Cycling and sex: you can’t have one without the other. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a carbon fibre bicycle and a life membership of British Cycling must be in want of a wife”. Such is the strength of the sexual tension on some club rides that if Jane Austen was around today she’d surely be penning Pride & Peleton, a novel about the bubbling under current of passion at Pemberley CC. Imagine, if you will, Elizabeth Bennett getting off to a bad start with club chairman Mr Darcy due to his off-hand comments about her hard won Strava times, a pivotal scene involving a sweat soaked Rapha shirt, and a lovely wedding at the end conducted by Reverend Wiggins.
It can’t be denied that sometimes there is an sexual frisson in the air. This is surely unavoidable given that we’re talking about a group of fit men and women dressed in skin tight clothing, pumped full of feel good endorphins, all out to get a bit of a sweat on together. To be blunt, cycling is a sexy sport and some men like to show off: grinding their way up a steep hill, muscles bulging, sweat pouring, groaning a bit. That cup of coffee at the top of Box Hill? It’s cycling’s version of a post-coital cigarette.
Then there’s the swagger that comes on if they get to fix your bike mid-ride. Never mind that we could do it ourselves: who can deny a chap the opportunity to get his tools out? It’s a green light for him to demonstrate, with one twist of a chain link device, that with ‘man’ skills like this he could probably also procreate with every willing maiden between here and the Lee Valley Velodrome whilst nailing a few KOMs en route.
And let’s not forget the ‘have I ever told you about the time I got numb testicles riding across Alaska?’ conversation: the cycling gentleman’s cunning way of reminding you that although you both have bicycles, he also has some other equipment that he is rather proud of. Yes, a group ride with men is, in reality, a hormonally driven thigh-fest dance, packed with sideways glances, not-so-casual overtaking manoeuvres and general strutting around for fifty miles. Enjoy it.
(this is rework of a story I originally wrote for Total Women’s Cycling!)