Bike Race Gender Lessons
One crazy man rode his leg of Saturday's Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay wearing nothing on his bottom but a thong. Honest. And, Rosalee, who is newish in town and working at the paper some, rode the leg before mine on the Chilkat Valley News sponsored "Rolling Papers" team two months after birthing a baby. I've had a lot of babies, and ridden a lot of bicycles, so trust me when I say that she is a lot tougher than I am. I'd rather run a marathon two months after giving birth than sit on a bicycle for ten minutes, much less 20 miles.
I rode on an eight-person recreational team this year, a first for me, I've always been on competitive two and four person teams. "The Rolling Papers" needed an anchor leg at the last minute, and Tom, the editor of the paper, said the only team rules were, " be nice and don't embarrass us." (No thongs, that's for sure.) So I jumped in.(I had been riding before the book tour, but a month off is a long time.) It was sunny and warm, and a little windy. (Okay a lot, but I've seen worse.) A stiff head wind was blowing up the Chilkat River, but I had a great time. I also helped announce the awards afterward to the tent city of camping riders on the Parade Grounds (there were 1,260 riders this year on 260 teams with 250 race volunteers-- all of it a record number. Chip and I rode in the first relay with, I think, 190 riders, 18 years ago.) Anyway, there were a lot of solo men, and duo and four-person men's teams, but in the eight person male category there were only three teams (the women had much more, and there were many, many mixed male and female eights, like the team I rode on.) Now that I have been on an eight person team, I know why they have more women's teams and more mixed male and female teams than men's teams. As my friend Nancy says, "women are better." (At least at this kind of management.)Bigger teams take much more organization, there are more bikes, more meal tickets, more water bottles, more power bars, more people to move from check-point to check-point, and think of all the possibilities for losing a race bib, helmet or spare tire, or in these parts, a passport (riders had to stop and show them at the US-Canada border 40 miles from the finish line.) Anyway, men must figure it's easier to ride solo for 160 miles than co-ordinate a big team. Although, you'd think organizing a large team would be more fun than riding over the chilly Chilkat Pass in a thong.