Every time I pass a little girl on a bike, let’s say under about the age of ten, she stares at me. Not just looks. Stares. Every single time. It is not uncommon for a girl I pass to literally just stop completely and stare at me right in the middle of the path. I have to start saving screenshots from my body camera (such as the ones here from yesterday, which I posterized so the girls are unidentifiable), so you can see.
This does not happen with boys, and this doesn’t happen with older girls or women (unless I’m on Magic and her streamers are flying, which often makes women smile at me). Men will often (but not always) do the “bike nod” hello, but only if I’m on my road bike (rarely if I’m on an upright bike). But little girls — they are watching, and they are learning from us, my fellow women-on-bikes. They are taking it all in, what it means to be female, what it means to be a woman.
And as I celebrate my 50th year as a bike rider this week (having learned to ride when I was five), I am reminded of the little girl inside of me, who is still watching . . . and learning.