – made me want to pull my hair out.
To the gents who have said this to me, let's have a heart to heart. Now apart from cringing at your poor grammar of using “good” instead of “well,” hearing that response makes me now want to answer those three words with, “Why? Cuz I kept up with your fat ass?” I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the surprise in your voice and not the actual words you say. Basically your tone is telling me that you think of yourself as a strong cyclist and find it surprising that I, being a woman, could possibly match or (God forbid) surpass your fitness level. You’re telling me, “Hey, you’re pretty good…for a girl.” I mean, did you look at all the guys around you on the ride today and say, “Wow! You’re strong!” No? Hmmm.
Let me give you the bitter truth. Try not to cry. And try not to feel like less of a man. Not unlike most competitive cyclists, I spend between 12 and 18 hours a week in the saddle. I train constantly with riders (many of them women) far better than me. I train with pros. I race against pros. 100 miles in the mountains? No problem. Suffice to say, keeping up with you on your little 45 mile ride at 17 mph; not exactly hard. And it shouldn’t surprise you.
I'm glad we had this talk. You up for Green Cove road in the morning? 26 switchbacks? 17% grade? No? Hmm...