Do’s and Don’t for Female Cyclists

Back in 1895, when men still actually believed they were in charge, The New York World published a list of do’s and don’ts for female cyclists. The list was recently posted on Brainpickings, and over the last few days I’ve had enough people forward it to me that I became concerned that perhaps I’ve been breaking the rules. So I decided to review the list thoroughly to see if I was indeed making a conspicuous number of faux-pas. In an attempt to be transparent (in addition to shallow, which comes much more naturally) I’ve marked my answers with a checkmark () if I am compliant with a rule, and an X (X) if I am not.

I have also taken the liberty of arranging the list into various categories to make it seem less daunting (and because I am totally anal retentive).

Do’s and Don’ts for Female Cyclists

Appearance & Attire
• Don’t wear a man’s cap.  Χ
• Don’t wear tight garters.  
• Don’t wear loud hued leggings.  
• Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.  Χ
• Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.  Χ
• Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.  
• Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.  
• Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.  Χ
• Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match.”  Χ
• Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.  Χ
• Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels.”  
• Don’t be a fright.  Χ

There were so many points about bloomers I felt they deserved their own category. To put these suggestions into a modern context, I substituted the word “panties” for “bloomers”. I am happy to report a perfect score in this section.

• Don’t ask “What do you think of my bloomers?”  
• Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.  
• Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.  Χ
• Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.  

Tools & Equipment
• Don’t forget your toolbar.  
• Don’t ride without a needle, thread and thimble.  Χ
• Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because you ride a wheel.  Χ

• Don’t attempt a “century”.  Χ
• Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.  Χ
• Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.  Χ
• Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.  
• Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground.  Χ
• Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.  Χ

• Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers.  Χ

• Don’t coast. It is dangerous.  Χ
• Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry  Χ
• Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.  
• Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.  Χ
• Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you.  
• Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.  

• Don’t boast of your long rides.  Χ
• Don’t faint on the road.
• Don’t criticize people’s “legs”.  
• Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.  
• Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.  Χ
• Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.  Χ
• Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.  Χ
• Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.  Χ
• Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face”.  Χ

Out of a possible 41, I scored a paltry 16 – a failing mark of just 39%. Oddly, the only category in which I seem to be doing well is “Bloomers”. Go figure. I clearly have a lot of work to do – it’s a wonder anyone will ride with me at all! Thank God there wasn’t any mention of snot rockets or peeing in ditches.

S0 ladies, I challenge you to take a minute or two to take this little quiz to see if you ride like a Right and Proper Lady. Let me know how you do.

Images in this post (from the top):
1) Billie Samuels, Australian world-record long distance cyclist (Photo: State Library of New South Wales) (as seen on bikeladiesunite)
2) Giorgia Bronzini, women’s 2011 road world champion (photo: Graham Watson)
3) Goldy Pants – Artuu
4) Katlyn Hershman, mechanic, BikeWorks NYC (photo Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)
5) Catherine Pendrel, pro mountain biker (Photo Sang Tan/Associated Press)
6) Hanka Kupfernagel, pro cyclocross racer  (photo: cyclephotos)
7) Christine Vardaros, pro cyclocross racer (Photo: Kris Claeye)