Meg and I rode (with our friend Meghan…see side bar) the STP in a day. This is a ride from Seattle to Portland and folks can do it in one day or two. We opted for the one-day version, a total of 205 miles…twice as long as my furthest ride and quite possibly my longest workout ever…perhaps with the exception of ultimate frisbee tournaments. But frisbee tournaments are always punctuated with short breaks, slamming oranges and bagels, and smoking pot, so the two really don’t compare unless you count the pot part. I’m kidding…I never ate the bagels.
Anyway, there was no pot…we were definitely feeling the pain, after mile 150 anyway. Up till then, Meg, Meghan, and I were just zipping along (avg. 17.0 mph for the entire 205). We felt good, we took turns leading our pace line of 3 and joining on to others. It was really fun and great to be riding with two women who are competitive with themselves but are not about beating others. Just great! Meghan is a hell of a climber…kicking our asses up every hill. Meg is rock steady and is truly the energizer bunny….in fact I think she is still riding between the two cities. I’m not clear why…but I felt like a mother hen protectively watching over my chicks…sometimes riding in the back of the pace line to make sure all was well…that and that I got the best drafts of the day.
I joke, but I really did want to make sure my besties were not being hit by all the riders (sorry fellas…but mostly you guys) who would pass within inches without so much as a chortle. ON YOUR LEFT….say it with me boys…three little words that could mean the difference between a great day riding and a traumatic head injury. I see you all Lance-Armstrong-wanna-live-strong-and-be-like-mike-boys trying to win a ride that a) is not a race; and b) did I mention it wasn’t a race? But really to what end are you passing so closely and saying so little?
We rode strong and finished strong…if a bit snarky and a tad nauseated. But, 205 miles in one day….that my friends is 93 more miles than race day. I feel a distinct psychological advantage!
Part 2: Lessons from the Road
1. We learned something about our need for better hydration…but we aren’t sure what we learned
2. Chamois butter (aka butt balm) is an ointment of the gods
3. Training for the event is better than not training for the event
4. 4 hours of sleep for 4 nights in succession may have a biblical ring, but it makes for a long ass bike ride
5. Chip seal sucks
6. Real food is better than fake food
7. 205 miles is 130 miles further than anyone really needs to ride in a given period of time
8. We are rockstars
9. The STP really only needs to be done once ever
Part 3: Jen gets on her social justice soap box…again
Enough of the complaints….at least about the riders. I’m unclear as to why…but there is an ongoing conflict…war is too strong…perhaps an ongoing “police action” between cyclists and motorists….as if the two are mutually exclusive. I don’t know about you, but I also use a car as do the majority of cyclists. There are some folks who do not…and bravo to you I say! Anyway, most of us cross-over and can really relate to the frustrations of sharing the road from both points of view. When I’m driving…I sometimes don’t see the cyclists at night…or if they run a stop sign or if they are just doing everything right and are in the bike lane. Then…when I don’t see them and I nearly hit them I feel scared and want to lash out…at them…as if it is their fault that I nearly killed them. When really, I didn’t see them and am blaming them for my mis-step. Bad form, Jen.
When I’m a cyclist…I couldn’t be more irritated with the honking, the yelling, the gestures, the fake “loss-of-control-and-now-i’m-in-your-path,” the speeding, the opening of car doors to scare you, the not seeing you and then blaming you for not seeing you. These things bother me. So you see…I understand the tensions…but really, is there a need for a battle of the roads? Can’t we share? With the price of gasoline bicycles will soon be all any of us can afford anyway.
To add insult to injury…some (a small minority) of young white men seem to think it is their right, ethical duty, job even, to yell obscenities and threats at women cyclists. These are the same characters who likely feel that women’s bodies are theirs for consumption. And, sometimes they combine the two beliefs and yell things like, “I can see why you are riding a bike fat ass” (white male yahoo as conveyed to me on STP, 2009).
Now as my partner said…this is a bit like going to the Ironman and yelling at the women competitors…”You should be swimming, biking, and running you fat ass.” Doesn’t make much sense now does it? Let’s see….I’m swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, then running a marathon and you are doing?? Oh that’s right…NOTHING.
But, it doesn’t stop the sting to have critical consciousness and an ability to outhink the yahoos, and some seriously snarky comments, does it? No…the sting of that sexism and the women-body-hating misogyny is no less…because the targets of forms of oppression end up doing some of the oppressor’s heavy-lifting…by internalizing the narratives. I’ve written on this before….and you know that I am the owner of 38 years of anti-women’s bodies narratives….all of which I resist and attempt to overthrow….and then a yahoo yells at me, and I am a pudgy 12 year-old believing that her very physical existence is an assault on what women “should be.” And, I even hate that pudgy 12 year old, and then I feel guilty for hating her, and then I hate myself for hating myself, and then I hate myself for hating myself for hating myself…and the spiral continues until my head explodes.
When this kind of stuff goes down it makes me want to hole up in the house with my girls and listen to Free to Be You and Me until…you guessed it…my head explodes. That the yahoos of the world can still reduce me to a pudgy 12 year old who didn’t deserve the shit she got in the first place…first pisses me off, then just saddens me. She was a cool kid…a smart kid…a great athlete who struck out all of those boys who called her names and had a hanging jump shot by the time she was 14. My body has worked for me…and it did again on Saturday and it will again on September 7th.
To all the yahoos: My body is not yours to consume for so many reasons…but mostly because you can’t f*cking catch me!