Tuesday, March 29, 2005

NOT JUST FOR TOMBOYS

"You carry lipstick in your Camelbak?" My (male) friend was incredulous when he caught me putting my flavored and tinted lip balm into my hydration pack before heading out onto the trail, and that got me started wondering. Perhaps that's why so many women are hesitant to take up mountain biking. No, not because of the lipstick. Because there is no stigma to being a tomboy who mountain bikes, but there does seem to be a misconception that to succeed in the sport, one has to surrender her femininity. Fortunately, though, that's all it is, a misconception. There are so many "girly-girls" who ride, and ride hard. Ever hear of Paula Pezzo, on her pink Gary Fisher, with her pink helmet, wearing mascara and lipstick, winning the Olympic Gold in her metalflake shorts? Or what about Jamie Little - yes, that gorgeous woman with the ESPN microphone interviewing all the motocross stars? That's right, she's a top-notch downhiller. I saw her at Nationals at Snowshoe last year, wearing all white motocross pants and jersey, winning her class with freshly applied lipstick and red nail polish. Or Anka Martin and April Lawyer, who look and sound more like fashion models than downhillers, but boldly take on the toughest courses fearlessly and with more guts and determination than many men. And then there is my own personal mountain biking heroine, Jacquie Phelan, who has won more titles than I could ever list on this page including numerous NORBA National Championships, who always raced wearing pearls and usually in a frilly white blouse. These women, and many others, have accomplished incredible feats of athleticism in the biking world, and yet have retained all that makes them women, proudly sporting their femininity. As one hard-riding young lady put it, "We're coming to the bike trail, and we're bringing our skirts with us." They make me proud, not only to be a mountain biker, but to be a woman mountain biker. So yes, I do carry lipstick in my Camelbak, which I strap happily onto the shoulders of my flower print jersey atop my pastel green skort, and ride.

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