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Women in Mixed Races

BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
edited February 2014 in Amateur race
Folks, a lady at our local club has been looking into racing (she is very good, btw) and it looks like there aren't that many women only options. So, the question is, if she rode in a mixed race, would her placing (and the associated points) be determined on just the women who were riding or the whole field?

If it is the former option, I think she needs to look for mixed races where she is the only female entrant :)

Many thanks.
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Posts

  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    Placing is determined by her place in the whole field. She might win money or league points based on her placing out of the women present, but BC points and result will be where she finished out of everyone who raced.

    It's good training (I say this from experience) to race with men and for many women it's one of the few chances they get to race in fields of 40+ riders but she's unlikely to do very well relative to them unless she's either quite big with the associated high power and strong sprint, or the race ends with a long hill and she's a good climber.

    Where do you/she live? Every year women's racing gets better with more races and racers, higher quality field, etc. As much as it's fun to train and race with men, I'd recommend she seek out some higher level women's races if she's that good, as she should get some decent results there and move up the ranks and get more attention. Lots of "very good" women start racing and join a women's team with full sponsorship within a season.
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Hi maryka, many thanks for the prompt response which I shall pass on. We live in Cheltenham and are fortunate that the club scene here is thriving and it is now getting more and more mixed (still a long way to go but I think more ladies cycling will mean more ladies cycling, if you see what I mean). We still get the odd chap who seems to have a problem getting thrashed on a climb by a lady, which makes it even funnier when it happens :)
  • Jim CJim C Posts: 333
    Some races allow women to ride with the men and have seperate ladies points and prizes- Mallory evening league for example. The womens field iys often small- around a handful of riders only
    jc
  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    Sad how difficult it is for women to enjoy what is IMO the best and most beautiful discipline in cycling...
    Erm unless you're a woman how do you know how "difficult" it is.... Sounds just a bit patronising there from your high perch as an elite male rider! :lol:

    Sad that we don't have loads of women racing such that we can have multiple races to suit every type of rider, week in and week out, but we do what we can with what we have. The sport is growing and we have to be patient. Any woman in any traditional male-dominated sport but tennis faces this, the world over. It is what it is, but hopefully BC can step up and work with us to create a better atmosphere for promoting good cycle racing for women. The current points/category system and calendars which often overlap with competing events for women need reworking (I'm now on my regional BC council so will spend the next year or two trying to come up with some suggestions for BC).
  • uptonupton Posts: 40
    edited January 2014
    Just my 2 penneth:
    I've only done a few races so far. Small fields in low key races can be a bit demoralising- when there's only 8 of us or whatever it doesn't feel like bunch riding. Seeing a 40+ group of vets tear past does make me wish for bigger fields- would increase the competition, and probably me more exciting.
    I'm sure more "prestigious" races have bigger fields etc, guess i'll have to get good enough to be worthy of a place on the start list first!
    I'm trying to be a bit proactive and encourage a fellow club member to enter a few with me next season. Will see how it goes...
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,132
    Women just need to get out there and race more, really sad when races are put on and the field is in single figures. I have seen this at various circuits in the London area, at different times of the year. There are plenty of women riding bikes so there must be something discouraging them from taking the step up - hopefully if that can be overcome then it will quickly snowball as there is no reason that I can see why women's cycling shouldn't be far bigger than it is at the moment.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    BigMat wrote:
    Women just need to get out there and race more, really sad when races are put on and the field is in single figures. I have seen this at various circuits in the London area, at different times of the year. There are plenty of women riding bikes so there must be something discouraging them from taking the step up - hopefully if that can be overcome then it will quickly snowball as there is no reason that I can see why women's cycling shouldn't be far bigger than it is at the moment.

    Well, there are a number of reasons why women's racing hasn't taken off quite the way that men's has -- but I got myself on the regional BC board to try and address some of them and improve the situation (e.g., work on the local calendars to make sure we don't have two competing women's races on the same day, etc.). Because yes, it's frustrating to see some races really well subscribed and others hardly at all. And races with single digits end up hurting the system as a whole, because women who race loads of those often move up categories quickly when they really shouldn't be. It's no fun to be a 3rd cat in ability but end up 2nd or even 1st cat because you get loads of points, then get trounced at the national level when the real E/1/2s show up.

    As well, we seem to have a high turnover of women racing, people just seem to race for a few years then give up, which is unfortunate. Clearly there's something about racing that's not working for them and I wish BC would do exit polls to find out what it is. But to me, we need to improve the points and category system to keep women in the sport long-term. In men's amateur racing, 3rd cat is the heart of it and we should have loads more 3rd cat women and races for women of that level too (and them alone, or 2/3/4). But currently there are only 30% more 3rd cats than 2nd cats because of the way points are handed out in low-entry races, which skews the whole category system. With men, it's more like 3x the number of 3rd cats to 2nd cats. So we need to fix that.. til then there's a whole load of women who will give the sport a try, get sick of racing either in a small field of 10 others (boring and easy points), or in a large field of all-categories (trounced by E/1/2s) and stop after a few seasons.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    Isnt some of the problem that the sport (at grass roots)is run by men, who in the main, think women are good for two things...holding a flag and making the teas - and BC dont want to upset the apple cart in the regions so let bad practice carry on ?

    I see this attitude time an time again, in female youth cycling, unequal prizes, girls bundled in with the boys races, failure to upload separate girls results, compliants are ignored routinely, no matter who you go to.
    ie female winner of the s/w youth series for the last 3 yrs didnt even get her trophy :( but they always managed to present the boy his????

    I joined the local rr work grp to try an change this type of behavior, i might as well have asked a waste bin to make me a cup of coffee.

    Girls can be ultra competitive and the racing very gd, as they cant rely on brute strength - hopefully things will change, more youths coming through... yes but then as juniors? it drops off big style :( there isnt even RR nat series for them.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,798
    mamba80 wrote:
    Isnt some of the problem that the sport (at grass roots)is run by men, who in the main, think women are good for two things...holding a flag and making the teas - and BC dont want to upset the apple cart in the regions so let bad practice carry on ?

    I see this attitude time an time again, in female youth cycling, unequal prizes, girls bundled in with the boys races, failure to upload separate girls results, compliants are ignored routinely, no matter who you go to.
    ie female winner of the s/w youth series for the last 3 yrs didnt even get her trophy :( but they always managed to present the boy his????

    I joined the local rr work grp to try an change this type of behavior, i might as well have asked a waste bin to make me a cup of coffee.

    Girls can be ultra competitive and the racing very gd, as they cant rely on brute strength - hopefully things will change, more youths coming through... yes but then as juniors? it drops off big style :( there isnt even RR nat series for them.


    I don't recognise that as a description of my region. Cycling is a male dominated sport but in the East Mids at least there are women prominent in the administration at regional level.

    Most races are organised by men but I think the main issue is lack of women entering races rather than lack of events for women. As an organiser myself I've thought about putting on a womens race but unless it's part of a national series I doubt I'd get the entries to cover costs. BC run women only race coaching sessions (coached by people who don't race) but from what I've seen numbers turning up aren't great and most of the women attending have no intention of road racing.

    In short I don't accept that there is some latent demand being suppressed by grass roots organisers and administrators. If there was a groundswell of demand for racing for women lots of people would be only too happy to provide coaching, promote races etc - but that groundswell isn't there. I do think more could be done to generate interest but to blame it on "men" who are volunteering their time for our sport is wrong imo.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,729
    mamba80 wrote:
    Isnt some of the problem that the sport (at grass roots)is run by men, who in the main, think women are good for two things...holding a flag and making the teas - and BC dont want to upset the apple cart in the regions so let bad practice carry on ?

    I see this attitude time an time again, in female youth cycling, unequal prizes, girls bundled in with the boys races, failure to upload separate girls results, compliants are ignored routinely, no matter who you go to.
    ie female winner of the s/w youth series for the last 3 yrs didnt even get her trophy :( but they always managed to present the boy his????

    I joined the local rr work grp to try an change this type of behavior, i might as well have asked a waste bin to make me a cup of coffee.

    Girls can be ultra competitive and the racing very gd, as they cant rely on brute strength - hopefully things will change, more youths coming through... yes but then as juniors? it drops off big style :( there isnt even RR nat series for them.


    I don't recognise that as a description of my region. Cycling is a male dominated sport but in the East Mids at least there are women prominent in the administration at regional level.

    Most races are organised by men but I think the main issue is lack of women entering races rather than lack of events for women. As an organiser myself I've thought about putting on a womens race but unless it's part of a national series I doubt I'd get the entries to cover costs. BC run women only race coaching sessions (coached by people who don't race) but from what I've seen numbers turning up aren't great and most of the women attending have no intention of road racing.

    In short I don't accept that there is some latent demand being suppressed by grass roots organisers and administrators. If there was a groundswell of demand for racing for women lots of people would be only too happy to provide coaching, promote races etc - but that groundswell isn't there. I do think more could be done to generate interest but to blame it on "men" who are volunteering their time for our sport is wrong imo.

    Well said - that's exactly what I was just going to say. I'm also a race organiser and have seen very poor entry numbers from women. I think to blame it all on 'mysogynistic men' at regional level is grossly unfair.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    I'd laugh if someone asked me to make the teas and hold the flag... argue for your limitations and they're yours to have!

    I'm sure there are some old boys and old ideas but having been through this before with other sports I know that you have to persevere to improve things. So I just get on with it (as organiser, commissaire, and now BC rep). I also think sometimes you just need to do things rather than talk about them. We set up our London Women's Cycle Racing League in 2010 because a bunch of us senior female racers saw too many races with small fields and wanted to see a local series promoted where we could have a dozen races a year with real competition and lots of riders. 4 years later it's still going strong.

    Well done for stepping up and getting involved, it can be thankless and relentless but we can't rely on others to give us what we want in the sport. It's up to us to get the ball rolling and make things happen, and force change to come about rather than waiting passively on the sidelines for someone else to do it for us.

    By the way, did the youth girl ever inquire about her trophy? Girls' racing around here is pretty well-supported I'd say. Of course cycling being what it is, we'll probably never get equal numbers between the sexes but we have to do the best with what we have and hope it grows.
  • bucklesbuckles Posts: 694
    If you want to get more women into racing, why not make it more like r*ller d*rby? Simply add a load of unnecessary, artificial, superficial features for example:
    encourage cycling clubs to adopt more 'exciting' names
    add a ridiculous amount of hype to races (and charge spectators £10 to watch)
    get a commentator who puts on a faux-American accent
    have detailed programmes for each race, featuring tattooed women posing and looking agressive
    get everyone to use silly pseudonyms instead of their real names?

    In all seriousness though, while I'm no fan of r*ll*r d*rby, they know how to get people interested in playing and spectating. I can totally see why it's very popular with women compared to cycling or any other 'traditional' sport.

    I could be wrong but one reason I think cycle racing may struggle to attract women in the first place is that it appears very formal and serious compared to RD (and perhaps rightly so, it's obviously a completely different type of sport, but that's besides the point).

    Another reason is the lack of promotion. Obviously people get introduced to racing in different ways for example youngsters whose parents are cyclists, or people who live near a club, or whatever. But I guess the majority of amateur racing cyclists start racing because they love cycling already and are self-motivated enough to do what they need to do to get into it. I've never noticed anything really promoting cycle racing to people who aren't already into cycling. RD seems to be well promoted; they have 'recruitment drives' for example they will visit roller discos, put on promotions at nightclubs or even do marches at St Patrick's day parade to hand flyers out. I've never seen anything promoting cycle racing, not even in a bike shop!

    There seems to be a heavy focus on image in RD, it seems to get hyped up to make it look 'edgy' and cool and exciting. So while not as many people would be attracted solely by the prospect of playing a challenging and enjoyable game that involves skating around a sports hall, you only have to look inside some of the game programmes to see why people are drawn to it. If it attracts posers, so what - it doesn't matter why someone is attracted to it, as long as they enjoy doing it and stick with it.

    I'm not suggesting that British Cycling or cycling clubs should go to the same lengths, just that there are painfully obvious ways that people could at least attempt to get more women interested in cycle racing.
    25% off your first MyProtein order: sign up via https://www.myprotein.com/referrals.lis ... EE-R29Y&li or use my referral code LEE-R29Y
  • Jim CJim C Posts: 333
    I ll throw this one in for debate - im not sure what others will make of it.

    Often top end junior girls and senior ladies will get tempted away from clubs to ride for sponsored teams.
    Generally speaking, mens races are organised by cycling clubs, and rarely by teams.
    Would a club organise organise a race for ladies who ride for teams - assuming the ladies teams themselves don't organise the races - off the top of my head, ladies teams that don't organise - Scott Contesa, Shutt Velo, Mule Bar Girls, Fat Birds, the CTC team, Champion Systems
    jc
  • Didn't MBG recently organise a women's track day of races at Herne Hill?
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    I raced in a 3/4 road race once which had a mixed field. There were prizes and points for women as if it were a completely seperate race.

    It was alleged (but I didn't observe) that one lady had her husband enter the race and act as her domestique for the day. Sat on his wheel for the race, barked pacing instructions at him and essentially got towed to victory.

    My general view of womens racing is that its a bit of a vicious circle, in that the racing is poor because of small fields which means fewer people enter. The travel involved for most women to race competitively is enough to deter most. I marshelled at a race when there were 5 entrants in the womens race, and they agreed that they'd ride around together and just contest the finish. So they went around for the first 5 laps chatting away, before the stronger riders went for it on the last lap.

    Also, lets not beat around the bush, generally speaking women do less sport than men, and generally speaking are less competitive with it. Purely from observation more women enter events when they are deemed to be racing against themselfs rather than directly against others, like Triathlon, Sportives and TTs. Again, that might be because there isnt much of a road racing scene, but it might be because of the way most women are.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    Jim C wrote:
    Would a club organise organise a race for ladies who ride for teams
    Yes
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    Milese wrote:
    I raced in a 3/4 road race once which had a mixed field. There were prizes and points for women as if it were a completely seperate race.

    It was alleged (but I didn't observe) that one lady had her husband enter the race and act as her domestique for the day. Sat on his wheel for the race, barked pacing instructions at him and essentially got towed to victory.

    My general view of womens racing is that its a bit of a vicious circle, in that the racing is poor because of small fields which means fewer people enter. The travel involved for most women to race competitively is enough to deter most. I marshelled at a race when there were 5 entrants in the womens race, and they agreed that they'd ride around together and just contest the finish. So they went around for the first 5 laps chatting away, before the stronger riders went for it on the last lap.

    Also, lets not beat around the bush, generally speaking women do less sport than men, and generally speaking are less competitive with it. Purely from observation more women enter events when they are deemed to be racing against themselfs rather than directly against others, like Triathlon, Sportives and TTs. Again, that might be because there isnt much of a road racing scene, but it might be because of the way most women are.

    Go to the national (running) xc champs and say those 400 u13 girls arnt competitive, followed by another 400 u15s girls, snow rain and mud wont stop them.
    Or the school games where 55 girls battled in driving rain and high winds over a course that most 3/4 men wouldnt be able to get round in one piece (that was the view of a BC talent team coach)

    No way can you run a single Reg B race and have sep pts for women entrants, races can get held as 2 separate events, run with a small time gap, anyone doing what you suggested would be deemed to have joined the mens race and "should" hav been scored accordingly.
    would a grp of 5 men race any differently? i expect not.

    Whats needed is a stream of female youths to juniors to seniors, provides fresh strong blood and role models for the younger and indeed older would be racers.
    oh an have a junior female nat series, just like the boys do.
    Otherwise, womens racing will just bump along relying on older women entering what races there are.
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    mamba80 wrote:
    Milese wrote:
    I raced in a 3/4 road race once which had a mixed field. There were prizes and points for women as if it were a completely seperate race.

    It was alleged (but I didn't observe) that one lady had her husband enter the race and act as her domestique for the day. Sat on his wheel for the race, barked pacing instructions at him and essentially got towed to victory.

    My general view of womens racing is that its a bit of a vicious circle, in that the racing is poor because of small fields which means fewer people enter. The travel involved for most women to race competitively is enough to deter most. I marshelled at a race when there were 5 entrants in the womens race, and they agreed that they'd ride around together and just contest the finish. So they went around for the first 5 laps chatting away, before the stronger riders went for it on the last lap.

    Also, lets not beat around the bush, generally speaking women do less sport than men, and generally speaking are less competitive with it. Purely from observation more women enter events when they are deemed to be racing against themselfs rather than directly against others, like Triathlon, Sportives and TTs. Again, that might be because there isnt much of a road racing scene, but it might be because of the way most women are.

    Go to the national (running) xc champs and say those 400 u13 girls arnt competitive, followed by another 400 u15s girls, snow rain and mud wont stop them.
    Or the school games where 55 girls battled in driving rain and high winds over a course that most 3/4 men wouldnt be able to get round in one piece (that was the view of a BC talent team coach)

    No way can you run a single Reg B race and have sep pts for women entrants, races can get held as 2 separate events, run with a small time gap, anyone doing what you suggested would be deemed to have joined the mens race and "should" hav been scored accordingly.
    would a grp of 5 men race any differently? i expect not.

    Whats needed is a stream of female youths to juniors to seniors, provides fresh strong blood and role models for the younger and indeed older would be racers.
    oh an have a junior female nat series, just like the boys do.
    Otherwise, womens racing will just bump along relying on older women entering what races there are.

    It was a couple of years ago, and if memory serves everyone did start together.

    Thats what makes those girls special, because they aren't 'most women'.

    My point wasn't that most men would or wouldnt do that, it was that life as a female racer can be hard and races like that are hardy inspiring.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    Oh btw well done in the NHC Maryka, awesome ride!
    Thanks! I made it a late season target and I'm really pleased to pull it off. My nearly-40-year-old legs still have some life in them!

    Re. women's race teams, the same thing happens with men's teams (and good male riders). They move from clubs to a "race team" and suddenly their involvement in the sport in terms of giving back drops unless they stay close to their club or their family is also involved in helping out. It's just that with women's teams it's more obvious because there are fewer of us -- my own club has been decimated in recent years as riders go to where free kit is offered, and not even particularly high-level teams with big sponsors. I don't blame them completely though, as there must be some reason why they want to race for a purely women's team rather than for a club, though honestly I don't know what it is. Team tactics in women's racing is still in its infancy at anything but the highest level in the country really, so it's not like they are gaining some massive benefit. I guess they just want to be their own teams and not be seen as piggybacking on a traditional men's club team? But I actually like being part of a co-ed club, training and racing with men, etc. I see it as a major benefit in this sport vs others where it's very segregated. But I'm not a typical woman in that sense, and I'm also a lot older than many racers who obviously see it quite differently!

    In any case, it would be great to see race teams giving back to the sport and not just using the club system to find their way and then dumping their club for fame and fortune when the first better offer comes along. You do get the impression with some riders who move up the ranks that their great contribution to the sport is showing up on the start line. From what I've seen, there aren't a lot of women's race teams promoting races either -- women's or otherwise. As the organiser of my club's Surrey League's races for the past 4 years, I wondered every year if we should hold a women's race instead, but ultimately I couldn't justify it in a club with probably 50-60 male racers and only a few female racers. Made much more sense to put on 3rd cat and 2/3 races where our guys would actually be able to marshal in one and race the other. I do have plans eventually to put on a National Series women's race (once I've stopped racing myself at that level) but I'm in no hurry with the way women's racing is heading at the moment.
  • Jim CJim C Posts: 333
    ^^^ a very sensible post with lots of good points.

    I'm not sure what comes first- more races for women, organised by existing organisors (mainly clubs at the non elite level) ? Or is it more women racers causing womens races to oversubscribe? Our club do ok with younger youth girl riders, but not many go thru to junior. Or senior. senior ladies are mostly returning parents- mostly in their 30s and 40s.

    In truth, everyone needs to do a bit- although piggy backing on mens races isn't necessarily the way - do womens football or cricket matches always precede mens games for example.
    jc
  • LookyhereLookyhere Posts: 987
    ^^^ this

    The progression from youth to junior isnt there - ultimately, im wasting my time supporting my daughter as a youth rider and she may as well do another sport and she knows it too!
    its depressing and i really dont understand why BC cant see this.

    BC need to support a nat female junior series as mamba said.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    Lookyhere wrote:
    ^^^ this

    The progression from youth to junior isnt there - ultimately, im wasting my time supporting my daughter as a youth rider and she may as well do another sport and she knows it too!
    its depressing and i really dont understand why BC cant see this.

    BC need to support a nat female junior series as mamba said.
    Having no experience in this (as I only started racing as an adult and my daughter is just 2!) can I ask specifically what the issues are? I see lots of juniors racing against me both at the local and the national/Team Series level, and I also see the occasional Youth A upgraded to race against seniors in the local circuit races. But living in London I know we have far more races than a lot of places.

    My main goal and reason for being on my region's BC council is to try to bring some positive changes to women's racing and that includes youth/junior too, especially as it pertains to those riders staying in the sport to senior level. I'm new to BC politically so maybe I'm being naive or optimistic, but if they are determined to trumpet how many women they have involved in cycling, then they can start stepping up and making the racing side a bit more useful to us. So help me out by giving me some more details please about youth and junior.

    (e.g., at the senior level, we have only about one-third more 3rd cats than 2nd cats -- compared to senior men where there are about 3 times as many 3rds as 2nds. So to start with, BC needs to work on the points and category system so it can reflect the racers that are really out there. Far too many people are 2nd cat when they are actually 3rd cat level, etc.)
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,798
    Agree there is no reason a female junior shouldn't be racing against seniors - girls tend to mature earlier and whilst they may be disadvantaged by age it's not unbridgeable by any means - how old was Vos when she won her first world champs?

    If there is going to be effort to boost women racing - and I have a daughter who does some cycle sport myself - the senior circuit needs to come first. Some sports have a huge a huge amount of youth and junior competitors and then relatively few seniors and veterans - the great thing about cycling is it really can be a sport for life.

    As for why should clubs organise for women when women leave clubs for teams - I'm sure some organisers would take that view - it's certainly why I've never considered organising an E12 race as most first cats and even seconds jump at the chance of joining a team - often they aren't even getting free kit !
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • LookyhereLookyhere Posts: 987
    I agree that senior womens racing needs to be supported well, both in events and coaching opportunities.
    But what i see is that there is a huge drop off in youth A to junior and that isnt mirrored with the boys.
    So something isnt quite right ?
    Also, there is a huge range of abilities in womens racing - is this the right enviroment for a aspiring junior to race in?
    nothing will turn off a 16yo more than lining up with a field of women all old enough to be her mum and only about 10 of them at that..

    Why isnt there a female national junior series that youth As can aspire too ?
    at the mo there isnt the numbers to support it perhaps but given a yr or 2 that could change - dont put one on and nothing will change.
    As jimC said, most women entering the sport are in their 30s and 40s, no bad thing but that wont inspire girls to stay in the sport, nor will it ever get the numbers for a healthy womens racing scene.
    Maybe if the track get built down here, then things will improve, regions that have access to Velodromes seem to have a far deeper pool of female youths & juniors :D
  • MonkehMonkeh Posts: 6
    My club - VC Walcot organised a weekly women's only race at the new Odd Down circuit in Bath. We never hit the critical mass to stage a single race - only six women required by BC. As she's only up the road in Cheltenham, please ask her to register her interest with the club (if she is interested) everybody can be kept informed next season.
  • protoproto Posts: 1,483
    Monkeh, I suspect next season might be different, a lot more interest from the gang at Bath Uni, and there a few there who I'm sure will be at Odd Down next year (my daughter included*). There as been a dramatic increase in numbers on their Wednesday rides, up to three groups going out.

    * She's been on a few of your club rides this season - HWCC kit, be nice to her!
  • I don't come on this forum much but am glad I did today as this is a really interesting thread - despite the fact it's wandered a little off topic!

    The relatively short racing life cycle of a female cyclist compared with a bloke is a particularly interesting one. Having been the women's secretary of a large club, I was surprised how few women actually wanted to race. A few dipped their toes in for a season and then found that bunch riding wasn't to their liking/they couldn't sprint or they simply weren't fit/good enough. So I learnt early on that you can't make a racing cyclist out of a leisure cyclist. The women who get into racing and stick at it for a few years typically have a proven track record in another sport although there are exceptions (like me). I guess you need fitness, athletic ability and a competitive gene for it to appeal. As so many of the women who come into the sport come in quite late (i.e. early/mid 30s) it's not surprising that they don't last long - it requires a huge commitment to be competitive and keeping that up year in, year out is a challenge. Many have children forcing them to miss a season or two.... and getting back into it then is harder still particularly if you've had a c-section delivery.

    If I'm a case in point, I started racing at aged 41 after the birth of my 3rd child in an attempt to stave off a mid life crisis. I came from a horse riding background so had strong legs but no proven athletic ability. I've done 5 seasons and am likely to retire from competitive racing now as I can't get any better. I'll be 47 next season and sustaining power from one season to the next is becoming increasingly difficult.

    On the issue of teams v clubs. Some teams may not pull their weight in terms of organising events, but others definitely do. I'd certainly give a big plug for the Mule Bar Girls who do a shed load of organising albeit mostly tracked based. I jumped ship from a club to a team as I wanted to ride with a bunch of like minded women not a bunch of leisure cyclists. I never rode with my club as firstly it didn't suit my training demands and secondly all the club rides were at times I was grounded with my kids. I do all my training during school hours. My team doesn't organise a road race, but we're very small and those of us who've raced this year have certainly done our share of marshalling. I'm always astounded at how many riders race but put nothing back - hiding behind the fact that their club organises a road race so that's a permit for them to ride but not help out themselves.

    As a TTer it makes me very sad to see events with 120 racers of which only a handful at best are women. As I've mentioned before you can't make a racer out of a leisure cyclist but you can try and improve the racing experience by bringing the women who DO race together. Cue... my new Women's South East TT League which will be starting next season. I shall try and encourage triathletes to come along and give TTing a go too to bring in new blood to the sport. A start sheet with 30+ women for all 10/11 events is my goal.

    It's great that Maryka is being so-proactive on the regional road race front. I'd like to think our goals are similar - in that we're both trying to improve both the quality of racing and the racing experience for women in the South East next season. Fingers crossed we can both pull it off.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,798
    But if all the women racers didn't join teams as soon as they could finish a race in the bunch then clubs wouldn't be full of leisure cyclists. We had a woman join our club some years ago, she had never raced, couldn't get round our chaingang on the second group, yet she had an offer to join a local team and would have too until she realised she would have been so far out of her depth in a race that she gave up the sport.

    Clubs are the gateway to the sport, not teams, newcomers tend to join a traditional club. If that club has no women racers then it doesn't encourage women new to racing to get into the sport. The 2nd/3rd cat team affects the mens sport too but there is enough depth there that it's not such an issue.

    I don't really buy that it's any harder for women to keep racing than men - at 45 with 3 kids and a dodgy knee from playing football I could make excuses, we all could.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • But DeVlaeminck you must understand that women do what women want to do.

    If women want to ride in a race team - let them. Why on earth should they race for a club if they don't want to? My coach felt a huge loyalty to her club and raced for them through her entire race career. Meanwhile I felt no loyalty to mine, got no support from them and was happy to escape the stigma attached with being a "London Dynamo" rider as they are generally much maligned.

    You don't have to buy into the fact that's it's harder for women to keep racing in their mid 40s. I just stated that I am a female racer in my mid 40s who has run out of motivational steam. I don't want to keep racing year in year out as it requires a lot of commitment - I'm no longer willing to put the effort in, although I'm possibly able to. I expect others feel the same - they discover their limits and then pack it in.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,798
    I understand that women, like men, will do what they want to do and I can understand why you chose to ride for a team. But there are implications for the sport and in this context it's relevant to point it out as something that isn't helpful in terms of growing women's road racing.

    Personally I think BC should look at changing the structure so that short lived teams are discouraged as for me they take more from the sport than they put in - obviously there are exceptions just as there are clubs that do nothing but if I look around at who puts on events, provides coaching, brings newcomers into the sport etc etc it tends to be established clubs.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
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