a break from our regularly scheduled programming.

Disclaimer: These are my personal experiences, my opinions, my thoughts. This only represents Andrea. If you are reading and are offended, equally excited, confused, scared, whatever, please reach out to me. 

I keep on sitting down to type all sorts of words. Things get started and then it seems wrong. Grammar and punctuation. Does it make sense? Did I leave parts out? Writing is good for me. I like it. This past weekend I went to Landrun 100. Which I am writing about. The words are coming out, but they are clouded by some more words. Some words that I actually wrote the night before the race.

The past couple of months have been good. Lots of work and planning has happened. Things seems to be falling into place. A drastic change to my work schedule and putting my return to school on the backburner have been hard decisions, but totally worth it. The schedule change is the biggest part. I am proud of myself for taking the steps to start thinking about school again, it will happen, just not now. My new schedule in theory is set up so that I can take on the responsibility of my Salsa team, women’s initiatives in the shop, and building a gravel grinding community in Iowa City.

Either way, back to the topic at hand. I am having a hard time sitting down and writing. Taking a step back I have realized that my writing has only been happening when I am frustrated with something, trying to work it out. It’s time to share this writing, this is the kick start that needs to happen in order for the other words to flow. Long story short, my temper has been getting shorter, the passion I have for women in the cycling world is on fire, things need to be talked about. There will be no finger pointing, no name calling, just an honest, open conversation. It is the right time and place, this energy needs to be spread, felt, and listened to.

Alright, what exactly is the point here. What I want to share is a personal story, a small interaction, something that happened the night before Landrun 100. The context is set in a hotel room with four other dudes. Two who I rode down to Oklahoma with, two who were introduced in a very quick fashion. We are all settled into the room, a comfortably small space. The process of packing our bikes for the ride tomorrow is well underway. The writing that comes up next was typed on my phone in the dark hotel room. Sleep was interrupted by my elevated heart rate.

I don’t even need to tell you the whole story. The part that led me to the point of saying I feel like I am dealing with a child. The part the left me walking out of the room, walking to the top of the stairs and crying. That made my blood pressure just at the right place to simmer for a long time. Brewing and boiling. After I came back to the room to retrieve my shit I went to the hallway to stretch and breathe. Take nice big gulps of air. Loudly. It all started with chap stick. Offering my extra. It was responded to with a crude comment. Something that started with mumbles and finished with big wet juicy kiss. I then rescinded my offer. Who told you it was OK to talk to me like that. Joke or not I am owed an apology. Fuck you.
The specifics don’t matter. It’s that so many women can relate to this. The feeling of being belittled. Made uncomfortable in a space that should be left alone. This ain’t just for the ladies either. Men you better listen to each other and start listening to your women when they bring up these issues with you. They trust you. Just listen.
Then I stopped typing, put on my headphones, listening to Domination by Pantera, and went to bed.
This has nothing to do with bikes. It happens everywhere, all the time. Yea, I am a strong, bad-ass, that can beat you up, I don’t like hugs, don’t touch my stuff, my bubble is big, I will talk back, I am taller than you, my hands are bigger too, I am faster than you, better at riding that rut, get out of my way, and I AM TIRED. That’s not how I identify myself. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Sure, it’s not every other human’s job to know these things about me, but to me they seem pretty darn simple. Treat everyone equally.
It’s not yours. Don’t touch it.
What things are these people touching? Well….my bike, it is an extension of me, you know, mine.
Being raised by a female-Mother-lady, who was a firefighter for 15 years, she is calloused. I am calloused. That’s why my bubble is so big and why I never seemed to take offense before now. It took me a very long time to understand these frustrations. The problem is not that your help or curiosity or genuine concern isn’t needed. It was never asked for. Also if the answer is no, that is the answer. No. Do not touch my bike. Do not touch my gear before asking me if you can.
What am I supposed to do to make this better. What can I change. This is what I am doing. Talking. If I don’t start talking about what pisses me off than it might as well be ignored. There are lots of steps that I need to take to be a stronger advocate for women in the world I have chosen for myself. There will be more accountability.
Y’all remember those 200 women who signed up for Dirty Kanza they are standing their ground. Creating that ground.  I can only hope that I helped pave a little bit of that ground, even if it is still covered in gravel.
There is plenty more to be said. Talking about the non-race aspect of race weekends is just as important as the event. Bringing issues to the surface is only meant to be a positive force. Talk to each other, respect each other, we can be better for each other. I could ramble on and on about this, this conversation is not done, this is just the start for me to start to understand how I can help.

3 thoughts on “a break from our regularly scheduled programming.

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