We sat in the small café, candles on the table, our hands around our drink glasses. Our coach moved my beer and the others’ wine glasses in a line. He told us how to do a breakaway. His hands shifted the glasses and my mind flooded with happiness.
All of us were sweaty from the training—four women with peach stung faces and two men: our coach and a teammate’s boyfriend who offered his helpful advice about his own racing experience.
We sat in the glowing café on the dark street. Someone walking by would see a bicycle team: a group of women who have come together to try and ride bicycles as fast as they can. They would see our faces change from serious intent then broken by bursts of joyful laughter.
Our laughter echoed throughout the small café. As others worked on laptops, we talked politics of there being a women’s criterium race this summer. In my understanding, a crit is racing around a circle at top speeds. I have never been to a criterium, let alone raced in one. Ironically and pleasantly surprisingly, our male coach is fighting for there to be a women’s criterium this summer at Larkinville.
I was not so convinced. It seems odd that I am not fighting for the same cause as our coach. I believe women and men should strive for equality—especially in cycling. However, if there is a women’s crit, this means I may be in it: something I’m not sure I want to do. I don’t mind doing things outside my comfort zone, but I don’t like doing things that are dangerous. I have yet to determine whether me racing in a crit would be a good challenge or just broken collarbone, traumatic brain injury, bloody arms and legs dangerous. However, I learned that there are crit practices for men and women when the weather breaks. Perhaps, I could learn how to ride safely in a criterium.
I left the café with the taste of beer and possibility on my tongue. Were we just talking about bike racing or are we actually in a much larger discussion?
“So you’re all about it if it’s for equality?” My coach yelled to me as he walked across the street.
I smiled, “Yeah.”
Perhaps, this discussion—this moving of glasses across the table, showing us how to do a breakaway–isn’t just about learning the subtle art of bicycle racing; perhaps, it’s about a much different kind of breakaway all together.