Hey Guys

Not everything is all about you.

But too often the media coverage of it is.

A lot of mountain biking media assumes that its audience – the default ‘Joe Blogs on a bike’ – is male and between 18 and 45 years-old.

You can see this in mountain biking sports coverage – how many times have you read an event wrap-up that gave the women’s divisions the same amount of attention as the men’s ones? Or even listed the results to the same number of placings?

If you read mountain biking magazines and websites, and watched any of the big brand riding vids, you will have noticed that most people producing this media assume their audiences are guys.*

If art imitates life, perhaps some of my readers can answer this: What is all that talk about needing ‘big balls’ to pull off tricky, scary or physically demanding deeds? I thought testicles were soft and sensitive? So what exactly do these little puff-sacks have to do with endurance and toughness?

And what’s with all that trash-talk about women obstructing their male partner’s purchasing capacity, dare-doing and riding time. What a load of toss. Own your limitations, boys. Stop resorting to references to ‘the missus’ or ‘the ball and chain’ to distance yourselves from your limits and boost your self-esteem. It’s embarrassing.**

(While we’re on the subject of biased representations of gender in the chitchat that surrounds our sport – you do know that not every mountain biker is heterosexual, don’t you?)

Look, guys, most of you are great to ride with. I like having you around and I certainly don’t judge you simply because you have a Y chromosome, but you’re not enough to populate my world. Not by yourselves, anyway.

But that’s enough from me about why I think women deserve more space on the singletrack and in the media coverage of our sport.

It’s time we heard from this mysterious Joe-Bloggs-the-mountain-biker, that guy all these crass comments are for, the guy who apparently thinks that there are just two styles of riding in mountain biking: like a man or mouse. Or was that ‘a girl’?

So Joe, why do we spell your name ‘Joe’ and not ‘Jo’? That final, defining appendage is a nice touch, but it’s hardly necessary for riding a bike, is it?

But seriously Joe, why do you think you deserve to hog a sport as fun as mountain biking? Why do you talk like riders from other demographics are a joke? And what do you think will happen when your body clock ticks past 45?

Surely you’re not as bad as you’ve been made out to be – so speak up. Tell the world what you really think about sharing the trails and the limelight and the competition prize-pools.

You don’t really want to ride all by yourself, do you?

Your would-be riding buddy,

Joanna Bloggs

** Finding some of the turns of phrase in this section offensive? Good. These are the kinds of comments some writers ask women to look beyond every day.

*Actually, most mountain biking journalists are guys. There are plenty of women who ride and would like to get their voices out there, on the screen, over the airways, in the great dub-dub-dub or in print, but it’s much harder for them to get airtime. Apparently, male readers don’t want to hear from female journos – the gender divide is too great. Luckily, us female readers are able to see past all the sexist attitudes and off-handed derogatory comments that so often punctuate the macho banter of our sport’s preferred reporters and commentators, banter that undermines our skills, our knowledge, our passion, our right to participate in the wider mountain biking scene. Hmm…