Break Dat Ice.
I can't help but notice the playful presence of young ladies at the bike park. They rip around on their run bikes, and pedal over obstacles with ear-to-ear smiles. Hair often escaping from their ponytails, and pouring out from all sides. They're adorable, but they're so much more than that.
Unicorn helmets are an easy way to strike up conversation. We chat about our favourite gloves, or our shared frustration that twinkling shoes don't work on pedals, but having recently read this article, I'll now bite my tongue. Guilty of this unconscious objectification on more than one occasion, I've adapted the cheat sheet to help me (and whoever else is interested) move forward.
The next time I meet a rider at the park, I'll use these ice-breakers to get to know them:
-How long have you been riding for?
-Who are you riding with today?
-What's your favourite area in the park?
-What are you learning today?
-What is your favourite trick?
-Have you been in the foam pit yet?!
This short list is just the beginning, and as the article points out, 'just imagine what you would say to her if she were a boy'.
But this doesn't just apply to young riders. In a recent after-hours session, I was joined on the expert jump line by a visiting rider, Alex*. We struck up a conversation and Alex asked 'Do you ride too?' in a notably higher pitch. As Alex had just joined me on an otherwise empty jump line, it was safe to assume I ride. My head immediately started spinning with rebuts that could land in 'Mad's Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions'. But instead I surprised myself and followed suit in the conversation. Minimizing our bikes to nothing more than accessories, I commended Alex on the colours of a clearly custom build. After-hours sessions are not a frequent occurrence, even less frequent is the company of another female rider, yet this is what we chose to talk about. I can't recall doing a single lap with Alex.
The direction of our conversation was decided after a single question.
What will your opening question be?