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Simple Observation, Cycling & Androgeny

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Simple Observation, Cycling & Androgeny

Old 08-19-04, 10:42 AM
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tarmac
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Simple Observation, Cycling & Androgeny

Okay, before I get flamed, let me explain. And note, I mean no offense to anyone.

I see a lot of cyclists in my area. The weather this summer has been fantastic, and we are blessed with lots of side streets and bicycle friendly motorists. We also have our fair share of bicycle trails, both paved and dirt, here in St. Louis. So, there are a lot of people out on bikes.

Many of the cyclists I see on the road are decked out in all the appropriate cycling attire (lycra shorts, jerseys, helmets, glasses, shoes, socks, etc.) Along with the apparent high end road bikes. I see alot of these folks on weekends racing up and down suburban streets, sometimes in groups. It can be hard to differentiate the gender of many of these cyclists. Even when I'm cruising in the parks and see them up close, a lot of these serious roadies require a double-take to be sure. With the hair in a helmet, glasses, and shaved, slender bodies, it can be tough to tell. Note, I see almost as many women as men under these circumstances.

I often wonder how many "serious" competion cyclists there are in my area. I am not a competition cyclist, so I don't go to races, meets, or pay attention to cycling stats. I often wonder how men and women cyclists compare performance-wise. Is cycling one of those activities like golf or bowling that men and women come pretty close in regards to natural ability?

Now that I've started Mountain Biking, I see far less women on the trails. And, its much easier to pick out women riders.


-Matt C.-
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Old 08-20-04, 12:38 AM
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How/why is the sex of another cyclist you see relevant?
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Old 08-20-04, 02:19 AM
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Well, I find that women are pretty easy to spot as runners because of the wider hips the vast majority of women have and the running action makes for a distinctive gait. However, having wider hips really does not affect the pedalling stroke in cycling, so one has to get much closer to a cyclist to identify gender as if that is terribly relevant.

I think Chris Boardman still has the hour record at 34 miles and Inga Thompson has the hour record at 27 miles. Doesn't that tell you something? The reason for the performance difference is men tend to have larger hearts for their size. Cycling is really oxygen limited. The more oxygen you can get to your leg muscles the faster you go. Bigger hearts mean faster sustained speeds. Men also have tend to have a higher concentration of hemoglobin in their blood. That delivers more oxygen also.

If you go out on a fast club ride and ride with the fast group, you will generally find about just about only guys in the lead group. It isn't that the ladies are not fit. It is just the physical advantage guys have. Of course, most of the ladies will be alive when we guys are pushing up daisies so it evens out I suppose. We get to ride in the lead pack but they live longer.
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Old 08-20-04, 06:02 AM
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I didn't this was a problem for some people. I can spot a woman's behind in cycling shorts a mile away.
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Old 08-20-04, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by madpogue
How/why is the sex of another cyclist you see relevant?
Are you a robot? Its human nature, silly

Anyway, Matt, in most cases male cyclist are far more capable than females (that is human nature too).
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Old 08-20-04, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Pat
Well, I find that women are pretty easy to spot as runners because of the wider hips the vast majority of women have and the running action makes for a distinctive gait. However, having wider hips really does not affect the pedalling stroke in cycling, so one has to get much closer to a cyclist to identify gender as if that is terribly relevant.

I think Chris Boardman still has the hour record at 34 miles and Inga Thompson has the hour record at 27 miles. Doesn't that tell you something? The reason for the performance difference is men tend to have larger hearts for their size. Cycling is really oxygen limited. The more oxygen you can get to your leg muscles the faster you go. Bigger hearts mean faster sustained speeds. Men also have tend to have a higher concentration of hemoglobin in their blood. That delivers more oxygen also.

If you go out on a fast club ride and ride with the fast group, you will generally find about just about only guys in the lead group. It isn't that the ladies are not fit. It is just the physical advantage guys have. Of course, most of the ladies will be alive when we guys are pushing up daisies so it evens out I suppose. We get to ride in the lead pack but they live longer.

Thanks Pat. This was the info. I was looking for. I suppose the androgeny I'm talking about (by androgeny I mean suitable for either gender) is in the underlying physique of all competitive cyclists. I certainly agree with your assertions about the gender advantages men have. However, I'm sure that among serious amateurs there are a few women who can outride a lot of the men who consider themselves "competitive". Of course, that's my speculation based on simple observations.

Seeing as cycling builds leg and hip muscles, reduces body fat, and conditions the cardiopulmonary system to extremes (even producing a barrel chest in some athletes) it could reasonably masculanize women and feminize men, outwardly at least. Combine the cycling physique with cycling gear and there is going to be some gender confusion, at least at a glance.

However, I think most women who ride competitively are very attractive and certainly in no fear of being confused for a man under normal circumstances. Especially with all the women-specific cycling gear out there now. I think male cyclists (roadies, at least) have always fought with feminizing aspects of skin tight clothing and shaved legs.

I would be neat to see a large, mixed group of competitive road cyclists riding together and see how many you could identify as men or women.

Once again, I mean absolutely no offense. I respect athletic cyclists no matter what they look like. This is just an observation I'm exploring. The human body is an amazing machine.


Thanks (for humoring me),
-Matt C.-
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Old 08-20-04, 09:07 AM
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I'd have to say it's difficult for me to tell at times. I don't usually see that many other cyclists on the roads out here but when I'm driving I'll have to get up pretty close to tell the difference. Sometimes I would say "Check out this chick up here" and it's a dude The bigger they are, the easier to tell. Guys and gals seem to 'fill out' in different areas.
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Old 08-20-04, 10:42 AM
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tarmac......you're not looking hard enough.
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Old 08-20-04, 03:55 PM
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I can see how very skinny women who are really flatchested could be mistaken for a skinny guy from far away, with a helmet, shaved legs, etc. I don't look masculine and I'm not homely and don't have facial hair; but when I had shorter hair, sometimes people would say, 'excuse me young man.' If I was wearing something like a heavy sweater and jeans, for example. I guess if I were more buxom, no one would say that, of course, but I was pretty slim. BUt i guess in some cases I look androgynous; it doesn't bother me, though. However my hair is longer now, and since bike clothes are tight, I don't think I could be mistaken for a guy but I can see how it could happen in some cases.
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Old 08-21-04, 12:39 AM
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Commuting home today..There was a cyclists on the other side of the road..Often , I have thought telling cyclists apart, gender wise, was a silly argument..Women, men just fill out cycling clothes in different places..
Well,the point about cyclists clothing..The person on the other side was wearing total baggies..Looked like a loose green , t shirt effect, plus blue , baggie shorts... Like Addidas shorts...When , coming up and passing a cyclists, rarely is gender mistaken..Seems fewer women have as huge calfs, maybe a bra outline under a jersey is a give away, and long blond hair protruding out a helmet is a good sign..
This AM commute, Could see this person fairly well. Road is not too wide...With the baggie effect I was not sure..THought I could see some excess hair coming from the helmet..
The reason for the comment..She had a very energetic wave and a nice smile...Was not 100 % sure of the gender..
Her wave was more than the casual wave.( not saying she was attracted to me, just an enthusistic cyclists, maybe, more inclined to greet the opposite sex.).Think opposite sex's usually render friendlier exchanges? Hope so.. So the point, my reply a little dependent upon determining her sex.
But I was not absolutely sure.
So lets hear it for cyclists' lycra..From across the street, had she been wearing Lycra, I would have known for sure. And my enthusism would been better measured as I smiled back.
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Old 08-21-04, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Pat
I think Chris Boardman still has the hour record at 34 miles and Inga Thompson has the hour record at 27 miles.
Actually, the difference is much less than that. Boardman's current official hour record is 49.441 km. Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel holds the women's hour record at 46.065 km.

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Old 08-21-04, 10:37 AM
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I think it has something to do with the clothing. I've noticed it also, esp in professional cycling. Even in watching the olympics I am surprized when they show pictures of some of the athletes when they are not competing.

As for men being faster, I think a lot of it has to do with mental attitiude (I can say this cause I'm a chick!). There a exceptions but for the most part women don't try very hard in a lot of phyical activities. I've always ridden with guys because my female friends just wouldn't pedal!!! And some of these women were Marines!!! (I used to be married to a marine and lived in milatary towns). Working out at the gym is even worse! Females are so brainwashed by "womens" magazines and other "women" media that they don't even know how to try hard!! Take a simple excersize like machine shoulder presses, just as an example. They will start out with a certain light wt and a year later will almost be at the same wt! After 12 reps they could crank out a few more but hit a mentle block and stop!! I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's hard to judge wheather a female is slower because of being a female or just not reaching their potential because of the way they think. I'd rather ride with a group of fellas and be the slow one than ride with a bunch of women that aren't even trying! I've also noticed there is a curve, and at some point gains come very slowly. It's just the difference between women and men.

Its sad because in this day and age there are many good female athlete role models but the old mindset prevails. And no, I don't look masculine.

Sorry, this turned into a rant.
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Old 08-21-04, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by stiffee_shane
I didn't this was a problem for some people. I can spot a woman's behind in cycling shorts a mile away.
Yeah, what he said! From AT LEAST a mile away.
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Old 08-21-04, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tarmac
Thanks Pat. This was the info. I was looking for. I suppose the androgeny I'm talking about (by androgeny I mean suitable for either gender) is in the underlying physique of all competitive cyclists. I certainly agree with your assertions about the gender advantages men have. However, I'm sure that among serious amateurs there are a few women who can outride a lot of the men who consider themselves "competitive". Of course, that's my speculation based on simple observations.

Seeing as cycling builds leg and hip muscles, reduces body fat, and conditions the cardiopulmonary system to extremes (even producing a barrel chest in some athletes) it could reasonably masculanize women and feminize men, outwardly at least. Combine the cycling physique with cycling gear and there is going to be some gender confusion, at least at a glance.

However, I think most women who ride competitively are very attractive and certainly in no fear of being confused for a man under normal circumstances. Especially with all the women-specific cycling gear out there now. I think male cyclists (roadies, at least) have always fought with feminizing aspects of skin tight clothing and shaved legs.

I would be neat to see a large, mixed group of competitive road cyclists riding together and see how many you could identify as men or women.

Once again, I mean absolutely no offense. I respect athletic cyclists no matter what they look like. This is just an observation I'm exploring. The human body is an amazing machine.


Thanks (for humoring me),
-Matt C.-

Uh...at one time years ago my girlfriend who definitely would not have been mistaken for a guy was the reigning Nor Cal TT champ. Riding with her certainly opened my eyes with respect to the ability of some women to be fast riders. While I was no Olympic caliber rider, I was no slouch either. I can remember going anaerobic frequently on some of our "fun rides."
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Old 08-21-04, 03:48 PM
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I work with some women who are really into fitness and weight lifting. They are quite muscular, and strong too. However, they still act like pampered princesses a lot of times, and want everything done for them. I guess that's just how girls/women are in our society (not that all women act the same). Still, I think women in general are getting more and more competitive these days.

Perhaps the day will come when a popular, professional sport can be co-ed.


-Matt C.-
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Old 08-21-04, 09:39 PM
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My family and I came "up" to St Louis this summer for a little sight seeing and family fun. I saw more people on bikes in 2 mins. there, than I see here in a year. Matter of fact I saw more people on bikes there than any other city I have ever been in!
I had no trouble picking out the gals, BTW.
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Old 08-21-04, 10:47 PM
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No mistaking me for a dude!!
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Old 08-21-04, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cycleprincess
No mistaking me for a dude!!
No mistaking me for a dudette.. Does this look like a young girl?
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Old 08-22-04, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by sorebutt
No mistaking me for a dudette.. Does this look like a young girl?
Straying off-topic here, but is that an Eisentraut? I've owned 2 and they were both great rides.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, you don't look like a woman from the front and I'm sure you don't from the rear either.
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Old 08-22-04, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Trsnrtr
Straying off-topic here, but is that an Eisentraut? I've owned 2 and they were both great rides.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, you don't look like a woman from the front and I'm sure you don't from the rear either.
yup! it is an Eisentraut.. Got it a couple of month ago... perfect bike..
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