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Ride Like A Girl…or, What it’s Like to Chick and be Chicked

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coed mountain bike racing means guys get chicked

What does a girl have to do if she wants marriage proposals, arm wrestling contests, shock and awe accolades, and (sadly) trail blocking and really strange behavior?

Simple: Pass a guy on the trail or in a race.

If you’re the dude and we pass you, you just got chicked…and I chicked a few guys while racing on a co-ed duo team with my race partner, Mario Correa this summer at the inaugural Breck Epic.  I had some pretty colorful comments and antics and figured there had to be something to this.  So, I asked a few VERY fast women about what happens when when they take the lead in a ride or a race, and I asked some men what is was like to ride co-ed when their partner passes a guy.

Here’s what they all had to say:

Dave Harris couldn’t ask for a better partner is his epic escapades: He races with the formidable Lynda Wallenfels who chicked the entire men’s single speed solo class of 30 riders at the 24 hrs of Old Pueblo this year.  Here’s what Dave had to say about racing with Lynda Wallenfels:

DAVE: When she passes guys in races (and often riding at/near the front of the race) she seems to be asked if she’s single. A lot!

In TransRockies last year we rode SS. There are a lot of flats in TR but you really have to gear for the climbs so we’d find ourselves working through the field after the spun out flats. Sometimes we went by big groups of guys like they were motionless…on day 2 as I go by a team on a fireroad climb one guy whispers to his teammate “we just got passed by a dude on a SS!”, LW right behind me heard the exchange and says “wait, it gets better!”. All I recall from that guy was a groan after that…

TransRockies ’06 we won the open mixed field. LW was fast as ever for that race. On day 4 we had some very difficult climbing – and we were right at the front of the race. This climb was clearly hike a bike and everyone was getting off and running/pushing up this bear of a hill – all but LW who zipped on up past everyone. This guy shouts out “how much do you weigh!” as if she was only able to ride that hill cause she was helium filled or something. The girl is strong!

LYNDA: At Vision Quest in 2008 we had a terrible start arriving a bit late and ended up at the back of the pack staging. We were mowing up through the field on the first climb and I was riding on Dave’s wheel. This dude we passed shouts up after me “wow props for the single” then a moment later he shouts “hey are you dating anyone” and Dave puts his hand in the air and shouts “yeah me” and the dude says “aww”. It was a funny moment


Next, I asked Greg Martin what is was like to ride with recent podium girl Rebecca Rusch:

GREG: For the most part, I’d say the guys are pretty respectful of her, especially now that she’s more of a known entity. There was one instance in La Ruta 2006 where this Tico (name for the native Costa Ricans) guy was determined to not let her pass him. The course went from double track gravel road to single file through some railroad sections. This guy would fall back on the road sections and then sprint up in front of Reba and cut her off going into the single file sections. Then he’d slow down and she would try to get around him. He couldn’t go fast, but he didn’t want her to pass him. This happened several times over the course of 10-15 miles. I commented about it to Reba and she said it wasn’t the first time she’d been treated like that in the race. After that, he and I exchanged some words in our native languages for a bit. After we got to the final road section in to the finish, he wouldn’t do any work. He wanted to just sit on my wheel.

Ultimately, neither Reba or I wanted to ride near this guy because he was so “twitchy” and unpredictable that he was a danger to the group. So, I told Reba to go on with a couple of other guys in the group and I dropped back with this guy. After the group got out of sight, I dropped him and bridged back up to the group. In the end, she finished the stage 10-15 minutes ahead of him. It was pretty funny and really strange behavior.

I’m sure she’s had more instances of “machismo gone wild” but this was the most obvious case I’ve witnessed.

Rebecca Rusch
I tend to hear “Good Job Man!” I guess I look like a guy sometimes, or they just can’t believe they are being passed by a woman. (Rebecca’s website is here)


Sarah Kaufman
I think one thing that’s funny though, is the wide variation in responses. Sometimes when guys realize you are a chick and that you are leading or close to leading a race, they are super gracious, totally ego-less, pull over and are very encouraging and supportive. And then there are the others…the guys whose immediate response when realizing they are getting passed by a chick is either to start pedalling faster (and usually get super sloppy) or they just refuse to pull over. At this point, I usually get flustered and start riding like crap too because I freak out knowing my competition is now getting the benefit of catching me. I like to collect myself, start riding sanely again and proceed to ride the guy’s wheel like it’s my job – just stick to it like glue, ‘til he gets uncomfortable and hopefully let’s me by.

When I lived in San Francisco I used to go for mountain bike rides in Golden Gate Park. The singletrack is really fun and there are some flowy sections that you can really rail. I remember once flying around a corner and ending up in an impromptu homeless camp. There were about five homeless guys sitting around completely wasted (on who knows what). They immediately began shouting and slurring but really encouraging things…, “You gooooo girrrrrrl!” Priceless. (Sarah’s blog is here)

Rebecca Tomaszewski

A lot of guys get weird about being chicked, but I had one dude point out that he’d rather look at my rear than his buddies…..and that he’d rather get passed on a bike than beaten arm wrestling!

James Herrera keeps some pretty fast female company, riding with the likes of Kelli Emmett, Alison Dunlap, and Katie Compton. How does a strong male rider deal with getting chicked on a regular basis?

JAMES: Kelli, Alison, and Katie are three of my best friends. But look at who you’re talking about. Kelli’s a top US cross country racer who’s won the US Super D title and single speed World Championships. Big Al’s been to the Olympics twice and won mountain bike Worlds in 2001. Katie’s a 6x US National Cross Champ and has placed 2nd and 3rd at cross Worlds this past two year. In truth, I have no problems about being schooled by anyone who’s better than me, male or female. I’ve also had the pleasure of coaching and riding with gravity racers Tara Llanes, Kathy Pruitt, and Tracey Moseley. Most guys couldn’t keep them in shouting distance on a descent. Guy or girl, people just need to get over it. If someone’s coming up on you, move your ass over.

Sharon McDowell

This was a casual ride (birthday ride actually) with an older friend of James and I and some of his “older” buddies. As is often the case I was the only girl on the ride. On the first major descent of the ride, James Herrea takes the lead and I quickly jump in behind him having already assessed that I can descend better than the rest of the boys… Another guy drops in behind me, obviously a little peeved that I didn’t let him go ahead (he had already made some snide remarks)…. James and I are hanging, having fun, he is slowly losing ground. Finally James and I stop to wait up for the group, he comes up and says something like, “wow, I’ve never see a girl who could descend that fast” (a back handed comment which came out sounding like, you descend pretty good for a girl… ). Needless to say, James couldn’t resist making off handed remarks about my descending skills the rest of the ride, all within ear shot of this guy.

Kelli Emmett

“I never had a girl kick my ass before.” I told him he better get used to it if he wanted to keep riding with me..

Katie Compton

I had a guy ask me to marry him after I passed him on a climb in 24 hrs of Canaan. Another one that I remember well was one guy said to a friend of mine during a cx race I was winning, “damn, she’s fast for a big girl!” The guy didn’t realize the person he was talking to was a good fiend of mine. Thought that was pretty damn funny.


Alison Powers
Man to my sister- “Hey, your sister’s not very nice”.
Sister- “Why not?”
Man- “When she passed me she didn’t even say hi or anything. She just flew by and said something like Dude on your left. That’s not nice.”

That was during a mtn bike race this year in Fruita.

When I mentioned to my racing partner Mario Correa that I got stuck behind someone during a race, I think it was pretty hard for him to fathom (typically he doesn’t get stuck behind anyone)…  until we did the Breck Epic, where we rode my pace, which is not his pace.  During that race I got a wide range of comments and reactions. Some complimentary and some very peculiar. I asked Mario what it was like to race with me in the front.

MARIO: Racing in the mixed duo category was a fun experience. Each day Heidi and I joined 100+ fellow adventurers to ride the fantastic singletrack and delight in the expansive views that only the Rockies can offer. There were a great number of riders from all over and all were friendly, but some had a Jekyll and Hyde transformation once they dawned their kits and hopped on their bikes; they turned into trail egomaniacs.

We would come upon these types of riders and they’d increase the pace once she passed and would do their best to try and stay ahead. The first few times it didn’t bother me, but once it became a pattern and started to interfere with our rhythm it began to test my patience. When there was singletrack ahead these guys would kill themselves to get to the bottleneck first and subsequently they wouldn’t have enough energy to keep up the good pace. We’d catch them but they wouldn’t or couldn’t move over to let us pass so we had sit back until the trail opened up.

I had never encountered such a resistance to, almost a fear of, being passed, but then again I’m a guy. I figured it had to be an ego thing and in this case these riders had egos that far exceeded their strength and skill on the bike. The whole situation was silly; a strong rider is a strong rider, muscle has no sex. It was rare to hear words of encouragement as Heidi passed, but there was never any lack of reasons or excuses to “explain” their riding condition. It’s as if there were there were two “classes” of riders and one didn’t really have respect for the other.

I once had the good fortune of staying in the same bed and breakfast as Thomas Frischknecht, former world champion, and Tinker Juarez down in Costa Rica at La Ruta. After one of the stages, I was enjoying a beer with Tinker and a couple other riders reviewing the day when Thomas walked by our table. I observed the interaction between these two phenomenal riders and there was nothing but great mutual respect, each complementing and congratulating the other. There were absolutely no egos involved.

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Snippety Gibbet
14 years ago

We call that “narfling the garthok.” Here’s my artwork and post about just that. http://snippetygibbet.blogspot.com/2008/08/snip-demonstrating-narfling-garthok.html

Snippety Gibbet
14 years ago

We call that “narfling the garthok.” Here’s my artwork and post about just that. http://snippetygibbet.blogspot.com/2008/08/snip-demonstrating-narfling-garthok.html …the post about it: http://snippetygibbet.blogspot.com/2008/08/narfle-garthok.html

14 years ago

i like being passed by girls. duh!

14 years ago

I married a biker, who when I met her I thought wouldn’t ever be passing me.
I’m a much more technical and more powerful rider than her…

…until she took me on our first of many 100km mountain rides. About half way through, I realized she wasn’t getting tired, and I was screwed. We ended the ride with me staring at her rear wheel trying not to get dropped.

I always thought it was great when a woman passed me, now I ride hard when I can, and admire the view when my wife drags me home!

14 years ago

I used to live in Whistler back when there was still only the occasional girl on the mtn. I worked a really early morning shift so I could ride all afternoon every work day, and all day on my days off. Needless to say, I got pretty fast at decents pretty quickly. I’d given up waiting to ride with friends long ago, and just started jumping on the chair as a single, usually with a bunch of guys. It was fun because the ride up gave me the chance to size the guys up. There was quite a mix between the guys that scoffed and the ones who were encouraging. I had one marriage proposal within the first chair ride, riding still unseen. Often, towards the top, if they didn’t know where they were headed, I’d let them know “You’re welcome to ride with me if you can keep up with me.” I think it surprised a lot of egos when I rode their wheel til I got the chance to pass. I also got some stellar riding buddies for as long as they were in town…

Jenifer Kwasniewski
14 years ago

My favorite was when I passed a couple guys on a long climb in a race and one of them said to the guy next to him, “aw $hit, we just got passed by a girl”. Then he looked at me and said, “aw f*ck, we just got passed by a girl in a SKIRT!” It was pretty funny. The guys who become trail bottlenecks to avoid being passed by a girl are very frustrating!

14 years ago

Why is it called being chicked? If I get passed by a guy am I being duded? Chicked implies something is going on here that is more than just being passed. Passed by a *girl* You gals are complaining about people who act like being passed by a woman is a stigma! Oh the irony…

I am pretty slow, I let everyone pass. You can’t have an ego about your skills if you have no skills so I got over that a long time ago. One time I got passed by my wife in a race. I caught back up to her and passed her but she passed me again later. I think she beat me by 5 or 6 minutes in that race. When I crossed the line a guy laughed at me and told me I got beat by my wife! Oh the horror! My response was, “Where’s your wife?” (Obviously not there racing).

Mary Metcalf-Collier
14 years ago

Preggered… That’s one my husband just came up with when I kinda schooled some people at 7 months pregnant. You don’t forget how to ride, just because you gained a belly!

Tyler Benedict
14 years ago


14 years ago

yeah, wow! I was chicked by a bear naked cannondale rider (the granola, not the wardrobe malfunction) and she was really cooking on a night lap at 24 hrs of allamuchy a few years ago. I was feeling good and moving well but got totally smoked, her mixed duo team nearly beat the top 4man pro team! I think it’s sexist to have a problem with chicked or, ouch, preggered but I think it’s OK when I redline it when a KID is catching me!

13 years ago

This is a great article!
For those who are “chicking” – and even those who GET “chicked”….i found these great shirts:

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