Its about equality right? For me, the women I think are super-cool-no-questions-asked are those fierce yet feminine, aggressive girls serving it right up along with them men week in week out. I ride with guys and i love it. I want to be as fast as them, hurt people on the hills as much as them, I want to be right there with the lads when turning myself inside out on an 18% wall of tarmac, I want to drop those suckers on a screaming descent (something I'm not ashamed to say I'm fairly gung-ho at....given the exorcism of all fear of crashing after my accident!)
I look at some of these girls who can hold it right with their male counterparts and its so incredibly inspiring and a kind of philosophy I buy into as a rider firstly, and as a girl secondly. I love when out on a group roll and I'm right up there on the climbs, or happy to drill it when taking a pull on the front. I mean sure, there's going to be plenty of times when the men are too strong, but showing this grit and mixing it up in a fearless way is something that instantly secures respect of any fellow rider, male or female.
There's a handful of riders out there I love because they go hard and they are fast without abandon. Browsing the Rapha Continental rider page you can see the addition of a quick lady into the fold in Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst. I love the idea that a lady is turning herself inside out along with those nippy lean guys on these gruelling rides. You have riders like the glamorous butt-kicker Heidi Swift, putting some serious hurt on the US cyclocross scene, and always looking glam (check out her nails!). Don't get me wrong, its not about looks here, its about being brisk, pacey, and encapsulating a gritty but feminine style. There's nothing I find less appealing personally than a defeatist attitude when it comes to riding, when ladies always assume there going to be slow and don't want to attempt to mix it up with the boyo's on the weekend rollouts. Wasn't everyone slow at some point of their riding lifetime? I'l always chase a wheel up a climb, regardless of whether its a rapidly-disappearing-from-my-horizon-because-hes-so-quick kind of affair. Its that trying that makes it all so worthwhile. See.... us girls like to suffer too!.
Maybe that's what I love to see in ladies cycling...it can be summed up as simply as I like to see girls willing to make themselves suffer for the sport. This is true equality.... forget the arguments women have lower average speeds and the races are a shorter mileage, its truly equal in the sense that we are more than capable of making ourselves suffer and hurt every bit as much as the boys out there, and that's something any detractor or chauvinist cant take away. Riding hard and 'giving it a go' as they say = true panache in my book. Check the painface out below of Liz Hatch, drilling it right at the front makes me want to jump right in there and chase down wheels.
The longing for this equality even comes down to the clothes for me. I make no secret of my hatred of these companies who insist on offering us hot-pant style shorts (unflattering for the most) or adirning every bloody item with a horrible sprawling Hawaiian flower. Its a lame stereotype we want this kind of stuff, whereas I actually just want the style of the men's items cut for the female form! Probably why companies such as Craft and Rapha are receiving glowing reports from ladies donning their clobber for those training runs. Anyway... enough on that....
Should you want some sites to visit that fly the flag for super fast and tough-as-nails ladies, look no further than the excellent I Get Cross blog of UK fast girl Claire Beaumont of Rapha Condor ladies team. Some great posts there its a definite bookmark. Also check out Heidi Swifts Grit & Glimmer, some great musings on all things ladies & cycling. Also worth a peep is top racers Maryka Sennema's little project.
So ladies.... suit up, jump in the saddle and go hard today. It cant fail to disappoint....