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Group riding dynamics and the elephant in the room, sex

After the heated discussion that followed Collyn Ahart’s personal account of gender dynamics in group cycling, we’ve changed it up this week and Adele Mitchell dallies with that elephant in the room on any group ride. Sex.

Adele after cycling the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

I am no stranger to group riding with men so let me put this out there: it can’t be denied that sometimes there is an undeniable sexual frisson in the air. This is surely unavoidable given that we’re talking about a group of fit men and women dressed in skin tight clothing, pumped full of feel good endorphins and all out to get a bit of a sweat on together.

To be blunt, cycling is a sexy sport and men like to show off. You can’t really fail to notice as they grind their way up a steep hill, muscles bulging, sweat pouring, that they look as if they’re doing something else. Frankly it’s a display that would make a peacock blush.

Then there’s the swagger that comes on if they get to fix your bike mid-ride. Never mind that we could do it ourselves: who can deny a chap the opportunity to get his tools out? It’s a green light for him to demonstrate, with one twist of a chain link device, that with skills like this he could probably also wrestle a bison to the ground while procreating with every willing maiden between here and the next cycling-themed café.

And let’s not forget the all-too-frequent ‘have I told you about my numb testicles?’ conversation: the cycling gentleman’s cunning way of reminding you that although you both have bicycles, he also has some other equipment that he is rather proud of.

Yes, a group ride with men is, in reality, a hormonally driven thigh-fest dance, packed with sideways glances, not-so-casual overtaking manoeuvres, one-upmanship and general strutting around for fifty miles.

Men! They’re just showing off.
Photo © Paul Mitchell

Such is the strength of this unacknowledged sexual tension that if Jane Austen was around today she’d surely be penning Pride & Peloton, a novel about the under current of bubbling passion at Pemberley CC.

Imagine, if you will, Elizabeth Bennett getting off to a bad start with club chairman Mr Darcy due to his off-hand comments about her hard won Strava times, a pivotal scene involving a sweat soaked Rapha shirt, and a lovely wedding at the end conducted by Reverend Wiggins.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a carbon fibre bicycle and a life membership of British Cycling must be in want of a wife.” Discuss.

Headline image courtesy of Paul Mitchell photography, for more images of his cycling photography visit www.paulmitchellphotographer.com.

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