An Updated List of Don’ts For (Female) Cyclists

Surely you’ve seen the Lists of Don’ts for Women Riders by now, right?  I first saw it over at Lists of Note, a fascinating blog that somehow sucks great amounts of time from my afternoons as I read varied and amusing lists from history.  This list had me cackling out loud.  It’s from a gathering of the Unique Cycling Club of Chicago in June, 1885.  At this particular gathering two female riders had the audacity to wear short skirts over their bloomers.  The nerve, right?  I imagine I would have been good friends with these brazen women.  So here is the original list along with my own updates.


1. Don’t be a fright.  Wait, what?  When dogs are chasing me or I’m being inched off the road by a semi, I’m allowed to be scared.  In my book, I’m also allowed to scream choice words and spread the fright around, like say to the dogs or the trucker falling asleep at the wheel as he careens into the shoulder.  Let’s face it, there are few things more frightening than a woman who is scared to the point of fury.  So go ahead, ladies, be afraid.  Be so afraid that you let fly and induce some fear in others.

2. Don’t faint on the road.  Agreed.  Eat and drink properly as needed.  And while we’re on the topic of health related issues.  Ladies, when you farmer blow, look to see that nobody is behind you.  Same goes for puking.  And if the person in front of you chooses not to display the same level of courtesy, employ aforementioned choice words.

3. Don’t wear a man’s cap.  Duh.  Wear a helmet.  Protect that beautiful brain.  And since you’re already wearing a helmet, go ahead and make it a stylish one.  Let the men wear the ugly black ones.

4. Don’t wear tight garters.  Nix the garters altogether.  Keep the bedroom in the bedroom, ladies.  Besides the rubbery ring at the bottom of your bike shorts will give you that nice, tight garter feel because, really, who doesn’t like a tight ring suffocating your thighs and highlighting your cellulite?

5. Don’t forget your toolbag.  Even if you’re horribly slow at changing tires and gladly accept all offers of help, like a certain somebody I know, ahem, you should still carry all the necessary tools.  In case you’re prone to forget, here’s an easy way to remember: Carry tools so you aren’t one.

6. Don’t attempt a “century.”  Like hell.  I’ve both attempted and completed centuries.  Even the ones I’ve failed miserably at, I’ve learned from.  So go ahead and attempt all the centuries you want.  And then sign up for some doubles.  You’ll finish most of them and you’ll learn a lot about yourself from the ones you don’t.

7.  Don’t coast. It is dangerous.  After climbing, grunting, sweating and panting your way to the top of a climb, you go ahead and coast down the backside.  Enjoy the wind in your face as you catch your breath.  And when you’ve had enough coasting, crouch down, pedal and try to best your top speed cause there’s always plenty more uphill to come.

8. Don’t boast of your long rides.  This is really a moot point because even your short rides will sound long to non-cyclists.  However, when you happen upon another cyclist and they ask how far you’re riding, go ahead and tell them.  The number will speak for itself.

9. Don’t criticize people’s “legs”.  I’m not sure why legs is in quotes here, but believe me when I tell you that the sights on rides are lovely, and I’m not talking landscapes.  Just watch another woman crank up the hill ahead of you.  Her outstanding quads and calves will motivate you to rip some new muscles of your own.  And then there are the men.  I’m fortunate to be married to a cyclist and his legs are a thing to behold.  I take every opportunity to ogle his legs, both on and off the bike.

10. Don’t wear loud hued leggings.  If I could find loud hued leggings, I would totally wear them.  However, black does a mighty fine job of disguising the bike grease, snot, dirt, and sweat that I wipe on my tights every ride.

11. Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”  If you’re on your bike enough, you won’t have to “cultivate” one.  Even with religious applications of sunscreen you’ll have the tell-tale sunglasses tan.  Be proud of your bicycle face.  Chances are it has fewer chins than your off-season non-bicycle face.

12. Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.  I’ve received a push uphill 3 times.  Once I asked for a friend to give me a push because I absolutely WAS NOT GOING TO MAKE IT.  He pushed my back to the crest of the hill.  Another time a friend gave me a friendly little back push and I asked him to stop because something about the push and pedaling was making me motion sick and I super dislike puking on my bike.  The third push came from a guy dressed as a devil.  He gave my butt a big two-handed push.  That was just weird.  So whenever possible, beat that hill on your own because you never know when the devil may be lurking behind you.

13. Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.  Amen.  Nobody likes to see that slice of back skin between your shorts and your jersey.  And under no circumstances are you allowed to show crack.  Even if you are in spin class, Guy Who Sat Near Me Last Week.

14. Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry.  That’s just good common sense.  Don’t ride after dark unless you’re lit up like a Christmas tree.

15. Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.  If you want to wear jewelry, don’t let me stop you, but if you’re the guy wearing a fat gold chain and your jersey halfway unzipped, I’m going to mock you.  Mercilessly.

16. Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers.  I’m not a racer, but when the stakes are high, like say for Creamsicle bars, then I’m all over it.  And if you want to be a “scorcher”, I say light it up, friend.  Burn those tires and your competition into oblivion.

17. Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.  Take it from Nancy, boots were made for walking.  Get some cycling shoes and enjoy the feeling of a powerful upstroke.  Shoot, your cycling shoes can even have laces.  I prefer Velcro, but that’s because when I get up for a really early morning ride, I’m brain-dead and easily confused by complicated tasks like tying my shoes.

18. Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.  They’re not.  They’re all looking at the Yellow Brick Road known to roadies as the white line.  Or better yet, they’re looking at the beautiful mountains and lakes you’re passing, not to mention the scads of weird animals you have no doubt encountered.  And on the occasion that they are looking at you, they’re marveling at your chiseled calves.  Drink it in.

19. Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.  I’m pretty sure Jesus would be cool with you showing up in your cycling kit, but for the sake of those sitting around you, go home and shower first.  It is totally acceptable to wear your salty bike clothes into the ice cream parlor for a post ride treat or into a restaurant for a celebratory burrito.  And it goes without saying that your cycling kit is absolutely appropriate attire for the multitude of convenience stores along your route.

20. Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.  Was I not clear on the helmet thing before?  Wear.  A.  Helmet.  If you can find a helmet that looks like a garden party hat, by all means strap that puppy on and go for a spin.  As for bloomers, bike shorts with women specific padding are divine and in my book an absolute must.  Unless you’re a nudist cyclist.  In that case, we will never, ever ride together and I wish you lots of luck with your chafing issues.

21. Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.  Or regular cars.  On a related note, it’s perfectly acceptable to slam your fist into the hood of the car that is about to t-bone you.  It’s also fine to slap the passenger side windows of the car that’s just about to run you into a ditch.

22.  Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.  Is that supposed to be a nice way of telling me to be quiet?  By all means chew gum, because cycling breath is potent enough to kill medium-sized animals.

23. Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.  Silk is NOT the thing.  Gloves with a cloth thumb for wiping your snot rocketing nose are the thing.

24.  Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?”  If that’s the best thing you can think of to say on a ride, then by all means, keep thinking.

25. Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.  People who use bicycle slang usually don’t know what they’re talking about.  Leave bicycle slang to the idiots.  Talk like you normally do, unless you want to talk about your bloomers.  Then just enjoy a nice, quiet ride.

26. Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.  I refer you to rule #13.  And ladies, let’s be smart, don’t let yourself be caught with a creepy “male escort” alone at night.  Phone a friend to take you and your trusty bicycle home.

27. Don’t ride without a needle, thread and thimble.  Skip the needle, thread and thimble.  Wrap up a little coil of duct tape and shove it in your seat bag.  Bam, you’ve got an emergency tube patch, frame weld and band-aid all in one.  Trust me, one reach into a seat bag with a needle in it and you’ll be awfully glad your more savvy friend brought duct tape.

28. Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match”.  Listen up, just because you’re clad in Spandex doesn’t mean you can’t look good.  Just ask the guys at Twin Six.

29. Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.  If you’ve got golden tresses, wear them however you want.  If other cyclists don’t like looking at your hair, they can speed up and ride ahead of you.  And if they can’t catch you, Goldilocks, ride on with your bad self.

30. Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you.  Aw, I’ve got the sad Snoopy “No Dogs Allowed” song running through my mind.  There are times and places for you and your dog to ride together.  Group rides are neither.  Leave the pooch at home and instead enjoy the company of your human best friends.

31. Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.  I don’t even know what that means.  I think it’s some sort of innuendo.  I feel dirty.  Moving on.

32. Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.  Enough with the bloomer talk already!  Think of something else, anything else, to talk about.  I’ll give you a topic: Fixed gear bikes and the studs who ride them.  Talk amongst yourselves.

33. Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.  Total crap.  How are you supposed to learn to ride well unless you ride in public?  Nervous about riding in traffic?  Then ride with a more experienced cyclist IN TRAFFIC.  Nervous about clipping in and out of your pedals?  Then get on your bike and PRACTICE CLIPPING IN AND OUT.  You will forget and fall over once, but chances are you’ll only bruise your ego.

34. Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.  By all means, have fun on your bike.  Just remember that sometimes having fun means pushing yourself to the limit to see what you’re really made of.

35. Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.  Or because you’re a man.  Or because NKOTB has come up on your playlist and you have to turn them up, er, I mean turn them off and you’re fiddling with your iPod.  Or because you temporarily forgot how to read the word “STOP”.  Pay attention.

36. Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels”.  I’ll tell you how it feels.  It feels gross.  Even if they’re clean.  Just the thought of putting my parts in someone else’s bike shorts makes my stomach turn inside out.  Blechhhh!

37. Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.  And if she runs, then how are you going to take her picture to show your friends the awesome cow you saw?  See rule #1 for appropriate screaming situations.

38. Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because you ride a wheel.  Translation: Don’t be a hipster on a bike.

39. Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground.  Is this a fancy way of saying if the person in front of you crashes, try not to crash on top of them?  Good advice.  Easier said than done, but sound advice nonetheless.

40. Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.  Sure, take an easy spin now and then, but don’t be afraid to tackle that hill.  Ride until your heart threatens to leap out of your chest.  Ride until your lungs fill with fire and your quads want to snap.  Leave the easy route for another day.  You’re stronger than you think you are.  Give that hard ride hell.  And if you don’t beat it the first time, go back for more tomorrow.

41. Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.  I don’t give a rip about other people’s records, but I sure care about my own.  I love beating my fastest time or climbing a hill in a bigger gear than usual.  I love cresting the top of a hill that I once had to walk up.  Be up on your own records.  And then smash them to bits.  When someone calls you sporty or refers to you as an athlete, grin and say thanks.  Then put on your “bloomers” and short skirt and go for a ride.  😉

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8 thoughts on “An Updated List of Don’ts For (Female) Cyclists

  1. Kind of makes one wonder what inspired this list. I would love to see an image of someone doing all these things, or even any combination of five.

    I’m with you: the gloves come off and no holds are barred when Creamsicle bars are involved.

    Great post. 🙂


    1. stuckinmypedals

      Oh, it’s on Hippie. I’ll race you to a Creamsicle anytime. Especially in the winter. I love ice cream when it’s cold out. Hope you’re staying warm in your neck of the woods!


  2. That was a hoot!

    A couple of pointers from man land though. Don’t wipe the snot, plug one nostril, close mouth and blow… You don’t want boogers on your matching kit.

    #8. Don’t coast. That’s not a sexist thing. If you coast your muscles won’t work as efficiently. Pedal lightly and stay in your climbing gear if you wish, but keep the legs moving.

    #1. There are plenty of things more scary than a woman scared to the point of fury. I’ve known this since my mom got so mad she broke a wooden spoon on my butt. I laughed. This does not mean it’s not ok to be scared, just don’t try to come off as tough when you are – unless you happen to be a body builder and can back that fury up. Those moments in the movies where the 115lb girl beats up a 210lb man are fake.

    The rest was hilarious. Thanks



    1. stuckinmypedals

      Love the pointers from man land. I’m a snot rocket-er and a glove wiper, depending on the needs of the nose. And thanks for ruining coasting for me, now I’m actually going to have to start pedaling. It’s like you want me benefit from exercise or something. 😉 Glad you stopped by. Although it’s a shame to leave us all hanging as to what warranted the wooden spoon…


  3. I’m not a biker, but once was. (My claim to fame–except no one knew about it–was riding from Eugene Oregon to Bend over the Three Sisters by myself. Near the top I only pushed the bike for a little ways and then rode like hell down to Bend because some creep was following me). I smiled all the way through this list.


    1. stuckinmypedals

      Wow, Martha, that must have been some ride. You say you’re not a cyclist anymore, but I’m pretty sure once you ride like that, you’re a cyclist forever. Maybe it’s time to pump up the tires. 🙂


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