It has been a while since we have needed the wise words of The Gentleman Cyclist, however earlier in the week we heard the sound of a letter drop onto the door mat and we rushed to see what it brought. We considered ignoring it as TGC was upstairs in the drawing room in dressing gown and slippers, smoking his pipe and enjoying a fine after dinner glass of Port. [Yes I know letter come in the morning, and dinner is in the evening, but this one was delivered by DHL who seem to work 24/7 here in steamy Singapore] He had left strict instructions not to be bothered unless there was something serious, and this cry for help seemed to meet the bill, so we slipped the letter under the door, coughed and knocked on the door, then ran for cover like schoolboys in case he was displeased. To our relief, a few hours later the response was brought downstairs by his butler.
I have read keenly the lessons from The Gentleman Cyclist in the past and tried to apply them to my current situation, but, alas, both previous examples were written by lady members about treatment they received at the hands of the men, and my situation is the exact reverse. Last Saturday on the 6am Rats ride, I turned up expecting a great performance from the legs, but unfortunately even by the time I had reached Rats I was already feeling somewhat disconcerted as the guns simply were not firing on all cylinders.
Anyway, we set off at a fair old pace and I noticed that once again we had a solitary lady in the group. “Thank goodness I secretly thought to myself, I can just slow down under the disguise of ‘taking care’ of my female club mate and making sure she doesn’t end up having to finish the ride alone like has happened in the past”.
As expected, as the group rotated, this lady came closer to the front and once her turn came, I was looking forward the the rest I fully needed. HANG ON! WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? was all I could think as she proceeded to drive up the pace to the point that I thought my lungs would bust. Heart rate off the scale, sweat running down my face, not the way I wanted to start the gentle warm up ride before the Food Canopy.
Anyway RTI, to my question, what is the right etiquette here, is it ok for a guy to shout steady up to a lady, and more importantly given the 6am is a no drop ride, is it ok for the lady to drop them men?
I wait eagerly for your reply
Confused and Emasculated
Dear Confused and Emasculated
I fully understand your situation and I believe that the youth of today refer to this strange phenomenon as ‘being chicked’. To paraphrase a great moving picture starring one John Travolta, I am not sure if I am more concerned that somebody has been chicked or that it happens so often that we need to have a term for it!
I am often taking a leisurely ride out enjoying the weather when red faced ladies pass my on their cycles going about their business of shopping and running around after the children and so it is important to note that under no circumstances should you give away that you have been bested by one of the fairer sex, there are always reasons why you have been passed or left behind. Here are some simple rules that you need to follow in these situations:
1. It is never, I repeat, never, acceptable to shout ‘steady up’ to a lady cyclist. Man up, grit your teeth, grimace and bear it. When it’s your turn at the front you can drop the pace under the guise of keeping the group together but you must not divulge that she is putting you under so much pressure that you felt the need to call a halt to proceedings.
2. If you do get ‘chicked’ it is never, I repeat, never, because she is a better rider than you. Look down, there is a wealth of technical gadgetry that you can blame for the problem, none of which she will understand. “Sorry I need to stop, the top sprocket of the rear fandango has momentarily become detached from the chain splicer” Get a few technical terms in there and you are home and away.
3. Show your softer side, at the point your lungs are about to burst, announce that you just want to stop to admire the scenery. Not only do you get a rest, but she will be impressed that you have so much energy that you were able to look around you and notice what was going on. Don’t worry if the scenery is in fact a container port, this gives you another opportunity to bring in some techno babble and demonstrate you softer side and your grasp of the technological elements of commerce.
4. If none of the above works, you need to refer to some residual fatigue that you can blame on a heroic ride you did a few days ago. “I’m sorry, my legs a still a little heavy following the Paris – Nice ride I did last week” If this final recourse does not have this lady simply swooning into your arms, then I’m afraid you just have to admit you are uglier than Bernie Ecclestone without the benefit of his wallet.
Do not despair Confused and Emasculated, it happens to the best of us, but the important thing is to make sure the ladies do not know. You may get a nod and a wink from a compatriot but we must stay strong lest the women begin to waver. Lastly, of course, if none of the above works, then quietly and gracefully slip out the back of the group, making sure one of the men knows that you have an errand to run.
I hope this insight has helped and will ensure that even though you may remain confused, you are no longer emasculated.