An intimate secret from the women’s peloton

The riders in the Vuelta moaned and complained: they had to get changed in the open air after the finish. The team buses couldn’t get to the top of the mountain. Oh my, those poor creatures. There they were, bums exposed and only a small wash cloth to get clean. I would say: welcome to our world!

You might think that us women, just like our male colleagues, have very luxurious team buses at our disposal. Team buses with showers, espresso machines, wi-fi, dvd-players and a lounge corner, where we can get freshened up. Or you, which is far more probable, have never even thought about how we do that. I can tell you this: there is no women’s team that has the amount of comfort men’s teams have. Last year we were one of the exceptions with our big AA drink truck which had a toilet and even a shower. One. Not two or more like the men have. Nevertheless an unmatched luxurious situation in the women’s peloton.

Some teams have a camper van but most teams have to do with just a mini-van for the equipment. Before the race a small tent top is fixed to the van and the riders are sitting on folding chairs. Outside, even when it’s cold or raining. I found myself in exactly that situation numerous times in the past years because of our super duper luxurious truck could only travel with one team and we usually travel around with two teams.

So we get changed in the open air. Just like going to the toilet. Don’t you think portable toilets are installed every time the women’s peloton visits town.Sometimes we can go in a café but it happens often enough that the owners refuse the hoard of women. Only the bushes remain, or a place between the cars which is hidden as much as we can find it.

And now I get to the point where our male colleagues can learn something. I will give some free advice, a tip. Even better, I will reveal a very valuable women’s secret.You can imagine that the public is quite often curiously watching us when we try to get dressed on the street. Even worse, men who are passing won’t divert their gazes. Oh no, they have the habit to stop and stare at our attempts to expose the least possible amount of our naked bodies while we get out of our bib shorts.We usually wear the shorts when we arrive at the start but after the finish that sweaty thing needs to get out before we jump into the car. To sit on a sticky chamois for an hour or more is not good for the, let’s say “physical health”.

A few weeks ago I was in a French stage race. I was getting changed in our van with the door half closed. I just got a wash cloth over my body and put on my underwear as fast as humanly possible when I felt two eyes staring at me. I looked up and straight into the face of a man who had taken his time to observe what exactly was going on in the van. His arm folded, he stared straight into the van. When our eyes met, he didn’t show any signs of being caught in the act. No, he folded his arms firmer and kept staring.

That pissed me off. I pulled the door of the van completely open, exposing my body from top to toe. “Can you see it? Yeah, take a close look. Nothing weird to see here, all perfectly normal!!,” I yelled while gesturing at my underwear-clad body, Even though I spoke Dutch and the guy French, I made it very clear. He can’t have missed the point, so to say. Bizarrely enough, the man got angry. I don’t know what he said and why he got angry but he made wild gestures at me before he finally diverted his gaze and walked on.

To prevent situations like this happening again, I took a skirt to the stage race I am doing in the Ardèche at the moment. I saw other women in the peloton do it. If you pull a skirt over your bib shorts, you can easily peel these off without showing the world your naked bum. It is the best solution for French men who haven’t got the tiniest bit of decency.

So poor souls in the Vuelta, if you find yourself in a situation again this week where you finish at a place where the team buses can’t come, be prepared. Take a skirt.

Photo: Korneel Wever
Translation: Procycling News / Tour de Jose

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