Australian Mountain Bike - - X Factor - WORDS: ANNA BECK PHOTO: ROBERT CONROY

I never re­ally un­der­stood the pa­tro­n­is­ing na­ture of mansplain­ing un­til I was forced to present in a man­ner starkly dif­fer­ent from what I am used to. As some­one who wore ly­cra and ap­peared as though they could ride rea­son­ably briskly, be­ing preg­nant was a real game changer for cy­cling.

A lim­ited wardrobe, a to­tally dif­fer­ent bike set-up (can any­one say +30-de­gree stem?) and much more puff­ing for much fewer watts was an ex­pe­ri­ence on the other side of the bunting. For those who didn’t know me, I was seen a new­bie and put in the ‘re­quires ad­vice’ box, after all, it’s nice to give well-mean­ing ad­vice to newer rid­ers in the sport, right?

The prob­lem is, I wasn’t a newer rider, and I didn’t re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate ad­vice about my gear­ing, line choice or bike setup on my lo­cal trails.

Out with a friend rid­ing, bump still not too ev­i­dent (mostly just in­ter­preted as a love of pies at that stage), I was climb­ing up some switch­backs. The fact that there were cor­ners and they were go­ing in a slightly up­hill man­ner was the en­tire crux of the dif­fi­culty of the sin­gle­track, yet when we popped out onto the fireroad and there were a group of week­end war­rior type blokes at the top (not that there is any­thing wrong with that) I took a sec­ond to pause be­fore ped­alling off be­cause, you know, preg­nant!

The war­riors had oo­dles of ad­vice for me, de­spite only see­ing me ride the last 25 me­tres of the trail. In the three of four sen­tences they got out, they gave me so much ad­vice they could have worked at the LBS*.

“Great work ladies, it’s a tough climb, you can do it!” they yelled with en­thu­si­asm, de­spite me be­ing a sea­soned cy­clist. “Pick an easy gear and look ahead!”.

Be­ing younger and per­haps more in­volved with my own ego at the time, I har­rumphed off with a salty brow, and took my­self and my pie-gut fur­ther along the trail, out of sight.

I pass as an ex­pe­ri­enced cy­clist most of the time now, and even those times where peo­ple take me as a com­muter at best, it doesn’t re­ally bother me if peo­ple think I am new if I am trundling along the bike path in my jeans and jan­dals. Age and wis­dom and all that; I am pretty happy that I know what I am do­ing so a po­lite eye­brow raise and silent nod usu­ally does the trick.

But for some women, the mansplain­ing will never stop. Par­tic­u­larly lu­di­crous in­stances of cy­cling­based mansplain­ing are present even at the high­est level of the sport, when An­ne­miek VanVleuten was mansplained after her crash in the Rio Olympic Road race…be­ing told that she for­got the ‘first rule of cy­cling…to hold your bike steady re­gard­less of the speed”. Yeah thanks, I am sure An­ne­miek–World Cham­pion and Olympian–re­ally took sage ad­vice from a week­end war­rior on board (in­sert eye­roll).

More lo­cal in­stances of mansplain­ing, or as­sump­tions based on gen­der, have in­cluded an in­stance where a lo­cal rider, very ex­pe­ri­enced but ex­ist­ing out­side the nor­ma­tive bike shop user (MAMIL or young tip rat), pre­sented to a bike shop to drop a fat wad of cash on a bou­tique rig. De­spite her stat­ing she wanted a high end, full sus­pen­sion moun­tain bike, the sales bro re­peat­edly told her all she needed was a midrange hy­brid, $1000 max. Maybe it’s just me, but I sim­ply can­not imag­ine sales staff down-sell­ing from a po­ten­tial $5k sale to a hy­brid that tops out at a grand be­cause that’s ‘all they need’. Not only is this crap from a gen­der stand­point, it’s a pretty stupid way to run your busi­ness.

So what do we do about mansplain­ing, this thing that serves to re­in­force gen­der im­bal­ances? Let me do some wom­ansplainin’ and give two easy to re­mem­ber tips about of­fer­ing ad­vice:


Is the per­son ask­ing for ad­vice? If yes, give ad­vice.


Is the per­son not ask­ing for ad­vice? Just hold it in, es­pe­cially if it’s some­one you don’t know and you’re giv­ing un­so­licited ad­vice to!#

Women, or other vic­tims of mansplain­ing, re­mem­ber to feel con­fi­dent and call that shit out if you need it; there is noth­ing wrong with ‘thanks, I’ve got this!’.

There you go, such ba­sic rules for good qual­ity ex­changes! Happy rid­ing!

*Lo­cal bike shop

#In the case that there is a se­ri­ous safety is­sue, go ahead, but be po­lite about it.

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