Cycling around

I have been thinking about some of the comments on my last post, especially those from Katharine and the Jenninat0r, about men and sports and eating disorders.

Maybe I came across as a bit naive in my last post, thinking that by participating in group sports with men, I am exposing myself to fewer eating issues than if I were with women. (Note: avoiding other athletes with disordered eating is not the reason that I have taken up cycling -- it just seems to be a side effect of the fact that more men than women are road bikers.) I do recognize that men also have insecurities regarding their bodies and what they put into them; these insecurities are probably accentuated, not diminished, among male athletes in comparison to other men. But for me, as a woman, I enjoy being in a place where the focus is not on my body as a female body per se, but as an athletic, fast body. Maybe this would still be the case if I knew more serious female athletes, but my cycling club happens to have more men than women.

To date, I haven't spent enough time around the club members to know what hidden fantasies they might have of getting fitter and buffer from cycling (I have already written about my own!); for now, I am enjoying the apparent absence of such longings, as it gives me the space to focus on more important things (like the fit of my bike, not my clothes!).

One good thing that I have seen so far, was a message from one of our group leaders before our first ride. Instead of advertising cycling as a weight-loss activity (as some people might), he drove home another point, saying: "Now is not the time to start a diet. You'll be working really hard on these rides in the next twelve weeks, and your bodies will burn thousands of calories on each long ride. So don't diet or you won't be able to get through the season!"

I liked hearing that. It reminded me that, in some arenas, we simply cannot eat enough good food. Cyclists, marathoners, cross-country skiers and other endurance athletes know this intuitively, but it did me good to hear it stated outright.

~Ai Lu

P.S. Thanks, also, to Tiptoe for gently reminding me of the fact that some of the men in my club might like the sight of a young woman in spandex tights -- but I'm OK with that, because these days I like what I see, too. :-)

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