Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

30 May 2017

The New Bicycle Face?

If you have recently seen someone who is 

usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginnings of shadows under the eyes, and always an expression of weariniess

you might have been looking at me last week, when I was grading mountains of papers and exams.  You also might have been looking at a White House Chief of Staff, or any number of people working in the current administration.

What causes the condition described above?  Some esteemed doctors have claimed it is a result of:

over-exertion, the upright position on the wheel and the unconscious attempt to maintain one's balance tend to produce a weary and exhausted face.

So...What was the name of this condition?, you ask.

Here goes:  Bicycle Face.

Believe it or not, sober, serious medical professionals actually claimed that riding would so distort your face--that is, if you are of the gender in which I now live.   They didn't say anything about what cycling does to men's faces.  Or, perhaps, it was OK for a man to look that way because it meant that he was exerting himself: something a woman was not supposed to do, or at least look as if she were doing.

That was back in 1895.  Of course, the doctors who came up with the description of the symptoms and causes of the disease, uh, over-relied on anecdotal evidence, made it all up.  Why?  They, and other reactionary men, were afraid that if women rode too much (or at all, according to some men), they would lose their physical attractiveness and other feminine virtues in much the same way they believed too much education (or simply reading) would becloud their pretty little heads.

By the time women got the right to vote in the US, I don't think anybody was using the term "bicycle face" any more.  Well, maybe some kid used it as a playground insult:  Perhaps he or she thought some other kid's face looked like it was laced with spokes or had ears that stuck out like handlebars or something.  Actually, I do recall hearing "bike face" in locker rooms:  The "bike" in question, of course, didn't have two wheels.

(Wow!  When I think of stuff like that, I realize how much the world--and I--have changed!)


Bicycle Face?


Anyway, we all know that some people take the sting out of epithets and derogatory terms by "owning" them.  I am thinking, of course, of the ways in which some African Americans (mostly the young) use the "n-word" or the way some in the LGBT community employ "queer" or gay men say "faggot".  I myself would never use those terms, but I understand why some would feel empowered by uttering them.  

Apparently, the owners of a new bicycle shop in Lexington, Kentucky are thinking like those young African-American and LGBT people.  They have appropriated the name of a fabricated "condition" or "syndrome" for their enterprise.  According to manager Jack Baugh, he and the owners want to make money.  But they also want to "create a sense of community" and make their shop "a place where people will want to come and get to know other cyclists."  That, he says, is one of the reasons why the repair shop has been placed in the center of the store, rather than in the bike, out the side or in a basement.  "That helps open things up for people to hang out, because the shop is where conversations always take place," he explains.

Bicycle Face will soon have a bar for coffee and other beverages--something offered by just one other bike shop in Lexington. It will also have free wi-fi and a big garage door to let in sunlight--and will be the site of maintenance classes as well as the starting point of group rides.

Baugh and the shop's owners realize that it's easy for cyclists to buy equipment online.  So, he says, Bicycle Face, has to be "more than a store."  It must be "an experience" that "gives customers a reason to come in."

And, one assumes, they want to make "bicycle face" an expression of joy.

2 comments:

  1. About appropriation of derogatory terms:

    In the 60's, many women who were campaigning for women's reproductive rights and anti-sexism attempted to appropiate the "c" word (C**t). It was common in the speech of women's libers and many in the anti-war movement for years. As they got older, the practice faded and the word has reverted to it's extreme taboo status. The current term "vagina" is simply wrong anatomically and gets on my nerves. "P*ssy" has been destroyed by the occupant of the White House. The old word now has the reputation as the foulest word in the English language. I really can't comprehend this. Something was lost when this word was not reclaimed and used by women the same way the "n" word is used by black people in America.

    Leo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Leo--I was a young babe (or wee lad) back in the '60's. But I have heard, from an older feminist of my acquaintance, about the attempt to appropriate the "c" word. She say that some feminists objected, just as some blacks still don't like the "n" word. (I myself don't use it, or "queer", though I understand why LGBT people, especially the young, do.) I agree that "vagina" is wrong--well, it sounds wrong to me, anyway--but I must say that I liked referring to my "pussy", especially in the days immediately after my surgery. It actually makes me chuckle because I can joke that there are three pussies in my household. The difference is, of course, that Max and Marlee purr and have whiskers.

    ReplyDelete