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Old 04-21-09, 08:06 PM   #1
PurpleK
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females on tour

Our friend bill's request of a female companion for a tour of Australia got me to thinking. Rather than hijack bill's thread and risk depriving him of finding his female co-tourist, I decided to ask my question under a new thread.

2009 marks the 30th anniversary of when I purchased my first real bike and began bike touring. Over that thirty year span, I have logged thousands of miles on my tours. I have come across precisely ONE solo female bicycle tourist, and that was over 20 years ago. About 25 years ago I met a pair of females on tour. Aside from these two instances, every bike tourist I've met on the road has been male solo, male pairs, male groups, couples or mixed groups. Some of my favorite and most compatible day riding partners have been females so it's a little disappointing that more don't tour.

I was wondering what experiences others have had with encountering female tourists. I'm under the impression there are very few willing to go solo or only with a female partner. However all my tours have been on self-determined routes and avoided established routes like the TransAm. It's very possible I haven't been riding in the right places to encounter them.

I'm asking this question simply out of idle curiosity. Just to be clear, I don't need lectures about why women won't travel alone. There are lots of good, valid reasons for that. I'm just curious about your experiences and if they differ from mine. Did those of you that have ridden the TransAm encounter female tourists on a routine basis? Do you live in an area that is frequented by numbers of bicycle tourists, including females?
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Old 04-21-09, 08:16 PM   #2
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I encounter at least one female cycletourist every time I go on a tour.
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Old 04-21-09, 08:29 PM   #3
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I encounter at least one female cycletourist every time I go on a tour.
Me too. And sometimes I tour with my teenage daughter.

Judy
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Old 04-21-09, 09:22 PM   #4
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I'm pushing 100,000 miles.
I've run into many women.

On my first cross-country trip, I ran into a solo woman finishing her cross-country trip on my first day out. She gave me advice about putting a wet sock around my water bottle - advice I still use today. Later, I met a Japanese woman heading westbound at the former Cincinnati hostel. We went out clubbing and traded notes on the route ahead.

I met a group of women touring in eastern North Carolina. Their group leader went to get some munchies and they snuck out the cigarettes. I met a woman touring up the Alaska Highway and we rode together for a while. I met a woman at Mercey Hot Springs and we rode across the Central Valley before heading our separate ways.

On my first full day of my 2005 tour, I rode with a woman who was riding the Pacific Coast. We met at the Pigeon Point hostel. I couldn't have asked for a better touring companion for that first day.
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=26285&v=RZ

I'm not sure why you don't encounter solo women - since they are clearly out there. Granted that there are not as many - and granted that women face greater risks in a society that is anything but equal in terms of personal safety.

Then again, (if you are a guy - I am not sure)
I suspect that I go to a different church than you do -
and that may have a bit to do with approachability.

Last edited by jamawani; 04-21-09 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 04-21-09, 09:32 PM   #5
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Contemporary women tend to not let sexist conventions dictate their behavior. They might ask why shouldn't they also enjoy solo touring if that's what they want to do. The danger perceived is not of their doing and the law and modern social mores are on their side. They won't let the dangers, alleged or real, prevent them from doing what they want to do. And that is good.

I've run into women riding solo or in pairs on the Trans-Canadian Hwy, the Lewis & Clark, and on the Pacific Coast. The sense I've had is that they welcome companionship that revolves around making their venture successful, such as sharing route information, memorable cafes, and nice campgrounds. In fact, conversations not much different than when running into men.

However, I will treat women differently. I will let them be the ones to initiate a conversation. I'll wave, but keep on peddling unless they actually stop to talk. I won't go to their campsite - ever - and make sure that I take a circuitous route to the bathroom to avoid running into them in the dark. At a cafe I won't sit with them unless explicitly invited to do so. In other words, on tour I give them as broad a berth as I can until they convince me that my presence is welcome. Even then, I periodically double check on whether my presence is still wanted.

Of course all of this *****footing around is a PITA, so frankly I avoid contact with women tourists and hope they avoid me too.
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Old 04-21-09, 10:55 PM   #6
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I saw a few groups of women riding the GAP and C & O last summer. Including these nice folks in Cumberland.



I don't understand the OP's point.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:00 PM   #7
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Me three ;D

I've encountered only 3 other solo women on tours, couldn't begin to guess how many solo guys - dozens? It's not as common as solo men. And also not as common as women traveling with men.

It's also not as common on supported tours (yes, sorry, I do supported tours too). Most women on supported tours go with a friend or partner/husband. Guys have acted surprised and told me I'm brave for doing a supported trip solo. I guess it's just American society as a whole - people don't expect women to do stuff without a man around.

In my other sport, rock climbing, it's similar. There are tons of guys out on long-term climbing road trips (dirt bagging, living in their truck, climbing bums) and very few women. You do meet a few, and they are usually really strong and often also really damaged as people, but the ratio is probably 1:20 gals to guys.

Cyclesafe, your comments are interesting. It's commendable that you are sensitive to not being intrusive, but sad that you find it a burden. Why not just treat them the same way you treat guys? That would probably be more normal for everyone concerned. My $0.02, FWIW, YMMV, etc. etc.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:16 PM   #8
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I tour solo, but I've never met another female on the trail touring solo.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:19 PM   #9
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Last summer I passed a lady from England near the Montana boarder. Also ran into 4 young ladies heading down along the Mississippi river toward New Orleans. Another solo Lady touring in Montana. All coming East while I was heading West last summer on the Northern Tier. I was pretty surprised at how many I did see.

I bet I only saw 15 guys. So maybe 3 to 1? Pretty high number I thought.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:21 PM   #10
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I guess it's just American society as a whole - people don't expect women to do stuff without a man around.
I must be the exception then. I expect women to do things on their own. Including tour.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:24 PM   #11
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Me too. And sometimes I tour with my teenage daughter.

Judy
Question: she turns 18 and says she wants to do a solo cross country tour. Do you try to talk her out of it or otherwise urge her to change her touring plans?
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Old 04-21-09, 11:25 PM   #12
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Last summer I passed a lady from England near the Montana boarder. Also ran into 4 young ladies heading down along the Mississippi river toward New Orleans. Another solo Lady touring in Montana. All coming East while I was heading West last summer on the Northern Tier. I was pretty surprised at how many I did see.

I bet I only saw 15 guys. So maybe 3 to 1? Pretty high number I thought.
Was the lady in Montana wearing a bright pink jersey and riding a custom-painted purple rivendell with black ortliebs?
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Old 04-21-09, 11:26 PM   #13
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BTW, that's what, 4 of us on this board so far?
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Old 04-21-09, 11:35 PM   #14
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Was the lady in Montana wearing a bright pink jersey and riding a custom-painted purple rivendell with black ortliebs?

Valygrl,

I can't remember really well. I would say she was in her late 40's? or so. I hate guessing age. Kinda heavy set. Sorry about the lack of good memory on my part.

This year when I tour I'm going to take pictures of those riders I come across. I wish I'd done it last summer.

If it helps any... it was around Aug 15-20 along the idaho/montana state line.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:54 PM   #15
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Valygrl,

I can't remember really well. I would say she was in her late 40's? or so. I hate guessing age. Kinda heavy set. Sorry about the lack of good memory on my part.

This year when I tour I'm going to take pictures of those riders I come across. I wish I'd done it last summer.

If it helps any... it was around Aug 15-20 along the idaho/montana state line.
I was just asking b/c I rode with the woman I was mentioning last year for a couple of weeks - but not the same person, based on date/location you mentioned. Thanks.
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Old 04-22-09, 12:37 AM   #16
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I tend to favour remote tours (I love the north!) but I've only ever met a handful of women cyclotourists on the road, over 30+ years. I remember meeting up with a Irish tourer (male) on a trip through the Yukon and the first thing he exclaimed was: "Did you see the girls heading north?" They were the first he'd seen in 10,000 km. I missed them. We travelled together for 3 days. I turned south for another 1,000 km, without a single meeting with a female cyclist.

The same can be said generally. Women are in the minority in our 250 member club and the group rides I join are about 90/10 ratio.

Sad, really. Why shouldn't women experience the same freedom of the road? In my opinion, that can only be attained in its pure form by setting out alone.

Annie Londonderry and Dervla Murphy prove it's possible and I made sure to include their stories on my main Touring page.
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Old 04-22-09, 01:08 AM   #17
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Hi,

I guess it's 1-5% of solo female or only females tourers that I met on my trips. Quite often I don't meet any other cyclists in 3 weeks.

Thomas
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Old 04-22-09, 06:31 AM   #18
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However, I will treat women differently. I will let them be the ones to initiate a conversation. I'll wave, but keep on peddling unless they actually stop to talk. I won't go to their campsite - ever - and make sure that I take a circuitous route to the bathroom to avoid running into them in the dark. At a cafe I won't sit with them unless explicitly invited to do so. In other words, on tour I give them as broad a berth as I can until they convince me that my presence is welcome. Even then, I periodically double check on whether my presence is still wanted.

Of course all of this *****footing around is a PITA, so frankly I avoid contact with women tourists and hope they avoid me too.

What the he11 ?!?!
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Old 04-22-09, 06:48 AM   #19
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What the he11 ?!?!
+1
I was going to ask about that comment but decided I didn't want to know. It kind of weirded me out.
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Old 04-22-09, 06:52 AM   #20
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Cyclesafe, your comments are interesting. It's commendable that you are sensitive to not being intrusive, but sad that you find it a burden. Why not just treat them the same way you treat guys? That would probably be more normal for everyone concerned. My $0.02, FWIW, YMMV, etc. etc.
Because a guy isn't thinking that there could be an ulterior motive. And I don't have to continually analyze and perhaps filter my speech / behavior to allay suspicion. A misinterpretation of a situation such as bumping into the woman in the dark going to and fro the toilet could result in an accusation of peeping or stalking, arrest by the ranger or county mountie, and ultimately jail, trial, and incarceration. And then you're on some sexual predator list for life. Wife divorces you, house gets sold, she gets all your money. Etc. etc.

Or if that is too extreme for you, at a minimum there would be deep heartfelt life-lasting nightmare- inducing humiliation. I mean, really, how would you be able to talk you way out of that one? All for what? A conversation? Just not worth it. Admittedly, the probability is low, but the consequences of a false accusation would be life-changing.

Sure, women want to be treated "just like one of the guys" and it would be "normal" for them. But if the guy says or does something stupid with intent as innocent as the driven snow or is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a woman choses to misinterpret it, the full force of law is on his head. A guy making such an accusation would be laughed at - a woman (rightly so) is taken seriously.

Yes, its sad. But I'm afraid that this double standard will be with us for my lifetime at least. YMMV etc.
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Old 04-22-09, 06:52 AM   #21
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+1
I was going to ask about that comment but decided I didn't want to know. It kind of weirded me out.
It reads as if he's had one encounter with political correctness too many.
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Old 04-22-09, 06:57 AM   #22
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+1
I was going to ask about that comment but decided I didn't want to know. It kind of weirded me out.
You calling me a perv?
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Old 04-22-09, 07:01 AM   #23
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You calling me a perv?
No. I just found your comment rather strange and didn't really know what to make of it.
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Old 04-22-09, 07:05 AM   #24
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Question: she turns 18 and says she wants to do a solo cross country tour. Do you try to talk her out of it or otherwise urge her to change her touring plans?
I would hope that she'd ask me along... But if she didn't, I don't think I'd urge her to change her plans. She's growing up to be a very determined (willful) young woman. Hopefully we've given her the tools she needs to succeed -- that's been our job for the last 15 years. We'll have to see how she makes life's decisions over the next three, won't we?

Judy
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Old 04-22-09, 07:08 AM   #25
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No. I just found your comment rather strange and didn't really know what to make of it.
OK, no harm done. Have enjoyed reading your past postings
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