How to Deal with Getting Chicked

Hey Guys, Here's How to Act the Next Time You Get Passed by a Faster Woman

with LESLEY PATERSON, Liv Racing Off-Road Triathlete

For many female athletes, the scenario is a common one – during training or racing, you come up on a slower guy, and you pass him. Hardly newsworthy.  “Getting chicked” isn’t a particularly nice phrase to begin with because most girls and women have spent their entire lives enduring negative comments about their athleticism, but the good news is that this seems to be changing, and the phrase is being reclaimed by women. 

Once a guy does get chicked, what happens next is interesting…. In my 26 years of studying the Response to Chicking (RTC), here’s what I’ve learned:  There are five types of response from guys who get passed by a faster woman (i.e., They get “chicked”), in order of welcomeness:  

  1. The Silent: You pass him. Not a peep out of either party. There’s equality in mutual suffering.
  2. The Athleticism Admirer:  He gives you some encouragement because he admires strong athletes doing their thang: “Great Job! Keep pushing! Looking Strong!”
  3. The Backhanded Encourager: Provides encouragement but usually cloaked in surprise or condescension (e.g., “Wow, you’re strong for a woman” or “Congrats, you did really well there - I couldn’t stay with you!”). (Err, yeah I know, I’m a stronger athlete).
  4. The Ego: Hangs on wheel for a while then passes you for 30 seconds before you pass him back because he is unable to sustain his ego-fueled surge. His insecurity about his athleticism has now become an annoyance. This process repeats until he either (a) throws in the towel, (b) starts to talk to you by mansplaining or about why he’s holding back due to [insert excuse here], or (c) he turns into The Creeper.
  5. The Creeper: He hangs back for a while, pulls alongside, then starts trying to chat you up, or saying otherwise unwelcome things.  

This blog isn’t a man-bashing post. Far from it. I love men, fast and slow, and MOST men I’ve encountered fall into Category 1 or 2, with a few 3s. But, getting passed by a faster girl or woman turns some men into weirdos (Egos or Creepers). Perhaps seeing a swishing ponytail get a gap on them awakens a primitive brain chemistry? Perhaps it’s a window into their deep-seated ideas about what the female athlete body can do? Or perhaps it’s just they hate getting beaten, period.

Regardless of the reasons, as a faster woman who chicks men on a weekly basis here is some advice to the men from the women who chick you…

  • Try to think of it as “Getting Mastered” rather than getting chicked. If you notice the gender before you notice the athleticism, focus on the latter, not the former. The reason you’re getting passed is because the athlete is usually fitter and faster than you (or doing specific intervals that are faster than whatever you’re doing).
  • If you do insist on saying something... make it about pleasantries (“Great day for it!”), our athleticism (“Good job”), not our gender or our body (“You have amazing legs” – hint: you’re now tip-toeing into the Creeper category). If you’re in any doubt of the difference, make sure you would be comfortable saying the exact same thing to a man who passes you).
  • Enjoy the experience of witnessing an athlete who is mastering their craft with probably just as many competing demands on their life as you have. Respect the hustle and the lifestyle.  
  • Humanize us. The girl or woman passing you is someone’s daughter, mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, best friend. Be respectful and talk as though other people are listening.
  • If you do want to talk, respect the context (headphones in or breathing hard are signs that conversation is unlikely to be welcome) and know the rules of conversation. If you don’t get a response to your first sentence (or barely get a response), there’s a good chance conversation isn’t welcomed. Don’t keep at it like a woodpecker.
  • If you want a free tow, hint at what you’re doing in a non-Creeper way… (e.g., “you mind if I sit on your wheel? This headwind is killing me and you’re stronger than I am.”). And don’t be offended if she says, “I’d rather you didn’t.” And if you DO sit on, this isn’t an open invite to keep trying to strike up a conversation if we give you signs that we don’t want to talk.

Now if you’re a man reading this, you might be thinking, “All these rules for riding/running alongside a woman now? This is our PC culture gone mad!” To which I say, not at all! It’s not that complicated – be kind, respectful, humble, and most importantly – treat us like athletes. In return, we promise to do the same the next time you pass us!