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Old 03-23-14, 02:23 PM   #76
Alaska Mike
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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?)
We have a women's-only, 3-race series called the Pocket Full of Posies. A large women's field (by our standards) is 50+ women, spread out among 2-5 categories usually. To put that into perspective, our biggest non-TT, coed event (discarding the "tri-effect") runs just shy of 100 GC racers (Tour of Anchorage). In the TOA, 21 racers were women. In your average race, the percentage of women is much, much lower. I could understand this in a crit, where we often have to combine fields to get all of the races finished in a decent amount of time. Lower female classes are often combined with aggressive young/beginner men, which can make it kinda interesting out there on the course. I get that. Road races out on a longer course don't usually have that problem. Neither do hill climbs.

Again, I'll have to ask some of the women racers I know what's different about the Posies that seems to increase participation so dramatically- especially among the less experienced classes. I don't want to ruin the good thing they have going, but rather make the regular season more welcoming to them (if possible).
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Old 03-23-14, 10:16 PM   #77
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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)
I have three younger sisters. When I was racing juniors in high school, and the family was coming out to racing events, they got into bike riding and wanted to race as well. Dad bought them each a nice road and mountain bike. When I left for college, they did not go to another race, whereas I raced for years afterward and still ride. None of them rode their bikes or expressed interest in cycling once it wasn't social to do so, whereas I continued to ride bikes because I just like riding my bike.

So, yes, it can be a social reason. The bandwagon effect.
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Old 03-24-14, 06:34 AM   #78
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That's not what I meant by social... I meant women are socialized not to be competitive. A competitive woman is often called a *****, we are supposed to be nice all the time and just say yes, and give in to what the other person (guy, usually) wants, and not fight for what we want.

Eff that, but the way.

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I have three younger sisters. When I was racing juniors in high school, and the family was coming out to racing events, they got into bike riding and wanted to race as well. Dad bought them each a nice road and mountain bike. When I left for college, they did not go to another race, whereas I raced for years afterward and still ride. None of them rode their bikes or expressed interest in cycling once it wasn't social to do so, whereas I continued to ride bikes because I just like riding my bike.

So, yes, it can be a social reason. The bandwagon effect.
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Old 03-25-14, 09:15 AM   #79
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As a former board member on the local association for USAC, I can tell you what does NOT work for attracting more women:

1) upping prize money
2) increased distances
3) un-combining categories
4) stipends, sponsorships, financial incentives
5) advertising

The only way you'll ever find women that want to "race" bikes and not just "ride" a bike (tri's, centuries, fondos), is for women to help women. And that aint happening on a grand scale.

Boys find other boys who want to destroy each other and join the cause.
Women tend to bi*ch about each other and destroy hope (yes, a general statement, but fairly accurate).

USAC says 11% of licensees are female.
Yet we most often have only 4-9% of the entrants as ladies on any given weekend.
We've tried everything.

And lastly, the problem that needs fixing is not necessarily a problem. Maybe it's just what it is.
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Old 03-25-14, 09:23 AM   #80
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As a former board member on the local association for USAC, I can tell you what does NOT work for attracting more women:

1) upping prize money
2) increased distances
3) un-combining categories
4) stipends, sponsorships, financial incentives
5) advertising

The only way you'll ever find women that want to "race" bikes and not just "ride" a bike (tri's, centuries, fondos), is for women to help women. And that aint happening on a grand scale.

Boys find other boys who want to destroy each other and join the cause.
Women tend to bi*ch about each other and destroy hope (yes, a general statement, but fairly accurate).

USAC says 11% of licensees are female.
Yet we most often have only 4-9% of the entrants as ladies on any given weekend.
We've tried everything.

And lastly, the problem that needs fixing is not necessarily a problem. Maybe it's just what it is.
[sarcasm] how dare you say such a thing? it's so un-PC[/sarcasm]

i wish i could say that what you said about b****ing about each other weren't true, but from what i have witnessed around me this year, well, let's just say it hits a bit close to home
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Old 03-25-14, 09:26 AM   #81
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And lastly, the problem that needs fixing is not necessarily a problem. Maybe it's just what it is.
+1

That women and men generally want some different things and are wired in different ways is a good thing. In most cases men can learn from women, and the paradigm that women need to be more competitive and race more and harder might just be ass backwards.
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Old 03-25-14, 09:39 AM   #82
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As an addendum to my above post:
-- my wife raced cat4 for a year, thought it was fantastic, but said women supported each other about as much as a cat befriending water

Whereas clubs of boys keep others involved, so their wins look better with a peloton of pack-filler in the background.
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Old 03-25-14, 10:00 AM   #83
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The only way you'll ever find women that want to "race" bikes and not just "ride" a bike (tri's, centuries, fondos), is for women to help women. And that aint happening on a grand scale.

Boys find other boys who want to destroy each other and join the cause.
Women tend to bi*ch about each other and destroy hope (yes, a general statement, but fairly accurate).
I don't buy it. This is not what I observe. Maybe it's a generational thing, but in general the women racers I've known have tended to have much more camaraderie between competitors and to be much more supportive of one another than the men, where you see a lot more dick-measuring and pissing contests. In the road scene, anyway.

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And lastly, the problem that needs fixing is not necessarily a problem. Maybe it's just what it is.
I don't buy this either. There are a lot of factors that make this a very difficult problem to solve, but declaring it an organic difference that we just shouldn't care about is baloney. It's not. valygrl is dead on by identifying socialization as a major issue. Fair enough, that's a much bigger problem than bike racing, and it's not something that bike racing will make go away by providing a better racing experience for women.

I think there really is a large generational element to the issue, and it will steadily get better. In the meantime, I stand by what I said before - to the extent economically possible, promoters need to serve women racers better because it's the right thing to do, period. Even if it's true that "it is what it is," (though I don't believe that at all). shovelhd also hit a nail right on the head with the problem of having too many categories, with the women tending to get squeezed into one or two races due to low participation. And that feeds a vicious cycle, because racing beginners with experts really sucks. And bike racing suffers much more from this problem than, say, distance running.

And it's generally worth remembering that women make up a proportion of recreational cyclists that is much closer to being representative of the general population. There's a participation base out there that's available to be captured. We shouldn't just accept that the competitive nature of bike racing makes it unpalatable women. There are LOTS of other competitive sports (with winners and losers) with much better participation by women. I don't think citing exceptionalism is acceptable.
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Old 03-25-14, 10:05 AM   #84
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I don't get it. Why are competitive athletics necessary for all people and both genders? My wife is in better shape than the vast majority of over weight hyper competitive middle age cyclists I know. She also doesn't have a competitive bone in her body.

Wanting to capture a participation base is marketing. It's about increasing share, and revenues. It has nothing at all to do with what women want or need.
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Old 03-25-14, 10:08 AM   #85
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Boys find other boys who want to destroy each other and join the cause.
Women tend to bi*ch about each other and destroy hope (yes, a general statement, but fairly accurate).
Boys don't ***** about each other? lol.

Are you new to the 33?
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Old 03-25-14, 10:30 AM   #86
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This is the womens field from my race on Sunday, they had more racers than my cat 4 race...

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Old 03-25-14, 10:56 AM   #87
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Boys don't ***** about each other? lol.

Are you new to the 33?
It's a big fight and then a beer to laugh it off.
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Old 03-25-14, 11:01 AM   #88
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[QUOTE=grolby;16609602I stand by what I said before - to the extent economically possible, promoters need to serve women racers better because it's the right thing to do, period. .[/QUOTE]

grolby, give me one idea that we haven't already tried as promoters and I'll be happy to give it a shot.

We have "served" the ladies in every way possible and have had to say, screw it. Treat them no different than any other small category and let it be what it is.
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Old 03-25-14, 11:49 AM   #89
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Just a mild +1 on the "social" aspect... we have a very large crop of newbie W4's this year, almost all of whom are part of a handful of new-ish clubs that are women-focused, are recruiting effectively using women to recruit women from tri's and runners... to me this is a big change from the past / usual "wives daughters girlfriends" demographic that brought newbie ladies to races.

Time will tell how many get the bug and stick with it, but washout rate is high among men also.
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Old 03-25-14, 02:42 PM   #90
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I don't get it. Why are competitive athletics necessary for all people and both genders? My wife is in better shape than the vast majority of over weight hyper competitive middle age cyclists I know. She also doesn't have a competitive bone in her body.
It's not about what's necessary. Why are competitive athletics necessary for people of all races? Of all heights? If there's unequal participation by people of different ethnicities, do we shrug it off as them just being uninterested? In the history of sports, unequal representation hasn't come from innate differences, it's come from social factors, both deliberate and implicit. If there is unequal participation, there's a reason for it. "Men and women are just different," doesn't cut it. We're all human. We're not wired up that differently. The counterexamples are too numerous to list, but rowing, soccer, lacrosse are just a small handful of sports I can name where participation by both genders is much closer to representative of the actual population ratio. Is racing a boat less competitive than bike racing? (Spoiler: no).

I think that you are going to have more women who aren't interested in competition than you will have men. I don't believe for a second that it's for biological reasons, and I don't think it's particularly relevant either way - there are still lots of women out there who COULD become interested in racing, but never try. There's a market to be reached - by the way, marketing to 50% of the population is a pretty good reason to want to improve the situation.

As for suggestions, well, if it were an easy problem, it would be solved, wouldn't it? Just because it's hard doesn't mean that the right thing to do is just decide women don't want to race bikes, throw our hands up in the air and give up. It's a hard slog. Rowing had the benefit of Title IX. We don't have that. But we do have real generational changes that are happening. I think the best things going right now are the various high school racing leagues and junior development that is focused as much on girls as boys. And not just in cycling, either, but across all kinds of sports. As girls and women get taken more seriously as athletes, they will keep responding to that, and over time there will be a larger base of women who are interested in competing. In the meantime, I'll say one more time, we need to keep offering everything we can afford to, because it's the right thing to do.
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Old 03-25-14, 02:48 PM   #91
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What % of leisure riders are men/women? Commuters?

**** racing. We need more people riding bikes everywhere.
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Old 03-25-14, 03:42 PM   #92
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What % of leisure riders are men/women? Commuters?

**** racing. We need more people riding bikes everywhere.
I don't think that many women ride in general. I dont think its anywhere close to 50% of riders unless you include everyone on beach cruisers
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Old 03-25-14, 03:46 PM   #93
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I don't get it. Why are competitive athletics necessary for all people and both genders? My wife is in better shape than the vast majority of over weight hyper competitive middle age cyclists I know. She also doesn't have a competitive bone in her body.

Wanting to capture a participation base is marketing. It's about increasing share, and revenues. It has nothing at all to do with what women want or need.
I think there are more than enough outlets for people who want to be athletic but not compete. That's great for your wife!
I think most of us were just replying to the thread title: how to improve women's racing?. There are some of us women who would like to see a better racing scene in our area.
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Old 03-25-14, 03:46 PM   #94
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I guess what I'm getting at is to improve Women's Racing, you need to improve Women's Cycling, and to do that you need more cyclists and less of a "cycling is dangerous" atmosphere in the country in general.

Bike commuting is viewed as "risky" (and ****, after doing it now for two year I kind of agree) so more men partake than women. Racers are the tip of the hobby iceberg. We don't only like, make our own coffee tables, we submit them for woodworking competitions. If you want more racers, you need to make an environment favorable for more hobbyists. 1% of 1000 is way more than 1% of 100.
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Old 03-25-14, 04:05 PM   #95
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I guess what I'm getting at is to improve Women's Racing, you need to improve Women's Cycling, and to do that you need more cyclists and less of a "cycling is dangerous" atmosphere in the country in general.

Bike commuting is viewed as "risky" (and ****, after doing it now for two year I kind of agree) so more men partake than women. Racers are the tip of the hobby iceberg. We don't only like, make our own coffee tables, we submit them for woodworking competitions. If you want more racers, you need to make an environment favorable for more hobbyists. 1% of 1000 is way more than 1% of 100.
Well, to be clear, quoting the Driveway Series' new racer page:


Q: Is bicycle racing dangerous?
A: Yes.
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Old 03-25-14, 04:37 PM   #96
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What % of leisure riders are men/women? Commuters?

**** racing. We need more people riding bikes everywhere.
Without turning this into an advocacy thread, +1.
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Old 03-25-14, 04:40 PM   #97
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Without turning this into an advocacy thread, +1.
It's not advocacy. Just an answer to the thread topic.

Improved experience seems to equate to more participants. Well, you want more participants, you need to build your potential participant set.

That and cars suck!
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Old 03-25-14, 05:02 PM   #98
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I think there are more than enough outlets for people who want to be athletic but not compete. That's great for your wife!
I think most of us were just replying to the thread title: how to improve women's racing?. There are some of us women who would like to see a better racing scene in our area.
And that's fine…to see it get better you should get more people out. In many areas the folks who have tried to improve it, like YMCA and those in NJ, have found that the answer is more along the lines of it being a solution seeking a problem.

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It's not about what's necessary. Why are competitive athletics necessary for people of all races? Of all heights? If there's unequal participation by people of different ethnicities, do we shrug it off as them just being uninterested? In the history of sports, unequal representation hasn't come from innate differences, it's come from social factors, both deliberate and implicit. If there is unequal participation, there's a reason for it. "Men and women are just different," doesn't cut it. We're all human. We're not wired up that differently. The counterexamples are too numerous to list, but rowing, soccer, lacrosse are just a small handful of sports I can name where participation by both genders is much closer to representative of the actual population ratio. Is racing a boat less competitive than bike racing? (Spoiler: no).

I think that you are going to have more women who aren't interested in competition than you will have men. I don't believe for a second that it's for biological reasons, and I don't think it's particularly relevant either way - there are still lots of women out there who COULD become interested in racing, but never try. There's a market to be reached - by the way, marketing to 50% of the population is a pretty good reason to want to improve the situation.

As for suggestions, well, if it were an easy problem, it would be solved, wouldn't it? Just because it's hard doesn't mean that the right thing to do is just decide women don't want to race bikes, throw our hands up in the air and give up. It's a hard slog. Rowing had the benefit of Title IX. We don't have that. But we do have real generational changes that are happening. I think the best things going right now are the various high school racing leagues and junior development that is focused as much on girls as boys. And not just in cycling, either, but across all kinds of sports. As girls and women get taken more seriously as athletes, they will keep responding to that, and over time there will be a larger base of women who are interested in competing. In the meantime, I'll say one more time, we need to keep offering everything we can afford to, because it's the right thing to do.
I certainly didn't say it was for biological reasons. I said that the idea that it needs to change, or should change, is fallacious and based on a particular perspective. One with another perspective might think the entire endeavor should be moth balled.

Other sports have a higher % of women? OK. It's still less than their male counterparts in most cases. They're also generally sports where serious injury is less likely.

The ultimate driver here is money. Women are a lesser tapped resource and should promoters fill fields they make more money. To get there promoters, who have a hard enough time making ends meet, need to toss money at fields where the target audience in many areas simply doesn't exist. In that case it's up to that demographic to make things happen.
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Old 03-25-14, 06:23 PM   #99
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Well, to be clear, quoting the Driveway Series' new racer page:


Q: Is bicycle racing dangerous?
A: Yes.

Must be referring to this part:
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We've found rattlesnakes under the concrete barriers, tires, in the watter barricades and in trash cans. Please excercise caustion. If you bring your children to the races, please look out for them and encourage them to excercise caution.
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Old 03-25-14, 08:51 PM   #100
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How can you deny biochemical differences? Athletics is far removed from "pink is for girls, blue is for boys".
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