Illustration: Ryan Perkins
For better or worse, I’ve accepted that being a human with breasts, long hair and a voluptuous backside automatically subjects me to a barrage of verbal assaults the moment I step outside. Choosing to straddle a bike instead of driving a car to navigate the city streets triples the amount of titilating, one-way conversations I have on a daily basis, simply because I’m more visible to all of the loud and obnoxious wisecracks out there on all sides of (and in) the bike lane.
From the predictable catcalls and wolf whistles, to the usual, impatient honks, “Fuck yous” and “Get off the roads,” I’ve heard it all in those intimate moments when I’m a mere three feet (or less) from bold strangers. I think the most creative one that’s been yelled my way happened when I was riding up 600 South in a dress one summer afternoon, and someone slowed down enough coming off the freeway for me to catch a full sentence: “Why don’t you ride me, instead!”
I reached out to the SaltCycle community on Facebook to find out what other bits of poetry and conversation have been offered to our community’s cyclists, and found an interesting pattern: It seems that men tend to get more aggressive and negative comments thrown their way —nine times out of ten, when I’m riding with a boy, I’m guaranteed to hear the word “faggot” out of the mouth of a pin-pricked man in an oversized vehicle—and have more tales of physical assault (beverages thrown, car chases, threats, etc.). The women however, get more … creeps. You know that carnal glint deep in the eyes of your significant other when you throw on some Marvin Gaye and slowly undress (Let’s keep it PG-13, guys)? Well, I think I speak for a decent percentage of the women out there when I say that it’s extremely uncomfortable to see that look on a man’s face in any other context, and even more so when it’s verbalized or even whistled. I’m not a pedaling piece of meat, however scrumptious my ass might look, and you, complete stranger, have no right to make me feel as such just because you’re traveling 20 mph faster than I am—because I will catch up to you at the next light.
There are three ways to address such mongoloids: the “parade princess,” the “one-fingered hello” and what I like to call “the stupid idiot.” The parade princess is my favorite reply to anger. Basically, you hear someone yell “Fuck you” or honk at you to get out of their way, and you turn to them, give them a big smile, and wave enthusiastically. We live in Utah, people—this state is built on guilt and shame, so learn to use it to your advantage! The one-fingered hello is purely for my own anger management. It’s clichéd and expected, and all it ever does is mirror the response or fuel the rage further, but sometimes waving that middle finger in the air just feels right. I’ve witnessed the stupid idiot on a few group rides, and all I have to say to all you stupid idiots is that no matter how intoxicated you are, you’ve gotta be a really stupid fucking idiot to think your 15-pound carbon frame is a match against a two-ton pickup truck—keep your testosterone under control! (I’m allowed to say that because I’m on my period.)
I leave you all with the words of the great Thumper: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So STFU.