When I was riding home in the rain this evening, I had a total high school moment – there I was, wearing my big blue poncho with rain drops speckling my clear glasses, when a trio of young, well-dressed, fashionable women waltzed past under their equally fancy umbrellas. I felt about as uncool as I felt in junior high and high school, when the cool girls would breeze right past me.
I guess I’m feeling sensitive this week because my parents just shipped my junior high and high school yearbooks to me, and flipping through the pages reminds me of how dorky I was, and how many cliques there were in my high school – the cheerleader girls, the arts department girls, the Goth girls, and so on, the “in” crowds I never fit into.
And there I was, on the sidelines, doing my own, unique brand of unusual…
I spent the rest of my ride home reminding myself of the fact that it’s far more important to me to be my own self, than to fit in.
However…. it also made me think about the Bike World, and how there are just as many cliques in cycling – roadies, mountain bikers, urban/messenger cyclists, lady cyclists, commuters, etc. Lady Fleur talks about “bicycle tribes” in a recent post on her blog, “One Woman. Many Bicycles.” She points out that she belongs to many tribes, and I must as well, since I have more than one style of bike. But is it important to belong to a tribe, or clique?
Well, no, obviously. But, as much as I enjoy my uniqueness, there is still a degree of wanting to be around others like me. It’s human nature, whether I like it or not. I don’t really want to belong to a “women who bike” clique but I love that shops like Pedal Chic exist, sell products I love, host cycling weekly cycling events, etc. (I would probably hang out there often, if I lived in Greenville!) They have categories as well, one for each cycling type/tribe/clique. It’s hard to get away from classification.
In Arlington, there are fewer women on bikes to begin with. I saw two women today, both in gym clothes with long blonde ponytails, riding hybrid-type “city” bikes. Nope, don’t fit into that clique. I wish there were more women like me, on funkier bikes, in everyday clothes, with fashionable panniers and baskets. I have only seen one other woman with Basil panniers, a mom with her husband and three kids, all on bikes – I don’t fit that clique either, although I quizzed them about their bakfiets. I certainly see more women on bikes when I’m in DC, so I guess the trick is, bike more often in DC! Then I’ll fit in better with the “in” crowd – until I need to be ME again and come home to Arlington!
And I have to add, my high school angst dissipated when I flew past the gridlocked cars on my way home. Being unique had its advantages once again!