Sunday, June 5, 2016

Is It Ever Enough?- Bikes, Colors, and Attitudes

I feel that I am not quite qualified to stand up on my tiny soap box and talk about women, bikes, and marketing- however, I’m going to do it anyway. I feel that my opinions are still being formed and made as I’m still fairly new to the bike world, let alone the “outdoorsy/athletic” world.  It’s not something I paid attention to long ago, but of course I am immersed in it now in multiple ways.
I want to start off by saying- if you’re a woman that rides a bike. Thank you. You’re awesome.

Here are some things to note.

1. I don’t care what colors your outfit is comprised of. If the colors make you happy- sweet!
2. I don’t care if you wear solids or patterns. I don’t care if those patterns are floral, zig-zag, or houndstooth. Live it up!
3. I don’t care if your bike is WSD or a “men’s bike”...if you love your bike, if it inspires confidence, and you WANT to ride it- that’s all that matters to me.

I desire to have everyone feel included in the #BikeLife. The latest article made some good points, but I also feel that women are constantly judging others- and it’s exhausting. Can I just say I’m tired of feeling that I should feel bad for liking fuchsia pink? 

As I came into my #BikeLife I went thru many style changes and I’m still going thru them! What I wear for cycling clothes/gear is my main way of expressing myself after years of being reserved. I started off with a very relaxed look, then went to semi-form fitted. Then I found I loved mountain biking and I fell in love with relaxed-fit, baggie clothes. Oh yes, this was my comfort zone! Some brights were added, but mostly I wore darker clothes minus a bright pair of shorts here and there. Oh, and don’t forget the SockGuy socks.

Now I’m entering into another year of riding and my preferences are taking another swing. I’ve embraced kits. It makes putting an outfit together simpler and sometimes I like looking “put together.”
I’ve discovered patterns. I don’t hate them.
I’m finding that even with off-road riding I’m either wearing Lycra or more form-fitting baggies (my favorite- RaceFace DIY shorts)…I'm finding baggies are a distraction and since I'm mixing more gravel into my riding this year and they would just get in the way. More days than not I’m in fitted Lycra.
I am a bright-color fan.
I’m also fan of pinks, purples, and bright blues. All the so-called “Girly” colors. Can’t they just be fun colors vs. a “gender” color?

I feel that more companies are working to accommodate the differing styles for women, but there are times when the progress of said companies may be deemed “slow” or without enough variety, yet I’ll be damned if various companies are trying to appease women by offering a wide array of colors/patterns/fits, etc. There is always something to complain about, right?

In the article, the women were upset that there was a pink hair tie for the Bontrager/Trek ad. Really? A hair tie is powerful enough to warrant frustration over marketing? I’m a color fiend. I saw all the colors in the ad and liked it simply because they were all colors that I liked to see together. I temporarily wished that I had been more confident to wear a colored hair tie back when I had long hair. I wore brown. Blah.

I get it. It's stereotypical. However, there are women out there besides myself who like pink. How about we stop color shaming? I hate coral, but I will not make someone else feel sheepish for liking it.

Frustrations over the word usage from Liv- “Actually. I can.” makes me feel like my whole blog is subject to ridicule for being “Yes! You can!” when it comes to mountain biking or finding your #BikeLife, whatever that may be. I love sharing the inspiring and positive stories of women who ride and I'm humbled that there have been so many women willing to talk about their experiences. 
I feel it's important to share my stories, too- proving that tenacity, a willingness to fall, and the courage to get up will allow you to grow with whatever #BikeLife you choose.

People agonize over the concept of WSD or not for bikes.
I say, ride what makes you happy and ride what makes you feel the most confident. You should feel good about the fit and specs. Remember- you are buying a bike for you, not the general public.

I'm glad there are options out there for people to try in both WSD and not. I ride a mix of both, but my mountain bike that really helped me break barriers with myself is a WSD Trek Cali Carbon SLX. On that bike I conquered many hills and I even won a race…I love the fit and feel of that bike and it’s one that will stay in the fleet. I also won a race on a non-WSD bike. The geometry is similar enough to the Cali that I love it and feel comfortable on it.

When it comes down to the bike, you have to be the one to judge whether WSD or not is right for you.

When it comes to women wanting advocates/ambassadors they can relate to- Yes. I am inspired by the professional riders, but it also warms me to see non-professional women being showcased. To see the women who love to ride and want to encourage other women to get on a bike as it’s what I do and live for on a daily basis. I feel the everyday person who lives the #BikeLife is a truly valuable asset!

I find it exciting to see and observe how far the industry has come in the short while I’ve been part of it. Change takes time, it takes feedback, and it takes encouragement. I think it’s a good thing for women to remember that we all have differing opinions on what we like/dislike and I think we should do a good job of not being overly judgmental towards one another. Rather than aim for perfectionism with marketing and the industry- salute the companies that align with your personal views, but don’t look down on others that offer something that other women may be looking for. Not every community has a women’s group where all can feel welcome, so some women really look for a company that has a strong women’s market that provides the encouragement and enthusiasm they are wanting/needing.

It’s important to remember that just because you have thoughts and ideas as to what you feel is important for women and cycling, everyone else will have opinions, too. We should stop judging ourselves or others so harshly; not all women want or need the same things! Instead of going in circles, work together to make a difference and acknowledge the different opinions. It’s good to keep talking about ways to improve and make women and cycling feel more all-inclusive, but don’t take away the improvements that have already happened. 

Be an advocate for the sport you love. Keep voicing what you want to change.
Don't ignore the positives already happening.

2 comments:

  1. Hear, hear! Great article, Josie! Not only are bright colors fun and the very best colors :' ), but they are great for being seen by non-bicycle traffic. Good job emphasizing the positives in the bike industry and options for WSD bikes, clothes, kits, etc. Change is in the air!

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