Welcome to the Clueless Men’s Club
What men say and what women hear are not always the same.
I thought of this as soon as the words were out of Mark Sutton’s mouth.
“Remember, there is no shame in taking the SAG wagon,” Mark told my 15-year-old daughter, Addi.
“Uh-oh,” I thought. “Tell me you didn’t say that.”
SAG is an acronym for “support and gear.” During an organized bicycle ride, the sponsors use SAG vehicles to rescue fatigued riders.
Addi, Mark and I were on our way to the annual All You Can Eat bicycle ride in Huntsville when Mark unwittingly challenged Addi.
A few weeks before, Mark had ridden the W.C. Handy bike event on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Still fairly new to the sport, and suffering from dehydration, he conked out at the Tennessee state line. The SAG wagon drove him back to our car.
So, I believe Mark was saying to Addi:
“This is your first attempt at a long-distance ride. You’ve got to pedal more than 50 miles on a three-speed cruiser. Don’t be embarrassed if you need help getting home. Heck, it happened to me. Remember, there is no shame in taking the SAG wagon.”
But, this is what I believe Addi heard:
“You’re just a girl, an unfortunate member of the weaker sex. No one can expect a female to keep up with a male, physically or mentally. Heck, who are we kidding? No one can expect you to finish this ride at all.
“You’ve never ridden this far and you’re probably not in shape for it. Don’t do anything to endanger your bright future — cooking, laundry and raising children. Remember, there is no shame in taking the SAG wagon, especially if you’re a girl.”
Addi was fuming by the time we started pedaling.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
She glared at me like I was just another member of the Clueless Men’s Club.
“Didn’t you hear what he said to me,” she answered.
“Mark’s a nice guy,” I said. “I don’t think he meant anything by it.”
But the challenge was on, clearly laid out before us like yellow lines on black pavement.
Addi cranked the pedals, climbed the hills and fought the headwinds with hell-bent determination. She was riding for pride, trying to beat every male on the circuit that day.
No, we didn’t set any land speed records. We weren’t the first riders to cross the finish line. But we crossed it under our own power.
The SAG wagon was never an option.
Scott Morris is managing editor.