Tonight I had a conversation with a friend about my lack of sports participation as a child. My parents were old fashioned and didn't believe that girls should play sports. We did things like Girl Scouts and sewing. And no I am not making this up. The only exposure I had to sports in school was thru PE class and-not surprisingly-I wasn't very interested.
Fast forward to adulthood-where I found myself eventually a gym rat, a spin instructor and finally a cyclist. I didn't like the competitive, balls-out, sexist world of cycling I found at local shops and opened my own Women's only shop. I love it and feel truly satisfied by my "job".
However-I have also been made aware that there are equally as many men turned off by the balls-out world I hated. Men who wanted to ride with the girls not for some weird reason, but to be taught, and accepted. I think its easier for women to admit they need help than for men, but who is it that serves male cyclists in my community this way? To teach them to shift correctly and sell them clothes in all sizes? To put them on bikes that suit their needs and goals? Its a conundrum for me. I got into this business to serve women whose needs I felt were not being met, but what if its really not a problem of sexism but rather a problem related to cyclist education and customer service overall?
I just read an interview with Sarai Snyder (of Girl-Bike-Love and Cyclofemme fame) that really got me thinking about it. You can read the article here . She discusses the idea of gender parity in cycling. I think (I hope!) that the things I do at the shop make a difference in women cyclists' lives-but maybe its time to start thinking about how to serve men who want help too? Maybe this could just be the future of The Unlikely Cyclist?