How I went from rad chick to fat chick on the bike trail
I was confident that after my first experience on a mountain bike, it was sure to be my last. However, after a number of years had passed and memories had faded, my then boyfriend now husband convinced me to give it another shot. Any by convinced, I mean he scrounged up a bike for me and said come on, let’s go. I still can’t say it was love at first, second, or even third sight, but the more I rode, the more hooked I became. And while I’ve never been a hammer head, or gnar shredder, I was comfortably somewhere in between and could hold my own on most any trail, even if I was the slow and steady one of the group.
That was, until about a year ago when I found myself knocked-up. Needless to say, that year out of the saddle and added postpartum weight, has not made me any faster, and now, I’m the chick on the overly-capable bike, who looks a bit less cute in her bike shorts and in a lot more pain on the way up.
I know this to be true not only because of what the scale reads, or the number of times I now have to stop and catch my breath, but by the interactions I now have with good-hearted strangers that pass me on the trail. Pre-baby, had I been stopped on the trail or out for a ride, interactions usually consisted of friendly banter about bikes, the weather, or which trail went where. Post-baby interactions consist of well-meaning yet utterly patronizing bits of encouragement, such as:
“You’re burning it up – this is a really hard trail!” – when clearly I am not.
“Just a little further and you’ve made it halfway!” – thanks, but I’ve ridden this trail plenty.
Or my personal favorite:
“The hardest part is getting out of the driveway!” – no, the hardest part is lugging my postpartum, fatass up this mountain!
All of these of which, have been said to me on the trail within the last month.
So dear friendly trail strangers: I know your intentions are good, but please stop – it just serves to remind me how slow I’m going and how sad I must look to passers-by. Before you open your mouth, ask yourself, would I say this to a dude with 5% body fat in full spandex kit sprinting up Armstrong? Probably not, cuz those dudes are assholes and nobody likes talking to them regardless, but you get the point.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t be friendly, but please stop it with the patronizing encouragement. I’m all about being friendly to people on the trail, especially to those who appear new to the sport, but just remember you don’t always know what mountains one might be climbing off the bike. They could be recovering from an injury, childbirth or just an epic hangover and your well intentions may just serve as a reminder that they’d feel more comfortable at home on the couch.
With that said, I’m likely the semi-asphyxiated chick on the black and yellow Rocky Mountain in the teal Troy Lee helmet. If you see me out there huffing and puffing my way up, feel free to say hi, comment on my sick bike, or ask for trail advice. Just don’t tell me what a good job I’m doing.
Thank you for this! I’m a newbie at mtb, just turned 50 and could stand to lose about 50 lbs. I am constantly getting the ‘that a girl’ pep talk as I stop to catch my breath and double check I’m still alive. I may be a chunky, red-faced, puff the dragon rider but I just want to be a part of the gang!
I know your intentions are good, but please stop – it just serves to remind me how slow I’m going and how sad I must look to passers-by.
a dude with 5% body fat in full spandex kit sprinting up Armstrong? Probably not, cuz those dudes are assholes
LOL k, who’s the asshole again?
You are… and even worse yet, one w/ no sense of humor.
My kids were making fun of me the other day at the bus stop near Guardsman Connect because i said “pedal, pedal, pedal- you’re almost there…” to every cyclist that passed. It’s part of my upbringing to be encouraging to people that are trying hard, regardless of if they are leading the pack or bringing up the rear. I’d imagine most people in the trail that take the time to offer encouragement are the same. I doubt they mean anything negative by what they say, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you perceived their encouragement in a completely different light if you were more comfortable with your fitness level.
I sort of consider myself a social person, but this is why I stick to the head nod, “enjoy your ride,” on the trails. It can’t really be mis-perceived, other than as possibly slightly standoffish, which maybe it is…the only time I will delve deeper than that is if someone genuinely wants advice on the trails cause they’ve never ridden there.
On behalf of my better half, those are all lame comments. Acceptable to use only while trying to sarcastically insult your bro.
And I’m pretty sure the dude that said, “The hardest part is getting out of the driveway..” , was an aspiring %5 BF spandex clad Armstrong sprinter.
Please understand, if I do come across you on the trail, RockyMnt turquoise helmet, I’m totally going to greet you with a patronizing comment, only to remind you that I appreciated what you wrote.
(mind melt, when you hear that next patronizing comment you’ll never know if it was somebody who read this article or just another dbag)