We watched Stage 2 this morning. If you’ve ever been curious about Zwift this is pretty realistic. Well, except for their watts per kilo. Wow!
STEEP CLIMBS AND FLAT SPRINTS
Stage 2, July 5
Racers start at sea level, breathing that salty oxygenated air before going under the sea via the Ocean Tunnel. After the competitors exit the ocean, keep an eye on the climbers. During the next 5.8 miles (9.4 km), they’ll ascend a 3.9% grade. And the final push, AKA the Radio Tower Climb, is brutal.
Here’s the stage winner, Lauren Stephens. And here’s commentary on the race.
And here she is, in world, crossing the line.
Thing 2 is Ontario Women’s Cycling Week.
I’m away next weekend but if I was at home with Zoom and Zwift nearby, here’s what I would do:
SATURDAY JULY 11TH AT 9:00AM ON ZWIFT
Zwift No-Drop Social Ride – Hosted by the Toronto Hustle Women
Join us for a social Zwift ride led by the Toronto Hustle Women from 9:00 – 9:45am.
My husband and youngest son have been bicycling together for awhile now, long distances and fast, with other groups and just with each other. If you’ve been following my posts here at FIAFI, you know I sometimes cycle as well, recreational-only and mostly with Son 2 though sometimes en famille with friends. Well, this past Monday night, I took a non-family bike ride. Honestly, my first in… probably decades. I’ve met some of my husband’s cycling friends, which includes a lot of great women, and they and my husband have been talking up a regular St. Louis bike ride for women and nonbinary folks called… wait for it… The Monthly Cycle.
The first Monday of every month, The Monthly Cycle meets outside a gelateria on South Grand in St. Louis. Bert and Son 2 dropped me off around 6:30 and then carried on to their own bikes event nearby (a fast hard ride of folks who take it seriously). Women of all shapes and sizes trickled in, forming a magnificent clot on the sidewalk until the ride began at 7 pm. The total eventual headcount according to one of the organizers? 53. Several of them, some of whom I knew and some of whom I didn’t, helped me get properly kitted out with a forward beam-light and some medical tape to help fasten my helmet, which had an unfortunate buckle failure. A few were in costume for the October Halloween theme–rides are not usually themed–and ready to make 3 stops for ghost stories at allegedly haunted venues. Unaccustomed to city riding on trafficked streets, and new to riding in large groups, I took no pictures while moving. Thanks to the ghost story stops, though, I was able to snap a few shots that reflect what went on.
Not depicted but awesome:
the cyclists with wifi enabled speakers blasting out playlists with varying tastes; one person had a playlist of Halloween-themed music from both radio and musicals including Monster Mash and Thriller and songs from Rocky Horror Picture Show, while another was playing Rihana and Brittney Spears and Spanish-language tunes
occasional warbling singing-along to the tunes, while riding; hilarious when going over bumpy roads
the kids and families and other friendly residents hanging out on their porches in the dark who gave friendly shouts and waved at us as we passed through neighborhoods inhabited by a wide range of people (this ride made no attempt to stick to the middle class white notion of “safe neighborhoods” that so dominates cycling culture in many places)
the guy who, as we passed through a commercial district, stepped out onto the street to give every passing cyclist a high 5
the many folks who asked “what is this? it looks awesome!”–men but also women in cars and walking and riding their own bikes who we passed along the way–to hear a friendly shout of “It’s the monthly cycle! Women and nonbinary only!” with an added shout of “look us up!” for the folks who were presenting as women or nonbinary
the riders who held the intersections as we came through to prevent cars from riding into us as much as possible, and the uncountable “thank you”s that riders shouted to drivers who waited, whether patiently or impatiently, for the whole crew to pass
riders shouting “hole!” as they passed a big one in the road to alert those behind them, “car up!” if a car was coming toward the group to encourage everyone to get into just one lane, “car back” if a car was behind the group, and calling out turns or “slowing” so that folks in the back knew what was happening
the shared drinks and snacks at the Tower Pub where the ride typically winds up
All told, it was a little under 10 miles, total, with some hills. Enough to work a little but totally doable by someone who doesn’t bike much. It started around 7pm and I was all done and heading home a little after 10, needing only to bike a few blocks down the street from the Tower Pub to the place my husband and Son 2 had ended up for the ritual post-ride drinks and snacks at their own habitual endspot.
I am planning on hitting the Monthly Cycle up at the beginning of November with at least one friend who saw my social media post about it and was instantly all-in. I don’t know if I will stick with it through winter, given the cost of winter gear and the hazards of riding slippery roads. But the ride itself was a delight from start to finish and the folks could not have been more welcoming.
Is there a Monthly Cycle or something similar near you? A no-men cycling event or other sports community? One that isn’t anti-men, but is about a space for the kinds of relations that people who aren’t men can have with each other when men aren’t part of the group and are, at most, passed by just for a little while? What do you think the value of such groups is?
However, I also find the medical condemnations of women’s cycling fascinating for what they tell us about what people thought (and maybe still think?) about women’s athletic capabilities and potential.
Many physicians held that women’s bodies simply weren’t suited to cycling. They thought that the bicycle was a sure path to sexual depravity (given the motion of the bike and the proximity of the seat to women’s genitals) and infertility (given the shaking the womb obviously endures while riding a bike). Also, our weaker natures made us prone to exhaustion.
Reading their medical reports on the dangers of cycling–one can’t really call it ‘research,’ more a mix of armchair meanderings and anecdotes–you get a clear picture of what doctors of the day believed to be true of women’s bodies.
In “The hidden dangers of cycling” by A. Shadwell, M.D published in 1897, in the journal National Review, the author advises women against “attempting a novel and peculiar experiment with their precious persons.” That “novel and peculiar experiment” would be riding bikes. He writes that the risks to women’s health include internal inflammation, exhaustion, bicycle face, appendicitis, dysentery, nervous attacks
I love this description of why biking tempts women to self-injury.
“A vice—from another point of view a virtue—peculiar to the bicycle, that I do not remember having seen noticed, is that the ease and rapidity of the locomotion tempt to over-long rides by bringing some desirable objective within apparent reach. Going to nowhere and back is dull, going to somewhere (only a few miles farther) is attractive; and thus many are lured to attempt a task beyond their physical powers.”
I love the temptation to go just a few kilometers farther and often suffer from exhaustion myself after!
Back to the list of physical ailments associated with cycling. I’ll be writing another blog post about sexual depravity and bicycle seats, but what interests me today because it’s unexpected and unfamiliar are the worries about ‘bicycle face.’
Bicycle face was an actual medical ailment of the day. In the 1890s “bicycle face” was one of the “allegedly possible ailments” of riding a bike. Anti-bicyclists of the time claimed it was “the product of excessive worry over maintaining balance while riding.” And of course, given our wobbliness and worry prone natures, women were especially likely to suffer from bicycle face.
When I first heard of bicycle face, I instantly thought of the look fierce concentration and effort that’s associated with bicycle racing. Here’s the most famous race face, Jan Ullrich. Below Jan is my race face! But I was sad to find out that bicycle face is something else altogether.