Friday, May 11, 2012


Ok, so it's Friday Round-up time, but I'm going to re-label this one the Friday Rant-up, because I've only really got one event to write about, but I've got a whole lot more things to rant about. And it's my blog, so it's my prerogative.

Firstly, the event is the Women's Madison Session to be held at the Harrison St Velodrome in the People's Republic of Brunswick on Sunday at 9am, weather permitting. Should go until about 11, which means that you'll still have time to go out to lunch with your mum for mother's day. Monique Hanley, who I've mentioned about a million times on this blog, is pulling it together, and I believe her husband Ewin Williams is running the session. This is a very good thing - Ewin was the one who taught me to ride the Madison way back when, and I've never been slung harder. Apart from that time that Benny Ladner slung me into the race and told me, "It's the last lap of your life!" We still didn't win.

All are welcome at this session - Monique explicitly stated that no one wanting to try track would be turned away, because she's rad as all get out and inclusive by nature, but in my invitations I've had to add in a couple of prerequisites. The first is that you'll need your own track bikes, with drops, no brakes, and somewhere between 80 and 90 gear inches. Your fixie will do just fine with those slight changes. But you will also need some experience on the track. A Madison Sling isn't a tricky thing to learn, but it means being comfortable in traffic on the track, and some skills handling your bike.

However, if you've been on the track a few times, know how to hold your line, and have a bike that fits the above description, you should come down anyways. If you're not ready to hold hands and throw people around I'll take you around and show you the ropes. Including the secret smooth line coming out of turn two.

It's funny, though, when men talk about women's cycling. And I'm not even talking about those guys who think it's somehow less than men's cycling - those guys don't even count here. I'm talking about dudes who have reached the basic assumption that women's cycling is rad and that women can be excellent cyclists. I know that seems a little entry-level, but it's a level a lot of dudes haven't entered yet. I'm going to assume those dudes don't read this blog though, because, well, I just assume those dudes can't read.

Even dudes who have reached those assumptions still get it wrong occasionally. I'm no exception to this rule - hell, I'm part of a world that tells me that my opinions and values are at the centre, and that all others are capital-O Other somehow, and as hard as I work to avoid those ways of thinking, I fuck up too. One way in particular I fuck up is by occasionally treating women cyclists as an amorphous mass, lumping them all together, regardless of interests or skill level or experience. If there's a women's cycling event I'll invite every woman cyclist I know, in a way that I don't always do with dudes. With dudes I'll be like "Nah, that guy only rides CX, that guy only rides a fixie, they don't wanna come to the track." But with women I'm like, "Hey, they're a girl, and they ride a bike!" I dunno, perhaps this is due to some misguided notion that women want to support women's events, but even that is problematic. Why the hell should women want to support an event based on a political standpoint? Why shouldn't they just support events because those events are rad, that they pertain to their interests, that the events are something they want to do? 

Perhaps I'm overthinking it. It wouldn't be the first time, and probably won't be the last. But perhaps I'm not. Perhaps I'm not thinking about it enough.

Here's my final Roundup thought for the week. I talk to kids a lot about the way they treat people. In health class, I sometimes have to do sex ed. In most schools sex ed consists of three topics: how babies are made; how not to make babies; and how not to get a red lump that is not a baby. In our sex ed classes we do go over those three topics, but only briefly - generally they've been done to death before the kids come to us. Those three topics are the first three lessons. The next ten lessons are on consent. They're on power. They're on values, on ethics and morality, on how to make sure you're not trampling all over the person you want to be with. The number one thing I want these kids to take away from these lessons is that they have to be certain. Certain that they are doing something they want to do, and certain that the other person is also doing something they want to do. "If you're not certain," I tell them, "Don't do it." (We also, with more mature classes, sometimes brainstorm ways of asking for consent without breaking the mood, but that usually gets awkward pretty quickly). I'm not sure if any of them listen, if those words affect their decisions when they're in the heat of the moment, but if one of them remembers any of them I've won a small battle.

I kinda feel like it's the same with all of our interactions. That we need to be certain. I'm as guilty as anyone of blundering into situations and being a total jerk - even a sexist jerk. But I feel like if we listen to individuals, and are certain that they're certain, the chances of being sexist jerks - or hell, any kind of jerk - is lessened considerably.

Well, at least, I hope so.

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