Bicycles and the Women's Independence Movement
Why do we ride? What is your reason? For most of us, it's a detox of the day's stress and a dopamine high that brings joy and relief! Over 125 years ago, riding a bike was more than just making you feel good, it was independence. Women were able to break free from their world and go on their own. There was no need to get a ride from their husband to go into town or do errands. Freedom. However, a physical symptom quickly became associated with this new freedom, Bicycle Face!
"...usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness."
In 1897, Dr. A Shadwell from the UK wrote about the "dangers of bicycling, especially for women, describing how "cycling as a fashionable craze has been attempted by people unfit for any exertion."
Today, we all make this Bicycle Face! It's part of the ritual cleanse. I caught myself recently leaning on a crosswalk sign, still hyperventilating, after climbing the hill in Scarboro. I thought to myself this is my Bicycle Face and I must be hard-core! Nearby motorists did not look at me with disgust or shame but maybe appreciation for my effort? A 100 years ago, this was an undesirable condition. How things have changed!
Coach Selina has a story of Bicycle Face. "I was trying to hold Gord's wheel as he paced me through some time trials for 70.3 Worlds prep. Apparently, I was literally grey in the face, but no way was I going to let him drop me! Death before being dropped. It worked - had a kick-ass Worlds."
We would love to hear your "Bicycle Face" story. Please submit, with optional photo, to email. We are going share the Bicycle Face stories in our next blog. Inspire others to keep on moving! Your name will kept anonymous.