Like a Wisconsin farmhouse realm.
I don't know how to fix it or if it needs fixing but here's my (limited) personal experience at the ground level:
We have 10 women in my club (out of 60 members). 3 of them are actively road racing on a team. 2 are mostly cyclocross racers, 2 are new to racing this year but attended the Early Bird series and planning to do more.
They all show up to our wednesday morning training sessions (read: intervals of one form or another. Not your typical 'fun' group ride...) and have nothing but positive things to say about it.
Maybe it's just Norcal in particular, but we're finding out there are a good number of women cyclists in the area that are interested in racing. Our members help to persuade them it's a great idea and the momentum grows. What does this mean? I have no idea; I guess it shows that the want is out there, but I'm not sure what the next step is to further promote fulfilling that want.
As a club, we try try very hard to encourage and support our women riders. When we go to races as a club, we make sure we're there for everyone's race. Sometimes the encouragement and knowing there are other women who want to race with you is all that's necessary for them to take the next step and register.
When we do our intra-club race series, we have a category for the women but they're mixed in with everyone else. The ones on the teams are able to stay with a group of cat5/4/3 men just fine with the others not far behind.
I've heard that NorCal, Sacramento in particular, has a healthy supply of women racers.
We have a ton of female riders in SoCal but there aren't that many that race. Ohio had a bigger turnout for some female races than the SoCal ones...
My race team in Ohio had like 5 female racers.
-Cat-3-o-meter: TBD :/
"have fun and be kind"
- an internet post
Life isn't fair.
-Cat-3-o-meter: TBD :/
I saw this retweeted on twitter yesterday. Granted she is talking about the UK, but I think it's still just as applicable to the US scene.
Collyn Ahart ? Women?s Cycling Culture & the Cult of the Beginner
At the end of the day, I think bike racing just has a much larger barrier to entry with regards to fitness. Triathlon/running/MTB have no prerequisite fitness other than being able to meet the time cut. If you're racing a crit and you don't have the fitness to even hang on the pack, you're basically just there riding in circles until they pull you. And at a very basic level (obviously there are numerous exceptions), men tend to be more competition-type rather than participation-type, and I think women tend to be the opposite. Tri/Running/MTB are able to accommodate both competition-types and participation-types, while road bike racing really only accommodates the competition-types by the nature of the sport.
The difference between cycling and say running or triathalon is that our 'for everyone' events are separate. The MS tour, and AIDS ride, and gran fondos, etc. Running it's all rolled into one.
I think it has to start with younger people, and that it'll take a while to fix the issue in the areas in which the fields are small. My experience as a very keen, very motivated beginner racer was that it sucked. I trained, I tried hard, I asked for advice and was quite well supported in my cycling club, but the female fields were so small that the experience of racing sucked. Multiple ability levels lumped in together meant that the real race happened between 1 - 3 ladies far up in front, and for the rest of us it was a long solo effort race after race. Getting on the podium sometimes felt worse, as it only meant that nobody showed up and you "won" your time trial for the day. The one placement I had was nothing to be proud of, nothing to mention to friends or teammates. It sucked.
I could accept that I would need years of training to develop pack skills and to get my fitness to a level where I could meaningfully participate. I was prepared for that. I welcomed the idea of it. But the reality of the situation was that I was facing years of paying money to ride by myself at races. Zero fun.
So yeah, I do cross, and I run, and I do group rides. If there were enough ladies to make fields based on ability in my area, I'd race again because there'd be some point to it.
And I won't lie and say that the fear of injury due to crashing didn't play a part in my backing away from ladies racing. I've had enough regular / overuse type sports injuries that the thought of serious road rash and broken collar bones in a meaningless exercise like the ones describe above just didn't seem worth it.
Last edited by trigger; 03-12-14 at 06:37 PM.
If bike racing waters down to gran fondos, I'm out. Whoever said that triathlons and fondos are about participation, and that bike racing is about winning, was right on. Both are competitions, but the goals are different.
Women's racing is in a tough spot. Overall, there are too many categories and too many fields with too little time, especially for races like downtown criteriums. By rights, women should have the same fields as men for any given race. There's just not enough time for that, so promoters have to combine fields which pisses lower category women off. They don't have the numbers. It's really only a problem for lower category women (3/4) because the pros get equal time at the NRC/NCC level, and the Cat1/2 can hold their own with the men. We have 30 year old Cat2 women that race in the M45+ field at Bethel because they can, and they don't expect to win. It's just good racing.
Every women's focused event that I can think of over the years has failed. USAC spends a lot of our fees on Junior development. Are they focusing on women as much as men? I don't know.
I have some random thoughts about this.....
I'm really lucky here in Colorado, we have sort-of decent field sizes and almost enough categories, although the Masters mostly race with Senior fields. Masters racing here is brutal, though, it's not slower than 4s. The 4s is the biggest women's field, so as you get better, the competition becomes more predictable and smaller, and that's kind of a bummer. I think it's catch 22, you cat up, the races get smaller, the same people win every week, it's demoralizing. If there were more people, it would be less demoralizing.
How to fix it... I think the biggest issue is just plain low participation. Why? I don't know, I could throw out some guesses. I think women are aren't as competitive as men (for whatever reason, a lot of it social I think) and are more afraid of getting hurt, and those reasons keep a lot of strong women doing other things, like centuries and brevets and tris, where the perception of danger is lower. I have several friends who won't race a crit because it's "too dangerous" but think that Elephant Rock (5000-person century) is OK. Uh, whatever.
I don't really get why guys aren't interested in watching women's racing, I don't think it's less tactical or exciting, it's just slower.
I wouldn't say there is parity for the pros, I think I read Mara Abbott got like $600 for the Giro Donna win (I can't find a reference). That's just ridiculous. The best women in the world can't make a living wage.
I don't like those "you go girl" everyone-is-a-winner events. Either compete, or just do your sport, but the pseudo-race doesn't appeal. That goes for fondos and stuff like the Tour de Tucson. I also don't like Strava racing. If you aren't competing under the same conditions, directly against the people you are racing, it's not really a race.
Not to say there is anything wrong with centuries or participation sports, but it's a separate thing.
Anyway, I'm not sure I have a point, I wish there were more women racing, and I feel lucky I live somewhere there are almost enough to make the competition interesting. More would be better.
as for watching women's racing, there will be people who just won't be interested. And if WNBA and all the more popular sports have trouble, i can't see how women's bike racing will be different. That said, i'm hoping that this new initiative from the UCI (who'd have thought?) would turn out well. Now it'd be real grand if they added a women's version of LBL.
Regarding parity, I never said that there was parity in payouts. That is a whole different subject. What I said was, at the NRC/NCC level, there is racing parity. Every NCC criterium has a P/1 men's field paying at least $15K and a P/1 women's field paying at least $7.5K. You can't get the NCC designation without it. So for at least 15 races per year, at the highest level of amateur racing, men and women get equal time and equal billing, just not equal payouts. In my experience the women's field sizes are about half of the men's in these races.
i always got a crack when i saw that he was riding with a SRM. then i realized that his GF apparently has an olympic medal in the ITT
"Given the obvious crossover between cycling and baseball, it's the logical next step for me now that I've retired from the Major Leagues."
btw, why is that we don't hear much about this Mari Holden character? She's got the T-mobile connection going for her
in any case, here's Bond on independence pass,
here's a photo of his gf on independence pass, retrieved from usacycling
Ok this Mari Holden - Barry Bonds - cycling sponsorship thing is just too funny.
Mari Holden was an Athlete Ambassador for USADA a few years ago and gave the standard testimony about how she would never dope, how it sets a bad example, blah blah blah.
Barry Bonds is probably the most notorious doper in sports history.
Pro cycling is having a huge image problem recently with sponsors due to the perception of doping among professionals. In fact I think that's the reason why Exergy (former / current ? sponsors of the team that Barry Bonds invested in) dropped their sponsorship of the men's team a few years back.
I guess if sponsors won't invest because of the doping, then get the dopers to invest!
Everyone knows Bonds is big on Strava too, right?
Asterisk all his KoMs.
Reacting is mind candy; it requires no thought. Thinking is tedious.
Bikeforums 'Group Buy': Kinlin Rims, Sapim/DT Spokes, Formula/Bitex Hubs
"The only good race pace is suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die."
The local all-women's race series (3 race series) has something like 10 times the female participation as your average coed race- sanctioned and operated by the same organization on the same courses. Certainly a different vibe (I've been a flagger) than the coed races, with a lot more newcomers participating. Much more of the tri/charity ride/recreational/fitness crowd out there. Although I'm a male and therefore fully qualified to offer an opinion on why the difference, I'm still a little confused why more don't show up for the regular races. I'd certainly love to see more beginner and intermediate women show up to fill out the fields, since it makes the experience better for all of the female competitors.
Certainly MTB and 'cross races see a larger percentage of women racers, with the 'cross series seeing exponential growth over the last few seasons. A lot of people cross over between the road and MTB scenes, and I don't see a great difference in attitude between the two. Type-A racer types are type-As no matter what width tire they're on. The fastest guys in both worlds are usually the most accepting of my feeble attempts to keep up, and the most supportive of all new racers- male or female. I'll have to ask some of the female regulars why they think women road racers are less common during the regular season.
My self-indulgent bike blog: http://alaskanpackfodder.blogspot.com/
Road racing is by definition a race against others, with the first commandment being: eat the food off other's plate before eating the food on your own. Some people like the mental aspect of it, others don't. One of my friends is very successful in her career and academics (i'd say her resume is more sterling than mine), but when i remarked that i don't like CX (mostly b/c of the mud and the time needed to learn how to properly mount and dismount), she asked if it's b/c I'm way too type-A for the more laid back vibe of CX.
The mention of the 'cross and MTB races was to point out that in our small cycling backwater, the scenes aren't so very different. Many jump between the races, for the different kinds of workouts and experiences they provide. I don't race MTB, fatbike, or tris, although many of my competitors do. I race 'cross, but only for the late-season fitness bump and not to really compete (it's all that running). I'm wired for road, although I don't think there's a quote from The Rider that explains why. Maybe the first paragraph.
My self-indulgent bike blog: http://alaskanpackfodder.blogspot.com/
Interesting. Could you elaborate more on the races you are talking about, and what do you mean by "large field"? What do you think the promoters are doing differently to draw out so many racers (all this in Alaska, i presume?)