Regular readers (I can now use the plural with confidence thanks to WordPress’s feedback on visitor traffic) will know that at any one time on the roads of southern France, male cyclists outnumber women 95:1. Now these are impressive odds. Quite early on, even before I’d started cycling, I discovered that merely reading a cycling magazine in a public place was enough to ensure that fit young men would strike up a conversation with me. Their opening gambit was usually along the lines of “Oh, fantastic, a woman who likes cycling”. They’d follow this up with asking my opinion on the latest news in the cycling world and then asking me to go for a drink so that we could continue the conversation. It was virtually foolproof. I even had female friends conduct similar “tests”, all with the same results.
Once I started cycling, I found myself getting “picked up” on the roads on a regular basis. Of course, I’m not one to pass up the opportunity to cycle with someone who’s, inevitably, better than me on a bike particularly someone who can ride tempo. I always fess up to my beloved when I’ve been cycling with other men but, actually, there’s no real need. I have discovered that my clubmates are remarkably discreet. Even though they see me cycling with men other than my beloved husband, they never make mention of it: neither to me, nor to my husband.
Some are chance encounters while others are becoming habitual, or at the very least regular. It even happens when I’m out riding with my beloved husband. Last Saturday, as is his wont, he’d ridden on ahead when I was joined by a chap on the climb to one of the walled villages. Within minutes I had heard his life story, thanks to my super interrogative powers, and was about to be invited to inspect his camper van (very handy for following cycling tours) when I let slip that my beloved was up the road. The disappointment on his face was palpable.
Does my beloved mind? Not at all, do remember that most of the guys who live here fall into the category of being pretty much the same height as me but only 60kg when wet. Indeed, an ex-work colleague of my beloved’s said that if he was married to me he would not leave me all on my own with these charming French men (he’s a charming French-Belgian). My husband’s response was that his wife’s taste’s ran to tall, blondes with blue eyes and rippling muscles and he’d not met anyone who fits that description in the 5 years that we’d lived here (himself excepted). And, of course, he’s totally correct. Still, a gal can keep looking, can’t she?