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  1. #351
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    This race may actually have some other cat 4 women in it versus entering a Masters 35+ Cat 1,2,3 race where cat 4s are not supposed to enter.
    I'll never do that again. I promise!
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  2. #352
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Fellas, I gotta tell ya that it is REALLY COOL to be doing this racing stuff and not only getting to meet you all, but seeing you in action. I'm like a girl in jewelry store, just bedazzled!
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  3. #353
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Cleave got me thinking.

    I've got one for the NCNCA and USAC. Simply, how are they (sic) going to attract more women, of all ages, but especially older gals, to competition when the fields are routinely lumped together? To be a new, wide-eyed, and not sure of either what is going on nor of your skills/strength, racer, and then to be tossed into a field with Cat 2's, 3's Masters, etc, and then get thoroughly lambasted is NOT fun nor does it serve to make competition attractive. Sure, there are a few (me among them) who have enough of a desire to "come back for more", but most do not. I know it's been said, debated, and tossed out, but there DOES need to be more delineation in the women's categories. We need more female racers of all ages, but especially in the +40 ranks. Give those with relatively equal experience and age a chance to race each other, and ONLY each other. Even if it's just three of four gals out on the course at the same time, give them a chance to race and not get shelled and scared off. Is that so hard?
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  4. #354
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Okay, I'm sitting down again.

    The head cold is better, too.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  5. #355
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarals View Post
    Cleave got me thinking.

    I've got one for the NCNCA and USAC. Simply, how are they (sic) going to attract more women, of all ages, but especially older gals, to competition when the fields are routinely lumped together? To be a new, wide-eyed, and not sure of either what is going on nor of your skills/strength, racer, and then to be tossed into a field with Cat 2's, 3's Masters, etc, and then get thoroughly lambasted is NOT fun nor does it serve to make competition attractive. Sure, there are a few (me among them) who have enough of a desire to "come back for more", but most do not. I know it's been said, debated, and tossed out, but there DOES need to be more delineation in the women's categories. We need more female racers of all ages, but especially in the +40 ranks. Give those with relatively equal experience and age a chance to race each other, and ONLY each other. Even if it's just three of four gals out on the course at the same time, give them a chance to race and not get shelled and scared off. Is that so hard?
    Sneak into the houses of your tri-chick friends, and steal their swimsuits and running shoes. For whatever reason, more women choose to go the tri route, and I think that dilutes the RR fields.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  6. #356
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Sneak into the houses of your tri-chick friends, and steal their swimsuits and running shoes. For whatever reason, more women choose to go the tri route, and I think that dilutes the RR fields.
    I think you're on to something, AzT. I know two tri chicks who are monsters on the bike. They're afraid of mass starts, because they're sure they'll crash. If they'd just try (tri) it, though. I do know one or two other women who would try racing, but their husbands are afraid they'll crash and be hurt (like Alex is with me). It's an uphill battle, for sure, but I have to think USAC could do a better job of attracting women to the sport than they do.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  7. #357
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    What would you suggest USAC do?

    Why is it USAC's fault that chicks don't want to do mass-start races? I don't see that. Do you think there would be more women racing if the categories were more separate, is that what keeps women from racing? and the corrolary - Do you think they would keep the category combo's the way they are now if there was better turnout?

    Speaking to your earlier point about wanting more appropriate categories, I think what is going on is they can't really justify, in terms of logistics, time on the course, support staff, medical, officials... all that stuff .. having a separate start/race for 3's women (for example, or 55+ 4's) if there are going to be like 6 people in the race. It's financially not feasible, and it would take course-time from races (like men's 35+ 4's) that fill up and they have to turn participants away. That would be even less fair to the people who are wanting to race but getting turned away.

    It's a bummer, but I don't see how the USAC is causing that situation.

    Please tell me if I'm missing something, I'm open-minded about this.

    I wish there were more women racing. But I don't think it's because USAC isn't attracting women, I think it's because fewer women are interested. Who knows why: cultural stigma, genetic predisposition, lack of early-life opportunity for competitive athletics, maybe some women are listening to their men who tell them it's too dangerous. My husband wishes I didn't race, by the way, but he supports me in it anyway.
    ...

  8. #358
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    What would you suggest USAC do?

    Why is it USAC's fault that chicks don't want to do mass-start races? I don't see that. Do you think there would be more women racing if the categories were more separate, is that what keeps women from racing? and the corrolary - Do you think they would keep the category combo's the way they are now if there was better turnout?

    Speaking to your earlier point about wanting more appropriate categories, I think what is going on is they can't really justify, in terms of logistics, time on the course, support staff, medical, officials... all that stuff .. having a separate start/race for 3's women (for example, or 55+ 4's) if there are going to be like 6 people in the race. It's financially not feasible, and it would take course-time from races (like men's 35+ 4's) that fill up and they have to turn participants away. That would be even less fair to the people who are wanting to race but getting turned away.

    It's a bummer, but I don't see how the USAC is causing that situation.

    Please tell me if I'm missing something, I'm open-minded about this.

    I wish there were more women racing. But I don't think it's because USAC isn't attracting women, I think it's because fewer women are interested. Who knows why: cultural stigma, genetic predisposition, lack of early-life opportunity for competitive athletics, maybe some women are listening to their men who tell them it's too dangerous. My husband wishes I didn't race, by the way, but he supports me in it anyway.
    I was hoping I'd get another woman's point of view!

    I think there is more to the social stigma than meets the eye. My boyfriend is like your husband, he doesn't like me racing because he doesn't want to see me get hurt. And in the larger sense, that's a prevailing societal attitude. I heard a discussion (which I stayed out of) recently where some people were alarmed that women were going to assume combat roles in the military. In the conversation about it, one person said "no one wants to see women get hurt". Most everyone else agreed. That's a deep and pervasive current in our society.

    Maybe I'm being a cavewoman about that, but I don't think I'm too far off.

    Title Nine. Anyone?

    I totally get your argument that adding more categories to races adds more time. Absolutely. However, if USAC went just ONE category deeper - say a M55+ - for us gals, I think that would change the attitudes of some women. Even if that category was combined into a larger field out of necessity, there is still the opportunity (or the assumption of) to perhaps race against people closer to your age/skills/physical ability. That to me is attractive. Look, I had never had any intention of competing in any kind of sport until a few years ago. So why did I suddenly change? Maybe because I wanted to see what I could do while I still had the chance? Maybe because I didn't have the opportunity when I was young? Maybe because I wanted to show my brothers I could do it, too? My point is that there are likely other older gals out there who perhaps think the same way, or have the same niggling desire, but are put off by the notion of having to compete against younger women, most of whom have the advantages of being younger (and some of the other experiences you've pointed out). And, you know, the idea that one could be scored higher in a finish because of an age category difference, not where they actually physically crossed the line in relation to the whole field, can really lend a sense of accomplishment which can be attractive. Triathlons do it all the time. Bike racing can, too.

    I won't argue that the idea of a mass start is scary - it is. In a smaller field, though - a Beginners Field - that fear could be managed. Too, a "women's introduction to bicycle competition" campaign could be something USAC could foster. Of course, it would be up to regions to implement, and yes, the logistics would be daunting. But, putting the opportunity out there certainly wouldn't hurt.

    Now, why do I "blame" USAC? I work under the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration. They wrote the rules, they enforce them, and no one who wants to be a pilot can "legally" fly unless they are blessed by the FAA (both regulatory and medically). USAC, in my POV, is very similar. Most races are held under their auspices. They call the shots. They aren't "causing" the situation at all, but I don't think they're doing enough to address it.

    Val, maybe I'm just being naive. I am new at racing, I've only just gotten exposed to how things work in this sport, and I know I do NOT have a full grasp of those workings. But, what I have seen does cause me to ask questions. Listen, if I am anything, I am all about empowering other women. Just give an opportunity - "if you build it, they will come".
    Last edited by sarals; 02-18-13 at 10:33 PM.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  9. #359
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Sara,

    As a long time racer that goes back to the USCF days, I gotta agree with valygrl here. You are barking up the wrong tree. USAC is the governing body of the sport. They do not promote the races. It is not the job of government to provide fields for the races, it is the job of the promoter. The promoter is a business. They are trying to make money. If they have fields that are loss leaders, they can only carry them for so long. There is only so much time in the permit day. We see a similar situation out here with the W 3/4 fields. Low turnout, combined fields. The promoters have no choice.

  10. #360
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Shovel, thank you. This is a matter of frustration for me, and I'm shaking the tree, waiting to see who falls out. As I said, I know it's been discussed ad nauseum, but I haven't been privy to nor a part of those discussions. And, yes, you could insert "Sara" into a lot of the "we" in my diatribe. I suppose I am venting, but I think there is some merit in my argument, even if it is poorly directed. Question. Who delineates the classes, the categories - who decides how many there are for men and women racers? Is that USAC, or is that the promoters? It seems to me, from reading the USAC site, that it's them. Can't they add, as I suggested, just ONE more, a WM55+ category? And then see what happens with it? Oh, I know nothing will happen overnight, but who knows - if enough loudmouths like me get out there and prod our girlfriends into giving this a try, maybe the ranks will increase. Maybe not, but you don't know unless you have the opportunity (the carrot). Right?

    Okay, maybe I'm just being foolish. Maybe this is too big a mountain. But, I am a voice, and now I've spoken - and maybe some others will take notice and join the chorus. Come on ladies, this is not for the guys and the young women - it's for us, too - and it is fun!
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  11. #361
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Chickens and eggs, and I think that there are more than a few pros like Inga Thompson who would disagree about USAC (ex USCF's) role in helping develop and promote women's racing in the US, though I would put USAC below the UCI as part of the problem.

    Promoters put on races, but one of USAC's stated mission goals is to promote the sport. That's a pretty definitive "this is our responsibility" statement. That's echoed by the UCI BTW. So if not them, then who?

    There's certainly a societal and cultural aspect at play, but much of this comes down to money and promotion. Go look at USAC's partners/sponsors and find one women's specific company or look at the number of girls in their junior development program. Go look at 99.9% of the pictures they use in promotional material. That bias has a deep ripple effect.

    Then think about how Virginia Slims changed women's tennis. And the title 9 effect in a lot of amateur sports. How many girls were playing soccer in 1980?

    Go to a century or a tri and figure out the ratio of male to female. That should be reflected (more or less) at our race venues. It certainly is in most or other sports. But USAC does little promotion at events where they have a captive audience (see tri and centuries). They essentially sit back and wait for folks to come to them. In Texas we couldn't get support from the local association for the high school league, which was about 70/30 boy/girl. And they do zero targeted marketing to females.

    I've stated before that women's racing is no less visually compelling than men's racing, and I'd say in fact that the last two Olympics have produced better races on the female side. It's not like watching the NBA vs. the WNBA.

    And really, cycling is not all that small a market anymore. USAC is spending a lot of energy/money trying to drive smaller competitors out of business, they might want to try building the sport for both genders instead. They've taken advantage of the Lance wave and they think they are responsible for it. When that wave goes away where will they be?

  12. #362
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Ex, I'm glad you picked up my Title Nine reference.

    You also made a point I should have. The last two years the Big Sur Half Marathon has had more women entries than men. The total entrants have been over 9000, so there are close to 5000 women running in that ONE race. Three years ago, some gals up in Santa Cruz got together and put together a women only 10K run, the Run She is Beautiful. It was held in March. This year it is ALREADY sold out. The tris I've been a part of have had similar numbers. The Wildflower Triathlon ALWAYS has numbers well over 10000, and at least half of those are women. One series, The Mermaid Series, is women only, and the turn out for their events has been huge. The Santa Cruz Mermaid Triathlon regularly sells out.

    Ex nailed it. The difference is promotion. Why I didn't make the connection, I don't know. But, I really don't see why those women who go to those huge tris (the Wildflower Triathlon, Tri California San Francisco Triathlon, Mermaid Santa Cruz) couldn't be enticed to come try a bike race. IF someone would do it.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  13. #363
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Well my response was a direct answer to your direct question. Why doesn't USAC have W55+ fields? Because the responsibility of setting the fields is on the promoter.

    Title IX doesn't really play. It was a response to a funding inequality in publicly funded school sports.

    Now for USAC and promoting cycling, we are on the same page. I think USAC does a terrible job of promoting amateur cycling at the grassroots level. It is left for the regions to do this themselves, with a nonexistent budget. Meanwhile USAC focuses on junior development and domestic pros. They are just the US arm of the UCI. They echo all of the same priorities. USAC HQ could care less about W55+, or M55+. As long as the money keeps rolling in, they focus on what they want to focus on.

  14. #364
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Here are the NCNCA Demographics http://www.ncnca.org/content/ncnca-demographics for 2010. I doubt that they have changed much. If I were a race promoter, I would certainly look at those numbers when designing races.

    Snelling, which you have entered, has two fields for W 4 with a limit of 50 riders per field. They also have a W 1,2 and W 3 There are no masters women. Snelling is a popular race because it is flatter and easier and better suited for ahem "heavier" racers. There will be a lot of women racing with similar ability as yours.

    BTW, you are allowed to race with the 65+ men, if there was a 65+ field.

    Race courses attract certain body types. For example, the Wente Road Race has a difficult long climb with technical descent. I did that one year with the 35+cat 5 men. I was in good shape and the 3rd fattest (not fastest) guy at the line. It was populated with skinny bean poles. And the 55+ was populated with skinny bean poles plus they were mostly Cat 2 and Cat 3.

    I got popped OTB on the hill and here is a surprise, I raced with the other fatter riders. My friend, same age, national track champion and good road racer who raced in the 55+, got popped OTB as well - too heavy. Added to my humiliation was the Cat 4 women lead group blowing past my little trio of fatties.

    Of the available racing pool of men and women, who will sign up for Wente? Certainly, the skinny b1chtes will and the bean pole men: age independent. And yes, if you are a watt machine, that will work as well. For a race like this, one needs a great power to weight ratio. UCI, USAC, NCNCA and the promoter can do nothing about that. Racers, both men and women, self select which races they want to attend based upon whether they think they have a competitive advantage. Add some racers choose poorly and complain when they end up OTB or in a small or combined field.

    More on Wente... Promoters can only put so many groups on the course at the same time. Many times categories are neutralized to let faster groups pass. During the neutralization, dropped riders catch up. And racers complain about that as well. So more groups racing on the course would mean more neutralizations to keep it safe.

    Should there be a W 55+? Sure, why not. But the racers will self select the course so that even though there may be 50 55+ women racers, only a few will do a given race for many reasons.

    There is significant promotion of women's racing by women's only clubs in our district as well as other larger clubs. And we have a significant number of 45+ women racers. Racers race and do not race for many reasons.

    I have no love for USAC or UCI, but what do you want them to do? Burst marketing? Channel money to the districts earmarked to promote women's racing? Run 55+ women's training camps all over the country? In fact, IMO, the less they do the better. I would prefer that they figure out what they do best and do that. Right now, it seems like they collect money very well. I would like them to add a couple more objectives to that list.

    I am on the board of the track at Hellyer. We have 3 women and 5 men on the board. There is a new women's team pursuit training session on Sunday at 1PM. All ages welcome. Here is the link http://www.ridethetrack.com/women/ to women's training sessions at Hellyer. We turn ourselves inside out trying to get women and men to the track for any reason. I gave a presentation on the track at our club last night and showcased mostly women's results.

    Sara, I have provided links in the past to age group racing but I will do it again. There is the masters TT championships at Sattley and there is a 60 to 64 age group and the distance 20K. There are the 60 to 64 criterium and road race championships. There are the senior games and the Huntsmen Games. If you did all the age group racing that is available, you would do a lot of races.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  15. #365
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Well, now that I've got you guys all mad at me....

    Title Nine does play in that it attracted women to sports. The true benefits of Title Nine are just starting to show themselves. Like most societal changes, it has shown itself to be generational. I was trying to draw a comparison to pre Title Nine and women's cycling now. They're very similar, at least on the surface. The door may be open for women to really start to become engrossed in the sport, and the junior ranks seem to show that.

    I'd like to find a way to attract older women to the sport. Track and field and triathlon do, and one of my points was, what is it about those sports that makes them attractive? Can't competitive cycling learn something from the popularity there and apply it to our sport? And if the sanctioning body isn't the answer for promotion, then who is? Velo Club Monterey or Monterey Bay Racing Team?

    As for me and my frustrations, Hermes, I've kept and looked at all of the links you've sent me. I really appreciate your taking the time to send them to me. I check them and recheck them. They're all attractive, and sure, there are women my age who compete there whom I could ostensibly compete against. But, there are no where near as many opportunities with those events to do that because there aren't that many of them, and a lot of them conflict with work schedules, distance, expense, and other things. There are so many more bicycle races in comparison that I can attend, but few of those attract women my age. I am resigned to the fact that I'm going to race against kids. That's okay, if I didn't want to do that, I wouldn't.

    I have looked at my stats on USAC. I'm one of three women of my age ranked in criteriums, and one of four of my age in road races. Because I don't race track, I can't see those numbers. If I read those rankings correctly, that's country wide. That is pretty paltry.

    What I tried to do in my half-way informed rant about "the state of old women in bicycle competition" was to get some ideas about why and what could be done to maybe make this sport more attractive, more accessible to my peers. If I have anything, it's an open mind. I didn't intend to rankle, nor confront. I just wanted to talk.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  16. #366
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Hey I'm not mad at you or anyone. I am just trying to add perspective.

    I will face what you are facing in a few years, when I will no longer be competitive in M45+. I think about it a lot. Then I think of a local 60+ guy who beats me, especially in the road races. Anything is possible.

    We have a local womens World track champion who is working on a women's track series for new racers. This when the closest track is a bit long in the tooth and over 2 hours away.

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    This has been really interesting, I'm trying to digest all the points of view from this conversation, and probably not doing a great job.

    Premise (and I am not sure I believe this 100%, but I'm going to take it as my position for now) :
    I think there are deep psychological differences between women and men, and bike racing doesn't match that well with a lot of women's motivations. Sure there are other reasons (mentioned above) that women participate less in bike racing than men, but I think we should acknowledge this one, without judging it.

    I'm 47, have been racing for one year, which I never thought I would do, and have been riding forever. I consider myself a feminist -- I'm old enough to say that and think back with respect for my mom, rather than with scorn that many men and women heap on that term.

    I used to be in an all women's club (The Title Nine store's club, ironically enough) and all the racers left when the team changed sponsorship, and left the non-racers behind in a fairly strong club. My friends/the people I liked riding with were the racers. I didn't want to race, so I stayed in the club for another year, but that wasn't a good fit, I was still riding with my racer friends, so I bit the bullet and joined the race team that most of my friends went to, which is a mixed-gender team with a 5-race per year commitment. I figured I could do 5 races even if I hated it, and I would know after the first year if it was a fit.

    Well, it turned out I love the competitive part, even more I love the learning part, and I'm doing pretty well (which doesn't hurt), I ended up with 22 races last year. And even though I did crash in a race and hurt myself, it still is appealing. (Aside - I haven't raced since the crash due to to the season being over, so we will see in a couple weeks how I feel.)

    Anyway, I don't know that I would have started racing without the social motivation that my friends were doing it. Advertising at centuries (which I did and still do) would not have been a factor. But what keeps me doing it is the competition and the learning. I love the learning, the problem solving, that's what I'm about.

    Apart from that, one definite factor in me trying crit racing was that we have a local weeknight series here, that is targeted at women and junior development. The promoter made it FREE for juniors and Cat 4 women and $5 for other category women, it's $18 for men. So, this is speaking against my premise, and showing that yes, if there are more races targeted at women, maybe more will try it... however.... most of those races I did have fewer than 5 women. Five. Free racing. In Boulder CO.

    I think there was one with about 12 women, mostly because the former Title Nine club brought a bunch of gals out to try it together.

    There is an element of not wanting to get hurt. I hear women say that a lot.

    But, I think that many women don't like direct competitiveness the way men do. I think the events that attract more women tend to be the more "everyone's a winner" kind of things (like centuries or charity 10ks), or things where you compete with yourself for your own best time, like Triathalon. Hill climbs and time trials are really popular with women here, and I think that's a combo of not-getting-hurt and competing with yourself.

    A lot of women don't seem to like, feel comfortable with, or think it's ok to be directly competitive, like you have to be in bike racing. Bike racing has winners and losers, and you have to be OK with losing. And winning. And trying to win without apologizing for it.

    I've heard people complaining that someone was a ***** because she wouldn't work with us. I think women equate competitiveness with being mean, a *****, non-cooperative... it's personal. I think that is a terrible mistake. Chick wasn't a *****, she was using a racing tactic.

    There's one woman in our 45+ field who uses this psychological fact about women's racing to her advantage - she gets other racers to do what she wants by twisting them up "hey aren't you going to pull, it's your turn" or "are you going with her?" "can I have a sip of your water" .... ok fine, that's a tactic too. She's notorious.

    My sense from my friends who do triathalon is that it is much more of a self-referential accomplishment - can you go the distance, can you beat your PR - rather than in bike racing, can I beat HER. It's not competitive in the same way. It certainly is an accomplishment, those events are hard, and some of the participants are certainly racing their hearts out. But a lot of them are just in it for the finisher's medal, the IronMan tattoo, etc. It's all "you go girl" not Hah I crushed your soul, I beat you to the line, I tricked you into leading me out.... Totally different.

    Anyway, I don't where exactly I'm going with this..... other than I don't think you can lay the lack of women racers right at the feet of the promoters or the governing body.
    ...

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    That is some great stuff valygrl.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    As long as the money keeps rolling in, they focus on what they want to focus on.
    Yep. Like a lot of "federations" you're looking at an organization run by men. Mostly old, mostly white. Not that I have anything against white people. I married a white girl.

    Title Nine, Virginia Slims...these are all good examples of inequities being corrected and playing fields being leveled. The trickle down is enormous over time. Will that happen in cycling where we hit a 50/50 ratio? Doubtful for the simple reason, riffing off of Valygrl's point, that there's a danger factor in our sport that isn't present in tennis or triathalons. But I do think that the ratio now that's reflected in the USAC demographic is not reflective of the actual market.

    It doesn't take a very long look to see across the pond...how many women are in the GB track program drawing from a much smaller population base while Sara Hammer is our sole rep at Worlds?

    That's simply inexcusable.

    Victoria Pendleton is a rock star over there. She's essentially Danika Patrick with more talent. How many girls are going to look (or have looked) at her in some magazine or on Youtube and think "yeah right, that's what I want to be when I grow up". We have this amazing list of female talent (cripes, I sound like Romney and his binder of women) that no one knows about.
    Last edited by Racer Ex; 02-19-13 at 08:55 PM.

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    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Valygrl, you brought back some OLD memories. You're right about the fundamentals, too.

    I guess it's time I explained myself, maybe it will help everyone understand where I'm coming from.

    Somewhere along the line, when I was very small, gender differences became blurred for me. Oh, there is no question that I'm a girl, always have been, always will be, but I never made a lot of the distinctions that most girls do early in their lives when they were being socialized as females. For whatever reason, I was more like a boy. No, I am NOT gay, either. I was always attracted to the kinds of things that the boys were - with a "softer touch", though. That included, in a very large way, competitiveness. I totally get that other gals look upon women with that bent as "mean". I heard that a lot when I was young, especially when I was a teenager, and then in the past year, after I started racing. I tried to ignore/deny it, but you know what, I can't, because it's how most women look at a competitive person. As a short explanation, when I was small I was often ostracized by the other girls because I was "rough" and "loud" and liked to climb trees. I would rather dam up a stream than play with a doll house. "Tom Boy" I heard a lot, and it was often yelled at me with derision. Because of that awful peer pressure, especially when I started to become a young woman, I suppressed much of that "spirit" and competitiveness.

    Valygrl, you're dead on right about triathlon and track and field. I knew that when I was doing it. I tried to look past that "individual sport" attitude when I started my argument about getting more women into this side of cycling.

    You shone a very bright light when you talked about, and beautifully talked about, by the way, the crit series you have in Boulder and how that works out (or doesn't). Duh. I know, I get it.

    It's a birds of a feather thing with me. I've always surrounded myself with like minded people though each of the phases of my life. I get impatient with having to explain my motives as I move along through life, so I find people who understand them. Right now I know several women racers, and they think like I do. We look at each other and KNOW. We even talk about how we're different than most other gals, and even (still) find it a puzzle. Really, it's NOT a puzzle to me, it's forms of denial and hope.

    Yes, hope. I said I am an advocate for empowerment of women, and most of that statement means "self expression" to me. I'm not a feminist (and I have absolutely no issue with anyone, ever, who is/was), but I strongly believe in gender equality across the board. Because I've never been afraid to confront the boys on their own turf (in friendly, spirited ways), I've always felt that other women secretly harbored a desire to do the same thing, and I've advocated for that. I've been shown to be wrong about that, too, many times, but I persist. No, I will never learn!

    Racing the bike was much the same thing. I have several girlfriends who are avid cyclists, strong riders (stronger than me) who have propped me up and egged me on. Because they did that, I felt they really wanted to race, too, and were doing it by proxy - through me. I went with that, because I was hoping if I showed them the way, they'd come along. Maybe one or two of them will, but Valygrl, you've reminded me again who we are.

    Ex, is it our American culture that holds the gals back? I wonder, but I kinda think it does.

    All of the above said, when I see a cyclocross video on YouTube where the male racer with the helmet cam is constantly being "chicked", it does give me hope! Maybe I'm not really that unusual, after all.
    Last edited by sarals; 02-19-13 at 10:16 PM.
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    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Premise (and I am not sure I believe this 100%, but I'm going to take it as my position for now) :
    I think there are deep psychological differences between women and men, and bike racing doesn't match that well with a lot of women's motivations. Sure there are other reasons (mentioned above) that women participate less in bike racing than men, but I think we should acknowledge this one, without judging it.


    This will be my closing blather. I'm done after this. I haven't found the right tree to bark up and I doubt I ever will. USAC, UCI, NCNCA, the FAA - whatever.

    Valygrl, your quote above? How many times was I told that in flight school? I hated hearing it, I didn't want to believe it, but I knew it was true.

    From now on I'll shut up and race my bike.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

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    Anyone have stats on non-USA female bike race participation? Ex got me thinking about that.

    Anyway we do have some decent racing here on the womens categories, it's just so much smaller than the men's. I'm not saying all women aren't competitive, obviously, just that bike racing has a lot less appeal for women than men.

    Sarah your ranking must be local not national. There are masters racers here.

    I find myself on the other side if the fence now-- maybe if it was more socially acceptable for women to be competitive, more would be.

    Not a simple issue with a one sentence explanation.
    ...

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    You should not shut up. I totally didn't mean that. You and I as bike racers are a little outside the usual for women. How many other chicks are posting in the racing forum? Where is girlanachronism?

    Thanks for sharing you growing up experiences and your opinion. I'm not trying to make you wrong. I'm not even sure what I know about this but I think it's interesting to talk about.
    ...

  24. #374
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    You should not shut up. I totally didn't mean that. You and I as bike racers are a little outside the usual for women. How many other chicks are posting in the racing forum? Where is girlanachronism?

    Thanks for sharing you growing up experiences and your opinion. I'm not trying to make you wrong. I'm not even sure what I know about this but I think it's interesting to talk about.
    Valygrl, thank you. That is sweet of you.

    I can be a bull in a china shop, and there is an expression in aviation about an alligator's butt overloading something that I won't repeat here - but sometimes "I resemble that remark".

    Believe me, my intentions are from the heart. I tend to think with my heart, too, and that's when I get into trouble.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

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    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    .....I find myself on the other side if the fence now-- maybe if it was more socially acceptable for women to be competitive, more would be.

    Not a simple issue with a one sentence explanation.
    That's the answer, I think.

    And, no - it isn't, is it?
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

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