Middle-aged career woman walks into a bike shop ...

Checked in with Jacquie Phelan about women and cycling. She said her opinion was best expressed in this cartoon created by her and Greta Snider in 1993.


click for larger version

Jaquie also posted her thoughts on her blog

I am surprised to think that the wacky tights could be construed as ‘sexy’ in the same way the Paula Pezzo cleavage and chamoisbeaver shots are. When I want to be sexy I disappear and come back muddy, although there was that one time I finished the Rockhopper without a jersey, but that was simply to help the announcer realize that second person across the line after the winner was in fact an androgynous babe. In 1984, there seemed to be no one checking race numbers against rosters to announce finishers by name. Really. For the record, my future husband Charlie was the first one across the line that day. The pro men did an extra four miles, so we weren’t the ‘real’ winners, just the first back to the keg.

Our shop has this poster in the mens room …


That’s Jaquie in a Rock Shock ad from the Rock Shox timeline on MOMBAT.

Also see:

Meanwhile Willow Koerber signed autographs in a bikini at the Mellow Johnnys Classic.


I’m know it happens to women more but I also think the above comic happens to a lot of people regardless of their gender. 

When I was 19 in 1986 and was really wanting a bike I could get around on but more importantly ride the trails with.  I had a budget for what would at that time had gotten me a top of the line mountain bike and went to the only bike shop at the time in Astoria, OR. When I told them what I wanted the sales guy insisted that things like hollow axles which allowed quick releases were too weak for a mtb and that I would be much better off with a heavy Schwinn hybrid with bolt on 27” wheels and riser bars.  When I left the store I was completely confused as to what I wanted and fell for the pitch and have since hated Schwinns and pushy sales men.  The funny thing is now I’m a bike shop owner (imagine that) but I never assume I know what’s best for my customers regardless of gender unless they ask me for help.

It’s true—I used to tell people when they asked me about gear or a product to go into the Shop and specifically say, “I want this X and nothing but this X and I know that I want X and that’s all I want.”  [Mark V](http://bikehugger.com/people/mark v/) has lots of insight on this topic and we don’t want to beat up on shops, but they are the front line and achilles heel of this industry. Civia is an example of a recent total failure and Coasting before that or ask a mechanic if he/she wants to work on an xTracycle . . . (really and not just the few Cargonista shops). Also want to note, we’re covering this topic as discussions we’d have with our readers on a ride and over a beer and a coffee. We’re not doing this just to poke sticks in eyes.

I had the devil’s own time buying my road bike, and when all’s said and done, it still isn’t really the right bike for me.  But that’s a kvetch for another time.  More topical is the complaint made above about bike shop staff not listening to what customers want/need.

Because I regularly ride an extravagantly awful bicycle (the Cadillac of old, sh*tty mountain bikes) I’ve regularly had people think that I either didn’t know any better or that I was dying for an upgrade.  Neither of which is true.

In earlier incarnations, the Cadillac had Grip Shifters which would asplode their guts out every other year or so, and I’d have to limp it in to a bike shop and have them (and pretty much all the rest of the drive-train) replaced.  So one of the many times the Cadillac was in for repairs, the mechanic at that shop was trying to sell me a new crappy mountain bike, rather than repair my old crappy mountain bike, and eventually I got it through to him that if I wanted a new bike, I’d sure as hell buy a better one!  He fixed my old crappy bike, and we’ve since become friends.

Yes, I have experienced this myself just this past year.  I am 51 an heavier than I have been.  My husband and I have a couple of Trek hybrids to get back on the road to get fit again.  I was miserable and took my used purchase to the local bike shop to see about getting fitted, I was willing to pay.  But all I got was that my seat was a little too high and they lowered it for me and sent me on my way.  They never even bothered to do an official fitting.

I was still miserable on my bike and heard about a bike shop an hour north in Asheville that was owned by a woman.  So I took my bikes there and they did a full fit for me to both my road and my mountain bike and I have been sooo comfortable on my bikes now and am able to really crank out the miles on my journey to get fit.  So they took me seriously and I felt like a queen for a day!

Sad to say, this cartoon really hit home for me.  But I found another bike shop to take care of my needs.  It is just a shame that I had to travel out of town!

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Chain Case was the previous entry in this blog.

All the Money on the Front Line is the next one.

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