Cycling is Sexy
The tight Pants, rippling muscles, chiseled jaw, dripping sweat…no it’s not a sexy lead-singer rocking out on stage, driving all the ladies wild—it’s a cyclist!
There’s no denying that a fit, athletic man in spandex can turn a few female heads. Cycling takes strength, stamina and vitality. In the last 15 years, male cyclists have been skyrocketed into rockstar status. And admit it, scandals aside, from 1999-2005 we were all lusting after Lance Armstrong. This phenomenon encouraged plenty of men to pick up the spandex and prove themselves as equally virile, and equally competent on two wheels. When you sit at a computer all day, you need opportunities to prove your masculine fitness!
So we know that many women may find male cyclists attractive and sexy but, they probably also find them intimidating. In America, cycling is a sport pretty much dominated by men. The guys’ cycling trips outnumber the girls’ 2 to 1. And many of those men can be seriously competitive. Compare that to 55% of cyclists being female in bike-friendly Netherlands! You can see why cycling for American ladies can feel like a hostile, intimidating venture.
Why Women Don’t Cycle
Sport cycling aside, the leisure and day-to-day biking industry is even more underrepresented by the ladies. According to an analysis of three of the largest bikeshare programs in New York, Chicago and Boston, for every woman who hops on a bike, three men take a spin. Now, the reason for this cannot be completely blamed on intimidation of ultra-competitive males. There are many factors—women are more likely to need to transport children or other passengers, they may not choose bike-friendly shoes or clothing, and they fear distracted drivers and harassment—just to name a few.
Becoming a confident biker can be quite empowering for either gender. It’s a great tool to fight obesity, depression, and a perfect way to become more social.
History of Men and Bikes
Simply put, men are more likely to take risks. Anecdotally and statistically, it’s just a reality. And there is some risk in cycling, especially at high speeds. Even the earliest 19th-century models were mostly used by “adventurous young men.” Early models crashed or flipped easily, resulting in broken wrists or even death.
Times have changed. Biking is safer, and more socially accepted for women, but as mentioned above, there are also many factors to contend with.
Cycling for Women
There’s no doubt that bicycling is good for everyone, and that includes women. Susan B. Anthony once said, “I think bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” It is a personally emancipating feeling to cruise off, anywhere you please. Zoom by joggers, go further, faster. Get to work if you don’t have a car,
Many woman-centric or women-only races and groups are popping up. For those who really do want to dig deep and get into the sport, there is much support and many resources. Women’s cycling clubs may very well be the way of the future—we just hope they sponsor some co-ed rides!
If properly outfitted and aware of safe practices, almost any woman can hop on the seat and steer her way to a good time. A few tips to increase your chances of sticking with cycling and improving the female participation stats:
- Comfort first: If you’re going to be cycling for a good length of time, you should invest in a good pair of cycling shorts. And no underwear.
- Test out a few different seats (saddles), or even better, get fit at a bike shop. If biking hurts, you’re not likely to stick with it.
- It’s all in the hips: take care of your biggest joints with strengthening exercises and the right equipment—like rigid cycling shoes if you’re getting into road bikes. Women riders have a different center of gravity than men, and ignoring that can lead to injury. Improper shoes give too much movement and flex of the foot, which is hard on knees and hips.
Two Sexes, Two Experiences
Whether you are male or female—biking can be a beneficial and exhilarating sport. Learn what you can from the opposite sex, and admire them for their respective qualities, but make sure your experience is tailored to your body, ability and needs.