There comes a point in your zeal for cycling that you realize that there are intrinsic rules for just about everything on a bike. A few of the more contentious ones are, to shave your legs or not; short style: bibs or no bibs; jersey style: sleeveless, racing cut, full zip; equipment: tri bars (only for TT please) … and that’s just a baby list. More often than not these rules are fast and strict for men, and women get a little leeway. Maybe that’s just because men are quicker to have each other by the …
These are silly clichés that amateurs everywhere perpetuate. But the fact of the matter is that nobody wants to be the “Fred” or the “Betty.” You want to fit in, but, well, you want to stand out too.
Well, I mention this because I was surprised to learn that my tall sock fetish is viewed with contempt by some Cross elitists. For a quick Do and Don’t list from the self appointed Mr. Blackwell of Cross cycling, Adam Myerson, take a peek at his comments on racer/writer Heidi Swift’s recent racing attire.
Well, apparently I couldn’t disagree more with #2 on the Do list, and please don’t get me started on Dangling Necklaces ( a bunch of 1970s crap from cyclists to jockeys and John Travolta and beyond ). But what I agree with, and what everyone in Art school learns by the end, is you have to know the rules to break them. Then you can occasionally, “…do whatever the f#$% you want, and let people deal with it or not.”
So, like I’ve said before, “I wear the socks.”
My reaction was swift. To control a symbol sometimes it’s necessary to appropriate it for your own ends. So, I became the Mud-Flap Girl (we got married a year later, but more on that later). I wore a pair of those socks for every race that year.
As to whether I now look like Pipi Longstocking in my tall socks, or that I consider my endeavors at cross racing a joke…clearly anyone who has the balls to show up to the line, tall socks or not, has Moxie. And that Moxie combined with some hard work and determination pushes me that little bit closer to the podium, or the top 10, and I get to say that I’m a Competitive Cyclist.
I’m not afraid of failure or success. I’m willing to put myself out there and take a risk, and not be one of the sheep, no matter what the result. And I hope that my willingness for a calculated risk will lead and be an example for any woman who might think she’d like to race but didn’t think she had the right stuff.
Last Sunday’s race was at Aspen Lodge near Estes, CO and was the second race in the Colorado Cup series. I’m excited to say that 35 women showed up to the start line of the Women’s Open field. Congrutulations to Hudz-Subaru Cycling for their one, two finish in this field.
And a big thank you to friend and next years teammate, Jenny Kumbier, for attempting her first cross race in the Womens Open field on a hard technical course. I offered to let her wear my socks but she thought she would be fine on her own.
Thanks too to Aaron Bouplon for his words of encouragement and for anyone who yelled “Go Socks!”
See you next week.
PS: for anyone interested in Tall Socks I bought mine from a fantastic company in Portland, Sock Dreams.
For more images from the Aspen Lodge Race visit: