With the burn of a new year upon us, many of us will be entering the unknown — the inside of a bike/ski/fitness shop. Most of you dread the thought of entering the entrails of a shop built of muscle, sweat and testosterone. We’ll admit it; the intimidation factor is high.
But we encourage you to brave it. And here’s how it’ll go down:
The first thing to admit is that it’s mostly men who will greet you when you walk in the door. They are fit, lean, often ruggedly handsome men. They are nothing like you or the man you keep on your couch. You feel fat, slovenly and slightly uncoordinated in their presence, their beauty.
Bask in their loveliness, smile into their tanned faces, openly admire what fitness can do for a body. With time, you too can look good in a jacket cut for a jockey. With work, you can wear those running tights without feeling like a weeblewobble on stilts. With age, you could even grow a little stubble on your chin.
SIDENOTE: For the women you see working in the shop, commend them, for they work day in and day out with these guys, some with an ego twice the size of their… car. These are the most skilled women on earth. They can swagger with the boys and giggle with the girls. These are learned and wise women.
Once you’ve decided to get over their gorgeousness, there’s the mind game to endure. These guys will deduce, in the time it takes them to walk through the shop and reach you by the rack of pink women’s jackets, that you aren’t even sure where your skis are. Last time you went looking, you realized they were dangerously close to the litter box that you might be called upon to clean. You abandoned the whole ordeal before anyone could object.
At this point, things are — as all parties have agreed upon — not looking good. You feel a bit embarrassed; they pretend you don’t have creases in your face from your afternoon nap.
But you’re here to turn things around. This is your chance, your time, your moment. This shop and this man can make all these things happen for you. To this we say: Let him in. Look around, talk shop, ask questions.
Egads! you are thinking, Give him the satisfaction? Show female weakness? Never! But, learn from us. We speak from that first moment when we crawled into a bike shop and confessed we had 1980s equipment. These men took one look at us… then went ahead and showed us around anyway.
And here’s the thing: With time, these guys take quite a liking to you as you advance in your sport of choice.
Soon, you’ll be walking in the door with a little limp or a crick in your neck and the salesguy will look up, do a doubletake in glee and hurry over to see what your story is.
Confess to a wipeout of any kind, and you’re golden. These guys LIVE for this. You’re in Trading Battle Scars territory. Your first venture into this private world is like turning 21. You realize half the fun is getting there. Who knew?
Give them another year and a dozen more falls, upgrades or repairs and they start to feel like your brother, your coach, and your therapist all wrapped into one.
Then comes the day when you realize you might actually love the dudes (and the chicks) in the shop, big egos and all. You let them bestow their wisdom upon you and rag on you to no end, but then secretly get teary when they ask how your first bike race went. And then the kicker: They’ll slap you on the shoulder like you’re one of the boys. You have, on all accounts, arrived.
But one final warning: Don’t let this boy stuff go to their head or yours. Wear plenty of pink, and every now and then, pretend you’re unimpressed with their stories or ask them a question you know they can’t answer. This keeps them in check and doesn’t ruin the view.