I ran into a bike riding buddy at the coffee shop the other day and we shared a table, since we were both there to work and the place was semi crowded. After a couple hours, he looked up from his laptop on which he was fine-tuning a cycling safety invention and asked what I was working on. I showed him our magazine.
“It’s nice to know that some women like adventure,” he said, “because so many women… don’t.”
While that might not be the best way of phrasing it, there might be something to my friend’s statement. And there might not.
It’s not that women don’t like adventure. I think it’s that we approach it differently than most men do, in general of course. I wonder if we women are more prone to consider the safety factor of our activities and use more caution than men do. I wonder if we women like a slower pace, a gentler grade, a shorter trip, an easier climb. I wonder if we women think about the consequences of adventure gone awry more seriously, whether we evaluate the risks through a different lens. I wonder if we women—due to societal pressure, biological makeup, or self-imposed expectations—portray ourselves as daintier and softer than men, less rugged and weaker, ill-suited for hardcore pursuits.
But then I remember I’m an athlete and as strong or stronger than many of my guy friends, that I’m a traveler with more stamps on my passport than my significant other, that I’m an explorer with thousands of miles of trail under my soles/skis/wheels. I ask: What’s with this generalization?
I’m a researcher, a planner, a skirt wearer, a frequent camper, a nail biter, a nail painter, an occasional crier, a runner, an angler, a skilled mountain driver, and a pack mule who carries enough water for three times the amount of a planned activity.
But I’m not an “adventure hater.”
I do like to take ownership of my adventures, and I do like to be informed and prepared. And I love the discovery, the pushing of my limits, the elation of accomplishment after trying something new.
Sure, it’s important for me to understand what I’m undertaking and to feel like I am ready. And that is why I try to run a new trail before mountain biking it, why I check out a technical section (of trail, river, or rock) before heading through it, and why I carry plenty of food and water even on short excursions. It’s important that I get through the adventure whole—though some women seem at peace with the possibility of not making it through their risky passion alive and though I’ve definitely had my share of near-death experiences, hard falls, and frozen toes. And, finally, it’s important that I have fun, even if it’s the sort of fun that only really looks fun in hindsight.
Wanting to stay fit, informed, prepared, and happy doesn’t diminish my love for adventure though. My approach to it, my reasons for loving the outdoors, and my motivations to explore are certainly different from many men’s.
But they’re likely different from many women’s, too.
So there’s no need to ramble. The point is simple. We women like adventure. Let’s keep at it!
I think women’s approach to outdoor sports differs simply because if the original women had run off after prey like the men in cave man days the species never would have survived. For instance the fire might have gone out, children might get eaten, etc. So we prepare better and are more cautious – at first.
I also think that women are out there as much for the experience as they are for the accomplishment.
Good theory! Oh, and wonderful to ride with you last week! Thank you for showing me around Paso Robles. 😀