Riding in a women's group can be a brilliant way to learn new skills, gain confidence and make great friends.
Since cycling is still pretty male dominated, most of us spend a lot of time riding with other men. The guys are ok, but at TWC we have to admit that when the opportunity arises to ride with women, we have a lot more fun.
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what's different... but we've had a go - here are the key things we notice.
TWC collaborates - brought to you by Jessica Strange and Michelle Arthurs-Brennan
Boys are fun to hang out with, but there's something more relaxed about riding with women. Just as you would enjoy a cuppa or a glass of wine with your besties, there's a different kind of fun and social feel about riding with the girls.
It's not that we don't want to talk about Strava segments, gear ratios - and we're even ok listening to some guy talk about his 'betty swollocks'. But we also want to moan about how our other half just doesn't understand how to clean the hob (stereotypical, we know... but seriously HOW HARD IS IT?!) and moan about that totally ineffective sports bra that isn't working.
Basically, we generally have more in common and it's a great opportunity to bond, to laugh and make some great memories.
Competition between women tends to be a bit different. Whether you compete on Strava, or head-to-head, it's all a little bit of fun.
Firstly, we're starting on a level playing field. Men have on average 10% less body fat, more testosterone and more muscle mass - so if we're beating them we're basically twice as betterer, and if they're beating us sometimes it's easy to just accept it and give up. When we're racing for the lamp post against anther woman there are no excuses to fall back on and we go harder!
This said - we also tend to feel the whole competition is a little less serious with other women. We compete, but it's more lighthearted and we never end up feeling like a loser, we just applaud our mate for being a kickass rider.
So if you're feeling a little more hormonal than usual, achy, or just a bit meh, your female riding buddies will understand better than anyone. Sharing one another's experiences and advice is a great way to learn more about your body - because no bloke can advise the best on-bike treatment for a stomach that appears to be squeezing your vital organs every 20 seconds. Women do, and they'll help motivate you through it.
Women can be a lot more encouraging than the boys. At the end of the day, we're all in a weird sort if bike-riding-girl minority, and we'll do everything we can to support each other.
When men try to motivate us, sometimes it just feels like extra pressure rather than support. Some women just feel more comfortable trying new things with like-minded, or like-skilled women.
This won't apply to those who would already identify as tomboys, but we've certainly noticed it in ourselves.
Sometimes when we ride with men, their traits rub off on us. We find ourselves being more blokey, or ignoring basic needs because we don't want to seem 'girly', just to fit in. We act a bit more bolshy, refuse to stop to take a gilet off (when basically we're actually sweltering) or ride with our handlebars in a stupid position because we don't want to stop and appear to be 'faffing'. Silly really since we've seen plenty of men faff.
Sharing is Caring
There's always someone on a women's ride (often someone who has children!) who knows all about being prepared. This rider always packs too much, which is great for those of us who never pack enough. Riding group of women, there's always enough water and snacks for everyone, even sun-cream... which we always forget!
And it isn't just about sharing food either, it can be anything bike related. Men can impart their knowledge and bike advice to us, but we'd way rather learn from a woman who just explains, instead of mansplains.
There's this mythical concept in adult life called the "weekend pass", many men are familiar with this term and use it incessantly (FYI - if you're male and ever ride with us NEVER say "I've got a pass from her indoors for the morning" if you want to live).
We all organise our lives in different ways, but in many cases it's women organising the school runs, shopping, as well as working and basically keeping the world in balance. It can make it hard for us to organise rides with our women's groups - but we all understand.
So when we can make it out for a few precious hours, your female riding troop are more often happy to accommodate your timetable, and less likely to bail on you because 'hangover' or 'new x-box game'.
While we do love riding with the guys, we've got to side with riding with women as being the most fun.
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