Author Topic: Calling all men


Calling all men
« on: February 20, 2024 »
On my ride yesterday I passed a woman by the side of the road. It happens. They are, after all, half the human race.

By all appearances she had just finished a run. No matter, I'll talk to anyone if the opportunity presents itself: even non-cyclists.

I said this: "The roads around here." My full meaning, from one road user to another, was along the lines of "The roads sure are terrible, aren't they?", the context being the appalling stretch of tarmac I had just picked a careful line through.

She looked up, uncertain why I was talking to her. I noticed she appeared to be wearing headphones. She was also a bit younger than I'd first thought, maybe late teens or early 20s. She said "Pardon?"

I don't remember exactly how I replied, only that I hadn't meant to alarm her. She sort of smiled and that was that.

Except that wasn't that. I immediately mentally kicked myself for having disturbed her, on whatever level. That half smile could have meant anything from "You're so right, the bloody council, what are they like?" to "[Smile placates strange man.]"

It's normally fine to chat to people, half the human race included, on these chance encounters. But it's easy to forget, particularly when you're a man, that you should choose your moments carefully.

Example 1: Woman walking dog. Say "Hello!" to announce myself as a passing cyclist (I don't favour bells for this purpose: a little too pushy, despite the seemingly cheery Ring-ring!) A Hello! is always appreciated, judging by how often I'm thanked. The sex of the person never comes into it, other than perhaps a split second as they quickly grok the situation.

Example 2: The scenario presented above. It's unclear why this stranger is suddenly talking to you. While it can be cleared up quickly, it can just as quickly get awkward. Chalk up what they call a teachable moment in a lifetime of them. Every day is school day.

A Guardian letter a few years ago:

Men must learn how to make women feel safe while exercising
Quote from: Dr Kathy Dodworth
It is unbelievable that Chris Boardman’s words can be so basic and obvious to female athletes and yet still so needed by men (Calling all men: this is what we can do to help women feel safe exercising in the dark, 30 October). Exercising solo, especially at night, is often a different experience for the two. One day last year I was cycling along the (very wide) Forth and Clyde canal; my fitness was great and I had a fine tailwind. I passed a man who had been dawdling, when suddenly he sped up and started slipstreaming me, within a couple of feet. This was in broad daylight, but the canal was empty.

I was worried in case he was somehow angered by me passing him, so I kept going for around 5km, after which my panic was really starting to interfere aerobically. I signalled that I was going to stop as he was so close to me, sat down on a bench and pulled out some food. He stopped too. “Thanks. I needed that,” he said, before asking me about the rest of my cycle. I refused to engage as I was recovering from the shock. A perfect example of how some men have no idea how intimidating their actions can be to women.

Look, I'm not some knight in shining armour on a mission to protect all womenkind. I'm just a guy offering advice to other guys who may not have given this stuff much thought before.

The road called to me after posting that. It was half three in the morning. While there are plenty of fearless women out there, it's doubtful most would even consider a solo night ride an option.

« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2024 »
- Yet Another Cycling Forum (no we're not a franchise)
- Local copy of the above
- Bike Forums
FYI to all you "just being friendly bicyclers" It's a mind your own business world out there
(I've changed my OP above. The original, replicated one said "She'd been running." I should have been more clear. To me that was past tense, but it can certainly be read as she was in the middle of running.)
+ Not ashamed to admit this was satisfying.

I also tried to crosspost, in a way, at CycleChat's politics board, where I don't have an account. I asked a member there if he might post it, but struck out. His reason: he felt he was being used as a "trojan horse".

There is an important conversation to be had about a subject rarely addressed on male-dominated boards. Pity it takes a persona non grata to bring it up.

Consider what it was I was trying to smuggle in.

Play it again, man.
God knows we wouldn't want to spoil that vibe.

Quote from: Cycling forum ne'er-do-well
Story aside, it's hilarious GiBletNews telling the media its their job to report the truth and to stop lying to the public…

It's always 'story aside' and attack the source with this crew. What crew is that, you ask?

TRA La La Las. Begging the pardon of Occam's face scraper (pile-ons are fun!), it's possible this was a targeted attack as well as the usual literal illiterates. Even assuming it wasn't personal, it was very typical of trans rights/men's rights activist tactics; just another tool in their toolbox.

But now I'm putting the cart before the horse...

Finally, I posted on Mumsnet's infamous Am I Being Unreasonable board.


You have entered… the dumpster fire zone. Literally anything you say will be used against you. You thought you knew madness. YOU CAN'T HANDLE MADNESS. Kindly exit screaming.

Fictional Mum (though rest assured I have a real one): Are you proud of yourself for flouncing?
Me: [Studies toes] No?
Mum: I hope this teaches you a lesson.
Me: Can I go out and play now?
Mum: [Vanishes in a puff of nostalgia for the good ol' days before care in the community and the internet]


Chatty Cathy
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2024 »
Quote from: Grammarist
When the English language takes on words and meanings tied to pop culture that isn’t recognized in other countries, it can create some confusing scenarios!

Had a nice chat with a woman and her friend I passed on my ride yesterday. To set the scene, we were here.

Click on my face – my nose if you like – for YouTube link. The audio quality is poor thanks to a gale and traffic.

not a transcript
'P' marked the spot.
The picture was in fact taken by yet another woman I met (they're everywhere!), shortly before that interview.* Evidently I knew how to approach her in a way she didn't find threatening. (Like Chompsky, I'm pretty good at reading body language.)

All this happened with exquisite timing, right after a critic on a forum had taken issue with me for being a chatty Cathy. What circumscribed lives some people lead.

Immediately after these encounters I got troubling news from my wife and had to cut my ride short. The fastest way home would have sent me back the way I came, at the risk of once again passing those I had just spoken to. Preferring not to even give the appearance of "Is he following us?", I quickly chose a different route home, not much farther but a damn sight hillier: a silver lining given my masochism on that front.

One of the participants of my recent Hastings run was the embodiment of gregariousness. He could, and did, start a conversation with anyone along the way. He told me that he used to be a miserable roadie bastard, but at some point turned himself around: "I've got nothing to lose."

*I'm no Studs Terkel.

Do the right thing
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2024 »
Facebook isn't so much as 'across the road' as it is across the Rubican. It's built for reactions, words being incidental. Nevertheless I met with some success over in Zuckland on a busy though private group called Solitary Cycling [pop. 155k].

After checking with the administrator that it would be OK (he said it would probably provoke "quite the reaction", but "that is not an awful thing"), I started a different version of the OP, focusing on the Guardian letter rather than my own experience. Over the course of a little over a day it gathered 150 comments, with lots of input from women calling out men for being unaware of the problem.

Woke up this morning to this:

Sorry, I meant this:

I'd been mostly following along and hadn't seen anything too terrible, but perhaps I missed a bomb threat. More likely they decided it was ruining the vibe. Have contacted admin to politely inquire as to what went so wrong, and will update if he gets back to me.

On edit: