Thursday, June 9, 2011


Another morning ride on the W&OD this morning. And today was even more of the "Three Hs - Hazy, Hot, and Humid! You could feel and see it in the air, as the photo shows. As for my usual "critter report", today I saw both a pretty large black rat snake and a garter snake crossing the trail. Alas, both were far too quick to get a picture. Aside from that, a few birds and a chipmunk or two.

What set this morning apart was when I suddenly heard voices behind me... women's voices... a number of them, approaching. I sound found myself being passed by a group of 8 - 10 women on bikes, which isn't that common an event on the trail. I don't mean it's unusual for me to be passed by female cyclists... honestly, I'm not that fast a rider, so lots of folks pass me. What was unusual was seeing this large a group of women together on bikes.

And what made it all the more interesting was when they settled into a pace that neatly matched my own, so I could sit at the back of the group and observe. What I saw fascinated me. Compared to a similar group of men, these women were actually TALKING to one another as they rode. And enjoying each others' company! Now, I'm not saying men never talk while riding, and never enjoy riding together... but I'm hard pressed to say I can ever recall seeing a group of more than three men on bikes having much social interaction among themselves.

And it's not that these women were just dawdling along, chatting away. They were riding at a good, steady clip, and all seemed to be fit and for the most part, experienced riders. It's just that they included actual conversation into their ride in a way I rarely see in groups of male riders. I don't know if it's simply that men aren't as talkative in general, or that male riders are more "serious" (I mean in terms of image, not substance) and competitive when riding, or what it is, but it does seem there's a general difference.

Sadly, one other thing I realized set this group of women apart from the male riders, both solo and in groups, that pass me on the trail. As this group passed me this morning, nearly each and every one of them warned me politely and clearly of their approach. More often than not, the more "serious" male cyclists simply blow by without a word, heads down, as if I weren't there.

I know I'm painting with a bit of a broad brush here, but I don't think I'm totally off the mark. What do you folks think?

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