You Don't Look DUMB in a Helmet
From my years of experience as a cyclist, and my 9 months of experience working at a bike shop, I can tell you this: many women are interested in biking. But they have a real hard time justifying the initial cost of investing in a reliable, comfortable bicycle, yummy padded shorts, and a helmet that "looks stupid." I've seen this with my closest friends and most distant acquaintances, time and again: When a woman finally musters up the courage to get herself a bike, and treat herself to some gear, she feels intimidated. She orders the cycling magazines, reads an online blog or two, but continues to feel disconnected from her new purchase. Is she a cyclist? No, she feels: she's a poser. Overwhelmed by the machine, the gear, the steep learning curve, where to ride, how to ride (hand signals, traffic rules), and what people will think of her, she gives up.
Ladies, it’s time for a tough-love pep talk.
Understandably so. It’s a big, bold move to buckle a goofy-looking helmet on your head, put a mysterious and possibly untrustworthy contraption between your legs, and pedal around like you know where you’re going. Riding a bike can feel like you’re on display, right there on the side of the road, with nothing to conceal you from the gawking stares of drivers and the judgemental gaze of other cyclists.
The hardest part is the disconnect you feel between the woman you are right now and the woman you'd like to become. If another gal passes you in her bright spandex outfit on a three thousand dollar bike, you feel out of place. Maybe you don't belong on a bike at all. Maybe you should leave this crazy world of clip-in shoes and saddle sores to the professionals.
No, my dear! You do belong here. Bicycling is for anyone and everyone who'd like to try.
Really, girlfriend. You get major points for even considering this. And every attempt is a win. So here's some loving sass that I've compiled, from me and all the rest of your cycling sisters who I've had the pleasure of interviewing thus far:
You don’t look DUMB...
...in a helmet.
...on a bike.
...using hand signals before you turn.
...wearing whatever-the-hell-neon-vest-thing you found at the thrift shop.
...using flashing lights, both front and rear, while you ride.
...going really, really slow.
...sweating up hills.
You look CUTE. You look STRONG. You look TENACIOUS and VIVACIOUS and GORGEOUS. The shocking truth is, nobody else gives a poop what you look like. Drivers are flashing by in their motorized vehicles so fast they can barely register that you’re female before you’re shrinking in their rearview mirror. Other cyclists, no matter how confident and speedy they are, aren’t judging you. They’re probably more worried about what YOU think of THEM, because that’s human nature. And, for the record, if someone does judge you, they’re revealing how insecure and lame they really are. It’s their emotional baggage to deal with, not yours.
So buckle that helmet under your radiant chin, throw a leg over the ol’ bicycle beastie, and show this world that you’re here to enjoy the ride.
You look real good on a bike. And we're all in this together.