LinkedIn: Strava for Female Pros

Yesterday was exhausting; a 3:15am alarm woke me in Logan, UT so I could get a 6am flight home out of Salt Lake City. By the time 10pm rolled around, I was cranky, borderline incoherent, and overly emotional about things like the dog wanting to pee on too many shrubs. It was an ideal night for an early bedtime, except that as 11pm came and went, I was on my LinkedIn page updating my profile to more accurately reflect my non-bicycle accomplishments. Or, summarized more honestly: to make it clear that I’M A BAWSS, YO.

Frankly, I don’t give two shits about LinkedIn. It’s like Facebook but even less interesting because people don’t overshare or rant inappropriately. I would rather watch my nails grow than review my LinkedIn newsfeed and fewer things elicit less excitement than finding out that a colleague wants to connect online. I hardly even want to connect with my colleagues in real life and I’m getting paid to do that. But suddenly LinkedIn seemed crucial, because it was the only way to validate publicly that I’m, like, smart and skilled and stuff.

It seems pathetic to admit this, but oversharing is pretty much the reigning style guide here. Somebody said something recently that made it feel like I needed to point out that I do more than just ride a bike. There is a mentality in this sport that women are a second act to the main show of the men, but it generally brings me some comfort to know that most professional men are just cyclists while most professional women are cyclists and something (coaches, dietitians, scientists, doctors, lawyers, so on). It’s no surprise that this is the most popular 140-character sentiment I’ve ever shared:

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While I don’t have a PhD, I do have a career off the bike that I’ve worked to establish and grow over the last decade. I am proud to be a professional cyclist, but that’s not my only job and I’m discontent to let somebody think all I can do with authority is pedal. Thanks to the nature of women’s cycling, it’s rare to find a professional female racer who is not also well-educated, already enmeshed in a separate career, or both. It’s basically a necessity to survive in a sport that offers minimal pay and no long-term security.

So I took my frustration to my LinkedIn page last night and spent too much time tweaking the content to prove something that I’m irritated about needing to prove in the first place. The irony is that the audience I’m trying to educate is the least likely to even notice or care; as long as I’m pedaling with boobs, that’s going to be what they recognize.

Okay. You can’t win them all. That’s the story of racing, right? You keep entering races and fighting knowing that more often than not, you’re not going to win. Instead of an extra hour of sleep, I fought the good fight on LinkedIn. (Dumber words were never spoken.) At least the next time I feel marginalized by some idiot or I get crushed on a climb, I can totally be like, “OMG WHATEVER, have you seen my LinkedIn?!”

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