Posted by: emilybybike | July 19, 2010

THAT girl

I don’t know the exact stats, but I do know what I observe on the bike path, and that is that the majority of bike commuters are guys. It’s at least a 4 to 1 ratio, and some days, I don’t even see any other girls out there. Now this is a little odd, considering that some stats I do know are that the female to make ratio in the area is about 60/40, so from those stats alone, you’d think that there’d be more women commuting. BUT, it seems that bike commuting is primarily ‘for the boys.’

I’d like to change that.

Girl (me!) on commuter. (and yes, I should have had a helmet on – this was my first ‘ride’ on my bike back in April at TBL’s Cyclefest)

First off, I’m not intimidated by the number of guys to girls, I just would like to see more girls out there commuting! What can be intimidating for women, is the idea of arriving at work sweaty, no-make-up, having to clean up and change, oh yes, and the hair issue. Hard to get rid of ‘helmet-head’ for sure. But I’ve managed, I’ve learned to work with the hurdles, and like being able to commute by work.

But at the same time, I have definitely become “that bike” girl around my office. I’m the one who walks in every morning, slightly sweaty carrying her helmet and panniers, wearing sneakers, baggy shorts and a t-shirt. I then transform in about 5-10 minutes (sorry, haven’t mastered the Superman change yet) into your typical office worker, business casual dress, seemingly put together. Yet my cube is still strewn with helmet, water bottle, bike shoes and bags. I always feel a little scummy no matter how many baby wipes I use (yes, thank you NOAA Fitness Center for charging to use the showers, I’m riding to SAVE money – duh) and while I’ve figure out how to avoid helmet hair (braid it before you ride!) my hair always seems a bit fly-away and askew. Aside from paying the $5/day to use the Fitness Center showers, I wonder, is there any way to avoid being *THAT* girl in the office? I have yet to poll my co-workers on their thoughts, but frequently I feel like I am *THAT* girl, the one who no matter how hard she tries, always looks a bit rough, a little wild and not quite girly.

Perhaps that is the true reason why less women then men commute. Sure, it’s easy to overcome helmet hair (braiding), sweating (baby wipes, or the shower for you lucky folks), make up (bathroom mirror – that’s what it’s there for), and dragging clothes (roll ’em, the don’t wrinkle!) but how do you overcome not always feeling like a girl?  Maybe a silly question, but it’s one that’s become relevant to me the past few months. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not even thinking about giving up going by bike – just trying to figure out a way to balance being a girl and going by bike.



  1. Short of showering I just don’t know if it possible to have that fresh feeling at work after a bike ride no matter the length/effort. I have a 3.5 mile commute and if I push it’s a nice 15 minute wakeup spin. If I cruise it,it’s a 20-22 minute lazy ride. No matter if it’s a brisk (Well not these days) morning I still am sweaty a bit.

    It’s just one of those facts, and I’m known here in my office complex as that bike guy.

  2. I think being “that bike girl” is actually a pretty cool thing.

  3. It can be fun – I think more folks talk to me in the elevator now and always seem to be amazed that I ride all the way to Silver Spring from Arlington. It’s really not that bad of a ride, and figure once fall / winter rolls around, I’ll be hoping to get warm riding in!

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