Sexism on wheels
It is time to buy a racer. My current bike weighs approximately 90 kilos and is about as nimble and aerodynamic as a rhino.
I have commuted on it for 7 years. I have hefted it up flights of stairs. I have acquired a landscape of bruises on each calf from its vicious pedals. Years of propelling its ungainly bulk around London’s potholed streets have left me with legs strong enough to kill a man with one swift kick to the throat. On a racer I will be but a blur of flashing lights and bad language.
London’s bike shops are full of nippy, sleek little racers with uncomfortable-looking saddles, so finding one should be easy, right?
Only if you have a penis or are over 5ft 8 (or both).
I’m not looking for a lady bike with a low cross bar so I can skip on and off it in a flouncy skirt. I’m just looking for something small enough for someone who is only 5ft 3 and ¾.
In every shop there are floors and floors full of racers but not one of them is appropriately proportioned. In one over-priced Soho bike shop (the sort that sells bikes to fashionable moustaches in rolled up skinny jeans) I was simply told: “We don’t do ladies sizes.” In others I have been told that ladies don’t normally want racers so they don’t usually stock them and must order them in.
Really? I know a few women with racers. Ovaries don’t stop you wanting to go fast.
So I must order a few different models and wait and generally shop around until I find a saddle low enough that I can get on it without a leg up from a nearby pedestrian. In the mean time I must keep slugging around town on the tank and its back wheel is getting wobblier by the day.
As you can tell, I have got my Lycra in a bit of a twist about this. Any suggestions welcome.