Last night I led a Nitty Gritty bike ride. My recent role as a cross-country tour bike leader did not end happily and so this first time out with Nitty Gritty had special significance for me. Once again my bike community helped me on road to recovery.
We were a group of 23. “They are coming out because it’s you,” Diane, Georgia and Evan said. I don’t think that’s totally true but a happy ride with no grumbling about the route or directions was very reassuring.
Later in the ride, Steve chuckled to me as he told me I was “bossy” after I had made some comment to the group. He was referring to an incident from the first days on my cross country trip when my co-leader had a “difficult” conversations with me because he felt he needed to tell me that some of the riders had been saying I was “bossy” when I had told people to look at the sunset, the first magnificent one that we could see from camp. The tour participants were all in the midst of conversation pre-dinner while I was on dinner duty with another rider, Evan, and so I said the same thing I would have said if hanging out with a bunch of friends camping. This “difficult conversation” with my co-leader was irritating and hurtful, if only because I knew we had weeks and weeks to go working together. I have worked with and supervised hundreds of people and students. This was not a difficult conversation that needed to have occurred.
And so when Steve laughed and called me “bossy” for some inconsequential comment I made on last night’s ride, I smiled and then asked him why this was making him chuckle so much. He told me that I was one of the most relaxed and laid back persons he knew and that “bossy” was basically an absurd adjective to be used for me.
Steve and I have ridden together for a only a couple of years, but we often ride at about the same fitness level and place in the pack. We don’t know each other like family and co-workers, but we know each other well enough.
It is words like those from Steve that are making all the difference to me these days as I recover from my first cross-country tour leading experience.
Note: Isn’t “bossy” one of those words that are used derogatorily about women and not used for men?