by Laura Williamson
Recently, while doing some Internet research on mountain biking overseas (otherwise known as wasting my employer’s valuable time), I noticed a certain heading popping up frequently under my Sponsored Links list: MTB Singles. At first, I thought there had been a surge in websites dedicated to single speeders. After all, for reasons that escape me, this does seem to be a growing trend. But no, with a cursory click or two I discovered a whole new world of cycling-related cyber content. The topic? Online dating for mountain bikers!
This, I decided, merited immediate and further investigation.
I got married long before Internet dating became an acceptable form of social networking, and I admit I was a little prejudiced against the practice. Deep down, I still thought of meeting people on the Web as the provenance of pasty code-crunchers, Star Trek fans and axe-murders on parole; in my day, skulling beer and throwing oneself at the nearest unattended male seemed to work well, and I saw no reason for change.
I was wrong. Apparently, as well as being a planet-wide repository for useless information about Nicole Richie and a great place to flog off your used drive-train, the Internet is like a giant singles’ bar, and a lot of those singles ride bikes. Furthermore, the singles who do ride bikes are mostly male, so if you’re a woman who cycles, the place is a goldmine. It’s like fishing with dynamite.
Take Findsomeone.co.nz. Touted as “New Zealand’s largest premium dating site,” this service lets you search by keyword, so I tried looking for straight males, 18 to 64 (I’m not one to be ageist), with the keyword MTB. Bingo. I got 56 results, including a couple of gentlemen with promising user names like MTBguy and Outdoor Type. Not a bad looking lot either, judging from their photos.
Curious, and maybe hoping to play matchmaker for MTBguy, I did the same search, but for straight women. And here’s the thing: I only got 16 hits. Yes, ladies, for every single mountain biking female on the Internet, there are at least 3.5 males looking for you!
Could this be a global phenomenon? Is the world full of men who want nothing more than a woman to go riding with? Could men be attracted to chicks on bikes like Bill Clinton was attracted to big-boned interns?
I jumped on Plentyoffish.com and had a little browse of their UK database. They offered me over 700 British blokes who enjoy a spot of single track, and only 99 women. With stats like that, they won’t be lonely for long. At Pricelesspartner.com it’s even better for the female fat-tyre-fanatic; there’ s simply no competition. Every listing under the “interested in MTB” section was for Man Seeking Woman, and most of them seemed pretty promising (read: un-axe-murderish). Although I would shy away from the fellow who mentioned that he is part of the “entertainment industry”, and I wondered about the one or two who claimed to like “new experiences”. I don’t think they meant checking out new features down at the freeride park.
It’s not all that easy. Fitness-singles.com didn’t seem to host any mountain bikers (they’re more of a gym crowd) and I opted to give Online-dating-ukraine.com a miss. Ukrainians just don’t strike me as off-road types. But Rsvp.com.au gave me a male cyclist to female cyclist ratio of 41 to 8, and Ratemybody.com turned up guys with handles like DHrider and XCdream. (On Ratemybody.com, you can also click on the votebar and declare someone hot or not, which is strangely addictive.)
The lesson? If the Internet dating stats are anything to go by, she’s a hard road finding the perfect woman, especially if the road is a dirt one and you want to travel by bike. But if you’re female, and you like to ride, the news is nothing but good. Downhill or cross country, lycra or baggies, your bike is like catnip to the male cyclist and you, my friend, are as rare and beautiful as the South Island Takahe, as sought after as a cool beer at a chilli-eating contest.
As for Internet dating, I doubt I’ll ever get a chance to try it for real. Although I’m thinking of posting a profile on Ratemybody. Bike aside, I want to know if I’m hot. Or not.
This column first appeared in Spoke Magazine, Issue 32, May 2009.